Monthly Archives: December 2009

A Pure Church for the New Year

This past Tuesday, my wife and I had a much-cherished date night which included dinner and some shopping (mainly to exchange some ill-fitting presents we received over Christmas). While my wife taking care of some business elsewhere, I ventured over to one of the islands in the mall—a Lids® store. As I was browsing and exercising my spiritual gift of killing time, one of the employees who wore a University of Kentucky (UK) ‘lid’ walked up and asked if he could help me. I told him that I’d like to see what they had in Bengals and Cardinals hats. He showed me the Bengals hats, but then started looking for Arizona Cardinals hats. When I clarified that I wanted to peruse the merchandise of UK’s archrival, the Louisville Cardinals, his response was classic: “Oh, that’s over in the ugly section next to Duke and North Carolina.”

Well played, sir.

As we continued our conversation, he told me that he was a student at UK who would be in the student section of the upcoming game against Louisville (a game I hope Louisville wins, but at present am not holding out much hope). He and I were hoping for entirely different results, yet he was friendly, helpful, cordial and we parted on good terms.

When many in our culture think about the ‘church,’ many inside and outside Christianity say, “Let’s put the church over in the ugly section of our culture.” Why this reaction?

So many look at the church with anger over her sins, past and present. The church is still under the long, scandalous shadow of the scandals of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and more recently Ted Haggard. The church’s history has gone on record in support of slavery, and is seen by many as being repressive to women. Not only this, but when I first went through the book of Titus at my former church seven years ago, stories started trickling (then rushing) out about the abuse scandals found in the archdiocese of Louisville. Many ask how a group who calls themselves Christians can conduct themselves in such a destructive manner to innocent young boys and girls.

This is why, according to Tim Keller:

Martin Luther King, Jr. confronted terrible abuses by the white church . . . did not call them to loosen their Christian commitments. He used the Bible’s provision for church self-critique and called them to truer, firmer, deeper Christianity.”[i]

Some look on the church with pity. Critics ask, “How can intelligent or even semi-intelligent people blindly follow an unseen god and follow a churches dictates and rules?” Some long for freedom to such a degree that they would not shackle themselves to any organization that made demands of them, much less a church. Not only this, but they pity us for following such an antiquated book as the Bible, especially in our modern culture. Richard Dawkins, popular atheistic author, wrote in one of his books:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.[ii]

Given the world’s view of the church, Christian must resolve for the church to remain pure. And Paul has written to young pastor Titus exactly on this point: he gives him God’s plan for a pure church. Paul wrote to the Ephesian church his desire for them to be pure as well:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:25-27).

May God grant our country and our world a pure church like He intended. 


Endnotes

[i] Tim Keller, Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs, accessed 31 December 2009; available at http://www.redeemer2.com/themovement/issues/2004/oct/deconstructing3.html [on-line]; Internet.

[ii] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Mariner Books, 2008), quoted at http://www.davidhulme.name/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=1886 [on-line]; Internet.

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40 Days of Prayer for Our Revival Services with Hershael York

York From February 7-10, 2010, Dr. Hershael York will be leading our revival services here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky.  Dr. York serves as pastor of the Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, and is also a professor of preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

I’m continually reminded of G. Campbell Morgan’s comment on revival:  “Revival cannot be organized, but we can set out sails to catch the wind from heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.”

Take a look at the short study I did on Psalm 85 (“A Recipe for Revival”).  Won’t you join us for a glorious 40 days of prayer for revival in our midst?

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Readying Ourselves for Action: When He Comes, Will You Be Ready? (Luke 12:35-48)

(This sermon was preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY on Sunday, December 27, 2009.  To listen to this sermon, go to the side bar of this blog and click on the link.)

