We tend to over-spiritualize the work of God. I should say falsely spiritualize or unspiritualize, because whenever the Spirit does something in Scripture, it’s always concrete, powerful, obviously seen and experienced.
I’ve been working through the minor prophets and came today that great passage describing what the restoration would look like in Jerusalem. “Thus says the LORD of hostst: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girl playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the LORD of hosts? ” (Zech. 8:4-6).
The restoration was the precursor of the coming of Christ, a mighty work of the Spirit. And what would it look like? Old people with canes watching kids playing in the streets. It would look like a multi-generational block party.
One of the most common and trite quotations of the Bible is “Judge not, lest you be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Even people who can write “damnation” in the dust covering their Bible (HT: LG) seem to have this verse memorized. It’s employed whenever someone wants to stop someone else from making an ethical judgment, and in doing so they make a judgment–“Don’t do that, I’m telling you it’s wrong.” So it’s contradictory, but still incorrect.
Jesus isn’t teaching us to refrain from ethical judgments. In Matthew 7 he says whatever standard of judgment you use for others, the same will be applied to you (7:2). He forbids hypocrisy. The solution to hypocritical judgment isn’t to remove judgment altogether anymore than the antidote for stealing is to stop convicting thieves. What’s needed is a just police force and unbribeable judges. In the plank-speck analogy, Jesus says to get the plank out your own eye so that you can help get the speck out of your brother’s eye (7:5). Repent yourself, then you will be qualified to help someone else.
We are in dire need of wise and true judgment, which means we are in dire need of repentance. Sound judgment and integrity necessarily follow true repentance. Just a few verses later Jesus talks about identifying (judging) wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15-20). Why do churches tolerate wolves masquerading as sheep? Why is the US Treasury run by someone who won’t pay his own taxes? It’s hard to see with eyes full of wood. But for those with integrity, de-planked and walking in the light, judgment is a must. It must be wise and charitable, governed by the golden rule (7:12), but then players are obvious: “You will know them by their fruits” (7:20).
And want to know how others are? Tim Challies done an interesting survey of where Reformed readers are finding them.
For anyone in the area, Trinity Church is sponsoring its 8th annual Summer Music Camp on Monday, June 20 through Friday, June 24 for grades 4-12.
The theme of this year’s camp is Christ the King! Students will sing several settings of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs based on this theme. The various classes relate to what the students are singing, enabling them to examine the music from multiple angles (Scriptural, musical, conceptual, etc.) as well as covering the fundamentals of singing technique and musical theory.
The camp will be held at Providence Classical Christian School in Lynnwood (21500 Cypress Way). Classes run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. On Friday, June 24, there will be a dress rehearsal at 6:00 pm, followed by the final concert beginning at 7:30 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood (6215 196th St. SW).
For registration forms and more information, please contact Jordan Doolittle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God
By Sam Crabtree
Reviewed by Jerry Owen
He has raised up a horn for his people, Praise for all his saints, For the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord! Psalm 148:14
We like to think we are wired differently from one another, that some see the glass half-full of sparkling champagne, and others see it half empty with three-day-old Folgers coffee grounds mucking the bottom. Sam Crabtree has done us a great service by putting the practice of affirmation into the disciplines-to-be-cultivated category and not the I’m-not-naturally-inclined-that-way-so-I’m-excused-from-obedience category.
“Affirmation is the purpose of the universe—specifically, affirmation of God” (p. 11). All true affirmation finds its source in the work of God, poured out on his creation. “And the LORD made Solomon very great in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (1 Chron. 9:25). Solomon is not stealing praise from God, but simply receiving what God gave him. Those who recognize and proclaim this, as the biblical writers constantly do, affirm not just the person who has been blessed, but ultimately the work of God who gave the blessing in the first place. Continue reading
Good thoughts by Keith Mathison’s from his article, worth reading in full, Confessions of a Bibiophile:
Our God is a God who has revealed Himself in a book, in words. We learn about God and His will, therefore, by reading. We learn by reading and reflecting on His Word. We also learn by reading and thinking with the church. This means we read and reflect on the insights of our brethren, those who are still with us and those who have gone on before us. We may also learn by reading with discernment the works of those who have spent time “reading” God’s general revelation. This includes works of science, philosophy, history, poetry, and literature.
If I might offer a word of advice and encouragement to my fellow bibliophiles, it is this: As Ecclesiastes reminds us, “Of making many books there is no end” (12:12). Millions of books have been published, and thousands more are published every year. We cannot read them all, so it is best to read the good ones. If you don’t know which books are the good ones, seek the advice of mature Christians. Find recommended reading lists by churches and ministries you trust.
Finally, while we read to learn about our God and His works of creation and redemption, we must not allow a love of reading to supplant our love for Christ. If we do, our books, even our Christian books, become nothing more than idols. All the reading in the world, if it does not ultimately promote our love of Christ and our brethren, is nothing but futility.
For those in the Seattle area, at 6pm on Sunday, May 15, 2011 Walid Shoebat is speaking at Cedar Park Church in Bothell, WA on the topic of radical Islam. From the flyer:
Walid Shoebat, born in Bethlehem of Judea, is a former Muslim terrorist. His grandfather was the Muslim Mukhtar (chieftain) of Beit Sahour-Bethlehem (The Shepherd’s Fields) and a friend of Haj-Ameen Al-Husseni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and notorious friend of Adolf Hitler.
Walid’s great grandfather, Abdullah Ali Awad-Allah, was also a fighter and close associate of both Abdul Qader and Haj Amin Al-Husseini, who led the Palestinians against Israel. Walid lived through and witnessed Israel’s Six Day War while living in Jericho.
You have seen him on the news, now hear this insider’s wake up call about radical Islam.
From a fascinating article on the increasing use of dogs by our military: “The scent of war: According to Mike Dowling, a former Marine Corps dog handler who served in Iraq, there’s a simple explanation for why the Navy SEALs took a dog along on the Osama raid: “A dog’s brain is dominated by olfactory senses.” In fact, Dowling says, a dog can have up to 225 million olfactory receptors in their nose — the part of their brain devoted to scent is 40 times greater than that of a human.
“When you’re going on a mission,” Dowling says, “a raid or a patrol, insurgents are sneaky — they like to hide stuff from you. But a dog can smell them. …. [Think about] Saddam Hussein … what if Osama had been [hiding] in a hole in the ground? A dog could find that. A dog could alert them to where he’s hiding because of the incredible scent capabilities. … You can only see what you can see. You can’t see what you don’t see. A dog can see it through his nose.” HT: D. Lance
This looks like a good conference, put on by friends at the Family Policy Institute of Washington in Bellevue on May 16th. One day, Wayne Grudem, and free–hard to beat. Sign up here. From the flyer:
The purpose of the conference is to help church leaders think biblically about the relationship between the church and civil government. During the course of their ministry, every pastor is forced to deal with people in their congregations to have different opinions on controversial issues. They are also required to make a decision about how they will deal with, or not deal with, these cultural issues. Dr. Grudem is one of the most well-respected theologians in America today, and his knowledge and insight into scripture will provide revealing, and perhaps surprising, answers to these question.
Topics that will be discussed include:
- Will my tax exempt status be threatened if I discuss political issues?
- What does scripture say about civil government and the church?
- Should I care how my church votes, or if they vote at all?
- Should I speak to my congregation about political issues?
- Is it biblical to say “We don’t discuss political issues”