Books read in December

Golden Fleece – Padraic Colum - CLASSICS

The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth Speare – CHILDRENS

Calvin’s Institutes - THEOLOGY

Study Guide to the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Williamson – THEOLOGY

Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink - CHILDRENS

Blind Side – Michael Williams - CONTEMPORARY


Looking Back in the studio

Looking back on 2009, it's been a productive year in Sara's studio:
lace scarves & shawls 2.5
scarves/cowls 2
hats 4
pairs of mittens/gloves/mitts 6
pairs of socks 5
sweaters/vests 1
baby sweaters 2
dishrags 2
purses 1
lap blankets 1
toy rabbit 1
Total Knit Items: 27.5
(6 of these items were for me - the rest were gifts!)

(this is a bit more sketchy as I haven't kept great records)

girls dress 1
girls nightgown 1
kids pj pants 5
adult skirt 1
doll dresses 2
doll bedding 1
ironing board cover 1
log carring bag 1
finished queen size quilt (10 yrs in the making!) 1
purses 2
baby quilts 1
*and lots of alterations & mending!*

I write this list not to brag, but rather to see trends in my creative output. I was surprised as I dug through photo archives and my journal logs to find projects that I had forgotten about or thought I had done in 2008. This helps me make a list of things I want to knit/sew for 2010. Many items on this list are small: hats, mitts, etc. I'll review and come up with my plan for 2010 in the next few days.

Oh, and I should add that the first six months of the year were spent mostly repairing our water damage and refinishing our dining set! Needless to say, I get a bit paranoid if I hear a drip of water these days.


Christmas Crafties

Do you ever notice strange trends that you create unknowingly? Like a tendency to buy purple clothes? I discovered I have an overabundance of red and white yarn, so I used it to decorate our mantel! Cheaper than buying more decorations, right? :) Below you can see a bunch of yarny goodness, including a sweater sleeve from a thrift store find that I prompty bought and took apart. Even my drop spindle had red wool on it, so it found a home in my "snowpile" of white wools!
The rest of that thrift shop sweater turned into a pillow cover. I whipped up another festive pillow made from 2 log cabin squares from a quilt square swap earlier this year (recognize them, BK?)
As if all this crafting goodness isn't enough, THIS amazing creation was made by a wonderful cooking-friend of ours (who are the best kind to have around Christmas!). This is way beyond my skils. Don't you love the little meringue toadstools? It tasted every bit as good as it looks!

And then there are the handknits. It is so satisfying to sit with wood needles and some wool and create something that will warm a loved one. These thick socks went to Steve, who has learned that when one receives a handknit gift, one must immediately put it on and prance around with glee. (We're still working on the prancing around bit, but he was very happy to get SOCKS!)


Critter Knits

Made these fun mittens for my nephews - puppies for the little guy and skunks for his big bro.

Winter Wonderland

We're still dreaming of a white Christmas. Winter in Virginia is a fickle thing, teasing us with a dusting of snow followed by bright blue sunny skies. Those moments of white wonder have long melted away and leave me to remember my wintry trip to Michigan earlier this month.

My parents must've played with Lincoln Logs too much as kids
swallowtail shawl I knit for Mom last year

my sis and cousins - in the land of the Dutch they grow 'em TALL!
(I'm the only one in heels!)

Dad's workshop after a snowy night

even my 88 yo Grandpa is taller than me!
(still lives in the house he was born in)


Things I never noticed...

Also, those concerned about an officially endorsed Christianity producing nominal Christians, like in the time of Constantine, need to deal with Esther 8:17:

"Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them."

This is not a concern, but a blessing. It raises its own problems, but is a blessing, overall.

Things I never noticed...

In Esther, the king's first queen Vashti is removed for failing to come to the king when invited.
The next queen, Esther, fears punishment for coming to the king UN-invited.


Too much goodness

The goodness is waist-deep around here.

1) it's snowing!! We're all so excited to see this rare treat - and at Christmastime, too! Thanks God! Hubby took the kids outside in their tshirts and shorts to grab a handfull and bring it in the house. He came in with snow on his beard. Y

2) chocolate + cinnamon + coffee = WOW. I whipped up this fudge in 5 min or less. This is pretty much instant gratification.

3) saw the Nutcracker ballet today, first time for my oldest boy. He's too cool to say that he liked it, but he's been doing a lot of funny looking leaps this afternoon.

4) thrifted red & white fair isle knit sweater was turned into a festive pillow cover. I'm falling in love with Scandinavian/Norwegian traditional designs. I will have to try some fair isle knitting in 2010.

5) husband reading aloud "Lord of the Rings" and doing the voice of Gimli the dwarf.

But you shall die like men

Just read Psalm 82. Verses 6-7 always blow me away as one of the most shocking examples of "remez," where the teacher quotes a text, hinting on another level at what is before or after what he actually quotes. In John 10:34, Jesus quotes Ps 82:6 to counter their charge against Him of blasphemy. But beyond His countering that charge He is making another point. "He called them gods, to whom the Word of God came," meaning the original audience of Ps 82. And to whom did the ultimate Word of God come? Those Jesus is arguing with!

Now, what happened to those "gods" in the Psalm? Verse 7: "But you shall die like men." And so it would be with Jesus' critics. Though they were temple rulers, the "gods" of Israel, they would die, because they did not judge justly or defend and deliver the poor (see rest of the Psalm).

Obedience check-up

I'm experimenting with audio, here. Apparently the link gets you to the audio, but takes you away from here to the website that hosts it.

In this podcast by Jay Adams he asks a series of questions that covers the waterfront of possible problems.


Putting on Christ

Quoting Augustine"
"Some put on Christ as far as the receiving of the sacrament; others, as far as sanctification. The former, good and bad do equally; the latter, the good alone."
Calvin's Institutes: IV:19:16

This opposes the standard view that without faith the sacrament doesn't do anything - it doesn't "take." No, there is a union with, a putting on, Christ that happens in the sacraments. But without faith it does not benefit.


Still have the Spirit

"But those miraculous powers and manifest workings, which were dispensed by the laying on of hands, have ceased; and they have rightly lasted only for a time. For it was fitting that the new preaching of the gospel and the new Kingdom of Christ should be illumined and magnified by unheard-of and extraordinary miracles. When the Lord ceased from these, He did not utterly forsake His church, but declared that the magnificence of His Kingdom and the dignity of His word had been excellently enough disclosed."

John Calvin: Institutes book 4, chapter 19, section 6.