1. Live with alertness (Luke 12:35-40)

35 "Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

Two Saturdays ago, some of us had the privilege of seeing Eric Masters and Sarah Wasson married off. We Americans have our own traditions of how the wedding preparations and ceremonies go. The bride and groom are not to see each other on the day of the wedding prior to the ceremony. You have the giving of the bride by the father to the new man in her life. You have the exchanging of vows and rings. You have the cutting of the cake, the obtaining of the garter, the throwing of the bouquet, the throwing of rice (or for those more conscience of how birds react, birdseed), then the honeymoon! There are other rituals that people involve.

Yet, most of our weddings (with the exception of Ron and Darlene who were married at sunrise at our park) take place in the afternoon or early evening. So in order for us to understand what Jesus is saying in this passage, we need to understand a few customs about Jewish weddings. For one, the festivities could last well into the night. It was a cause for unabashed celebrating, which included feasting and dancing the night away. Who knows when the party would end? The only thing that was for certain was that it would eventually end.

Another custom is that the groom would return with his bride back to the house. Would his servants be ready? Servants who loved their benevolent master would be. They would stay “dressed for action and keep [their] lamps burning.” In the original (and I believe the King James Version maintains this ), it read, “Let your loins stay girded.” In other words, they would tuck the end of their robes into their belt, leaving the legs free to move around. Kent Hughes imagines the welcome their master received:

Warm light streamed from the windows, breathless, smiling, eager servants bearing shining lamps gathered at the door, and no doubt there was a choice nocturnal snack on the table.[1]

I’m reminded of when Cindy and I went on our honeymoon to the Sandals resort in Jamaica. After we arrived at that resort, I remember bringing my bags and setting them in the designated area. Upon entry to the resort, I was ready to grab my bags when the host told me, “Oh, no, no, no, sir. You are on vacation! We will take care of that.” That’s the type of service I see here.

But notice how everything turns. The master arrives, thrilled at their faithfulness, then turns around to serve them! It is this part that really catches the listener by surprise! Masters in that culture did not “gird their loins” for service. But Jesus is telling them that this is what happens in the Kingdom culture. So when Paul wrote that Jesus came, taking the “form of a servant,” this is what that entails. Phil Ryken notes that “He had come to serve his people, and by serving them, to set them free.”[2] He came as a servant, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross so that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He serves us by giving of Himself, the Living Water (John 4), the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

2. Live wisely (Luke 12:41-48).

When Jesus told parables, usually these parables were for those who did not believe, followed by a clear explanation to his disciples. Yet, Peter here wanted to be clear: who is this parable for? Jesus answers… with a parable!

41Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" 42And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

In examining verse 42, there are two ways to look at this:

First, that this parable applies to everyone. Warren Wiersbe notes, “Each of us has some work to do in this world, assigned to us by the Lord. Our responsibility is to be faithful when he comes. We may not appear successful in our own eyes, or in the eyes of others; but that is not important. The thing God wants is faithfulness (1 Cor 4:2).”[3] Community of believers (our churches) are called to tend over the Temple of the people of God. First Peter 2:4-5 says:

4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

In commenting on this, Edmund Clowney notes:

Many medieval churches in Europe have crypts where kings, queens and nobles are entombed. Effigies of the dead may be seen in the dim light, silent figures carved in stone on the lids of coffins. Not so are Christians made part of God’s temple. They are living stone, and they are part of a growing house. God’s architecture is biological.[4]

Since we are living stones, which Christ serving as our chief cornerstone to keep those stones in line and the structure steady, each of us are to take care of each other. After all, there is a reason there are 30 “one another” passages in the Scriptures.

But this passage also applied to the leaders of God’s “temple”—the pastors, elders, and deacons of His people. In verse 42, see where he asks, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?” We give the food of the Word of God and of oversight of the church. This is why we spend so much time looking at the character of incoming pastors and potential deacons who are to be “above reproach” (1 Tim 3:2).

