March 2014

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Ministering to the abused...

The one sure thing is that pastors who care for victims of child sexual abuse must not allow pity to ruin our pastoral care. Child sexual abuse permeates our congregations today, so we must grow in wisdom and compassion towards those who suffered these crimes. Such wisdom and compassion will always cause us to set our sights higher than ameliorating victims' shame and moving them toward self-acceptance. It may sound callous to say so, but Scripture doesn't trade in self-acceptance. The precious treasure we have to offer those weighed down by sin and shame is God's acceptance through the shed blood of His Son. Yet that is too often absent in the narratives of survivors.

After several days riding the wave of World Vision's flip-flopping on homosexual marriage, Christianity Today ended the week by running a "this is my life" piece by Jonathan Merritt, a writer for the Religious News Service. The piece is an account of the corruption by an older neighbor boy Merritt suffered in his childhood and the terrible fruit that corruption bore in his life. Merritt tells us he has lived with a deep and pervasive sense of shame, he has suffered the compromise of his male sexual identity, he has sinned homosexually, and he has been alienated from the Church.

CT took this excerpt from Merritt's forthcoming book, Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined, and the excerpt ran under the headline, "A Thread Called Grace: How I came to stop hiding and face the biggest secret of my early life." From the start of the homosexualist movement several decades ago now, this has been the narrative of those committed to normalizing homosexual sin: come out of the closet and be done with the shame. Thus CT ran Merritt's piece under the phrases "biggest secret" and "stop hiding."

Merritt tells a very sad story. CT, though, has its own reasons for promoting this story and we must see those reasons and resist being manipulated through our tears. Christianity Today has a larger purpose in providing subscribers this intimate view of one man's sexual suffering and clearly its purpose is not simply to promote Biblical compassion and love...

Sermon notes: Galatians Series, Number 12...

As I said last week, we have a tendency to want to clasp the theological truths of this precious book of Galtians to our hearts—that by the works of the law no man is saved, but only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His work alone—while despising the method the Holy Spirit used to clarify and solidify that truth within the Church.

NOTE: This is number 12 in a series on Galatians. If this is your first time reading sermon notes here, please take time to read a helpful explanation at the bottom of this post.

From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd/Clearnote Church, Bloomington

February 8, 2004; AM

Galatians Series No. 12

Fearing the Party of the Circumcision

Sermon Text: Galatians 2:11-14

This Lord’s Day, we turn to our twelfth in a series of sermons on the New Testament book of Galatians...

World Vision's big boo-boo...

About World Vision, I'm sorry for what I wrote before. This matter deserved something more than snarkiness, and for that I apologize. I've pulled the former content off this post. So now, here's something I hope is more helpful:

I have never given any money to World Vision and I'd recommend against any of our readers giving them money. They are a hugely wealthy business and that's how you should think about them. Their marketing is as sophisticated as Apple's, although their product is slightly different. Instead of "Think Differently," it's "Feel Globally Compassionate."

But compassion should never be global. Normally, it should be personal, but not pseudo-personal through a marketing machine. Personal-personal. Like in adoption. I could go on about this, but time and priorities cause me to leave it with that. It's a trajectory of thought that many of you would do well to follow, though.

Beyond  the issue of the nature of Christian compassion and service, I would never give money to World Vision because it's hugely rich; it's richly huge and it's my conviction what's rich and huge in America is never ever godly. It may be Evangelical. It may have IRS non-profit status. But it's not at all godly. Which is to say Godliness—true Godliness—doesn't sell in America, let alone selling as supremely well as World Vision has sold for several generations, now.

Beyond the issues of the nature of Christian compassion and service and World Vision's all-American Evangelical success, there's the issue of exporting America's sins. For instance, ask yourself whether you believe in empowering women?

Of course you do. You're a Christian and Christians have always been leading the rest of the world in that uniquely Christian revolution of the empowerment of women...

Paying taxes to God's ministers...

Did you ever have one of those moments where the Holy Spirit makes it clear exactly how obtuse you are concerning the Word of God?  How is it that we can read the Word over and over, and yet not understand the clearest passages? 