Christmas Flurries of Activity

We're still here, really. Many random things occupy our days this Christmas season:

-wondering when it will stop raining so I can get our outdoor decorations up
-making apple dumplings. 3 dozen or more!
-sewing holiday skirts from remaining Reformation day costume fabric
-watching squirrels carry the stuffing from our porch swing up to their nest
-reading Lord of the Rings aloud to the kids (they're hooked)
-kids writing acrostics for CHRISTMAS and coming up with "torpedo" for T (what?)
-5 yr old sounding out "O Come all ye Faithful" on the piano
-the happies from wool and wood knitting needles
-more happies from cello/piano duets played late at night with the husband

When the camera batteries get replaced, I'll share some of this goodness with you!


Enmity at the table?

Sermon from Matt 5:38-43 - loving your enemies

Exhortation based on – Isaiah 53:3-6

One thing enemies do is despise each other. And Jesus was despised by men. Ridiculed. Mocked. Put to shame. He was hung on the tree, where enemies of the state were executed. It was at the tree of life in the Garden where earthly enemies first arose against God, taking forbidden food. But because of the cross, He now offers us, His former enemies, the food of life. He sets a table in the presence of His enemies. Enemies would never think of having a dinner together, but God makes it possible. He sets forth on this table the end result of our salvation – fellowship and food from Him. And He sets forth on this table the means of our salvation – faith in Christ’s flesh and blood sacrifice, taking the wrath of God for our sin, paying the redemption price to buy us back into God’s house as sons and daughters, not servants.


Return fire?

1 Peter 3:8-9: "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."

As Jesus prays for us in John 17, He wants us to be one, as He is one with the Father. This is hard to do in the middle of disagreements or being hurt and offended by someone. It is easy to lose compassion, tenderheartedness and courtesy for those who are against us in some way. It is the most natural thing in the world, boys, to hit back when you get hit. Girls, to fire unkind words back when she teases you first. To hold on to memories of being wronged. But Jesus often saves us from remembering our sin, our enemies, and the damage it all does.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.

June 14, 2009


Smooshy Rainy Day

Rain rain go away...

What do 4 kids and a mama do when trapped indoors by a gloomy day? We spent a couple hours smooshing clay, making wild creations. Geodesic domes. A toothpick-turkey. Tons of lumpy beads. Star Wars space ships. A knitting snow-woman. It felt so good to just sit and create with the kids. One of my biggest frustrations with art class as a kid in school was that you only had 45 min to bang out a project. How can a kid explore the medium, much less create something they're proud of in such a short time?

Smooshing is today's theme - pardon me if this grosses you out, but I'm SOOO happy that our little guy finally p--ped on the potty today!! Mothering is a very earthy thing, not for the squeamish. The little guy turned down ice cream as a treat for a lollipop instead. Wow.

Good stuff - in a comedy club? Yes!

Netflix for Presbyterians

It is called Puritan Picks.
Works exactly like Netflix.
Great selection - variety and depth.
I've got 17 in the queue already...
Check it out!


That the World May Know

Somebody on an email list I'm on asked about the credibility of Ray VanderLaan (RVL). I thought I'd post my thoughts here.

RVL is deeply devoted to the text of Scripture. Many academics believe that most of what passes for knowledge of 1st century Jewish culture and thought comes from post-NT rabbinic sources. I am not well-versed in this academic debate, but RVL would say (I think) that the Jewish oral tradition is so consistent that it is sometimes legit to extrapolate it back into Jesus' time. He has been shaped by modern Jewish readings of Scripture and Jesus (studied with Jacob Neusner at Hebrew Univ in NYC), which can bring significant insights to us. Key verse here is Rom 1:16; 3:1-2. Paul went to the Jew frst, because they had the context and anticipation for Messianic promises, not just to make the self-righteous prigs jealous. They've been reading Scripture for 2000 years longer than we have. That line of thought. Out of this, I bought and reference the JPS Torah commentary now and then, and it is useful.

Without trying to pick a fight, I'd say that a more Lutheran academic training may prejudice against much of this. I'm not saying 1 Tim 1:13 isn't true, though some in RVL's circles certainly underplay the unbelief of 1st century Jews. I won't defend them doing that. But there's a spectrum. I think there were many godly Jews who honored Scripture, forming a text-honoring culture - John 5:39. But they weren't just misguided in rejecting Jesus - they didn't believe because their pride and sin and nationalism, etc got in the way.

As far as the videos, they are great. There are occasional leaps of Scriptural logic in them, but overall they are solid and useful. For instance, he surmises in "Iron of the Culture" that David obtained the best Philistine technology while in exile with Achish, and then used it against them when he became king of Israel. Application: we need to use the iron of our culture to do 2 Cor 10:4. Pretty good. Do we know for sure David did this? Probably not. Is it a safe and sound inference? Maybe...


The charismatic question

What I might say to someone starting to go this way.

On demon-possession and our authority
If my daughter's eyes were bugging out unnaturally and she were speaking awful things to me in an unearthly, gravelly voice, I'd start looking seriously into exorcism, and call around for advice. I don't rule demon possession out completely, without considering circumstances. I would not say we have no authority to exorcise. But I would not seek to take action on the spot. (Scriptural accounts imply long times of possession, not for an hour or so of disobedience). I would not trust to saying certain words to cast out a demon and restore my child to obedience (Scriptural accounts don't show possession as source of disobedience, but as tormenting the soul and body). I would not assume my daughter is possessed just because she is not being obedient, nor if she is physically defiant. It is not a normal part of the Christian's discipleship and fight against sin, to address and attack demons directly. This WAS more the case in the Gospels because of the unique circumstance of the Son of God being on earth. The epistles, especially Eph 6:10-20, give a strategy more addressed to us; the Gospels aren't giving us an attack plan but describing what happened to Jesus and what He had the 12 and 70 apostles do in that generation. Mark 16:17-18 is establishing the apostles' authority, and these things are recorded in Acts.

On linking charismatic gifts to salvation
Not having these gifts or powers personally doesn't question our salvation, undermine our faith, or take away spiritual warfare weapons. Many wind up believing their faith in God or standing in Christ is in doubt without these signs - that your faith is undermined if you don't think you can (or if you haven't) cast out demons, or spoken in tongues, or whatever. For the true signs of a Christian, see Rom 6:3-4; Gal 5:16-26; 1 John 3:18-23. Wonders, miracles, sensational Spirit gifts, and casting out demons are not among them. This is partly why I interpreted Mark 16:17ff above as I did.