We see too what happens to those who are commissioned to take care of God’s household, yet becomes an unfaithful steward? “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does no expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful” (v. 46). He goes on:

47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

What do we think of this? Severe? Harsh? Or, knowing that God is holy, is this a cause for us to examine ourselves? Again, listen to Ryken:

Do I believe that Jesus is coming soon, or do I live as if he has been delayed? Am I using my possessions for the good of others and the glory of God, or am I careless in my stewardship, using things mainly for myself? Am I teaching others the grace of God, or am I silent about my faith? These are good tests of our readiness for Christ’s return. Here is another good test, to use throughout the day: Am I a faithful servant, or would I be embarrassed if Jesus returned right now and found me doing what I am doing? Always act, said Spurgeon, “just as you would wish to be acting if he were to come.”[5]


[1]R. Kent Hughes, Luke: That You May Know the Truth, 2 vols., Preaching the Word (Wheathon, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 2:61.

[2]Philip Graham Ryken, Luke, 2 vols., Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), 1:684.

[3]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 2 vols. (Paris, Ontario: Victor Books, 1989), 1:222.

[4]Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove: IVP, 1988), 87.

[5]Ryken, Luke, 1:690.

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Now THESE Are Resolutions

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is claimed by many to be the greatest mind America has ever produced (along with Benjamin Franklin).  He served as a pastor in colonial times, but was skilled in a plethora of other fields—ending his life as president of Princeton University.

When he was 19-20 years old, he put together a set of 70 resolutions that, when you consider his age, are absolutely stunning in regards to their depth.  I believe all of us would do well to absorb these.

If you would like a great biography of Edwards, I would recommend Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden. 

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is

perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14′ and July ‘3’ 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

Aug. 17, 1723

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What Urban Meyer’s Plight Teaches the 24/7 Minister

I was sitting in my in-law’s living room watching the Meineke Car Care Bowl (what an awful name for a bowl game) between the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina when I saw the story of Urban Meyer’s resignation as coach of the University of Florida’s football coach.  After two national championships in five seasons, this was stunning news.

Twenty-four hours later, we un-resigned, saying that he would be taking a leave of absence.

When he resigned, there were looming health problems that caused him grave concern.  Meyer is noted for his high intensity and being driven in preparation as well as recruiting.  He, like so many other Division 1 head coaches, live football 24/7/365.  Pat Forde sums up the weekend’s festivities nicely:

We know the stated reason for the brilliant 45-year-old coach’s sudden, stunning resignation was health concerns that forced him to realign his perspective and put his family first. He mentioned his family three times in the resignation statement released Saturday night, and athletic director Jeremy Foley mentioned it twice more in the same statement.

Then on Sunday, Meyer apparently went out to practice and decided that burnout is for losers, and his family may or may not come before his players. They had a spirited practice in unseasonably cold weather and, shazam, Urban’s not resigning after all! Just taking a vacation of unspecified length! While looming over the program like a 900-foot shadow!

"To see that come out this morning … with a great attitude and great work ethic and just go to work, I admire that," Meyer said. "I know I’m dealing with some stuff, and my family comes first. That’s never been an issue. That’s non-negotiable, that I want to make sure I do right by my family. My second family are my players and our staff, and to see that was the moment. I went immediately to Jeremy, and we had some discussions after that."

Said Foley: "He called me from the practice field, and he didn’t come to that decision right then, but he was just, I guess, a little stunned may be the right word."

The rest of us are a lot stunned.

Pastors, Take Note

Ministry can also take on a 24/7/365 lifestyle very easily.  There is always sermon preparation, prospects to visit, the sick and shut-ins, books to read, meetings to attend, counseling to undertake, etc.  And for men who find great identity in their work, this can be a large snare.  I see that happening with Meyer and I see that happening with dozens of ministers.  No wonder the majority of families say that full-time ministry has a negative effect on the family.  Other wives have noted that they felt their 24/7/365 minister husbands were having affairs…with their church! 

