Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I don't like to say "I told you so", but....

A Shocking “Confession” from Willow Creek Community Church

By Bob Burney

Tuesday October 30, 2007

If you are older than 40 the name Benjamin Spock is more than familiar. It was Spock that told an entire generation of parents to take it easy, don’t discipline your children and allow them to express themselves. Discipline, he told us, would warp a child’s fragile ego. Millions followed this guru of child development and he remained unchallenged among child rearing professionals. However, before his death Dr. Spock made an amazing discovery: he was wrong. In fact, he said:
We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren't firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn't realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of

Something just as momentous, in my opinion, just happened in the evangelical community. For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Perhaps inadvertently, with this “new wave” of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based “programs” and slick marketing.

The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.
Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to “do church.” The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn’t be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the “experts” you were immediately labeled as a “traditionalist,” a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.
All that changed recently.

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.
The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:
We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth. Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.

Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:
Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.
Isn’t that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and “take out a clean sheet of paper” and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry. Should this be encouraging?
Please note that “rooted in Scripture” still follows “rethink,” “new insights” and “informed research.” Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio.

Reformation Day 2007

Wait a minute! Is that Melancthon and Luther? There they stand...they can do no other.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reformation Day Eve- Martin Luther

Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margaret Luther on November 10, 1483 in Eiselben, Germany. He was baptized the next day (St. Martin of Tours Day). The Luther family moved to Mansfield in 1484, where Hans Luther operated a copper mine. Hans Luther was determined to have Martin become a lawyer and so provided him an excellent education attending schools in Mansfield in his pre-teen years and eventually in Eisenach at age 15. In 1501, at the age of 17, Luther entered the University of Erfurt. He was nicknamed by his fellow students, “The Philosopher” He received his B.A.. in just one year and had earned his M.A. by 1505. In 1505, at the age of 22, he enrolled at the law school at the University of Erfurt, as his father wished.

During the summer of 1505 a thunderstorm came upon him. A tree very close to him was struck by lightning and he was terrified (I used to think he was a wimp until I experienced something similar turkey hunting, very scary!). He cried out to St. Anna for help, basically pledging to become a monk if his life would be spared. He left law school immediately, sold his books, and entered the Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt on July 17, 1505 at the age of 22.

Luther dedicated himself to the monastic life with full zeal and vigor. Luther constantly fasted, spent long hours in prayer, and made endless confessions of sin before his superiors, especially Johann Von Staupitz. Luther later described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair-

“I lost hold of Christ the Savior and Comforter and made him a stock-master and hangman over my poor soul.”

While a monk at Erfurt, Luther lived with terrible guilt and fear concerning his sin and God’s need to punish him for it. Johann Von Staupitz bid Martin to trust in the merit of Christ for his salvation on multiple occasions and interactions while he was at Erfurt. Von Staupitz sent Luther to Wittenberg to distract him from his excessive introspection and to study the text of the bible itself, something not done in the monastery.

When Luther was at the University of Wittenberg he began to study the bible in earnest and eventually came to embrace the biblical concept that sinners were justified by faith in Christ alone and not by good works. If a particular moment for Luther’s conversion could be identified, it might come from the time in 1515 when he lectured on the book of Romans at Wittenberg.
He pondered day and night over Romans 1:17. Luther hated the phrase “the justice of God” or the “righteousness of God” because it seemed to refer to the punishment of sinners. Instead, Luther came to see this verse actually referred to the salvation of sinners by the gift of faith. Hence, the formal teaching of the doctrine of Justification by faith alone took center stage in Luther’s heart and teaching. Luther’s embracing of the biblical doctrine of Justification by Faith alone became his driving motivation for Reformation in the Roman Catholic Church.

The caring words of Luther's pastor-mentor Von Staupitz were no doubt used by the Holy Spirit to endear him to Christ:

“Why do you torment yourself with all these speculations and these high thoughts? Look at the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood that he has shed for you: it is there that the grace of God will appear to you. Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself into the Redeemer’s arms!”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Inexplicably interesting words

I am not claiming this post to be very signifcant or even worth reading, so feel free to stop reading and "click on" somewhere else. You'll never get back the 15 seconds it takes you to read and think about this.

There are several English words that I find intriguing . I always enjoy seeing how, when, and why they are used. Here are a few of those:

1. Beleagured: someone bothered, worried, or beset.

2. Debacle: a fiasco, a sudden and violent collapse, a complete failure- especially because of bad planning and organization.