On credibility
So what do we do with reports of possession and exorcism today? I don't dismiss them all out of hand, but neither do I believe them all eagerly, to support the reality of the spiritual warfare we are actually in. I believe one's credibility is diminished greatly as he puts faith in saying certain words to automatically do spiritual good or evil, like with a deliverance prayer, or saying the name of Jesus. With that perspective, a report of demon-possession is less credible. Like speaking in tongues, it is more likely a result of the power of suggestion than a genuine demonic occurrence.

On agreeing to disagree:
This is where it gets hard. I actually think other Christians are seeing demons where there aren't any, and they are that deluded? Very possibly, yes. But don't take this personally as an attack on your rationality, if you believe demons have attacked you in ways you could sense with the senses. I just don't think the position above about how to fight them is the Biblical one, or that it makes rational sense. It is a difference of opinion that leads to not esteeming one's judgment as highly, as charismatics thus esteem my judgement less, in turn. We should amicably recognize that is a two-way street. But we remain brothers in Christ.


Crazy Mom & 4 kids hit the city

I grew up in the country - roads ran on a grid system, life was simple. Then we moved to the Hampton Roads area where all bets are off while driving. The cul de sac of America. Your compass will say north but the road signs say east (or west!) and there is hardly a 90-degree intersection to be found. Multi-lane highways fly along then suddenly come to a screeching hault. Ugh.

So when I saw the map for our family field trip to Philadelphia, I was very confident I could drive myself and 4 little ones through this big city. It's one huge grid system! The streets are numbered (in a logical order) and the cross streets are named after trees, like every proper city should have. I attributed this orderly system to Ben Franklin (he did everything else there, right?)

We dropped hubby off at his conference 9am and hit the road into town, high on adrenaline. Oh. MY!

I will never complain about I-64 again. It's a cake walk compared to the stretch of I-76 going into Philly. Yikes. But we made it. I even found a parking spot in the 6-floor garage next to the archaeology museum. Life was good. We settled in for a day in dimly lit rooms looking at things that moved at an extremely slow pace. Those mummies weren't going anywhere.

Bouyed by my morning success, I bundled the kids back and headed across the Schuykill river into the heart of the city. Sky scrapers! Taxis cutting me off! Pedestrians who KNOW they have the right of way! I was on a yarn crawl, folks, and nothing could get me down, not even the chorus of tired whiny voices when they figured out where Mama was bringing them. I easily found the first of many yarn shops on my list and even found a parking spot right around the corner! Too good to be true! I did double check that it wasn't too close to the corner, by a hydrant, or marked "handicapped." Bingo! We dashed in the yarn shop for 20 min, then dashed out, bag of wool in hand.

The Philadelphia police force is a top-notch crime-cracking team. Out of state red minivans seem to draw their attention, especially those parked in front of a driveway. Drat! This officer was a fast-worker with Extra-Sensory-Perception. The parking ticket he put under my wiper was for the EXACT same amount as my yarn shop bill.

It's gray & cloudy, been drizzling on us all day, 4 kiddos are tired and complaining, my ability to process ANYTHING else new is kaput, and now there's a parking ticket to tell my hubby about. I did not cry (Dutch people don't cry). I laughed. Really. I hope you are too!

Salvation... from what?

A lot of things.

Jesus saves from the American Dream

This depends on the definition of American Dream you're working with, but I fully agree that there are aspects of the American Dream from which we need salvation.

Conditions met

Good John Piper quote here:

"Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us.

That is not right.

There are indeed real conditions that God often commands. We must meet them for the promised blessing to come. But that does not mean that we are left to ourselves to meet the conditions or that our action is first and decisive."

Read Jeremiah 29:13, then 24:7, to see it.


Out of state!

I am at the CCEF national conference in Philadelphia. Great stuff.
Title: Sex Matters
Here are the first talks I've heard.

Pre-conference – Doing Pastoral Care in the church
1. What’s right about sex? Winston Smith - CCEF teacher
2. The Fall: Sex Contaminated - Ed Welch – CCEF faculty - author
3. Marriage, Adultery, and God’s Wrath: How the Prophets Express God’s Passion
by Mike Kelly – Prof at Westminster - East

These talks are coming yet
4. When sex in marriage doesn't work
by Phil Monroe - prof at Biblical Theological Seminary
5. Jesus our Redeemer - David Powlison - Westminster prof, CCEF teacher
6. Redeeming Sex for Singles - Lauren Winner - author
7. How Church Leaders Should Respond to Sexual Abuse - Tim Lane and Aaron Sironi
8. When a Spouse Has a Headache - Ed Welch - CCEF teacher and author
9. Redeeming Sex in Marriage - Mike Emlet - CCEF teacher
10. Sex and Heaven: Why Sex isn't everything - Tim Lane - CCEF director

Bought these books so far (I'm done!), not related to the conference topic
Calvin in the Public Square: Liberal democracies, rights, and civil liberties
Satan Cast Out: A Study in Biblical Demonology
Precious remedies against Satan's devices - Thomas Brooks, puritan
Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling - Kruis

Renewing Promises with the Promise-Giver

Based on Psalm 116:1-8, 12-14, 17-19

In every sacrament, God confirms or renews His covenant with us. A covenant is a 2-way promise that shapes a relationship. God makes His Gospel promises visible and tangible in the sacraments; He renews covenant with us. He wants us to hear His promises often, so that our relationship with Him stays close and warm, like a father with his children is meant to be.

At the same time, the sacraments, and our worship also involve us making promises to God. Because He has heard our cry and saved us, we lift up the cup of salvation, call on His name, and pay our vows in front of everyone here. This ritual is a time for you to renew your confession of faith in your savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. To renew your membership vows, to recall your baptism in Christ. To think upon His promises He first made to you, and renew your own trust in those promises, and in the Promise-giver.


Working it off, or holding it against

Based on Hebrews 4:14-16

We do not understand grace. We don’t want to accept forgiveness. When we sin, we want to work off our debt ourselves, so we aren’t obligated to others, or to God. Many good works we do motivated by a sense of guilt and debt. In this, we lack faith in the death of Christ to fully pay for our sin.

We have the same problem when others sin; we want to see them face the consequences. It is hard to accept that Jesus paid it all, for them, as they repent. It is very easy to say you forgive, while you hide an unforgiving heart that keeps pointing out real consequences they must face. This doesn’t mean that if you point to consequences you must be unforgiving, just that it is easy to use the partial truth of consequences to justify your bitterness, especially when you keep laying the consequences on them yourself.