Meyer was a sympathetic figure in many minds (mine included) on Saturday the 26th, especially after hearing Meyer’s daughter say, “Now I have my daddy back!”   He noted in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated:

"It’s something that started about four years ago," Meyer said. "It was chest pains that became rather significant two years ago. Whether it’s stress related … I started to become very alarmed with that. And then I’m a person of faith, and I just wanted to make sure I had my priorities straight. A lot of times coaches do not have their priorities straight. You put business before God and family, you have a problem.

"So when we had the issue, when I had to go to the hospital, and a couple issues after that was when I came to the conclusion that I had to re-prioritize everything. So that’s exactly what it is. I was advised that I have to get this right or it could lead to damage. That’s what made that decision."

On the 26th, Meyer noted that his faith, family, and health dictated he step down.  On the 27th, he called Jeremy Foley and, after seeing practice, and told Jeremy Foley they needed to talk—and presumably before he talked with his family about his reversal.

I understand how difficult it must be to give up your livelihood (and your life?), only to see your successor go in a different direction.  You pour your all into building a program or ministry that the line separating you as a person from your handiwork becomes increasingly blurred. 

So, pastors, take note.  Your priorities are your relationship with God the Father through Christ, husband to your wife, father to your children, ministers to your church in that order

To retool one of Jesus’ saying: “What does it gain a minister if he builds a thriving ministry, but loses his family?” 

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Year End Matters for Serious Self-Examination

Do I believe that Jesus is coming soon, or do I live as if he has been delayed? Am I using my possessions for the good of others and the glory of God, or am I careless in my stewardship, using things mainly for myself? Am I teaching others the grace of God, or am I silent about my faith? These are good tests of our readiness for Christ’s return. Here is another good test, to use throughout the day: Am I a faithful servant, or would I be embarrassed if Jesus returned right now and found me doing what I am doing? Always act, said Spurgeon, “just as you would wish to be acting if he were to come.

–Philip Graham Ryken, Luke (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), 1:690.

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“O Come, O Come Emmanuel: God’s Declaration of War” (New Sermon Posted)

(This sermon was preached on December 20, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to this sermon, click here.)

Whenever our men and women in the armed forces are engaged in the war, the Christmas season is especially difficult. G.K. Chesterton once said that when you go to war, it is not out of hatred for those in front of you, but out of love for those behind you. Thinking about war at a time when we pray for peace on earth, goodwill to men, our hearts grow heavy and even bristle at the idea of this activity going on.

Yet, I must say, the very nature of Christmas (and by that, I mean the birth of Christ, and not the sentimental, nostalgic feelings that we Americans load onto that title) is in essence an escalation of the war declared over 6,000 years ago. When the Enemy encountered Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he urged them to go against the orders of their Lord and Master by introducing doubt. The first question ever asked was by this Enemy: “Did God really say…?” By submitting to the enemy’s doubts, humanity fell under a curse due to that rebellion. And thus we are born rebels. This began a warfare over the souls of men!

Prophets and kings and messengers and priests have been sent and commissioned by God as his emissaries and ambassadors to proclaim the message of His Kingdom to come back—to turn from their rebellion.

When Christ came and the days that followed did not bring ultimate joy. In fact, you will see from the text of Scripture that Christ’s coming did not bring much joy. Some were afraid—even those who were very devout! Some were troubled at the news of Jesus’ coming, even though they knew of the prophecies stating such! Others were furious, for his coming threatened their rule.

In a message given by Julius Caesar in 47 B.C. to the Roman Senate, he used these words to describe his recent victory over Pharnaces II of Ponus is the battle of Zela: “Veni, vidi, vici”—we came, we saw, we conquered.

In the advent hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel, we see the war language:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice, rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Yes, we are on the battlefield. Yes, we are involved in the midst of a glorious campaign in God redeeming His people and His creation to Himself. We see he sends his angels to give those of us on the field the marching orders we need. He shall win! The war has escalated because we are in these last days. How do we react to the coming Emmanuel?