3. Grisly: shockingly repellent; inspiring horror, inspiring disgust or distaste .

That's all for today.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Anyone with a title is an expert, I guess.

(FoxNews) Scientist: Human Race May Split in Two in Far Future

The human race may split in the next 100,000 years, according to a British scientist. Oliver Curry, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, thinks two subspecies will emerge: a tall, slim, intelligent privileged class, and a short, squat, ugly, dim-witted race of servants.

If that sounds remarkably like what H.G. Wells foresaw in "The Time Machine" with his Eloi and Morlocks, that's because the division of species into slender "gracile" and husky "robust" forms occurs repeatedly in the evolutionary history of higher primates.

For example, the common chimpanzees is a tough, violent, meat-eating ape, while its close relative the bonobo is a slimmer, more gentle, largely vegetarian peace-lover.

This is depressing. I know which subspecies will evolve from me- it won't be the tall, slim, intelligent class!

But seriously, what is an "evolutionary psychologist"? Are we to believe an "evolutionary psychologist" is a scientist? Why does Foxnews start the article with "Scientist"? I think I get it- by stating "Scientist" before the theory is offered, us dim-witted folk (evolutionarily speaking) are to give it more credibility than if a "non-scientist" were to do the same. The problem as I see it-other than presenting a ridiculous, unsubstantiated theory-is calling an "evolutionary psychologist" a scientist. Also, why does this "Scientist" work at the London school of economics? Why does this "expert" garner front webpage news status? How lame. Short and squatty maybe, but a fool I am not.

Foxnews seems to be getting more and more tabloidish.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Confirmed: Good VS Evil this World Series

There are 26 of the above trophies in Yankee Stadium, but I digress.

We all know the Boston "RED" Socks refers to Satan's footwear- very fitting for an evil team. I trust my faithful readers will join me in wishing collapse upon the Bosox when they take on the Rockies for the World Championship of baseball. I'm concerned, if the Red Sox win the championship this year, they'll only be 20 titles behind my Yankees.

There is no doubt- this Series is an epic battle of Good vs Evil. No one will dispute the "evilness" of the Red Sox, what you may not have known is an interesting dynamic as reported yesterday on the Colorado Rockies setting the final stage for the clash-

Rockies Place Their Faith in God, and One Another
DENVER, Oct. 22 — As a Jewish player who attended a Catholic high school and a Lutheran university, Jason Hirsh knows what being a religious minority feels like. So last December, when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, Hirsh wondered if what he had heard about his new organization was true.

Now, Hirsh said not once during the season had he felt uncomfortable with the place Christianity occupies within the organization. “There are guys who are religious, sure, but they don’t impress it upon anybody,” Hirsh said. “It’s not like they hung a cross in my locker or anything. They’ve accepted me for who I am and what I believe in.”

The role of religion within the Rockies’ organization first entered the public sphere in May 2006, when an article published in USA Today described the organization as adhering to a “Christian-based code of conduct” and the clubhouse as a place where Bibles were read and men’s magazines, like Maxim or Playboy, were banned. The article included interviews with several players and front office members, but team players and officials interviewed this week said it unfairly implied that the Rockies were intent on constructing a roster consisting in large part of players with a strong Christian faith. Asked how his own Christian faith affected his decision-making, General Manager Dan O’Dowd acknowledged it came into play, but not in a religious way. He said it guided him to find players with integrity and strong moral values, regardless of their religious preference.

“Do we like players with character? There is absolutely no doubt about that,” O’Dowd said during a recent interview in his Coors Field office. “If people want to interpret character as a religious-based issue because it appears many times in the Bible, that’s their decision. I believe that character is an innate part of developing an organization, and to me, it is nothing more than doing the right thing at the right time when nobody’s looking. Nothing more complicated than that. “You don’t have to be a Christian to make that decision.”Even if the Rockies are not consciously doing it, reliever Matt Herges, playing for his seventh organization, said the team had the highest concentration of devout Christians he had seen during his nine major league seasons.

Every Sunday, about 10 people gather for chapel, according to reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and Tuesday afternoon Bible study sessions usually attract seven or eight players. Affeldt said players discussed life and their families as well as scripture. “Certain guys attend chapel, certain guys don’t,” outfielder Cory Sullivan said. “I don’t think that’s any different from how it is in any other major league clubhouse. Nothing’s shoved down your throats.”