Of course, none of this applies if they won’t make a clean and full confession, acknowledging they understand the sin or offense, and are seeking to change. We all need a great deal of practice in confronting the sins of others lovingly and forthrightly, having an honest dialogue about the situation, acknowledging our faults to others humbly, and forgiving and staying in close relationship with those who have hurt us. We practice and improve upon this each Lord’s Day here, in God’s call to confession, our confession, His assurance of forgiveness, experiencing His ongoing communion with us, and His commission to continue serving Him, in spite of our past failures.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.


Fire at the gate of the Garden

This is an incomplete draft from a friend. Thought it was worth pondering...

God created Adam; perfect, without blemish
Adam walked with God in the garden.
Adam screwed up, became blemished, imperfect
Adam clothed himself with plants (like a Priest)
God killed an animal (covering Adam's sin with blood)
God clothed him as a king in new flesh
God kicked Adam out
Adam could no longer walk with God in the garden/Holy of Holies
Adam brought animals to the gate of the garden to be cut into pieces and ascend in the fire of the cherubims' swords as a picture of what Jesus would do
The Priests supervised and performed sacrifices, like God, providing clothing/covering for the people
The Levites "replaced" the cherubim, guarding the garden
Now we are priests, entering the Holy of Holies every week
Now we are living sacrifices, clothed/washed by baptism, cut up by the word, set on fire by the Holy Spirit


Elsie Dinsmore

Elsie Dinsmore
The world of Elsie was touching at times, frustrating occasionally, but mostly either exasperating or revolting. I'd better explain this, as many Christians in my circles highly esteem the books. This review only covers the first book - I have no idea what happens later.

The center of the book is Elsie's relationship with her father. The two primary issues are his approval and his faith. In both cases, while seeking to make a biblical point, the author goes to great excess that ought to be avoided.

Elsie is cravenly dependent on her father's approval. The book tries to show, I think, how important the influence of a father is, with which I disagree not at all. But in the extreme of what actually happens, the reader can be easily misled. Father's every look away or harsh word leaves her crestfallen, while his every look to her, smile, or tender word, nourishes and waters her. The point is a good one, but is overdone. This was the exasperating part.

I found two contradictions especially disturbing in the book. Elsie's devotional life - time with the Lord - is sweet and cherished, but is overwhelmed by her earthly father's poor relationship. This is understandable for a little girl, perhaps. Worse is the way she tries to work for her dad's favor. Again, this may be the author trying to show the damage of a bad father more than holding up as good the attempt to earn dad's approval. But it's a functional denial of justification by grace, which right doctrine is explicitly stated at one point in the book, through Elsie's own lips. She knows it is only by faith that her Father in heaven will accept her - there is nothing she can do to earn it. But most of the book is devoted to Elsie trying to figure out what she can do to earn her earthly father's favor. The denial of justification by grace alone comes out most egregiously in Elsie's assumptions of the Sabbath. At one point, she just knows her father can't know the Lord, because he asks her to play a secular song on Sunday.

There is another functional denial in the book - of total depravity. Elsie does no wrong, on purpose, and her character is sketched this way quite purposely, it seems. The book communicates that with enough piety one could get out from under our sinful nature. Thus, in all the suffering we face, the fault lies with the persecutor - it could never be our fault.

The revolting part was the father's behavior to his daughter early on: uninterested, cold, strict and harsh. While the father grows out of this to be engaged and tender, it is dealt with ambiguously. Did he act that way formerly on purpose as something she needed from him? That is implied at times. The priorities in the book were all skewed, here. Elsie promptly obeys his every strict command, reasonable or not. But when asked to play a secular song on Sunday she refuses. This is so exaggerated, that I can easily see this book used to encourage putting up with parental abuse, verbal, emotional or physical. Just so long as you don't have a secular thought on Sunday.

However, there are other admirable aspects of the book, like the way Elsie resists peer pressure to dishonor her father, and how she does bear up under teasing and trials, and how the father becomes more tender to Elsie. But overall it does not paint the picture of piety I'm looking for in my children.


Today's agenda

*cough cough* hacking my lungs out ... not much voice left. Instead of talking, I'll be doing a bit of this today, but with much better bow position!!


Our knowledge, at the Lord's Supper

Left on the cutting board, for tomorrow's service:

Our knowledge does not make us worthy to receive the Lord's Supper. God just means for us to believe His Word as we receive. Early on, little children have knowledge that goes like this: “Jesus loves me. Everybody here is getting fed by Jesus. Me, too.” Later, our still-maturing knowledge goes like this: “Jesus loves us. He feeds us. He died to take our sins away.” We go on to learn all kinds of glorious truths, we have moments of conviction or conversion. And such moments enrich the Lord’s Supper, grounding it in the Word. But they are not pre-requisites for the Supper. We are meant to grow up acting out the signs that dramatize the Word; we are not meant to refrain from acting them out until we understand and accept the Word. The refraining can be a hindrance to doing just that.


Tongues a sign...

Great thought in a sermon I heard the other day.

Tongues were a sign in the NT church for the unbeliever (1 Cor 14:22)... largely the Jewish unbelievers, given that Paul quotes Isa 28:11-12. There in Isaiah, the Jews' unbelief would be confirmed with the sign of hearing foreign tongues: invading Assyrians. The point was that tongues in the NT church were a sign of the coming judgment on Israel in 70AD, as they were a sign to the Jews of Jerusalem's coming destruction by Assyria in Isaiah's day.

It isn't conclusive in excluding the charismatic argument, but one can argue that since the event has taken place, the sign for the event is outdated.

Buh-Bye Socktober

Sock #1 - complete, sock #2 refused to pose for the camera

Socktober is done. My goal of knitting three socks in one month was not met. I did knit 2 socks, one for me (finishing a pair) and one for hubby (starting a pair). My toes will be toasty and his...well, I guess there'll have to be a lot of footsie under the table to keep his toes warm until the 2nd sock is finished!

And now it's November... plain, boring November. Nothing catchy like "Socktober" comes to mind. Any suggestions? After planning last weekend's Reformation party my mind needs a creative boost!


What's the Sabbath?

Here's some follow-up discussion I'm having with someone about Sunday as Sabbath.
These thoughts are me trying to work out a defined position myself. Feel free correct any mis-steps you see here...