1. Are we fearful of His coming—or faithful (Matthew 1:18-25)?

Join me in reading Matthew 1:18-25:

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

In times of war, there has to be trust in your commanding officers. In this case, however, our Commanding Officer is not simply one who gives orders in hopes that the devised plan will succeed. He puts out His plan, orchestrating all things so His plan will succeed. So many in this world (and maybe many of you in this room) live your lives around plans in hopes that those plans will succeed. The operative word is “in hopes.” Yet, we must recall Proverbs which says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).

God planned for His Son to enter the world in this manner. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” This “fullness of time” means that God brought this about in his fullness—and just the right time. But this is the view from history.

But put yourself in the midst of that action! Mary, a woman likely 13-15 years of age who, as she tells the angel in Luke, “had never known a man,” was told that she would have a child: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. . . . and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31, 33). Jesus entered in this way, again, to escalate the war on a divine rescue mission.

As Mary told Joseph, the one to whom she “had been betrothed,” Joseph was ready to “quietly” divorce her. Though they were not married, they were certainly and legally bound together by a betrothal. Therefore, if that betrothal is broken, they did not simply go on their merry way. What is legally bound needs to be legally broken. Look at what the Law of Moses commanded:

23″If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

Joseph knew he couldn’t marry her, but he did not want this fate to happen to Mary as a result. So, he “resolved to divorce her quietly.”

It is at these times that, in the midst of our shame, bitterness, rage, anger, and fear that the God of heaven steps in to clarify. What seemed to be something so against God was actually the fulfillment of the greatest things to happen in the world for God!

20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

2. Are you troubled at His coming—or joyful?

Jesus’ coming not only brought fear, turning Joseph’s life upside down with a roller coaster of emotions, but he also troubled a number of people as well. When the magi (a.k.a., the wise men who were kings from the east), arrived asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him,” Matthew 2:3 says that Herod “was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Why were they troubled?

Apparently, they were asking anyone and everyone in Judea. John MacArthur notes, “They, as foreigners, knew of the monumental birth, they apparently assumed that anyone in Judea, and certainly in Jerusalem, would know of this special baby’s whereabouts. They must have been more than a little shocked to discover that no one seemed to know what they were talking about.” They were joyful, eager, and hopeful.

This is polar opposite of Herod. History tells us that Herod was a very anxious and paranoid king who ruled in a very volatile area. He had driven the Parthians out of Palestine, but Jewish zealots would constantly rise up, wanting Rome out of the Holy Land. These Magi were from a powerful kingdom in the east who likely traveled with a large contingent of soldiers. With a people hating occupation as it is, the last thing they wanted was a war.

The coming of the Lord Jesus troubles many lives as well. Like Herod, we are born wanting to be and liking the thought of ruling ourselves. Many get paranoid, angry or insecure at the notion of someone else controlling our way of life—even if that someone is the One who made us! Christians even risk this. Tim Lane and Paul David Tripp wrote:

For too many of us, our sense of identity is more rooted in our performance than it is in God’s grace. It is wonderful to be successful at what God has called you to do, but when you use your success to define who you are, you will always have a distorted perspective.

The Scribes—those Bible-loving, Bible-knowing Scribes—fell into this. Imagine knowing that when Herod was stumped about something regarding the law of the land he led, he could always call those Scribes, and they would scurry right to his side to tell them what he needed to know! Herod wanted to know where this Christ (another king? Another political threat? Another reason for paranoia?) would be born so he could extinguish this threat before he could grow.

They knew the promise! While Joseph, a poor itinerant carpenter, trusted the promise, the Scribes ignored it. Maybe they were scared of losing their influence with Herod. Whatever the reason, they gave the prophecy (proud that they could!) but it brought about no change.