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chuck Norris fact- Huckabee in 2008

Chuck Norris has weighed in on his choice for President in 2008-

"Though (Rudy) Giuliani might be savvy enough to lead people, Fred Thompson wise enough to wade through the tides of politics, (John) McCain tough enough to fight terrorism, and (Mitt) Romney business-minded enough to grow our economy, I believe the only one who has all of the characteristics to lead America forward into the future is ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee"

Why is the opinion of Chuck Norris important? Well, Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves. Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice. When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants. Chuck Norris can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night. Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there. They once tried to carve Chuck Norris' face into Mount Rushmore, but the granite wasn't hard enough for his beard.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Can't wait to hear the Harry Potter apologists now

Back some time in 1998 or so there was a big fracas made by the release of the first Harry Potter book, "The Sorcerer's Stone". We had some parents of students at our school pop a cork over various kids bringing in the evil Potter book to read during recess and such. I obtained a copy and read it. I thought Rowling was a clever writer with a quality not often matched in modern literature. The sorcery stuff really didn't freak me out like it seemed to be doing to various and sundry Christians. I was more bothered by the outright mockery of authority that pervaded. The students rule the day in Potter's world- at least in the first book. The teachers were basically idiots. There was kind of an underlying post-modern tone, which is to be expected from anything written today, especially by an unbeliever. The first movie represented the book fairly well, again, I didn't think the sorcery stuff was a big concern for young teens watching it. Hopefully no parent lets their kids watch stuff without first screening it and discussing it any way. In that light, I kind of wish Christians wouldn't come off as such prudes, especially pertaining to flash in the pan "pop" stuff. We look like such pathetic alarmists at times.

Now, having said all that, I didn't like the first book enough to waste money on the next 5 or 6 that have since come out. While Rowling is clearly a gifted author, the sheer popularity of her works makes me pretty skeptical of their long term staying power. When C.S. Lewis started releasing his Narnia books, they didn't do so well for quite a while. The same is true for Tolkein. Generally, classic stuff takes time to be recognized, settle in, and stay the test of time. I'm not saying Rowlings' writings won't eventually do the same, I just tend to be skeptical about anything the masses run out and buy up, so I try to remain blissfully ignorant, especially when I hear Christians debating about Potter. The debates are usually around the witchcraft stuff, which I just don't think is a big deal. I don't think Christian kids will go out and sacrifice their neighbor's cat because of Potter.

Many of my good, culturally savvy and theologically astute friends carry on about the greatness of the Harry Potter series. Not having read the last 5 or 6 (not sure how many there are now...don't care) books, and not wanting to come off like the skittish mother who is aghast by the horrible witchcraft of Potter, Hogwarts, and company, I've kind of read their various posts and listened to their comments with a "give me a break, this stuff will be forgotten soon enough" thought in my head, but with a smile of "you are so culturally with it and I'm not"on my face.

But this is where I draw the line on this Potter thing. Rowling just revealed yesterday that Dumbledore is gay (with a name like that...). Good grief. How totally lame of her. I can't wait to hear the christian Potter apologists now. I'm sure their argument will be something like- "it doesn't say anything about him being gay in the text itself" or "no he's not"- those sorts of things. I rather hope they at least admit it's a hideously poor choice on the part of the story's creator instead of defending the franchise on this point.

J.K. Rowling Reveals 'Harry Potter' Character Dumbledore Is Gay

(FOXNEWS)NEW YORK — Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay.

J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall. After reading briefly from the final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," she took questions from audience members.

She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds "true love." "Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause. She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down." Dumbledore's love, she observed, was his "great tragedy." "Oh, my god," Rowling concluded with a laugh, "the fan fiction."

Potter readers on fan sites and elsewhere on the Internet have speculated on the sexuality of Dumbledore, noting that he has no close relationship with women and a mysterious, troubled past. And explicit scenes with Dumbledore already have appeared in fan fiction. Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.
Rowling, finishing a brief "Open Book Tour" of the United States, her first tour here since 2000, also said that she regarded her Potter books as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority.

Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.
I understand the age we live in, such "outings" of people are considered progressive and en vogue, but come on already. Can you imagine, in Lewis' day, readers wondering about the sexuality of the professor because he's single, living alone? How about the readers of Tolkein wondering about the sexuality of Gandalf (OK...never mind that one..)? But you get my drift. Such a decision by Rowling is so boring and typical of our pop culture.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Classic Intro

I love classic music, like this clip. There haven't been many greater intro's to a song than Akroyd and Belushi "in the day".

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Joe departs, the Yankee nation waits

The inevitable happened today, Joe Torre and the Yankees parted ways. I figured this would happen after the Yankees "early" exit from the playoffs.

