Pay Attention

Jeremiah calls us to fear God, pointing out that Israel does not tremble before Him. Isaiah says God looks with favor on those who tremble at His Word. Our liturgical housekeeping is up to the Scripture reading, which I am convinced is the most important thing that happens in the worship service. More important than communion, more than the sermon, is hearing and receiving God’s Word with open heart. In many churches today, you can go through a whole service with only a few verses read. We read a lot of Scripture on purpose. We stand to show the importance of what we are hearing. Like many other churches, we conclude the reading by saying, “The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God.” This is a helpful custom that reminds us of the importance of what we just heard, and that cultivates gratitude in us for having the Bible available to hear and read in English.

God sent John the Baptist to speak God’s Words to prepare God’s people for the advent, the coming of Jesus. Some listened. Some did not. Ignoring someone who is talking to you is highly disrespectful. Doing other things while they speak to you is also rude. How much more so when God is speaking to us. Our attitude to God’s Word says much for whether we fear Him or take Him lightly.


Go to Him

Isaiah reminds us that a time will come when it will be too late to come to the Lord. The gate will be shut behind those with the bridegroom, and latecomers will be sent away. On this last week of the church year, let us consider that last day, when the wedding arrives. Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth, when He comes?

We are to forsake our wicked ways and thoughts and return our loyalties, and devotion to the Lord. We do this because it is right in itself to renounce our sins to God. We also come to Him to obtain His mercy and pardon. He welcomes this.

But we shy away. It is natural to hide in the bushes from God, like Adam and Eve when we have offended someone, but we must go and confess and tell our wrong.


A Pastor's Tithe

Do ministers tithe their church income back to the church they serve? Should they?

I do, but I know there are some who seek to give elsewhere.

Against it: it feels like you're paying yourself.

For it: all the offering money goes into one account to be apportioned as the budget is set, and you can reckon what you give as going to other parts of the budget than the pastor's salary. This is how I look at it. If more than 90% of a church's budget goes to the pastor's salary, I'd rethink this, but this is rare in my experience.

The Law about priests tithing to Aaron applies, though it doesn't give a decisive answer to the question (Numbers 18:25ff - priests must tithe what they receive to Aaron, the high priest). Some ministers look to give to another teacher or ministry. Others (me) reckon their tithe, which they pay to the church they serve, going to that church's denominational or missionary support.


Neither Magical nor Merely Mental nor Momentary

(Sunday after the 2012 Presidential Election)

As we pass this tray of wine, the sign Jesus gave us of His blood of the covenant, we should remember there is no magic here. The Latin for “this is my body” is Hoc est corpus meum, which the Medieval mass-goers mis-heard as hocus pocus. But there is no magical change in the bread here. Then again, we also believe this is more than a mental exercise. The Spirit really brings us to commune specially with the living Christ as we eat and drink here. We can’t conjure it automatically with words I say or with actions or feelings we conjure up inside. We cannot buy, bottle or manipulate the living God. Another mistake is to just go through motions, shrugging. But when we come here in faith and trust the impact on our souls can’t be missed. The Spirit gives life, making everything else pale in comparison. Rediscover that life today. Don’t let angry crowds or ignorant voters steal your life and joy in the Lord. Jesus is bigger than riots and elections. He has seen a dozen civilizations rise and decline. His plan is perfect; He does not wring His hands, or want us to.


What's a Tithe?

Last week, our motivation for giving: gratitude for grace.
This week, the amount of giving: in the OT we see the tithe or tenth set forth.
When Paul says that each one should decide in his heart what to give, many see that tithe requirement set aside. 1 Cor 9:13-14 shows otherwise. Paul remembers in vs 13 that the OT tithe went partly to the temple to support the priests’ service, and he applies this in vs 14 to the NT situation: church offerings are in part to support those preaching. If the pattern of who gives to who is the same, why would the amount change? The OT tithe went for ministering priests, as well as the poor, so some giving may go to missionaries or charities outside the local church. But since the church ideally should be overseeing missionaries and charities, the lion’s share of our tithe should go to the local church. Less than 25% of American evangelicals tithe. Let us bring the full tithe into the storehouse, in thanksgiving to God.