You see, friends, we can know the Word, but if listening to the Word troubles us because we must change, we must sacrifice, we must lose what we have, then that knowledge of the Word does us no good. In fact, it does us worse because we then have no excuse. Yet, these Magi, only going by a star in the east and likely recalling some prophecies from the prophet Daniel 500 years prior, crossed the desert. The Scribes would cross the room at Herod’s beckoned call, but not cross the city to see their true King. We see the effect of the Word when it causes people to move toward the purpose of that Word—Jesus Himself.

The Magi brought treasure to pay homage to Jesus, who was likely two years of age by now. Yet, they were warned by an angel in a dream not to return to Herod. Again, like Joseph, they obeyed the Word of the Lord.

3. Do we react to Christ’s coming with fury—or with focus?

For hardy whalers, no ocean was too wide to cross in pursuit of their mighty prizes. In 1819, more than a dozen ships where launched from Nantucket, all headed for distant Pacific hunting grounds. One, the three-masted Essex, was to suffer a calamity so dramatic that its fate inspired a classic American novel–Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. For months the ship survived the hazards of rounding Cape Horn and taking its prey. But one day a mammoth sperm whale rammed the Essex head-on. Then the leviathan passed under the vessel, turned, and attacked again. The whale hit, as first mate Owen Chase recalled, “with ten-fold fury and vengeance.” The crew abandoned ship, and from their whaleboats watched as the Essex slid into the sea.

How do we define ‘fury’? Fury is “intense, disordered, and often destructive rage.” Many see the ominous results of anger and fury, bringing forth not only an internal issue, but it shows itself all around. When the wise men returned, Herod realized that his plan of exterminating this threat came to nothing.

16Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

In a blind rage, Herod committed infanticide, killing all the male children not only in Bethlehem, but “in all that region who were two years old or under.” The Scribes gave Herod the information he needed to ascertain the where of Jesus’ birth, and the magi gave Herod information to ascertain the when. But he was counting on another piece of information—where was the child now? When he didn’t get what he wanted, he flew into the most lethal of temper tantrums! And it’s deadly effect would be far reaching.

If we are to conclude that this infanticide reached Ramah, then this was approximately 50 miles away. If this is so, we may conclude that the entire region lost a large number of the young population. This prophecy in verse 18 was originally found in Jeremiah 31:35, meaning there would be no surprise that the coming Lord would not only bring fear and trouble but also fury from those who hate having any other king but themselves! How did the boy Jesus escape?

13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

God kept another promise! He sent his angel to the battlefield to inform Joseph to get out of Judea and flee to Egypt for refuge. This time, there would be no delay. Joseph immediately obeyed. This prophecy from Matthew 2:15 comes from Hosea 11:1, puzzling many who first read it since Egypt was a sworn enemy and persistent thorn in the side of God’s people. But while we may not understand fully what God’s Word means, He makes it clear in His perfect timing.

Before we start getting all over Herod (he committed atrocities along the lines of Hitler, Hussein, and Stalin), we must get to the root of his issue. Herod wanted to be king of all he surveyed. Isn’t that our problem when it comes to living our lives? We want to be our own king! We wish to take no orders from any other commander, wish to live under no other terms but our own. Pharoah (who did virtually the same thing as recorded in Exodus 1 when he tried to stop God’s people from growing and flourishing while they were in bondage in Egypt) wanted to be king of all he surveyed, yet God came along and showed His deliverance to His people, even from before the largest and most feared army in the world. So God showed His deliverance to His chosen Son who would, in turn, save and deliver and rescue His people from their sins!

Conclusion

Dave Berry is a humorist from the Miami area. He made this comment about Christmas:

To avoid offending anybody, the school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman” and–this is a real song–“Suzy Snowflake,” all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.

The fact is, we should not be surprised by this. Christmas, when we see the true meaning of it, is offensive. Christ invaded earth to conquer it and to reclaim that which was and is His. From this, he called out His church to serve as soldiers on this battlefield and He will see them through. Christ fought the greatest battle there is during that time on the cross when he rescued us from the guilt that was ours and declared us righteous. He rescued us from this world and from ourselves!