This happened to me in a recent Clearnote Pastors College class, in which we were studying Romans 12:14-13:7.  Romans 12 ends with the command to bless, rather than curse, our enemies.  We are not to take revenge, but to leave room for the wrath of God.  In my overly-spiritualized understanding, I read this passage and picture some far-future reckoning. But does this passage only mean that we are to wait for the Final Judgment?  No. The Apostle Paul goes on to explain that...

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Tetzel, eat your heart out...

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs." - Johann Tetzel's pitch as he sold the indulgences that funded the Sistine Chapel.

Amazon has started a Christian book imprint called Waterfall. Publisher Mark Pereira explains Waterfall's mission to the Library Journal:

Our main focus [at Waterfall] is to publish books that entertain and inform readers with a transforming message (that includes) Christian Living through spiritual refreshment and personal growth (as well as) stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Books with a transforming message that entertains readers. Christian Living and spiritual refreshment through mystery, suspense, and romance. 

The recent merger of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing is now called HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the same Library Journal article reports this explanation by HC Christian Publishing executive Tracy Danz of their market for Christian fiction...

Adam first, then Eve...

For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man... (1Corinthians 11:8)

God had a purpose in creating Adam first and His purpose is not complicated.

Creating Eve second established order between the sexes. Man is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man. Man is to be responsible and woman is to help man. 

Sadly, we're so contaminated by our culture of rebellion that we turn into weasels...

Menlo Park Presbyterian Church leaves the PC(USA)...

The cost John Ortberg and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church have agreed to pay in order to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) is around $11,000,000.

Back in 1991 when our church in Wisconsin left the PC(USA), our presbytery simply confiscated everything. They recognized our congregational vote for transfer into the PCA as legitimate, they dismissed Rosedale Presbyterian Church as a church, and then they confiscated the church building, the baptismal font made by our elder's grandfather, the cemetery, the manse, the banners our children had made for Easter... They changed the locks on the doors immediately.

We made no protest.

My final sermon was on September 15, 1991. Our  text was Hebrews 10:32-34 and the sermon title was "You ...Joyfully Accepted the Confiscation of Your Property." During the sermon...

Manhood is responsibility...

Dr. Harry Schaumburg is right. Internet pornography is false intimacy. It's sex with a phantom who has no moles, wrinkles, or bad breath; a woman who makes no emotional demands and bears no children. But God's law limits sex to those men willing to bear responsibility. God says you must vow lifelong fidelity to a woman and you must propagate a godly seed. Sex without intimacy is sex that repudiates responsibility. But, guess what? Sex without responsibility isn't sexy.

I remember waking up in bed with my wife the morning after our wedding day and thinking, "This is the rest of my life!" I was happy. I loved Mary Lee and love her even more today. Still, there was some bit of terror that morning as I realized the irrevocable step I had taken. There was no return. From this day on I was responsible for this dear woman and all the children she would present to me. Somewhere Chesterton says the two most romantic things in the world are getting married and mailing a letter because you can't take either back. You see, permanence and responsibility are romantic. Commitment is romantic. Vows are romantic.

We have young men and women getting married all the time in our congregation, and often they ask...

Belligerent Putin stands downstream from Stalin...

Here's a good article by George Will on the Ukraine/Crimea crisis.

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Peter Hitchens talks about how he came to faith...

A short interview filled with wisdom. The pride of intellectuals. The difficulty of backing down from public positions. The burning horror of the memory of one's past wickedness, leading others astray. And the fear of God.

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27)

The Church is starving for want of pastors who preach the fear of God; who proclaim original sin, the Law, death, judgment, and Hell. God's grace to a man begins with the man being scared.

Children are a blessing from the Lord: Jackson Tyndale Bayly...

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. (Psalms 127:4)

Announcing the birth of Jackson Tyndale Bayly to Taylor and Réze Bayly. Jackson was born around 10 AM this morning and weighs enough. He is Taylor and Réze's first child. (Our fifteenth grandchild.)

Please join us in praising God for His many good gifts, not the least of which are daughters and daughters-in-law who joyfully bear children to the glory of God.

Teaching God to be fair...

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said, "Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, And can you thunder with a voice like His?" (Job 40:6-9)

Do you blame God for your poverty? Unhappy marriage? Sickness or suffering? The accident you had last week? Having to work at a job you don't like? Not being able to be an overseas missionary? Not being an elder?

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