Saturday, September 29, 2007

Making Church Safe for Men

Church has become an activity for little old ladies of both sexes. Feminine piety is now considered to be THE normative form of piety. When the feminine element leads or dominates, the result is that those men who are masculine are encouraged to stay away.
The individualization of piety has meant that individual men must try to learn how to think like a bride. They don't do this very well, and so they stay away. Those who learn to do it well may develop another problem - they may become effeminate.

Music has been one of the chief culprits in the feminization of the church. THE CURRENT EMPHASIS ON 'FEELING WORSHIPFUL' IS FRANKLY MASTURBATORY, WHICH IN MEN PRODUCES A COWARDLY AND EFFEMINATE RESULT. The fact that the church has largely abandoned the singing of psalms means that the church has abandoned a songbook that is thoroughly masculine in its lyrics. The writer of most of the psalms was a warrior, and he knew how to fight the Lord's enemies in song. We must return to a world of vigorous singing, vibrant anthems, more songs where the tenor carries the melody, open fifths, and glory.

-Douglas Wilson in Future Men

Thy rod and staff they comfort me

[Without church discipline] the whole church takes on a completely different character. John MacAurthur claims that 99% of churches don’t even bother with church discipline. The only time you hear a rebuke is if you don’t give enough money. The reality of life is what Calvin said a long time ago: ‘The mark of a true church is discipline.’

- Alexander Strauch [author of Biblical Eldership and Leading with Love]

I can't find 'seminary' in my concordance either

Q: What can the seminaries be doing to be training better pastors?
A: Well, we need to get back to Biblical studies and sound theology. But again, as the seminaries go, so goes the clergy. And as the clergy goes, so goes the church. We know that from around the world. The problem is that seminaries are from the academic world. And they’re almost slaves to whatever is latest and newest and the biggest fad in the academic community. And the last thing seminary professors want to be seen as is being out of touch, or being old-fashioned, or being obscurantist - that sort of thing. So that we have weak professors. I mean professors who don’t have the strength of conviction to stand in a world of skepticism. It’s a worldview issue here.
And I think you may see new models for education of clergy getting it back more to the local church and less dependent upon the professionals.

- R. C. Sproul [interview on Generations Radio - The 21st Century Reformation]

Shepherding a Child in the Fear of God

We need to help our children get a hold of this whole issue of the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Children desperately need to know the fear of the Lord. We’ve emphasized the imminence of God in modern evangelicalism, but we’ve lost sight of the transcendence of God - this God is a holy God. He’s a sovereign God. He’s a powerful God. He’s a glorious God. He’s a severe God. He’s a God Who will not trifle with wickedness or wink at iniquity. He’s a glorious, glorious God.

But we’ve really made God into a celestial vending machine in modern evangelicalism where we put in our coins of Bible reading and prayer. Then we push the buttons to get what we want. And when we don’t get what we want, we kick the machine. Now I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with people who’ve come to me and said, ‘I’m mad at God.’ Now think of the effrontery of that. The thing formed says to the One Who formed it: He has no hands. The pot mocks the Potter. How on earth can we, trapped in our finitude, have the effrontery to give God a report card and decide God has not done well in his task of running the world and ordering providence for us.

We need again and again to help our kids to see the wonder and glory of the character and being of God so that they are overwhelmed with His glory - this marvelous God that has made them and all things for His glory. This God is an awesome and glorious God before Whom wise men tremble because wisdom begins with the fear of God.

I remember one night one of our kids said, “You know, Dad, instead of having bumper stickers that say: 'Smile! God loves you', we ought to have bumper stickers that say ‘Tremble! God is a consuming fire.’”

I said, ‘You’re right.’ Because you can not understand anything about God without understanding the wrath of a holy God on sin. And we need to help our children get a hold of this.