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And Wild and Sweet, the Words Repeat

477px-HenryWLongFellow1868 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was an American institution.  His poetry contributed much to the American landscape.  Yet, at this time of year, we may find ourselves singing one of his poems.  While this may bring to mind the peaceful and joyful times of Christmas, this poem came out of deep despair.

Back in 1863, Longfellow received news that his son Charles, a Union soldier, had been killed in the line of battle. Two years prior, his wife had died from burns from a home accident. This poem was originally known as “Christmas Bells,” but time has given it another name. This was composed on December 25, 1864.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

These next two stanzas are not in our modern hymnals for obvious reasons.  But you see the forlorn nature of Longfellow as his country is torn apart by ideology and, ultimately, the warfare of the Civil War.

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

The external issues became internal!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Longfellow finally found hope and assurance.  Granted, there is nothing distinctly Christian about this line (a Unitarian, Mormon, or any theist could write this).

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

We must understand that there is no peace outside of the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  Christ came to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and to reconcile a sinful humanity to a holy God through His atoning work on the Cross.  This  is peace on earth!

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

You see, behind the scenes, God is working out peace on earth in the hearts of men and women who surrender to Christ who provides the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) by the gift of repentance and faith, lifting our guilt of sin and declaring us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).  And when the time comes, he will bring all of creation by to himself (Revelation 21:1-4). 

So there will be peace on earth—not by the ceasing of firing guns, but by the redemption of sinful hearts that once rebelled against Creator God but now worship Him through Christ’s atoning work on the cross and his resurrection which breaks the back of the enemy of sin, death, hell, and the devil. 

So, Merry Christmas!  Have a Christ-filled 2010!

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Players in the Christmas Drama, Part II: Mary

For obvious reasons, Mary played a large part in the Christmas Drama.  After all, she was the vessel that God chose to bring His Son into the world!  She was greeted by Gabriel in a very auspicious way:  “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  The word ‘favored’ means to “make graceful, to endow with grace.”  She was fearful.  Why?  Whenever a heavenly being manifests himself to an earthly being, terror ensues.  We saw it with Moses (Exodus 3), with Isaiah (Isaiah 6), with Manoah and his wife (Samson’s parents), and with the apostle John (Revelation 1:9-20). 

She was informed, however, that she had found favor (grace) with God.  The child she will bear will be Jesus, the fulfillment of the promise given to David (2 Samuel 7) and how he will rule over Jacob (Psalm 2). 

Naturally, Mary inquired how this would happen, “since I am a virgin.”  She will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.  This is important, since the sin of Adam is passed through the Father.  Jesus possessed no sin nature in Him because He was truly and fully the Son of God. 

Mary had to know of the scandal that would ensue in the minds of many.  She was betrothed to Joseph (Matthew 1:19), which in that time was legally binding.  Look at what would happen to one who committed adultery to one to whom they were betrothed:

23"If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Yet, this young teenager submitted to the Father: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  When the word of the Lord and the Lord of the word convicts and captures us, we willingly surrender regardless of the consequences!

Now, I have written at length in the past regarding the problematic view of other denominations regarding their view of Mary.  The Roman Catholic Church has exalted Mary to the point beyond what the Scriptures say (which is why I view their teachings in this regard “problematic”).  If I may, let me quote from a paragraph from that Introduction:

Much talk surrounds the person of Mary. In Roman Catholic dogma, much extra-biblical teaching exists in their Sacred Traditions about who exactly Mary was. According to their doctrine, Mary never sinned nor knew original sin (Immaculate Conception), remained a virgin her entire life (Perpetual Virginity), and was raised where her soul and body were reunited and she ascended into heaven to become “The Queen of Heaven” (the Assumption of Mary). Unless you grew up in a Roman Catholic background, these doctrines may sound very strange and foreign to you, and for good reason. Absolutely none of them is supported in Holy Scripture. In fact, from the Catholic Encyclopedia itself, they say in reference to one of these doctrines, the Immaculate Conception, that “no direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture.”