Rest and rule as we remember

At this table we come to rest and to rule with the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to consider ourselves as God sees us. This means first that we see God as pleased with us in Christ. We rest in God’s favor toward us. We have that favor together with our fellow believers, fellow workers in the church. So we are pleased with our fellow church members, as we know God is, in Christ. The gospel involves a mission toward people, and this table is meant as preparation, reminder, strength-building for that mission. We long to see the Lord’s churches full, more people partaking of this bread and wine. God blesses us here, to be a blessing to others. And finally, our response to God’s grace involves every part of us. God has numbered every hair on your head, so let us count our every blessing and strain our every nerve for Him. But as we do, remember. We do not strain and work to conquer. We already have crowns and reward awaiting us. We work because rule has already been given to us. Rest in that. When you take up your work again, remember that Christ’s yoke is easy, His burden is light.


Why Give?

Let us consider the offering in the worship service - our giving to God monetarily.

First, our Motivation for giving: gratitude for grace. It’s easy to reduce the church offering to a tit for tat. You give me a church service, and I’ll give you a check. This is not our motivation. We are returning to God thanks for what He has done in our lives. We do this not to “make it up” to God, like we ever could, but because our whole life is God-ward, God-oriented. We face God all the time. Children, you receive from your parents and give back to them. This is a close relationship. God is even closer. He gives us a breath, and we return thanks. Ingratitude corrupts and even destroys these relationships. We are quicker to see our needs than we are to see our abundance. We complain before we count blessings. Let us cultivate gratitude in our hearts for "every good and perfect gift... from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).


Review: The Garden Of Peace: A Marital Guide For Men Only

The Garden Of Peace: A Marital Guide For Men Only
The Garden Of Peace: A Marital Guide For Men Only by Shalom Arush

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A marriage book for men by an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. So it was a mixture of great insights on the one hand, and poor handling of Scripture on the other.

He nails some very important principles.
The husband is to be the initiating giver to his wife. "A man gives, a woman receives" (99). When the man demands things of his wife before he demonstrates his own change, it only makes things worse.

The husband is responsible for what goes on in the home. "The wife is a mirror of the husband.... Any deficiency he sees in her is actually his own deficiency" (41). Instead of seeking to correct her, he should focus on correcting himself. A great example is on page 268: if he doesn't give her the attention she needs, she'll find it with long phone calls and visits. When he complains about this to her, "He doesn't realize that he's responsible for all this."

Compliment instead of criticize. I could tell the author has done some counseling when he wrote this: "Be consistent with your compliments....If she brushes them off, it's only because she wants to prove to herself that you really mean it" (271).

A wife needs to feel loved by her husband. "A woman's greatest desire is that her husband should love her. If she sees that this is not the case... she feels so alone... her world grows dark" (273).

I could tell by these that Arush has dealt with plenty of clueless husbands.

I write as a Christian, so a lot of the Jewish lingo was off-putting to me, especially appealing to the authority of the sages and meriting reward. Sometimes merit just meant obedience leading to joy. Other times it's really harmful. Relating a man struggling in his marriage, Arush says "All he had to do was try a bit harder" (206). Other times it was simplistic: "children born within the context of family purity are sweet and well-adjusted; those born from a mother who didn't immerse in a proper mikva are rebellious and insolent" (339). Other times it was weird: "Each prayer creates a mighty angel that assists a person at some point in their life" (339). At other points the rejection of grace as Christians know it was obvious: "It is forbidden to do any kindness for someone who is ungrateful" (183). "Heaven only has mercy on people who have mercy on others. When a man has mercy on his wife, he opens the gates of Heavenly mercy for himself" (278). He even assumes reincarnation, which I found surprising for an Orthodox rabbi (307).

This is not the book I'd give to someone struggling in their marriage, though some of the above principles are useful for husbands struggling to love their wives.

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I recently watched an intriguing movie about Oliver Cromwell.

Cromwell, 1970. Richard Harris and Alec Guinness

Not knowing much about him, this movie helped only a little toward more understanding. It emphasized his assertive personality in Parliament and on the battle field, and his opposition to King Charles. The history seemed rather simplistic - perhaps the nature of a 2 hour movie - in making it Charles v. Cromwell.