First, I miscommunicated if you think my position is that we no longer have, or observe, the Sabbath.
We do. But it is a different sort of Sabbath, focused on celebrating the resurrection, with the revealed purpose of entering rest in Christ. Less emphasis on (not abolishment of) no work commands. I don't think this changes the Isaiah passage (58:13-14) much at all.

One way to answer your question is with the Heidelberg catechism's Q&A 103: (Heidelberg and many reformers on the European continent didn't say the sabbath was "moved," nor did they say it was "abolished.")

Q. What is God's will for you

in the fourth commandment?

A. First,
that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,^1
and that, especially on the festive day of rest,
I regularly attend the assembly of God's people^2
to learn what God's Word teaches,^3
to participate in the sacraments,^4
to pray to God publicly,^5
and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.^6

that every day of my life
I rest from my evil ways,
let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,
and so begin already in this life
the eternal Sabbath.^7

^1 Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5
^2 Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25
^3 Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13
^4 1 Cor. 11:23-25
^5 Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1
^6 Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9
^7 Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11

There is a spectrum of Sabbath views from the strongly "Sabbatarian" that agrees completely with Westminster, to the view of Calvin, and other views in the middle:
Strong sabbatarian: the Sabbath has moved from Saturday to Sunday. It is a day for no activity but worship, piety, necessity and mercy. No recreation for the self is allowed. Isa 58 forbids it.

Calvin (hoping I'm not mischaracterizing): the Sabbath is abolished as part of the ceremonial law. It is right for the church to all worship on one day, and the NT church chose Sunday, the Lord's Day. It also makes sense to retain the 1 in 7 principle of rest from work, but this is no longer morally binding as it was in the OT.

Middle position (mine, I think): we have a new Sabbath, as we have a new creation order in Christ. Most of the old sabbath definitions still apply, though not as rigidly, as the center is now clear: rest in Christ. The center is no longer refraining from work, but worship (focus on Christ, our rest) and loving the saints. Recreation for self is allowed; refraining from work is still a moral command, but exceptions are allowed, given vocational necessity.


Where I've been; where I am

I recently rediscovered the Bayly blog - 2 brothers and pastors in the PCA.
Their last 3 posts were especially close to home.

This one is on Rob Bell a pastor in Grand Rapids, MI, close to where I grew up. Brace yourself.

This one is on the latest unfaithfulness in the CRC at Calvin College, my alma mater. Ouch.

This one is on Doug Wilson. Surprising stuff in here. In case you're wondering, I basically agree with Tim Bayly. There are disingenuous people out there who warn you (like they are your friend) that associating with guys like Wilson could marginalize you... and then they turn around and marginalize you themselves. Contrast this with the courage to speak loudest on the most intense cultural-pressure-point issues.


Your daily Calvin

Don't forget my summarized daily reading of Calvin's Institutes over at

The Lord and Giver of Life

Based on Ezekiel 36:25-27

Without the Holy Spirit this meal is useless. He unites us to Christ as he gives us faith. He makes us members of His body, sharing in Christ. That union brings all His benefits to us. We receive His righteousness; His death covers our guilt. We are justified, we are being sanctified. He seals and assures the truth of all this in our hearts. He gives us these sure and concrete signs of His Fatherly favor and kindness toward us.

The Spirit is poured out on us and He restores the years the locusts have eaten. The Spirit is the Omnipotent God, equal and power and glory to the Father and Son. And His unique work is giving life and times of refreshing, a new heart, through the Word, the waters of baptism, and this meal.

This should give us hope in the midst of any situation. God can straighten any crooked heart in your life. He can smooth out any relational wrinkle you have. So this meal not only looks back to the cross; it also leans into the future, to the time when Jesus comes to judge the world with equity, and set all things right, when He drinks of this cup with us in His Kingdom.

The Spirit's Work

On Pentecost, the Spirit did His work of making the apostles bold to speak the Gospel of Christ. He did His work of making the people understand and take to heart the sermon Peter preached. He granted repentance of sin and faith in Christ, He gave joyful fellowship and communion together with His saints, a devotion to the apostles’ teaching in the word. This is what true repentance looks like, not just in the emotional moment, but down the road.

The question is the same for us. Are our lives characterized by repentance, or self-justification? Faith in God or self-reliant pride? Joyful fellowship, or at-a-distance criticism and judgment? Devotion to the Spirit’s teaching in the Word, or assuming we know what it says and going with our gut?

The Spirit cuts hearts to the quick. Let Him cut into yours now. This Jesus, whom you crucified by your sins, God has made Lord and Christ. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.



Divorce and death defeated

Based on Hebrews 12:22-24

You are not just in this room, gathered and assembled together as Covenant Heritage. The Word tells us that our assembling is greater than any rebuilt earthly temple ever could be. Being at Sinai when God spoke from the mountain His 10 commandments, that isn’t as awesome as this. Being in Jerusalem and worshiping at the temple before its destruction, that isn’t as great as this. For you have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. You are gathered with the angels in heaven, with all the saints who have gone on before us, from Peter to Cyprian, Alfred, Augustine, Tyndale, Bucer, Edwards, your faithful family members. You have come more importantly, to God the Judge, to Jesus the mediator. And the last thing mentioned you now hold a token of in your hand. You have come to the blood of sprinkling. That blood was shed on earth, on the cross, but it is remembered and brought to heaven. The living, resurrected, body and blood of Jesus ascended to heaven and sits right next to the Father. The divorce between earth and heaven has been undone. Jesus is the ladder between them, the new and living way. Sin, death, and divorce are defeated by Christ. You HAVE COME to heavenly Jerusalem. We are at one with the Father. And that is changing things on earth. One day all wrongs here will be set right. Believe this. Eat and drink of the bread from heaven to strengthen your hope.


Putting away, and taking back

Based on Jeremiah 3:1, 8-10 - sermon on divorce

God searches our hearts completely. He knows every way in which we have been unfaithful to Him, committing adultery with other gods. We try to get out of our covenant obligations to God. He knows every lame resolution we make to ourselves or to others change, while still clinging to our sin. He knows all our pretended or exaggerated sorrow for our sin that we work up to convince ourselves that we will be forgiven. God put away Adam and Eve from the Garden. He cuts off fellowship with us outside of Christ. Our sin warrants divorce. But God in His mercy will take us back. He has shown us His mercy and favor in Christ at the cross. He provides us with the faith to believe in Him. He gives us a soft, faithful and repentant heart. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.



