Thursday, January 29, 2015

Three Words from Heaven

I'm reading through Isaiah right now, and I've noticed something...

He uses three words quite a bit when declaring God's word and God's promises to God's people:

Called, Loved, Kept.

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine"...

Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last...

The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name...

For the Lord has called you...

Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him...

You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”...

I, even I, have spoken and called him; I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way...

I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you...

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...

A throne will be established in steadfast love...

In love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back...

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life...

In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer...

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you...

I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love...

In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old...

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you...

I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day...

Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you...

Are these three words still given to God's people today?

This Sunday at DPC we'll continue in our reading of Jude:

"To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ..."

These three words from heaven were used in the Old Testament to describe those who trusted in the promise of the coming Christ.

And these three words from heaven are still used in the New Testament to describe those who trust in the finished work of the Christ.

The promises of God are centered around the Lord Jesus and his work.  That's where every promise is fulfilled.  Believe on Christ and hold to him, and you inherit the promises...

Called.  Beloved.  Kept.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Mighty Hunter Before The Lord

Hoping for a repeat of this glory:


... this Friday and/or Saturday.

"He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, 'Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.'” ~ Genesis 10.9

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Writer

This Sunday...

Series: "Called, Beloved, & Kept"
I. The Writer
Jude 1

"I would say there are two kinds of doubts: dishonest doubts and honest doubts. Dishonest doubts are both proud and cowardly; they show disdain and laziness. A dishonest doubt is to say, ‘What a crazy idea!’ and then just walk away. ‘That’s impossible’ (or its more contemporary version, ‘That’s stupid’) is an assertion, not an argument. It’s a way of getting out of the hard work of thinking. But by contrast, honest doubts are humble, because they lead you to ask questions, not just put up a wall. And when you ask a real question, it makes you somewhat vulnerable. Mary’s question to the angel actually asks for information and leaves her open to the possibility of a good answer that would cause her to shift her views. Honest doubts, then, are open to belief. If you are really asking for information and good arguments, you might get some."

~Tim Keller~

The Reverse Judas
A Servant of Jesus Christ
And A Brother of James

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Called, Beloved, & Kept

We begin a new DPC sermon series on Sunday, January 25. We'll enter into what Archibald Hunter, a New Testament professor, once called "the difficult and neglected letter."

The book of Jude is only one chapter long; a mere 25 verses. And yet, in an age that seems to celebrate tolerance for any and every destructive view or behavior under the sun, this is a book with which Christians need to familiarize themselves.

There is such a thing as false teaching, even in a "church." There is such a thing as outright apostasy—that is, turning back from following Christ.

Jude is going to help us see these horrific and nightmarish things, as well as many beautiful things, with vivid clarity.
"This little letter is a strong challenge to its readers to oppose resolutely all teachings and habits of life that profess to be Christian but deny the essence of the faith. This letter speaks to the modern world as to every previous age. In our century it is the fashion to be tolerant of anything that calls itself Christian.... Jude reminds us that there are limits."
~Donald A. Carson, Douglass Moo, Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament

Monday, January 19, 2015

my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. story

On January 30, 1956 Martin Luther King, Jr's home was bombed, with his wife & baby girl inside.

An angry crowd of friends formed in his front yard, ready to take matters in their own hands.

After making sure his family was safe and giving thanks to the Lord, King stepped out to speak to the crowd, from the smoking ruins of his house:
"Don’t get panicky.  Don’t do anything panicky.  Don’t get your weapons. If you have weapons, take them home.  He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.  Remember that is what Jesus said.  We are not advocating violence.  We want to love our enemies.  I want you to love our enemies.  Be good to them. This is what we must live by.  We must meet hate with love."
Good words, still today, as we stand in the midst of ruins.

"The time is always right to do what is right." ~ MKL, Jr.

Friday, January 16, 2015

perhaps the most important question being asked right now

This Sunday...

Series: Learning & Living the Language of Faith
XI. perhaps the most important question 
being asked right now
Psalm 11

Are The Foundations Being Destroyed? (11.3a)
"Get Outta Dodge!" (11.1b-3)
What CAN The Righteous Do? (11.1a, 4-7)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

in-ter-nal-ize, verb: make part of one's nature

“If Holy Scripture is to be something other than mere gossip about God, it must be internalized.”

Eugene Peterson

Friday, January 9, 2015

Why, O Lord?... Why?... Why?

This Sunday...

Series: Learning & Living The Language of Faith
X. Why, O Lord?... Why?... Why?
Psalm 10

"Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” 

~the Demon Screwtape
writing to the Demon Wormwood
in C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters


Walking in Darkness?  (10.1)
A Portrait of Functional Atheism  (10.2-11)
Praying to the God Who Sees  (10.12-18)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review, by Scott Mayo

Read a great book recently, thanks to recommendations from both Scott Mayo & the Missildine family. And then I requested that Scott Mayo write up a review that I might share with anyone who would listen... and that excellent review is below.  This book is a treasure for our generation.

Of course, you don't have to agree with everything in a book to be wonderfully instructed by it.  I hope you'll dive in.


From Scott Mayo

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
By Anthony Esolen
Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 256 pages, $26.95, hardcover.