Vivid battle scenes give a real sense of the action. Cromwell's forces sing Psalms heading into battle. Charles has chaplains praying and reading Scripture on the field, and at his execution.

There were several instances of swearing - in a G rated movie!

For the idea of if and when and how to resist a lawful authority with arms, I would recommend Douglas Bond's Duncan trilogy instead. The movie shows Cromwell rather emotionally-driven, marching off against the king after one instance of land seizure and harsh treatment of one prisoner by his magistrate.

Cromwell himself is a mystery to me. An honorable Puritan willing to do away with monarchy a century or two before society was ready for it? C.S. Lewis viewed him very lowly, giving Cromwell's "Lord Protector" title to the evil King Miraz in Prince Caspian. He is certainly a symbol of the danger of appeals to conscience leading to anarchy. But also of the need to oppose unjust rule.

Creation Debate

Just listened to

Maker of Heaven and Earth: Why Creation is a Gospel Issue
by Al Mohler, Jr.

Mohler is an articulate critic of liberalism, standing firmly in the heritage of Carl Henry and Christian fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism has such a bad rap these days, and I along with others reject the anti-intellectual, KJV-only, version. But we must hold to basic Scriptural truths like creation against a hostile academic elite which is very willing to exclude us from their ranks for it. We must be willing to be excluded, while we persuade toward the acceptance of Scriptural truth.

It is interesting how the church responded to Darwin. One sector capitulated, seeking to merge evolution into Scriptural interpretation. Another sector had a knee-jerk, shrill reaction that didn't really address the ideas put forward by evolution. Though they upheld biblical truth, they lost the debate if they didn't answer the challenge in substance.

Reformation Day Communion

This table has been reformed. It used to be an altar where animal sacrifices were offered. If this were 3000 years ago, I would be holding a knife, dealing with blood, and giving you roasted meat to eat as a peace offering before God. And that was faithful worship before the God of Abraham. But now Jesus has brought about a reformation. His sacrifice ended the need for all blood sacrifice.

Is your life reformed like this table? Do you receive the nourishing, refreshing life of Jesus, and pass it on to others? Or are you trying to obey your way into God’s favor? It’s a devilish trap to rely on your obedience, to define yourself by your obedience instead of by God’s grace. All our righteousness is filthy rags, but Jesus is given to you. You didn’t put him there. You didn’t ask for Him to be given to You. But here He is, and if you want to live, you must stand still and believe (2 Chron. 20:17).


Pray for Your People

2 Chronicles 20:5-7a
"Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said: “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?"

Let us consider "the long prayer" in the worship service, the prayers of the church. Traditionally on certain holidays our president will call the nation to thanksgiving, some have called us to repentance and fasting. We see Jehoshaphat do that in our text. It is important that God’s people hear their leaders interceding for them. Fathers need to pray out loud in the presence of their children, for their children. Husbands, pray for your wives. Pastors for their churches. Princes for their people. So most often the prayer of the church in our worship service is spoken by the worship leader, an elder. But it is also fitting for members to take a turn leading us in prayer. Congress invites various clergy to open its sessions with prayer. Fathers should give their children training and time to lead the family in prayer. When we pray all together it is an expression of our unity in the Lord Jesus, in whose name we pray.

This aspect of worship works against our sinful tendencies to neglect prayer, to neglect leading in prayer, practicing prayer. To neglect praying for your church family, your nation, and to be mindful of the communion of saints together in all you do.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.



First day of Lent today.

Lent can enable hypocrisy and self-deception.
(I've got ashes on my forehead. I'm acting sad. I'm giving up chocolate. I'll focus on these things instead of Jesus, and the besetting sins I'm unwilling to fight or shake off.)

Lent can be a tool to focus on Jesus' and our self-denial.
(Jesus humbled Himself. He endured the miseries and temptations of this life. I need to endure them faithfully, too. He laid down His life for me to be forgiven and pure.)