-Ted Tripp [Preparing our Future Generations, sermon #3]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

China: a billion rebukes

Yesterday I heard yet another radio show on the church in China. There is tremendous growth, tremendous opportunity, and tremendous NEED. Today is the pivotal point in the developing Chinese church with a reported five million Christian converts per year. Many regions, depending on local officials, still experience varying degrees of persecution, oftentimes very intense forms. All of the experts agree that the single greatest need is for pastoral training in sound doctrine to prevent the widespread parasitism of cults. With the momentum and sheer size of the church in China, such a cult take-over could make the Mormons look like a gang of goons on a streetcorner by comparison.

And so it struck me - here we are in America ... reformed believers ... with more doctrinal training than we know what to do with ... almost bloted [to be crass: constipated] with teaching ... and so little output ... so little impact. Could it be that God has raised up the reformed believers in America for such a time as this? The one thing that our bleeting brothers and sisters most desperately need - right teaching - is the one thing that, for all our faults, we most certainly possess.

So why aren't the borders of China being flooded with reformed American teachers? We ought to be jumping out of our skin to get over there. Brethren - let's talk about it [Calvinists are good at that] - then let's DO SOMETHING.

Abraham's children will be like the stars in the sky. If the current statistics are anywhere near accurate, China alone will account for several galaxies. We have what they need. Christ's sheep are starving but the wolves are feasting. Brothers - to arms.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Strong Words and Smooth Seas [R.C. quotes from the Ligonier Cruise]

"I think we have a tendency as Christians to underestimate the power of that natural corruption in our hearts. I tell people the most basic sin of the human race is the proclivity for idolatry - for exchanging the truth of God for a lie. And regeneration does not cure that instantly. We have to fight it as long as we live.
We still have people today who profess to be Christians, who say they love Jesus, but they discount a ton of what God reveals about Himself in Scripture. They choke on sovereignty. They don't want to hear about the wrath of God. They don't want to hear about the justice of God. And yet they say, 'I love God.' But the god they love has been stripped of his scary and uncomfortable attributes. And that's idolatry. And all of us to some extent still engage in discounting the full nature of God from our thinking. Because if we really deal with God in the fullness of His holiness and of His sovereignty, we'd be on our face all the time before him.
If I say to people, 'God loves you unconditionally' and they are not Christians, what do they hear? That means: 'God's gonna love me no matter what I do. I don't have to repent. I don't have to come to Christ. I can keep on sinning and that's not going to affect God's love for me. Because God's love is unconditional.'
That's scary stuff. That's not the God of Scripture. The God of Scripture hates your sin. And when it comes to the divine judgment, He's not gonna' send your sin to Hell. He's going to send you there, okay?
But I talk to a lot of people, and the little old lady will say to me, 'But my God is a God of love.' And I'll say, 'Well where'd you ever get the idea that God was a God of love? From Iraq? From Vietnam? From the cancer ward in the hospital? From the ghetto in Los Angelos or New York? Is that where you learned God was a God of love? No, I'll tell you where you learned that God was a God of love - from the pages of the Scriptures. The same source that tells you He's holy; and that He's righteous; and that He's a God of wrath and a God of judgment. But we come to the Bible like it was a smorgasbord and you take your plate like we're at the Ledo, and you take a little grace and a little mercy and a little love, and you leave the holiness and the justice and the sovereignty there because you don't like that. That's what we do. I mean, we all do that. And we reconstruct a God that we can live with. That's our most basic sinful tendency. But we have to fight against that as long as we live."