Here's the deal- Joe Torre is an average manager. He's not really worth the $7.5 million per year he's been paid the last couple of seasons. He's definitely not a better manager than Lou Piniella, who gets paid almost half of what he makes. Don't get me wrong, whoever has to put up with Steinbrenner deserves some serious cash, but $7.5 mill to manage? That's too much. Sorry. So, from a baseball standpoint, Joe's time has run it's course, he did a nice job managing personalities and dealing with the boss. Joe's a New Yorker, much appreciated by most, and will enjoy a good legacy as one who was the skipper for 4 world championships and 12 consecutive playoff runs. I think Joe Torre should become MLB's next commissioner, he's a great statesman and has a good head for the game overall. May God bless Joe Torre.

Now, for the Yankees, it's time to move on. There will be fallout from the Torre "release", no doubt. Signing A-Rod, Posada, and Rivera is unlikely without Torre as manager. Pettite is questionable also. A-Rod is obviously the biggest loss of these guys-for the regular season anyways. Now, it's possible to retain a few of these guys, if they hire the right manager.
Who will be the manager? The top two candidates are Don Mattingly and Joe Girardi. Of the two, Girardi is the better choice, in my opinion, however, it seems that Donnie M. has been groomed for some time to be skipper. I think it would be a mistake. He just doesn't have the experience yet. I would hate to see one of the modern Yankee greats end up a Steinbrenner casualty. Girardi would be better, so I'm guessing Steinbrenner and sons will choose Donnie. Man, I hate to feel bad about Don Mattingly. This is a tough one for the Yankee faithful.

There is a wild card I'd love to see the Yanks hire. Tony LaRussa. He's very much like Torre in demeanor, but a better manager. Living in St. Louis for three years gave me an appreciation for Tony. I was disappointed by his ignoring of Mark McGwire's steroidal exploits, but Joe was no hero on that front either (thank you very much Jason Giambi). Tony proved his worth when he led a poor Cardinal team to the World Series title last year. That Cardinal team was the worst regular season team ever to win the WS title. That's a feat. Why don't the Yankees hire Tony LaRussa? That would be too smart for George and Sons. Oh, while they're at it, will they please fire Cashman too?

We'll be stuck on 26 world titles for a while longer I'm afraid.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Good Shepherd

I love John 10. I love the imagery of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Redeemer's old logo depicted this. I never get tired reading this portion of John's gospel-

John 10:1-6 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.2 “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.5 “Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

He is drawing from the very well known profession of shepherding to describe His relationship to the Father and His saving work. He breaks it down more simply for us-

John 10:7-15 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.8 “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.12 “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.13 “The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.15 “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Jesus is the shepherd of a flock. He protects and preserves His flock with His very life. Jesus compares His devotion to the flock with that of a mere hireling, one who has no vested interest in the well being of the flock. Further we can see there are no other true shepherds who could do what Jesus does for His flock. In actuality, those who come claiming to be shepherds are really thieves and robbers who desire only to do the sheep violence. To this point Jesus still remains somewhat vague. But what He says next gives clarity to the illustration. Look at verse 16 and following-

John 10:16-18 16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

The imagery of the first 18 verses is wonderful:

The sheepfold- the initial group of people from which the sheep of Christ would be drawn was the nation of Israel. The picture is Jesus calling to a sheepfold, who were made up of Israelites. He takes from that fold His Sheep.

The door- Jesus first identifies Himself as the door or the way to salvation. Any other attempt to gain access to the flock was an indicator of being a thief, robber, or stranger. Only through Christ can a person enter his flock.

The Shepherd- At first Jesus speaks in general terms referring to the shepherd who keeps the flock. Then He labels himself the “good shepherd” who lays his life down for the flock. Jesus is the way to salvation and He is the securer of salvation.

The Doorkeeper- There is a brief mention of the doorkeeper. This is a subtle reference to God the Father who is responsible for giving particular sheep to the good shepherd.

The Sheep- The sheep are those who belong to the shepherd. The sheep are those who are under the shepherd's care. In the shepherd they receive freedom, security, and sustenance. The sheep are identified as those who know (trust) in the Shepherd.

Thieves, robbers, hirelings- There are those who attempt to pose as true shepherds, but in reality they are thieves and robbers. The inference here is to the religious leaders, the supposed shepherds of Israel- the Pharisees. Jesus draws a picture of fakers who try to look the part but all the while have ulterior motives that promise only harm to the sheep. Again, there is only one Good Shepherd.