Review: Primeval Saints: Studies in the Patriarchs of Genesis

Primeval Saints: Studies in the Patriarchs of Genesis
Primeval Saints: Studies in the Patriarchs of Genesis by James B. Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brief review of the highlights of Genesis. I didn't agree with his take on every story, but many essays offer a worthy challenge to traditional interpretations. Jordan tends to be either way off base or really insightful.

Jordan sees things in the Bible that others don't. A good example is Genesis 15:1. God comforts Abraham by saying that God is His shield. I always wondered where this came from, but the passage just before it is the rescue of Lot. Abraham is afraid of Chedorlaomer's return. Abraham's survival and hold on the land is in danger. This new (to me at least) insight fits perfectly with the bigger redemptive-historical theme in Scripture: the promised line in danger.

Another example is the unleavened bread and Passover connection to the story of Lot leaving Sodom (Gen 19:3).

Jordan offers intriguing insights about culture, church and state. Sometimes it feels like those views are driving his reading of the text. But usually I got to the end and thought, no, that really fits with what the Bible itself says.

Each of the 12 essays is only 10-15 pages long. I read it in conjunction with my devotions through Genesis. This book is a helpful thought provoker as you read about Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, for instance, and wonder who was in the right and who in the wrong.

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Review: The Yearling

The Yearling
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rawlings explores life themes in a compelling way. Falling out with friends or neighbors, a son following in his father’s footsteps, a boy growing to take on the responsibility of a man, facing the loneliness and difficulty of life.

The contrast between Jody’s father and mother instructs. She is hard-bitten and complaining, though helpful to her natural allies (family). He is generous, patient and gives to those who do not deserve it. Jody learns that it can pay off to be kind in the face of hostility. And that it can be futile.

Little acts of sacrifice and kindness can (or should) atone for relational breakdowns. Jody stays overnight with the Forresters, when their son dies. Jody’s father comes, too, and speaks for them at the funeral. This patches things up tremendously. But such alliances can be fragile. A lot of peacemaking effort can be trashed by one reckless incident.

Lots of time goes to develop the character of Jody’s father, Penney. He is hardworking, looking ahead to provide, kind, and skillful. Jody looks up to him and follows him.

Jody is like the yearling deer he tames. Growing into maturity, running away for a time, bucking against his parents at times. He will either keep bucking and be shot down (figuratively, drowning in the ocean trying to reach Boston), or he will return to bear the yoke while he is young. At the end Jody the boy is willingly and gladly doing the work of a man for days on end, to provide for the household.

The relationship with nature is intriguing. Jody is sad when animals are killed, but glad when he can eat the meat. What mystery occurs in between? The death even of such animals brings separation between doe and fawn – a loneliness that Jody feels himself. It is the self-consciousness emerging. A soul aware of itself, and wants to be known but is not yet known.

The relationship between man and nature fascinates. The death of the bear and the death of a deer evoke different responses – one triumphant, one sad. Every creature, every man, is not the same. Some are malicious. Others are benevolent. They need different responses.

One reading list puts “The Yearling” at the 6th grade level, and that’s the earliest, I think. I’m going to wait a year or two before my 10 year old reads it. It’s perfect for boys right on the cusp of transition to manhood.

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Grace in Bread

2 Timothy 1:8-10
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel"

This is a table of grace. Let us consider what that means a moment. Grace is not a spiritual gas or substance that we can bottle up and distribute. That isn’t what is happening with these cups of wine. Neither is grace something you can have by yourself at all, because grace is a relational quality. For grace to be present there must be at least two people. Grace is favoring someone, especially when they don’t deserve it. Grace acknowledges a ruptured relationship, and makes a way back to favor. This table does that. We see in the broken bread and poured out wine, that God was so offended by our sin that it called for the sacrifice of the God-man Jesus Christ. We see in the same bread and wine, a way back to God’s favor. We believe and so receive bread, union with Jesus forever. He has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.


Praying for the World

1 Timothy 2:1-4
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

We consider next the prayers of the church, or the pastoral prayer. God wants His people praying for and giving thanks for all kinds of men. We are to intercede as the church, for the church, and for the world. We are to give thanks, also. There are 4 categories of prayer, and by the time we come in our worship service to the prayers of the church we have already covered the first 2, adoration and confession. Here we give thanks and intercede for various situations. This is one area where worship and world meet in the service. The offering is another. How the Word applies to us, in the sermon, is another. Confessing our wrongs in the past week. We don’t try to shut out the world mentally when we worship God. We hold the world up to God, asking Him to have mercy and bless His creation.