For mother's day

Based on Rev 19:7-8; 22:17

The Church as mother

We are God’s children. He is raising us, preparing us for marriage, to live in His house forever. The Church is our mother, which helps prepare us, with the Spirit and the Word.

The Church has nothing to offer that doesn’t come from our Father

The Church is subject to her husband’s direction in the Spirit/Word

The Church teaches in the apostles’ teaching

Believers should honor and obey their mother the Church

Many Christians today try to do what naughty children do: go around mom and appeal to dad. But every wise father will ask, “Did you ask your mother?” If they already did, dad will take that child right back to mom, with admonishment to respect her: “What she says, I say.” Jesus Christ said this to all believers when He told His disciples, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” Does that mean we make infallible perfect judgments? No. It means believers should respect their mother church with more than lip service.

The Church is fallible, but to be followed and generally trusted, like earthly mothers.

She feeds and nourishes, communicates love and emotional security. The Church is to support its members, encouraging them in hard times, assuring them of God’s love for us in Christ.

She disciplines and corrects. The Church disciplines according to the Father’s teaching.

She is fruitful

She bears children – conversion and multiplying new spiritual life

She is productive – not idle until our bridegroom’s return


Based on Jeremiah 3:12-13

We usually equate backsliding with apostasy. But it isn’t so much a major break as a gradual slide, as the word suggests. Backsliding comes as naturally as breathing, to all of us. We do not obey God, we scatter our charms to other gods. That means we seek our satisfaction elsewhere. We desire earthly things, thinking they will satisfy, but they don’t. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.


Without trying to

"What makes us think that we could worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness in the midst of our culture without shaking things up a bit? This is especially true in these disintegrating times. The more the kingdom is the kingdom, the more a longing world will ask questions about it.... The most effective way for the church to transform the culture outside her walls, discipling the nations, is to quit being a lobbying agency. The fastest way to change the nations is to quit trying to. I am not talking about the church turning inward in some impotent way. I am talking about the church being the church..."


Cool Weather = Warm Woolies

The crisp air makes me want to snuggle up. Here's what's been flying off the knitting needles the past few weeks, ready to keep me and some loved ones warm from head to toe.

(Groovy Stripe Socks, Chunky Dean Street Hat, Vine & Leaf Beret, Chunky Braided Button-on Scarf, Herringbone Button-on Scarf.)


So in the October 2009 Tabletalk issue, Michael Horton explains the phrase "Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God." He explains for us that the first word refers to a static thing that was accomplished in the Reformed confessions. "We don't need to move beyond the gains of the Reformation." Doctrinally, he means. We got it. We're set. The "always being reformed" part refers only to our ongoing sanctification, not to new doctrinal truth we could learn.

There are many adjectives I want to use for this, but I'll restrain myself and just say this is... unusual.

I understand his point that the Reformed interpretation of Scripture is set, and different from Lutherans, baptists, etc. And that interpretation can't be a wax nose to fit any crazy idea. But he essentially makes tradition infallible, which he later denies. He allows for no doctrinal development at all. Are the confessions all we need to say, doctrinally? No. Sometimes we need to take exception, clarify, or expand, depending on who we are talking to, and why.

Fairest Jesus

Based on Psalm 45

The best thing for dealing with our sinful desire is not to try to totally suppress it, but to re-direct it according to God’s Word. We see in Ps 45 where our attentions and desires should be. We long for the coming of the King, the Bridegroom. We rejoice that He is blessed by God, that He has the sword and arrows and throne of strength, that He loves righteousness and hates wickedness, that He has more oil of gladness than anyone. He is our FAIREST Lord Jesus.

We would do well to leave our father Adam’s lineage and brokenness and seek refuge in the Messiah’s house. This we do every time we partake of this meal. We act out that we want to be in His house and fed at His table.


Victory that feels like defeat, at first

I'm watching The Ten Commandments with the kids while Sara is downstairs hosting Ladies' Night at our church. Pharoah just commanded Israel to make bricks without straw, and I had a thought.

When Jesus died, rose and ascended, and sent the Spirit, things also got harder first. Persecution from the Jews, stoning of Stephen, whose face shone like Moses' did. But greater freedom for the church came 40 years later, as most of Israel died from disobedience in Jerusalem in 70AD. In the same way, greater freedom came for Israel when they entered the promised land.

Yet neither of these was a complete victory, as Christ has yet to come and consummate His kingdom...


Making it right

Ephesians 2:12-16

It was our sin that caused the enmity from God to us. Where we are often angry without a good reason at others, God had every reason to be angry with us in our sin. But He initiated and came down to us to make it right.

Reconciliation was on Jesus Christ’s mind as He went to the cross to set it right with you. Reconciliation should be on your mind as you hold this cup – God has reconciled Himself to you in Christ. This Supper will also bring to the surface things you need to make right with your brother. Listen to the Lord prompt you as you sit at His table. I don’t believe you need to put the cup down if you become aware of a conflict. But you must resolve to set it right as soon as possible, instead of let it sit and fester. It may be painful to set right, but God didn’t leave His enmity with us alone, and stand apart from us. He so loved us that He gave His own Son, so we wouldn’t die but live forever.


The cup as gadfly

Based on Leviticus 19:9-18; sermon text: Matt 5:17-20

These words are just another way of saying what Paul says in 1 Cor 11; he rebukes them for having factions, for despising those with less, for communing unworthily by not discerning or regarding the other members of Christ’s Body. Notice especially vs 18: the second greatest commandment has a flip side: don’t hold a grudge but love your neighbor. If you harbor feelings of ill will toward any here, resolve now, with cup in hand, to set it right. I don’t say all this to bring guilt and condemnation upon you, but to show you specifically how Christ has fulfilled the Law for you. He loved His neighbor; we have a hard time doing so. He loved His enemies; we are tempted to think it a virtue to hate them. Christ reconciles us to God, by His blood, the symbol of which you hold in your hand. That cup is a gadfly to bring complete reconciliation. That cup is also assurance that you are set completely right with the Lord. It also removes all excuse to set things right with one another, and it paves the way for you to do so.


Wisdom, wit and skill

From Hosea 10:12-13

These verses apply to our nation. We have cherished, produced and exported a selfish sensuality. We have used our liberty for license. We deceive ourselves that our way is right and we trust our government, or our markets, or our individual enterprise, more than we trust God’s mercy.