The three views that Roman Catholics teach regarding Mary are the Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and the Assumption of Mary.

In regards to the Immaculate Conception, we see that Mary never sinned nor knew original sin.  Pope Pius IX in 1854 pronounced that

"in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin" (from the Catholic Encyclopedia). In elaborating on this, the Catholic Encyclopedia comments:

The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.

My initial concern is that this doctrine was formulated so recently (1854) and has so little coming from actual Scripture.  Given that Mary was never mentioned after Acts 1, not even in any of the epistles nor Revelation. 

Also, notice in Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). 

  • She recognizes that she needs a Savior (“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”) 
  • She recognizes that she is not exalted but a humble servant (1:48).
  • She constantly points to Christ and His might and holiness (1:49), His mercy (50), strength (51).
  • She understands that He is the only Savior and Redeemer and, again, in need of that salvation and redemption.

In regards to the doctrine of Perpetual Virginity, Mary had other children, as we see in Mark 3:31-35, when Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters wished to see him.  This is the true translation from the Greek, so I really do not understand the purpose of this doctrine.  As long as Mary was a virgin when Immanuel was born is sufficient for the Christian faith.

Lastly, in dealing with The Assumption of Mary, who was “raised where her soul and body were reunited and she ascended into heaven to become “The Queen of Heaven’” is a doctrine with which I must grow more familiar.  But, again, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, every part of this doctrine’s origin stands on shaky ground:

Regarding the day, year, and manner of Our Lady’s death, nothing certain is known. The earliest known literary reference to the Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae. Catholic faith, however, has always derived our knowledge of the mystery from Apostolic Tradition. Epiphanius (d. 403) acknowledged that he knew nothing definite about it (Haer., lxxix, 11). The dates assigned for it vary between three and fifteen years after Christ’s Ascension. Two cities claim to be the place of her departure: Jerusalem and Ephesus. Common consent favours Jerusalem, where her tomb is shown; but some argue in favour of Ephesus.

The first six centuries did not know of the tomb of Mary at Jerusalem. The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John, which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis, falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite. If we consult genuine writings in the East, it is mentioned in the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, St. Gregory of Tours (De gloria mart., I, iv) mentions it first. The sermons of St. Jerome and St. Augustine for this feast, however, are spurious (quoted from here).

This doctrine seems to stand on the notion put forth in the Immaculate Conception teaching that she was not stained by original sin, yet she “was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam—from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death” (to quote from a paragraph above). 

Conclusion

I would like to hear from those of you who are of the Roman Catholic faith to help me reconcile some of these issues.  As a Baptist, I believe that we have not given Mary enough due, but I do believe that others have exalted her far too much when put up against Holy Scripture.  May God help us to have the faith that Mary had, so we may do everything “according to your Word” (Luke 1:38).

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Kingdom People Book Giveaway

Trevin Wax of Kingdom People is having a mammoth book giveaway:  ten books along with an ESV Study Bible and his upcoming book Holy Subversion.  Here’s a list of the books:

#1. SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, 1859-2009 – Greg Wills
#2. UNFASHIONABLE – Tullian Tchividjian
#3. DEEP CHURCH – Jim Belcher
#4. THE CASE FOR LIFE – Scott Klusendorf
#5. THE GOD WHO SMOKES – Timothy Stoner
#6. ADOPTED FOR LIFERussell Moore
#7. MANHUNT – James Swanson
#8. COUNTERFEIT GODS – Tim Keller
#9. WHY WE LOVE THE CHURCH – Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
#10. THE GOD I DON’T UNDERSTAND – Christopher Wright

Just go to his site and enter.  Even if you have most of these books like I do, they would be great to give to someone else or, in my case, donate to our church library here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church

Thanks for this, Trevin.

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