Thursday, April 28, 2011

What stingy giving reveals

It is commonly reported that in even the most ardent, evangelical churches, most members/attenders regularly give only 3-4% of their income to further the cause of Christ. I'm sure if such people were polled, they would be quick with many excuses. Proverbs 15:8 gives a clear but sobering assessment of the root behind much stingy giving. It says, "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to Him."

Why is material sacrifice compared in this text to prayer? To highlight how both are statements of faith in God or lack thereof. How generously we give and how ardently we pray both unmask our true understanding of God. Is He trustworthy? If so, then it will show in displays of material generosity and a robust prayer life. If we don't believe He's trustworthy, then both our giving and prayer lives will be stunted and shallow. Both are clear statements about what we believe about God. One writer puts it this way, "The wicked offer lame sacrifices because they don't really believe that God will meet their needs." If we think God is stingy, then we will be stingy too. Only when we've understood and been impacted by the immeasurable riches of Christ's grace (Ephesians 1:3-10), will our hearts long to live lavishly toward others - including Christ's church.

We can give all kinds of excuses for our meager giving, but according to Solomon, it likely comes down to hearts which haven't really understood Who God is, felt the deep joy of His grace and learned to trust Him for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Machen on holy jealousy

"Why should we be indignant about slanders directed against a human friend, while at the same time we are patient about the basest slanders directed against our God?"

- J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p. 55

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garbage and the glory of God

Yesterday, in my sermon one of the points I made in showing forth Christ as our King was His kingly commission in Genesis 1:26-28 to exercise godly dominion over the earth. That takes all kinds of forms, and not just overtly spiritual ones. Since beauty, order, public hygiene and stewardship of the earth is part of His commission, Christians should accept a special responsibility for putting trash in its place.

I thought about that this morning as I walked our dog with one of my sons. Now that the snows have melted, a long winter of trash litters our neighborhood gutters and boulevards. I have a choice of response. I can self-righteously become indignant about the folks who irresponsibly littered throughout the winter, or I can see the trash as a positive opportunity to pass on God's commission to my sons by going on a 'trash safari' today, seeking to represent our King in our neighborhood by taking one aspect of what has become wrong and making it right. We'll probably make a contest of it, seeing who can fill up their bag with the most pieces of trash, to make it extra fun.

In God's economy, litter is not just litter. It's an opportunity to engage the world responsibly and push back the dark effects of the Fall in a small but significant way, right where we live to the glory of Christ.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

CRU dessert

At Trinity we've tried to become intentionally focused in our missions support to ensure maximum theological affinity, on-going relationship and mutual commitment. One of the ministries we support is our local Campus Crusade for Christ chapter, led by Trinity members Jason and Kassidy Skjervem, who actively minister at Minot State University and smaller, regional colleges like those in Bottineau and Devil's Lake. Our new IT and connections guy on staff here at Trinity, Josh Hawkins, also works part time with CRU, doing IT support.

God's been at work through CRU's ministry this year in some very exciting ways. Some students have recently become Christians while others have grown deeper in their faith. We all have an opportunity to hear more about it at their upcoming annual dessert on Monday May 9th at 7 pm at MSU's Student Center. The CRU staff and students will be sharing about what our Lord is up to in extending His Kingdom on campus, and we'll also have a chance to support this important arm of our missionary/evangelistic ministry financially.

Space is limited, so if you plan on attending the CRU dessert, please RSVP Kassidy at 720-0521.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday musical meditation

“Thy Will Be Done” Craig Courtney

Our cup was filled with darkness; our cup was fi lled with death.
Christ took our cup and drank it and gave us life and gave
us hope, gave us himself. “My Father, let this cup pass from me,
yet not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.” In blackest night
we hear him in dark Gethsemane, pleading with the Father
for one more way, for one more hope, for one more day.
“My Father, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will, O Lord,
but thine be done.” Then they took our Savior and led him
to a tree and there they broke his body, poured out his life,
put him to death to rise again! “My Father, let this cup pass
from me, yet not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Christ in the Old Testament?

If Genesis 3:15 really is the 'proto-gospel,' after which everything in the Bible is one grand story of good news anticipating our coming Redeemer, then we should expect to be able to discover anticipations of Christ throughout the Old Testament. One major way God inspired the biblical writers to do that was through 'typology'. Unless we understand typology, much of the Old Testament will remain either useless ancient history or a perpetual mystery. So, what is typology? One of the best explanations is given by OT scholar Michael Barrett:

"...typology is not an interpretation technique arbitrarily imposed on the Old Testament in an effort to rescue it for Christian relevance. Rather, it is a method of divine revelation. Let me put it simply in terms of 'x' and 'y'. If x is the picture and y is the truth, God was saying to look at x in order to understand something about y. Much of what we read in the Old Testament is God's using x's to teach ultimate truths about y. The principle thing to remember is that x does not equal y. So x is the type, the object lesson [e.g. the Tabernacle] that foreshadows or predicts the actual, future realization of the pictured truth. Y is the antitype, the future realization to which the type points [e.g. Christ, the ultimate Tabernacle of God's atoning presence. See John 1:14]. The type represents and resembles the antitype. This does not mean that x loses its significance or usefulness in [its original context, but it points beyond itself to something far greater]. The key point is that Christ is the ultimate reality: He is the Idea behind - or perhaps I should say above - all the visible impressions."

- Michael Barrett, Love Divine and Unfailing, p. 11.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gospel Coalition Links

Terri and I were deeply blessed to be at the Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago last week. The Gospel Coalition is a team of like-minded Christian leaders building bridges across denominational lines to wave the banner of precious biblical truths we hold in common:

- The glory of God as the chief goal of all things
- The sovereignty of God in our salvation
- The centrality of expository Bible preaching to the health of the church
- The mission of the gospel of Christ's grace as the only solution for our broken world

Click here for a link to the conference audio so you too can drink deeply of the rich messages which so encouraged us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Protestants going over to Rome?

Yes, it's true. The past decade has seen a notable rise of disaffected evangelicals leaving their suburban megachurches to become Roman Catholic. What's the allure? Carl Trueman gives some reasons here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Leading with humility

Tomorrow Paul's going to talk to us about developing godly relationships with the spiritual leaders in our lives. Among other things, that includes an openness to correction and admonition. While it's never easy to be corrected, it's even harder to be the one doing the correcting. How can we grow in our ability to biblically admonish other believers with humility? In the following video clip, CJ Mahaney provides some wise advice for us all.