Friday, October 31, 2008

Tables

The Lord’s Table is the archetype of our family tables. Or perhaps we could say that our family tables should be an imitation or reflection of The Table. We come to the Lord’s Table each Lord’s Day to be fed by the Father, Who meets our needs above and beyond all that we could ask or think. He has given us life. He sustains that life. He protects that life. The Table is the very image of fatherhood; the essence of which is love. We begin each week gathered around the Table as children to be instructed and nourished, just before we are sent out to live. And so too, we go to our homes and gather around smaller tables to be instructed and nourished, and from there we also fan out to live. The liturgy is practice for life.

We gather again and again around our tables—small societies of Christians—learning to commune and share, to pray and talk, to receive and give thanks, to serve and be served, to love one another and to be renewed. We cannot neglect such an important huddle without the fragmentation of our little societies. Develop it, guard it, and practice it often.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Husbands and Lovers

“The husband is over his wife as the head is over the body. It isn’t a description of what ought to be; it just says what is. He is the head. He will be a good one or a bad one, depending; but if he isn’t the head, there isn’t any other. He is to be the lover, she the beloved. If he doesn’t initiate, she will wither of neglect. She cannot supply what only he can give. If the locomotive doesn’t pull, the train doesn’t move.

He, then, is to love and cherish her. And he is to do it first, because he promised first. She must do it too, of course, but in her own way, as an answering voice, a counterpoint.”

“…No human being can afford to settle for being only the occasion of somebody else’s pleasure. No wife can long endure being treated as if her chief sexual function were to arouse her husband. That puts the shoe exactly on the wrong foot. She is, after all, a person; if her husband never grows from passion and response into action and love—if he doesn’t stop waiting to be aroused and realize he’s got to make something of a career of arousing—she is not going to find being a wife much of a fulfillment.”

—Robert Farrar Capon, Bed and Board

The Morality of Law

Politicians get elected, make laws, tax, spend, regulate, and control. Every law passed and every spending decision is based on some moral system. All morality is based on some religious views. So who says politics and religion don’t mix? The Bible says, “Thou shalt not steal.” This is the basis of laws against theft. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” This is the basis of laws against libel and slander. What we believe religiously will always affect our political beliefs and practices. Those views can never be kept “separate” or “private.” The reason we are witnessing this profound change in our culture and government is that politics and religion do mix.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Trinity and Community

The Trinity is a community of persons and thus man himself, being created in the image of God, thrives only in community. Unlike God, however, no man is complete in himself or equal to other men. We are dependant creatures; dependant not only on our Creator but also on other creatures. None of us possesses all the attributes of human nature in the same degree. We are individuals who must live in society with other individuals if we are to know the fullness of life. Others fill up what we lack.

Sin introduced enmity between God and man and thereby ruptured the community or communion. To be cut off from that community is death. Man has been hiding from God (and from other men) ever since. Therefore, God (by His grace) intervened by way of the Mediator, reconciling the world to Himself. Man can finally come out of hiding and return to the Father’s Table. “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

By faith in Christ we are reunited with the triune God and thus brought back into the original society. By our baptism we are engrafted into the Body of Christ and thus joined to the community of other men where we can serve and be served; love and be loved. It is in the context of this covenant with Christ and His church that we find the fulfillment of His promise: abundant life. We die alone. We live together!

Is Obama a Marxist?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Over-Grown Power

"Power, especially over-grown power, whets the ambition and sets all the wits to work to enlarge it. Therefore, encroachments on people’s liberties are not generally made all at once, but so gradually as hardly to be perceived by the less watchful; and all plastered over, it may be, with such plausible pretenses, that before they are aware of the snare, they are taken and cannot disentangle themselves.”

Samuel Webster (Election sermon, 1777)

Obama's Marxist Roots

Obama has promised: “Change You Can Believe In.” Before we change, let’s be sure we know what it is he believes in.

Marxism is the philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883), who wrote Das Kapital, a very famous and influential book whose ideas have devastated many parts of the world. Marxism teaches that everyone who gets rich does so on the backs of the poor. The lower classes are always exploited by the upper classes. Marx wrote: “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need." Redistribution of wealth is central to the Marxist agenda. In fact, it is a patriotic thing to do.

Liberation Theology began in 1955 and gained strength as a movement in the 70s and 80s. It is a Marxist attempt to infiltrate the Christian Church, adopting the language of orthodox Christianity to promote Marxist and Socialist goals. It emphasizes the Christian mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed, particularly through political activism. Its theologians consider the sin of capitalism to be the root source of poverty, and capitalism as class warfare by the rich against the poor. The “Black Liberation Theology,” of Barach Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ, is simply a variation of this Marxist spin. Anthony Bradley, assistant professor of theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, writes:

One of the pillars of Obama's home church, Trinity United Church of Christ, is "economic parity." On the website, Trinity claims that God is not pleased with "America's economic mal-distribution." Among all of the controversial comments by Jeremiah Wright, the idea of massive wealth redistribution is the most alarming. The code language "economic parity" and references to "mal-distribution" is nothing more than channeling the twisted economic views of Karl Marx. Black Liberation theologians have explicitly stated a preference for Marxism as an ethical framework for the black church because Marxist thought is predicated on a system of oppressor class (whites) versus victim class (blacks).
Obama’s economic policies seek to redistribute wealth in America (in order to address the economic injustices perpetrated by the rich upon the poor). We must also assume that since he has promised to “change the world,” we can expect that “rich America” should also redistribute her wealth abroad. Any means to accomplish this goal is justified. Revolution and class warfare have always been a part of the Marxist core beliefs.

