Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A City Set On A Hill



How do you view the church?

Take note of the immense vastness that separates how a demon might view the church and how we often view the church, from this part of letter #2 in C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters.

These are letters that Lewis imagined a senior devil writing to a junior devil...

******

My dear Wormwood,

I note with grave displeasure that your patient has become a Christian. Do not indulge the hope that you will escape the usual penalties; indeed, in your better moments, I trust you would hardly even wish to do so. In the meantime we must make the best of the situation. There is no need to despair; hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy’s camp and are now with us. All the habits of the patient, both mental and bodily, are still in our favor. 

One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces in the next pew.... 

******

Our view of the church often needs
significant reform and serious renewal.  

We plan to start a new sermon series at DPC
on Sunday, September 13.

"A city set on a hill..."
Jesus of Nazareth, describing his people

Come Join Us!



Friday, August 21, 2015

Romans 1.18-23



"If a person knew there were no God and said so, he would be wise and perhaps even courageous for standing against the nearly universal but mistaken opinions of the human race.  

"If he did not know whether there were a God and said so, he would at least be an honest skeptic or agnostic.

"If a person is convinced there is no God when actually there is one, he is merely mistaken.

"But none of these is the case, according to Paul's careful exposition.  The reason the person is a fool and not merely mistaken is that he knows there is a God and yet chooses to believe and act as if there is none."

James Boice, commenting on The Apostle Paul's words in Romans 1, which is actually a commentary on Psalm 14... which is what we'll be looking at this Sunday at DPC.

You are most welcome to join us.





Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More than a feeling...



“The thing I am here to say to you is this: that it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everyone knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.

....Theologically this country is at present is in a state of utter chaos established in the name of religious toleration and rapidly degenerating into flight from reason and the death of hope."

Dorothy Sayers
The United Kingdom
1893 - 1957

from her book, 
Creed or Chaos?: 
Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In short...



Every good thing we could think or desire
is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.  For,
He was sold, to buy us back; 
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us; 
He was made a curse for our blessing;
sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;
He died for our life;
so that by him fury is made gentle,
wrath appeased,
darkness turned into light,
fear reassured,
despisal despised,
debt canceled,
labor lightened,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
difficulty easy,
disorder ordered,
division united,
ignominy ennobled,
rebellion subjected,
intimidation intimidated,
ambush uncovered,
assaults assailed,
force forced back,
combat combated,
war warred against,
vengeance avenged,
torment tormented,
damnation damned,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
hell transfixed,
death dead,
mortality made immortal.

In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.
For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us,
and the sting of death to pierce us,
are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.
If we are able to boast with the Apostle, saying,
"O hell, where is thy victory?  O death, where is thy sting?,"
it is because by the Spirit of Christ, we live no longer, by Christ lives in us.

John Calvin


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

CULTIVATE

Below is an example of what will be emailed you to Monday-Friday if you sign up for CULTIVATE, an opportunity to read and pray through the Bible in community.

If you're interested, email your request to be subscribed to:
office@decaturpca.org

We start on Monday morning, August 17.




CULTIVATE | Wednesday, October 7, 2015

-The Call into God's Presence-
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  Psalm 139.2

-The Psalm of Prayer for this Week-
Psalm 127

-Reading The Bible Together Today-
         Genesis 3

-Reflecting on Today's Reading-
The fall of man.  Innocence lost.  Paradise ruined.  Exile from the garden.  The pains of childbirth and the frustrations of toil in a fallen world.  Lies, sin, guilt, shame, judgment, evil, suffering, corruption, fears, estrangement, destruction, futility, the curse of death, etc.  All of these disasters (and more) come, not from God's good creation in Genesis 1 & 2, but from man's rebellion in Genesis 3.  This is no longer the world for which we were made.  Humanity said, "Not your way God, but my way!" And now, as Proverbs says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."  How did this happen?  Satan, "the father of lies" (see John 8.44), first persuaded humanity to question God's goodness—even in spite of the fact that they were standing in the paradise described in the previous two chapters—and then persuaded them to doubt God's Word.  These are the twin roots of every sin since; indeed, he truly is "the father of lies."  And yet, right in the midst of the sentences of judgement, God graciously speaks of a Savior who will come to crush Satan and all his work (v.15).

-Song for October-
This is my Father's world,
And to my list'ning ears,
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world,
O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
The battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heav'n be one.

Maltbie D. Babcock, 1858-1901

-CULTIVATE-
For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.  Hebrews 6.7