Other sheep from a different fold- Jesus makes a very startling revelation, at least to the Jewish audience who relished their ethnicity as a means of right standing before God. He says that there is another fold from which He will draw His sheep from. The nations or the Gentiles, the non-Jews, they represent another fold. From that fold he will add to his flock many men women and children.

The imagery is powerful isn’t it? Think of what a shepherd did in antiquity and put it alongside the saving work of Christ. The Father appoints His Son as the Shepherd over a flock. The flock would first be drawn from a large fold called Israel . Those who new the Shepherd would hear His voice and come to Him and follow Him. Then, Jesus turns to another fold, the nations, and draws sheep from their who will be part of His flock. In essence there is one flock, that is, all those who trust Christ. And the Shepherd will lay His life down for those chosen sheep. The Good Shepherd will give life, freedom, security, and sustenance to His flock.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fabio Cannavaro-The World's Best Defender

This is for my more sophisticated readers (soccer fans): A great highlight video of the world's best defender, Fabio Cannavaro. He was a key contributor to the 2006 World Cup Champions, Italia.

Putting his soccer artistry to the sweet tunes of Metallica tops off this viewing experience.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Feed the Fire

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Paul is telling believers that they have the ability on some level to block the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying ministry to them. Certainly, from the standpoint of God's sovereignty, no human being is powerful enough to stop the God of the universe from doing what He wants through His Spirit, but on the "every day" level- we could apparently engage in quenching the Spirit's sanctifying ministry in our lives. The Holy Spirit's ministry serves the purpose of bringing glory to God by moving us, the redeemed, closer to Christlikeness. The Holy Spirit is the prime mover in our sanctification. Our dying to sin is the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Paul says here, “Do not quench the Spirit” -very importantly-he is specifically referring to the Spirit’s ministry through the revealed Word of God ("do not despise prophecies").

I have wrestled with what it means to quench the Holy Spirit. The word quench seems to reveal much. One of the most vivid pictures of the Holy Spirit is as fire. The word quench here is undoubtedly meant to evoke the image of pouring a dampening agent on a fire. The Holy Spirit, as fire, is seen in Scripture to be an enlightening agent, and enlivening agent, and a purifying agent. The Holy Spirit, in a very real sense, acts like fire in the life of a believer. Quenching the Spirit is the act of stifling the work of fire trying to take place. Other English versions translate verse 19- “Do not restrain the Holy Spirit”, “Do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit”, “Don’t turn away from the Holy Spirit.” All seek to bring out the activity of refusing to heed what the Spirit has made known. All seek to bring out the activity of cutting off the revelation of God’s truth intended for them. In the context of this verse, quenching the Spirit means to not take seriously and authoritatively the Word of God (prophecies). Paul here says, “Do not quench the Spirit”. He issues a negative imperative here. Paul is encouraging us to allow the Spirit of God do its refining work in our lives. I shouldn't put the fire out, so to speak, but rather give the fire more oxygen. Again, the way we can be grow in our relationship with Christ is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us, primarily through His Word.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Prophecies were authoritative teachings, primarily through the Apostles, that were being written and uttered during the immediate period after Christ’s resurrection. Prophecy is not always predictive, in fact it is mostly proclamation of God’s truth. The New Testament was not completed until 30-40 years after Christ ascended. During this time the Apostles were ministering and writing God’s Word. The Holy Spirit was moving through a particular spiritual gift of prophecy, as well as through other revelatory gifts unique to the time of the Apostles. So then, when Paul says, “do not despise prophecies” he is referring to the special revelation that was coming to the people of God directly from God through a human agent, primarily the Apostles. He is saying to them – "do not despise the Word of God! Listen intently to that which is from God. Do not belittle prophecies. God’s revelation should not be ignored or taken lightly".

How does this translate to us today? For us, living over 1900 years after the completion of the NT, prophecy refers to the finished Word of God. The Holy Spirit’s main work now is to take that deposit of truth, the bible, and apply it to the lives of God’s people.

So, when I neglect time in, study of, and sitting under the Word of God, it has the effect of quenching the Spirit's ministry in my life- a ministry I must have to grow in grace. The Holy Spirit is a fire, the Word of God is oxygen, I want to feed the fire!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Nothing

Recent recipients of the Nobel prize have me wondering what such an award is worth.