Periodically, Tommy and I exchange links to various interesting and/or challenging articles. These email exchanges will include comments by us, usually wise and pastoral (Tommy) or snide and cynical (yours truly). Recently, we shared an article by Anthony Esolen. Here’s his bio from Amazon: “Anthony Esolen is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization and Ironies of Faith, and the translator and editor of the celebrated three-volume Modern Library edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He is a professor of English at Providence College and a senior editor of Touchstone magazine. Esolen lives in Rhode Island.” All true enough, but this description doesn’t capture the insights, creativity, and biting wit of this author. It is his work Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child that I’d like to recommend to you.

The title gives away his approach to this topic. Hearkening back to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, Esolen writes as if the readers really wanted to know how to grow their children into dull, undiscerning, subservient adults. To whet your interest, several chapter titles (with the accompanying telling subtitles) are:  Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible or They Used to Call It Air, Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic or We Are All Traitors Now, Reduce All Talk of Love to Narcissism and Sex or Insert Tab A into Slot B, and Deny the Transcendent or Fix Above the Heads of Men the Lowest Ceiling of All.

He illustrates his points by drawing on his vast knowledge of literature, history, and the arts along with vignettes from his own childhood. He hammers home the ways in which we can all find ourselves complicit in delivering this future to our children. As our pastor noted, there’s something in here to offend everybody. I think this book especially resonated with me for two reasons. First, being involved in K-12 education now for 21 years, I have witnessed first hand the tendencies he describes. Second, having grown up during the same time frame as the author, I recognized all the things I did as a child (characterized mainly as involving books, dirt, germs, BB guns, and scars) that differed greatly from the common experience of our current generation.

The takeaways are many and mostly discouraging. This work reiterated to me that we are living in a post-Christian culture. We ceased making deposits years ago to this legacy of a Western Civilization birthed in Christianity and have been living off the declining principal balance. The restraint provided by those historic patterns of thought are increasingly being set aside in the culture at large. Psalm 12:8 has become the status quo: “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Esolen illustrates how so many of our actions and inactions contribute to the denigration of formerly honorable things. Nature abhors a vacuum – when true honor wanes, what is vile rushes in.

One knock on the book might come from a desire for him to have addressed at greater length the impact of technology on child development. This book was published in 2010 which means his research was completed months prior. The rapid spread since that point of the power and reach of technology into the lives of children (especially the omnipresence of social media) would have provided ample fodder for his thesis. As an aside, a valid, honest question I often ask is, “Is it possible to invent/design technology that exceeds our ability as humans (and especially children) to properly harness it?” Giving smartphones to middle school boys seems analogous to handing them the keys to the muscle car along with a fifth of whiskey. I mean, I’m sure it could work out fine as a mode of transportation if we warn them to be careful, but wouldn’t bicycles be more appropriate (other than, of course, opening them up to the ever-present kidnapping risk)?

Two pieces of good news do arise. First, there are many things we can do as parents and educators to effect positive change in our circles of influence. Yes, systematic cultural change may never occur in that once many of these cows are out of the barn, they just aren’t going back in. However, if you are willing to be truly countercultural and surround your children with others who will help, you can make a difference. Discipleship and mentoring are time-consuming, hands-on enterprises. Isn’t that exactly what the Body of Christ is called to do? Esolen’s ideas provide a great starting point for those of us willing to roll up our sleeves and push back against the tide.

Finally, while doing a little homework for this review, I found that he is in the process of writing a follow up book titled Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child. Yes, I have already pre-ordered it. His current work Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is available in a Kindle edition at Amazon for $10.49. The hardcover edition is only available through alternate sellers. You are welcome to borrow my copy (but I’ll need the title to your car as collateral). I wouldn’t want to lose this marvelously challenging book!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Theology Conference in Huntsville

One of our sister churches in Huntsville will be hosting a theology conference this weekend.

The speaker is Dr. Miles Van Pelt, professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, in Jackson, MS.  He will be showing how the story of the Bible is structured around covenants, and how the gospel is the theme that unites all of Scripture.

More conference information, from the host church, is below.  This conference will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, which you can locate by visiting their website:

with Dr. Miles Van Pelt

In this conference, we will work to answer two basic but fundamental questions:  
  • What is the Bible about?
  • How does the Bible Work? 
The good news is that the Bible explicitly answers these two important questions.  There is no need to guess, we have only need to listen.

Acts 28:23-24 will serve as the launchpad for this conference - "From morning till evening he [Paul] expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved." The Bible is a single book, authored by a single God, delivering the good news to his people about the person and the work of his Son.

Are you convinced?  
Do you disbelieve?  
Come and find out! 

Friday             January 9, 2015
6:00 p.m.         Barbecue Dinner
7:00 p.m.         Session 1: What is the Bible About?
                        Part 1 - A Theological Center

Saturday       January 10, 2015
9:00 a.m.        Donuts and Coffee
9:30 a.m.        Session II: What is the Bible About?
                       Part 2 - A Thematic Framework
11:00 a.m.      Lunch
11:30 a.m.      Session III: How Does the Bible Work?
                       Part 1 - Understanding the Covenantal Structure

Sunday         January 11, 2015
9:30 a.m.       Morning Worship (Judges 6:33-40)
Gideon's Fleece and the Will of God
11:00 a.m.     Session IV: How Does the Bible Work?
                      Part 2 - Working with the Covenantal Structure
12:00 p.m.     Lunch - All Church Pot Luck
  • All meals served in the Cafeteria.
  • Nursery provided for ages 0-4
  • Kids activities for ages 5-5th grade
  • Register for meals, nursery and kids activities through the church office  256-830-5754.