Archive for February, 2009
The preaching this Sunday will take us back to our study of Luke’s gospel account, as we examine 7:1-30. There we’ll see three stories of healing, faith, salvation, and mission. Like almost every story in the gospel accounts, these verses show us different angles on similar themes: who Jesus is; how he reveals himself in his public ministry; how people variously respond to the person and work of Jesus. Once again, let me encourage you to read the passage, perhaps with the family or a friend, before our time of corporate worship tomorrow morning. Come prayerfully and expectantly.
Also, remember that this Sunday at 6:30 PM we’ll be having a night of classical and jazz musical performance. We’re calling it “For the Joy of Music and the Glory of God.” I’ve been hearing some of the music practiced for weeks (even months) now since my wife, Sarah, is one of the musicians. If you’re able to come, you’re in for quite a treat…if I may say so! Remember, this is a great thing to invite a non-Christian friend to, especially with someone you think wouldn’t yet be interested in coming to an actual church service yet. It’s simply a night of great jazz and classical music. And it’s free!
By the way, if you’re wondering about the benefit of music performance in the church (ie, music-for-music’s-sake), or, more generally, in the church’s involvement in less overtly religious things like art and culture, take a look at this article by William Edgar, “Good Company, Good Art, and a Good Laugh.” Bill’s written many great articles on similar themes, but this is certainly one of my favorites.
We have the great honor and pleasure of having Matthew Ellison teach us from God’s Word this Sunday. Matthew will be looking at 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, where Paul reminds the Corinthians that “The Worst of Times Are the Best of Times for Giving.” Financially troubling times like these can produce fear, but they also provide many opportunities to help others who are in need. Pray that God would help us to joyfully trust in Him and seek first His kingdom, even though our senses tell us to worry because the world is out of control.
This Sunday’s message will continue to examine Jesus’ sermon in Luke 6. We have seen Jesus teaching some hard sayings here, like “love your enemies” (vss 27-36) and “do not judge or you will be judged” (vss 37-42). This Sunday we will see Him explain the “root” from which this “fruit” flows and the “foundation” on which such radical love and mercy rest (vss 43-49).
Related, this quote from David Brainerd (1718-1747) highlights the danger of good works done for the wrong reasons:
When I had been fasting, praying, obeying, I thought I was aiming at the glory of God, but I was doing it all for my own glory–to feel I was worthy. As long as I was doing all this to earn my salvation, I was doing nothing for God, all for me! I realized that all my struggling to become worthy was an exercise in self-worship. I was actually trying to avoid God as saviour, and to be my own saviour. i.e. I was not worshipping him, but using him.
May God grant us discernment and grace to know well the difference between genuine fruit which flows from our connection to the tree (Christ) and that which is self-made “righteousness” done for our own glory — or, as Brainerd said, an exercise of self-worship.
The schedule and titles are now finalized for Clarus 09 with Drs. Ray Ortlund and Sam Storms (May 1-3):
(6:15 PM – Singing Begins)
6:30 PM – 6:45 PM – Welcome, etc.
6:45 PM – 7:45 PM – Session 1 with Ray Ortlund:
“True Spirituality: Delighting in Truth” (Psalm 1)
7:45 PM – 8:00 PM – Break/Singing
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Session 2 with Sam Storms:
“Jonathan Edwards on Religious Affections: the Soul Set on Fire for God”
(8:45 AM – Singing Begins)
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM – Session 3 with Ray Ortlund:
“False Spirituality: Flirting Around” (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
10:15 AM – 10:30 AM – Break/Singing
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – Session 4 with Sam Storms:
“Enjoying Election: Finding Delight in God’s Decree”
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM – Lunch
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM – Panel Discussion
(6:45 PM – Singing Begins)
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM – Session 5 with Ray Ortlund:
“Dangerous Moderation: the Nausea of Christ” (Revelation 3:14-22)
8:15 PM – 9:00 PM – Panel Discussion
9:00 AM – Corporate Worship with Sam Storms Preaching:
“Delighting Ourselves in the Lord: Why Joy in God Matters” (Psalm 37:4)
10:45 AM – Corporate Worship with Ray Ortlund Preaching:
“Break Through: No Other Desire” (Psalm 73)
He writes, from The Sovereign Grace Blog:
By now most of you have seen the photograph of Olympic superstar swimmer Michael Phelps filling his giant lungs from a bong of marijuana. When the picture appeared in a British tabloid, Phelps acknowledged it was ‚”youthful and inappropriate.”
Now there is no debate over whether the 23-year-old is gifted with athletic greatness. He is. And financially Phelps is set for life, his agent Peter Carlisle estimating his potential earnings will reach somewhere around $100 million.* Which I’m told would equal a stack of $100 bills 360 feet tall!
The photograph of Phelps reminds me of myself prior to conversion, a competitive swimmer (of slightly lesser skill), a sinner (of greater degree), held captive by sin, pursuing the fleeting pleasures of this world. And sadly, in my case, pursuing sin with passion.
So what was Phelps searching for in that bong pipe? What emptiness in his soul was he trying to satisfy?
Once again we are reminded that athletic gifting, championship trophies, gold medals, and million dollar endorsement deals cannot satisfy the soul.
Last year, in the wake of his third Super Bowl championship, disillusioned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admitted on 60 Minutes,
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, “God, it’s got to be more than this.” I mean this isn’t, this can’t be, what it’s all cracked up to be.
I commend Brady for his honesty.
And no doubt some Pittsburg Steelers players are beginning to have similar thoughts.
But in Phelps’ case, if you listen to the media (with the exception of my man Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post) you hear a common chorus of excuses like, “Give Phelps a break, nothing he did was anything worse than happens in an average weekend at a typical college campus.”
But we are not talking about a typical American college student. Phelps is a rich superstar.
This is what I find so striking: A man whose chest has been covered with gold medals, has achieved international fame, showered with awards, and blessed with an incomprehensible amount of money, still feels compelled to press his face to a bong.
It was Augustine who said that the soul is restless until it finds its rest in God. So true. Only God can satisfy the soul. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ provides forgiveness of sin, and therefore it is here in this gospel that we find rest for our restless souls.
Study the unflattering picture of Michael Phelps to be reminded of the deceitfulness of sin and the superficiality of fame and money. But also study the picture to be reminded of the message of Christ and him crucified for restless sinners like you, and me, and Michael Phelps.