Let us confess our sins of despising the world, or chasing after it, instead of interceding for the people God has made.


Dad Shows Son how to handle Woman-Business

The Yearling
Most amusing part of this book, so far. This is from the boy's jaded perspective, realize, as his mother and grandmother argue...

"Jody fidgeted in his chair. The coziness of Grandma's house was chilled, as though the doors were open. It was more woman-business, he decided. Women were all right when they cooked good things to eat. The rest of the time they did nothing but make trouble. Penny's step sounded on the porch. Jody was relieved. Perhaps his father could straighten them out....

"He said, 'Now ain't this fine? The two women I love the most in all the world, waitin' for me by the hearth-fire.'

"Grandma said, 'If the two women loved each other as good, Ezra, all'd be well.'

" 'I know you two don't git on,' he said. 'You want to know the reason? You're jealous, Grandma, 'cause I'm livin' with Ory. And Ory, you're jealous 'cause you ain't as handsome as Grandma. Now hit takes a bit of age to make a woman handsome - I don't say purty - and time Ory's got a bit of age on her, mebbe she'll be handsome, too.'

"It was impossible to quarrel around his good-nature. The two women laughed and bridled." (pg 304)


A Farmer Ditty

Source unknown

There is a farmer that is Y's
Enough to take his E's;
And study nature with his I's,
And think of what he C's.
He hears the chatter of the J's
As they each other T's;
And sees that when the tree DK's,
It makes a home for B's.
A pair of oxen he will U's
With many "haws and G's;"
And their mistakes he will XQ's
While plowing for his P's.
In raising crops, he well XL's,
And therefore little O's
And when he hoes his soil by spells,
He also soils his hose.

Tables and Trees

Revelation 2:4-7
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” "

Paul took in all of history, from creation to consummation in his message to the Athenians on Mars Hill (Acts 17). This table takes in all of history as well. At the beginning we had many tables many trees to eat from, but we picked the forbidden one. This barred the way to the table, until Jesus came and opened the way again. His body offered on the tree opened the way to the tree of life in paradise. And at the end of history we will eat of it. Until then, let us recall our first love for the Lord Jesus, given us when we were re-awakened from spiritual death. Let us repent, hate the deeds of darkness, and come to the light, come to the water, come to the table of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Professing the Faith

Psalm 40:9-10
    I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness 
          In the great assembly; 
          Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, 
          O LORD, You Yourself know. 
    10      I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; 
          I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; 
          I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth 
          From the great assembly. 

Romans 10:9 - "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

Last week we considered raising our hands in worship. This week, our confession of faith. This is a response to God’s Word, with words of the church that summarize God’s Word.

Worship is like a ceremonial conversation. When you’re discussing things with a friend, one way to listen closely is to paraphrase back to them what you hear them say. That is what we do, here, with the help of the historic church. Through her creeds and catechisms the church teaches us what the whole Bible says. After hearing a portion of Scripture, we speak to God, “Your Word reveals God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. I believe that is You, that You are real, that that description is You.”

It is important that we practice professing our faith. Saying what we believe. It is training for evangelism, and for discipling our children. God’s baptized people are supposed to do this. There need not be a one-time profession of faith that is more decisive, that makes you KNOW you’re saved. Faith is sustained, more than it is a one-time thing. So every week we express our faith together, to practice doing so every day in our work, school, family life, community involvement, wherever God puts us.

When we sin, we contradict our profession of faith. And we must confess where we have failed and sinned.



What Happens at the Lord's Supper?

I’ve had children ask me before, why do I pretend the bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus, when they really aren’t?