This all applies to each of us individually. We are each driven more by self-interest and by our senses than we want to admit. We seek ourselves more than service. We deceive ourselves that our way is right, and we trust our wisdom, wit and skill, more than we trust God’s grace.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.


It's **SOCKTOBER** all you knitting fans! Get out those double point needles and get clicking!

My goal for Socktober is 3 socks (not 3 pairs). One pair was half finished upon entering this month, and I can happily report that this solo sock finally has its sole mate! Onto socks #2 & 3, a pair for my dear husband. He will be receiving this manly pair, called "Earl Grey," for his birthday this winter.

Anyone want to knit along?


In the breaking of the bread

Resurrection Day - 1 Cor 15:12-26

The 2 on the road to Emmaus were hoping that Jesus was going to redeem Israel

Luke 24:30-31 - "Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…. And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”

Their hope had faded. They were going home, turning their backs on their expectation. But Jesus calls them back, explaining His suffering and death in the Word. Sitting down to bread with them. Notice he does the same thing in the same order as instituting the Lord’s Supper in the Upper Room during Passover. He took the bread, He blessed God, then broke it, as He gave it to them.

Jesus was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Let Christ be known to you in the breaking of the bread, in taking the cup

Let Jesus be known to you in His Word, dwelling in you richly

Let Jesus be known to you in your fellowship with one another

Let Jesus be known to your kids as you model His character for them

Let Jesus be known to your neighbors as you shine the light of the risen Jesus among them.

Let Jesus be known to the world, as you break and sacrifice yourselves for others, as Jesus did for you.

Let Jesus be known to the world, as you share the news of the great things Christ has done for you.

Let Jesus be known as you live His resurrection life.

Psalm 16:9-11: "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."


Locate the source

Based on Matt 21:9-16; Palm Sunday

God calls us to proclaim Christ’s death at this table. When the disciples and the crowds sang Hosanna to Jesus, they were doing more than praising God. They were doing more than praising Jesus. Hosanna does not mean “praise.” Hosanna means “save.” The crowds were locating the source of their salvation as they laid down their palm branches and coats for him to ride on. We here at this table do the same thing. Besides first bringing an offering, at this table we locate the source of our salvation: it is the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. As they looked to Jesus to save them, so do we. They didn’t see the cross coming, but they trusted the right Person for their salvation. We don’t see many of our trials coming, either, but we trust Christ to see us through them. He is your life, your bread. He is your joy, your wine. God provides His Son for You to abide in, daily bread from day to day, morning to evening. Find your forgiveness in Him. Find your fellowship in Him. Find your flavor and your light in Him. Find your joy in Him.


Toward them

Based on Colossians 4:5-6

Paul doesn’t tell us to walk in wisdom away from those outside in isolation from the world. He doesn’t tell us to walk with those outside, becoming worldly ourselves. We walk toward them. They are not of us, but we do not stay away from them.

We speak with grace, out of our joy and our longing for them to have that joy. We speak in a way that reveals the flavorful difference Christ makes. This calls for wisdom.


Calvinist TULIP

Here is a wonderful introduction to the 5 points of Calvinism, TULIP.
It's only the length of a short article. 3-5 sentences explaining each point; 2-3 verses that make the point.

Condemn others; repent yourself

You've heard of the Jeremiad.

How about the Nehemiad?


Debating End Times

Jesus, the blessed

From Matt 5:7-10

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Jesus extended mercy to us.
Isa 40:11 - He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
John 8 – Where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Jesus is pure, glorious holiness. He told us at the first communion table with the disciples, “the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” You sit at His table; the one who is pure, who gives you that purity, so that you too may see His Father, Your Father.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. Eph 2:14-18.


Shredded heart

From Joel 2:12-14
It won’t do to say that Joel calls us to repent on the inside, not on the outside. He does say to rip our hearts, not our clothes. But in the verse before He says to turn to God with fasting, which is an outward practice. In the church year, we are currently in the season of Lent. And whatever you think of lent, Jesus certainly expected that we would be fasting and mourning for our sin regularly. Not by giving up coffee or soda for 40 days out of the year, but by ripping up our hearts about it. Are you undone knowing you have unclean lips and hearts? That is exactly how God will meet you and restore you. You cannot come to Him negotiating His favor toward you. You have nothing to bargain with. But that is all right. God is full of mercy, grace and kindness, and He will leave a blessing behind Him.



Let it work

Matt 13: 31-33, 44-48


This table is one of God’s really big signs He gives us to show and tell us that His Kingdom is near, and what His Kingdom is like. Even while there are still enemies among us, He sets a table for us. We come in from the field from working in His vineyard and we find our plate and cup full, our inheritance secure. God can multiply the loaves and fish to feed the world, as His kingdom expands. Find rest under the shade of His tree here. Let the leaven of His spirit permeate your spirit, purifying and sanctifying your desires and affections for Him. Let the Table do its sifting work, weeding out your sin, weeding out faithless sinners. Most of all, Let the Father show you the great treasure to be found in His Son here at this Table.

You have heard

From Matthew 4:12-25

Jesus rebukes Corazin, Bethsaiada and Capernaum, the 3 towns he visited most often during his ministry. They had the most opportunity to repent, having the most exposure to Jesus Himself. How much more is this true of us? We not only have the stories of Jesus’ ministry, but also of His death and resurrection, and the rest of the NT explaining, proclaiming and applying it all for us. We have Bibles galore, and many of us have heard the good news of the Gospel for years. The judgment is greater upon those who hear the call to repent, when they shrug their shoulders in response. When you come to church week after week, read your Bible day after day, it can become just the thing you do instead of the way God meets you and calls you to Himself. Don’t take this lightly. Anyone with more than 12 months exposure to Christ’s life and teaching is Capernaum. Although exalted for a time, it will be worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.


Dismembered; remembered

Communion Exhortation - 3/8/09

Rev 7:9-17

We proclaim the Lord’s death at this meal. Death brings division. Individually, body and soul are divided. Corporately, as the church, the body is divided between the church triumphant which we just read about, and the church militant, as we are on earth. Death divides. We soberly remember the punishment for our sin: separation from God. We gratefully remember that Jesus took it for us. He was the scapegoat, exiled from God’s presence. But the result of that exile was more life.

The result of Christ’s death is reunion, reconciliation. He has made the two into one new man, breaking down the separation at the cross. He was DIS-membered [cut off from fellowship, and forsaken by His Father], so we could get RE-membered into the body of Christ. Ultimately, we will see Him face to face without sad tears or fears, finally home. Countless thousands of us are there already. This table comes from that new world, to feed and nourish your faith, your sure hope that you will be there, too, still offering faithful, pure worship to Him, wherever you are.