"W.C. Fields began to read the Bible on his deathbed and someone said, ‘W.C., what are you doing?’
He replied, ‘I’m looking for loopholes.’
So there are legalists like that. But let me tell you what being legalistic isn’t. It’s not being legalistic to obey the law of God. And so often, people who are Christians, who are earnestly trying to be obedient Christians, and genuinely seek to be in conformity to the law of God and obey God are accused of legalism by those who are less than scrupulous about giving obedience to God. Now the pendulum swings either way. There are times where the church gets very legalistic in the negative sense and obscures grace and mercy and all the rest. But that’s not where we are now. The big problem in the church today is not legalism, it’s antinomianism.
Though the law doesn’t save us, the law reveals to us what is pleasing to God. And the Christian heart is a heart that should seek to do that which is pleasing to God. Jesus put it very simply: ‘If you love me, keep My commandments.’ But we have this cheap grace in our day. We even have a ghastly, ghastly doctrine of the ‘carnal Christian’. You can’t find it anywhere in sacred Scripture. I’m telling you that’s designed so we do evangelism and people make a profession of faith and then the next day they’re no different than they were the day before and we want to count them and say, ‘Well, they made their profession of faith!’ Well, profession of faith never saved anybody - it’s the possession of faith. And your works won’t save you, but it is impossible to have true faith - converted faith - without a changed life. Your sanctification begins the very second you’re converted or you haven’t been converted."

- R.C. Sproul [from Q & A #1 of The Providence of God Alaskan Cruise 2005]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Let the righteous smite me - it shall be a kindness.

As a matter of fact, let me share something with you. Sunday morning is the greatest hour of idolotry in America. Did you know that? Now people always come to me when I say, 'You hated God' and they'll say, 'No I didn't.'
I'll say, 'Yes, you did.'
They'll say, 'No I didn't. I loved God.'
'No you didn't.'
'What do you mean I didn't love God. I loved God.'
'No, you didn't love God. You loved a figment of your own imagination.'

You know pastors will sometimes ask me to come and teach on the attributes of God and I'll say 'You probably don't want me to do that.'
They'll say, 'Why?'
'Because it'll probably split your church.'
'Teaching on the attriubutes of God will split my church?'
"Yes, it will. Because if I start teaching on the love of God - fine. But if I start teaching on the justice of God, the holiness of God, the sovereignty of God I'll make it about three days in most churches - if that long - and you know what will happen? People will start standing up and go, 'That's not my God. I could never love a God like that!'"

That's why people all over America today are sitting in churches and they are committing idolotry. Because they are not singing to the God of the Bible, they are singing to a god they made with their own minds that looks more like Santa Clause than he does Yahweh.

Richard Owen Roberts once mentioned that AIDS was the judment of God. And some lady got so angry she couldn't see straight. She stood up and said, 'AIDS is not the judgment of God.'
He said, 'Ma'am, what's your proof?'
She said, 'Because little babies die of AIDS. Therefore AIDS is not the judgment of God.'
Richard Owen Roberts said, 'How many little babies do you think God killed when He flooded the earth in the time of Noah?'
You don't love a God like that, do you? He's not politically correct. You think about it. We're talking about God.

As C.S. Lewis always said and I'm fond to repeat, 'He's not a tame Lion.'

That's another thing young people don't quite understand. You've got so many charlatans who say God is here and God is there and God showed up here last night. I dare say that He doesn't show up much, because when God really shows up, it's not to tickle. The presence of God is as terrible as it is wonderful.

-Paul Washer [excerpts from Man Apart from God and What is the Gospel?]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

'F' stands for 'Fuhrizzle'

The kind of Christianity that is being nurtured in our churches is one that does not have the sort of fiber to take people through the great conflicts of life… It’s a kind of Christianity that doesn’t see truth in any other terms than what is true for me or what is therapeutically beneficial for me. If I can see truth in those terms, I will believe it, but not in any other terms. But the fact of the matter is that Jesus called His followers to come after him and take up there cross. Those words trip lightly off our tongues but let us bear in mind the image. We are being invited to our own death. And in many parts of the world today, that has a quite literal meaning. And if not death, then imprisonment. And if not imprisonment, then serious, serious harassment. We have none of that in America. Our Christian faith that is therapeutic, and easy, and adjusted to the consumer, and offered on the consumer‘s terms. I just don‘t think it will take us through any crisis that might be coming down the road.

- David F. Wells in an interview w/ Desiring God ministries