As always, theology directs and controls our lives—personally and corporately. It is not a question of whether people are religious; it is only a matter of which theology a person embraces and serves. God’s creatures cannot escape this fundamental truth of their nature. They may worship false gods, or they may worship the true God, but they will worship someone or something. Someone’s theology controls every culture. Every religion vies for power and control of culture. Who’s God will prevail?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Council Moderator Closing Remarks for 2008

In just few moments I will retire from my five years of service as a moderator in the CREC. That’s five of the ten years of our existence. Overall, it has been both a privilege and honor to serve this body. There have been some great challenges, numerous frustrations, but many more blessings along the way. I want to thank Patch Blakey and Brett Baker for their pioneering work as our first moderators and I also want to express my gratitude for Presbytery moderators Douglas Wilson and Gregg Strawbridge who have labored together as men of godly integrity and wisdom.

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It might be tempting for us to get caught-up in our work and to think that what we are doing at the moment is all-important, or worse, that we are all-important. Right perspective is hard to maintain. I know that many of you labor long and hard in the trenches of the ministry day-in-and-day-out. Our ministerial trials and burdens often capture all our attention and energy. The CREC is a collection of churches, ministers, and elders who have gathered to give counsel, comfort, and encouragement—to share one another’s burdens—to rejoice and weep together. Yet, sometimes the tempests in our teapots can seem overwhelming, and again, we find that it’s easy to lose perspective. Our circle can often seem like the only circle. The truth is, our quarrels are mostly old ones; wrangled over many times before; and likely to wrangled over many more times in the future. Some of our struggles are unavoidable and are, indeed, important, but usually not as important as we might think.

Scripture teaches us that God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. So let us begin with the first so that we might see the last. I have told many a struggling pastor (while reminding myself): “If you never preach again, the kingdom of God will be just fine.” Brothers, God doesn’t need us; but He does often allow us to participate in what He is doing. From time-to-time we need to back-up—back way up—to see where we stand; to get so perspective. It is a humbling exercise.

It is estimated that about 100 billion people have lived on the earth in the course of human history. 6.7 billion people live in the world now. 300 million currently live in the United States.

The CREC now has about 80 churches (including Mission Churches), and about 7,500 members. We have existed for ten years.

The CREC represents:
4 .0000075% of all the people who have ever lived. (7.5 millionths of a percent)
4 .00011% of the people who are now alive on the earth. (1.1 ten thousandth of a percent)
4 .0025% of the current U.S population. (2.5 thousandths of a percent—and your church is only 1.2% of that.)
4 Since the days of Adam, about 6,000 years ago, the CREC has existed for 1/600th of that time.
Most of the 100 billion people who have lived on the earth have been forgotten, and so too, we will be forgotten within a hundred years of our death.

That’s the humbling news. We are tiny. So, how are we going to change the world if all we are is spit in the ocean? Here is where the other part of a right perspective comes in. “…we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” We are little, but we serve a big God. He has the long-view, and so must we. We might be soon forgotten on the earth, but we will never be forgotten by God. Every little thing is also a part of His big plan.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” — 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

A lot of things happened between Genesis 12 and the resurrection of Christ. A man could grow weary and discouraged. One old man and one old woman and one son, believing God, blessed the whole world. It’s impossible for us, but it’s easy for God to feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes? And it’s no problem for God to take a handful of men and turn the world upside-down.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
—Psalm 118:8-9
We will adjourn these meetings soon and return to our trenches. New leaders will be elected as the old ones are relieved of their duties. As we go, let us remember that God blesses and uses little men—faithful little men—and He accomplishes great things.

Thank you for your years of friendship, prayers, and support.

The Full Equation

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.” —Daniel 2:20-21

We live in uncertain times, but the truth is, they are only uncertain to us when our vision is shortsighted. We are only tempted to despair when we leave out part of the equation.

God possesses all wisdom, and this is certainly a comfort. But this comfort is increased exponentially when we add to this the fact that He also possesses all might. Wisdom wedded with might inspires our confidence. And when we see that He uses that wisdom and might to change times and seasons, we are then informed that He is not under the circumstances but that the circumstances are under Him. Even the mightiest men among us serve at His pleasure and also serve His purposes. The removal of a king (or a president) is quick and simple, as is the raising up of a king.

Moreover, when we add one more factor to the equation; the fact of God’s love for His people, we now have the complete formula: the wisdom + the might + the love of God (joined in perfect balance) = confidence and comfort.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39).

And so, brothers, in these “uncertain times”—these times of changing seasons—we are called, as ministers of the Gospel of Christ to be single-minded men, and to have the long-view. To see beyond the moment and to point our people to the only source of comfort in life and in death. To “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). We leave the rest to our wise, mighty and loving God.