The Bible says that the bread we break is a participation in the body of Christ. The wine is a communion with the blood of Christ. Somehow we are sharing in Jesus’ body and blood when we do this. Not just remembering him and eating bread and wine. Rome’s answer to this is that the bread and wine change physically, though we can’t see it. The Lutheran answer is that Jesus’ body and blood is right here around the elements, though the bread and wine don’t change. Zwingli said it’s all in our head, in what we remember. We think that Calvin got it right. There is a special spiritual union between ourselves and the body and blood of Jesus that really feeds our souls and saves us, as we have true faith in our hearts. This union is more real than a physical union is. The Spirit does this while the body of Jesus stays up in heaven where He sits at God’s right hand.

It isn’t for us to figure out the mechanics beyond this. Enjoy fellowship and communion with the Lord and with His people. Know that God’s goal for you is that you be fixed and forgiven, fully known and yet accepted and loved.


Lifting Hands in Worship

Ps 134:2 says, “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary.”
1 Tim 2:8 “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands”

Why do we raise our hands in worship again? First let’s talk liturgical housekeeping, and then confession of sin.

Most of our songs are prayers to God, and so we have chosen to lift our hands at a couple points of the worship service in particular, usually sung responses to the Word or at the end of the service. The point is to pick a time in the service to deliberately do this all together, like we kneel at confession. Ps 95 says to kneel before the Lord in worship. It doesn’t say exactly when – we’ve chosen confession time to kneel. We’ve chosen sung responses as a time to deliberately, all together raise our hands. We don’t confine hand-raising or kneeling to these times.  Some people lift their hands when a hymn is moving them. That’s great. We shouldn’t be bothered during worship when people do something Scripture directly says, like kneeling during some other part of the worship service, or lifting their hands when we pray.

As for confession of sin, We ought to be able to hold up holy hands that didn’t hit our sister last week, that refrained from sexual temptation last night. Did we use our hands to work hard all week, or did our hands play 20 hours of x-box? Lifting hands to God is a great opportunity to connect life to worship, and to reinforce that there ought to be no incongruity in this. Of course, if we are going to lift holy hands, then before the confession we can say: "we will lift holy hands in a few minutes. What were those hands doing this week? Let's confess our sins so that we can truly lift holy hands.



Inaugural Points

This was a delight to see.

I didn't watch any of the inauguration, but saw this at this link.

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Apparently Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia had a point to make, and I agree with it. The hat is a replica of Thomas More's, the 15th century martyr who made a silent, conscientious objection to King Henry VIII's intrusion into the church's sphere of authority. Obama likewise is diminishing religious liberty with his health care law, forcing business owners to provide some abortive or abortifacient services in their health insurance. This has resulted in Hobby Lobby's multi-million dollar fines, among other court cases.

This statement was a rarity in our political environment:  polite yet pointed, colorful but refined, sophisticated yet sassy.

Hats off to Justice Scalia.

Search out the Edible Word

Ezekiel 2:7-3:4
"You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” 9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.
3      Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. 4 Then He said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them."

The Lord's Table is a visible word, an edible word from God for us. Prophets and preachers and parents digest God's Word and then speak it to their flock, feeding God's people  God calls us to search the Scriptures, the Word, and so we must also search out the mystery of this edible word, the bread and wine.  At its most basic, we are feeding upon Christ here by faith. He was the scroll Ezekiel ate.  He sustains us with fresh supplies of bread.

Part of loving someone is searching them out. Why do you do that?    What do you mean by that?  We spend time with our spouse, learning about them and enjoying them. It is the same way with God.  We search out His ways in His word in worship, in water and wine, and among His people. Enjoy the Lord today as you consider His gracious dealings with you and with those around you.


Confess Neglecting the Word

1 Timothy 4:13-16
"Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

Paul writes to Timothy about how to lead the church in his absence. In the big picture each of us is to live this way, even if we don’t do this for a living. Read the Word. Exhort people from the Word. Figure out the big picture doctrine of the Word. Don’t neglect your ability to read the Word. Give yourself entirely to the Word. We use the Word to evaluate our lives and our understanding of God. So in our worship service we make sure we read more than a few token verses for inspiration. We read from Old and New Testaments each Lord’s Day, and I try to balance our diet between Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels and Epistles. We need time to consider God’s Word. This is partly what the sermon is about, but also what the rest of the Lord’s Day is about, as well as preparation before you come. Are you giving attention to God’s Word?