Call to confession - 3/8/09

Malachi 1:9-11

We have a selfish tendency to save the best for ourselves, when God asks us to save the first and the best for Himself. The world tells us to treasure Friday night and Saturday night, because then your time is your own. God tells us to treasure Sunday morning as His day of worship and rest, time given to Him; God tells us to treasure Monday morning, in our calendar, as an opportunity to serve Him, to multiply the resources He has given us to steward. Instead of serving and giving, we are tempted to cling tighter in hard financial times, right when people have the most need.

But we know how to work the system. We know how to give to the right people so that it profits us. We know how to work hard for our own benefit, not God’s glory. We know how to dress up to impress the right people, forgetting that it is God’s favor toward us that counts.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins to God.


Jack O Lantern Grins

Tooth #3 bites the dust. It HAD to go. It was a dangler; you could see it wiggle when he talked, giving my son a less-than-refined look. But he wouldn't let me touch it to "help" it come out...that is, until I told him he'd get two mini-snickers if he let me pull it and he didn't cry!
I'm not the type of mom who saves teeth, locks of hair, or all that. I wouldn't have taken a picture either, but he wanted Grandma to see his dashing new look.


Spontaneous Week

As hub and I sat talking over our paper-wrapped dinner out tonight, we commented on how quickly the week has gone by and how we can't really remember anything that happened.

Then I said "Oh yeah, that's right. We were spontaneous this week." Monday was "we're going to make Mycenaen pottery this week!" Tuesday the phone rang and we were off to the park within an hour. Wednesday: more ring-ring then out for dinner with friends. Today was It's-the-first-day-of-October-so-therefore-I-must-bake-endless-amounts-of-comfort-foods-NOW. I kinda like spontaneity. It fits my creative, shotgun approach to life.

The Left Brain half of us summarily ruled "From now on only one spontaneous event is allowed per week." Two seconds of silence, then I just about spewed Jamocha shake out my nose (but that's the kind of thing that wins his heart, so it'd be ok). So...should I put that on our weekly calendar honey?

We are such an odd couple sometimes! But I wouldn't have it any other way.


Sons or Slaves of God?

Are we sons of God (Galatians 4:7), or slaves of God (Romans 6:18)?

This is a false dichotomy (they are both true), but our primary identity is as children, not servants/slaves
1. It is a false dichotomy because Scripture depicts us as both slaves and sons
If you're talking about who we are relative to the law, sin and guilt, in Christ, we are forgiven and accepted sons and daughters.
If you're talking about who or what our life is directed toward, we are servants aiming and obligated to serve someone else, not ourselves.
2. Our primary identity is children, given the overwhelming Scripture in this direction.
1 John 3:1; John 15:15; Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:1-7.
But even though our inheritance is vast and unimaginable, we shouldn't be spoiled-rotten rich brats. We are still serving the Lord.
Deut 6:13; Rom 6:18.


Secret Gift Knitting

Here are the latest projects off the knitting needles, all gifts, so SHHHH!


Holier than... me

"We... are inclined to pretend that we have reached a higher plateau of righteousness than we've actually attained. When we do that, we put on the mask of the hypocrite."

RC Sproul, in Tabletalk, Oct 2009, pg 7.

Communion Exhortation - 3/1/09

Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself for her, as we remember here, to cleanse and present her to Himself perfect. Each of us nourishes and cherishes our own body. We use our head and hands to feed our body. Well, Jesus nourishes the church like that. We are members of his body, of His flesh and bone. This is a great mystery, but you see His hands feeding you now as the elders distribute the bread and wine; you’ve heard His voice speaking to you in the sermon.

Do you love Jesus? Do you want to serve Him? We need to start by receiving the gifts He gives us. His Word, His church leaders, His people. Believe that whatever fire the Lord puts you through, God has redeemed you and made you His child. He will not let you go, but will gather you to Himself with the rest of His people, in full joy and gladness in His kingdom.

Too much signaling, not enough joy

Jesus calls us in our sermon text to joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength. As we consider the duty of gladness in worship, we must prepare ourselves to reject the extremes that attend it. Godly maturity will reject giddiness and silliness before the Lord. Maturity also overcomes the dour expressions that assume that a long face is a sign of piety. A gloomy killjoy is no closer to the kingdom than the breathless emotion-seeker. Some signal their piety with laughter or tongues; others by removing their smiles when they come to worship. Many have been signaling so long they don’t realize they are more interested in what others think than in what God thinks. We all need to grow up into Christ. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins to God. 3/1/09.


Communion Exhortation - 2/22/09

Question from one of our children at church last week: "There's this I can't understand. The bread isn't really God's body and the wine isn't really God's blood. Why do you pretend it is?"

Good question. We talk this way because Jesus did when He told us to keep doing this to remember Him. In 1 Cor 11, Paul criticizes the church for not celebrating the Supper the right way. In verse 23, he tells us how to do it rightly, part of which is to say, "This is my body" when we break the bread. It isn't that we are pretending; we are saying something we don't fully understand. The part we understand is that Jesus is food and joy for our souls, like bread and wine are food and joy for our bodies.

Call to confession - 2/22/09

Malachi 3:1-5

We just sang that we look to the Lord for help in trouble. But when He comes He comes first to purify us. We desire Him, but can we endure Him, when He comes? He doesn’t put up with our casual looks or our lingering lusts, with our massaging the truth or our intentional lies, with our holding back helping the widow or breaking financial obligations.

The messenger of the covenant purifies us, not only to save us from the ravaging effects of sin in OUR lives, but to have a holy people for Himself. Our confession and forgiveness isn’t just relief for us, it brings glory to Him. We confess our sins, not out of self-preservation, to get out of the corner we backed ourselves into. We confess for the same reason we gather for worship, listen to the Word, receive Communion, and serve Him in the world. We confess our sins to glorify the Lord in our lives, even in the way He deals with our sin.


Communion Exhortation - 2/8/09

When Jesus sat in the upper room eating Passover with His disciples, He instituted this meal, this sacrament. And in it, He was giving Himself to them, as He gave them the bread and wine. He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God, as a savior to men. We are to take the bread and wine, receiving Him in faith, believing that He is the sacrifice of atonement for our sins, believing that we are at peace with God b/c of Him.