Help Your Children Worship

This exhortation was given at King’s Cross Church (Moscow, ID) on March 13, A.D. 2022.

One of the most immediately obvious facts about our church for a newcomer is that children are very present.

There is no peppy volunteer waiting to scan their barcode and send them down the indoor slide to children’s church.

And not only are children present, they are welcome. They belong here. Not because we think they’re cute—which they are—but because God has claimed them as part of His family. And it would be quite a statement to leave someone out of a family gathering.

But not only are children welcome here, they are here to participate. They are here to worship their God along with the rest of us.

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Favorite Books A.D. 2021

As I’ve done since 2015, here are my favorite books that I read this past year with a comment for each one. You can find a list of all the books I read here. I didn’t read Homer as I hoped, but hey, we’re starting another new year. I’d also like to take a stab at Kristin Lavransdatter this year. Maybe saying that here will make it happen this time.

1. The Puritan Hope by Iain Murray
Absolutely loved this book and was encouraged by it. I don’t often imagine re-reading books but I expect to do that with this one. The missionary Bible translator on our church staff saw it on my desk and said how much he marked his copy up years ago. Likewise the pages of mine are covered in green underlining and stars.

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Christmas for the Aucas

This excerpt is from ‘Through the Gates of Splendor’ by Elisabeth Eliot.

“One Sunday afternoon, December 18, Nate Saint sat at his typewriter to tell the world why they were going—just in case. In speaking these words he spoke for all: ‘As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages? As we ask ourselves this question, we realize that is is not the call of the needy thousands, rather it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day and in our hearts we feel that it is pleasing to Him that we should interest ourselves in making an opening into the Auca prison for Christ.

As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for these we have failed to bring out of darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.

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One Lord, One Table

This meditation was given at Christ Church Downtown on Nov 7 AD 2021.

In my exhortation earlier I encouraged you all to remember that the church is indeed one.

Despite our many differences, we are united by a common faith in Christ, and we are all part of one Body which has Christ as its head.

And yet while our oneness is a fundamental attribute of the church that can never be denied, it is still something that we must continually strive for and maintain at the same time. To do this we must avoid unnecessary divisions and conflicts which strike at and strain our fellowship and unity.

And it is here at this table where we find a means of grace toward that end.

It is here in this sacrament called communion where we all partake together as one.

For this table is the Lord’s and this table is one. It stretches across the earth and across time, and at it sits the Lord and His Bride.

As we partake of this bread and wine week after week, the Father delights in continuing to answer Christ’s prayer—that all who believe in Him would be made one in His perfect love.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

The Church is One

This exhortation was given at Christ Church Downtown on Nov 7 AD 2021.

We confess with the Nicene Creed that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is one.

As St Paul wrote, there is “one body and Spirit,” just as there is also one hope, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4–6). And last week Dr. Merkle preached on Christ’s High Priestly prayer, in which He asks the Father that all who believe in Him would be one, just as He and the Father are (Jn. 17:20–21).

But what do we do then with the divisions we see today?

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Gracious Speech

We are commanded by St Paul in Colossians to walk in wisdom toward outsiders, letting our speech always be gracious, so that we may know how to answer each person (Col. 4:5).

While the truth remains the same and unchanged no matter the conversation – it can be presented in a variety of ways, some more edifying than others depending on the context. We see this in our Lord’s ministry and how he spoke to the Pharisees contrasted with how he spoke to contrite sinners.

Just like there are different tools for different jobs, there are different ways of speech for different conversations. For one person, you might need to use a rhetorical chainsaw to chop them down a peg, but often for others a rhetorical bandage is required to heal their gaping wounds. And it takes wisdom to know which tool to use.

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Dare to Be a Sinner

The quotation below is an excerpt from the late David Powlison’s new book, ‘The Pastor as Counselor: The Call for Soul Care.’ Use my referral link to receive $5 off your order at Westminster Books.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was raised in a sophisticated, modern psychological culture, and his father was a psychiatrist. Like all educated Germans, Bonhoeffer thoroughly absorbed the psychological models and psychotherapeutic practices of the great twentieth-century psychiatrists. But he had this to say about the knowledge and wisdom that makes the decisive difference:

The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.