First, last week, the Nobel Foundation awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine to the designers of a technique that has permitted biologists to key out the function of genes easily. Mario Capecchi from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Martin Evans of Cardiff University in Wales and Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will share award "for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells". It is clear what this research is intended for. The technique, using embryonic stem cells, permits researchers to bring forth ’knock-out’ mice mutant strains in which specific genes are modified. These can be used to establish the specific functions of genes in health, development and diseases of animals and to create animal models of human diseases. So in essence, the research is a set up for using human embryonic stem cells to treat human diseases.

Many of the various breakthroughs in science are noble and valuable, yet, such accomplishments must respect human dignity and uphold the common good. Using embryonic stem cells, except for those taken from placenta and umbilical cords, requires the creation and destruction of human embryos. Such a practice is unacceptable biblically as life begins at conception (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13,16). Killing an embryo is murdering a person. We cannot do this, not even within the secret sterile walls of a research institute or in the name of physiology or medicine. God has endowed humanity with awesome deductive capabilities- certainly we can do better than murder to advance the quality of human life. Nobel's decision to give a world-renown prize to scientists for their leadership down the path of human embryo destruction is both telling and sad.

Second, and somewhat laughable, the Nobel Foundation gave former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and another man their prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". I'm not a whole scale denier of "global warming", I just contest several of the more popular propositions being made by the junk scientists of our day. I tend to think such climate matters are cyclical. Some Earthly eras are hotter, some are colder. We have to adjust accordingly (can we make it colder during November this year? The deer don't move well when it's warm). Surely each of us should be good stewards of God's Earth. There are many ways each of us can conserve energy, emit less of this or that, and generally be careful to restore what we use up. No problem with any of that. It lines up with exercising responsible dominion over the earth- our mandate from God- we are stewards. But as for Al Gore's receiving this award- give me a break. The guy is a mouth piece for a humanistic, radical, imbalanced movement that has been granted a level of mainstream acceptance because of good ole' Hollywood's production of his political film- An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore isn't a scientist. He's a politician. On this matter of global warming- he's nothing but a well-paid spokesperson.

A British Court recently gave a telling ruling when challenged with whether the film should be shown in public schools as "science". Notice their handling of the question (Foxnews reporting):

Al Gore’s award-winning climate change documentary was littered with nine inconvenient untruths, a judge ruled yesterday. An Inconvenient Truth won plaudits from the environmental lobby and an Oscar from the film industry but was found wanting when it was scrutinised in the High Court in London. Justice Burton identified nine significant errors within the former presidential candidate’s documentary as he assessed whether it should be shown to school children. He agreed that Gore’s film was “broadly accurate” in its presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change but said that some of the claims were wrong and had arisen in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration.” In what is a rare judicial ruling on what children can see in the class-room, Justice Barton was at pains to point out that the “apocalyptic vision” presented in the film was politically partisan and not an impartial analysis of the science of climate change. “It is plainly, as witnessed by the fact that it received an Oscar this year for best documentary film, a powerful, dramatically presented and highly professionally produced film,” he said in his ruling. “It is built around the charismatic presence of the former Vice President, Al Gore, whose crusade it now is to persuade the world of the dangers of climate change caused by global warming. It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film – although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion – but that it is a political film

There have been several rebuttals to Gore's movie, I advise every thinking person to check them out. I found one, five part series, to be particularly informative- Global Warming: Doomsday Called Off. Check it out. I doubt CBC will be winning a Nobel Prize for it- not nearly fantastic enough.

All this to say- what is a Nobel Prize really worth today? Why hold Nobel in esteem any more? It seems overtaken by humanism- a modern day Tower of Babel, if you will.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marion Jones is "Achan"

Sorry for the play on words. As you probably know by now, former U.S. track and field superstar, Marion Jones, admitted she cheated to win her five medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney Australia. I vividly remember watching in awe and admiration as she destroyed the competition in those games.

While I feel cheated having given her victory some amount of emotional energy and lasting admiration, I am very impressed with the honesty of Marion Jones, to come forth and tell the truth. She looked broken and sad while confessing, yet she also looked relieved. Guilt is a heavy burden to carry.

Unfortunately, an inevitable fall-out development of Jones' rule breaking is a stark reminder of how sin doesn't only effect the person sinning, but also those who are in relationship with that person.

One of the five medals Jones' won was part of a four-woman relay team. According to the rules, Jones' cheating should cause the team's win to be disqualified. This means Passion Richardson, a teammate of Jones for that race, will likely have her bronze medal stripped because of Jones' actions. The whole team will pay for Jones' impropriety. That's how it works in team competitions.

That reminds me of Achan, in the bible. Check out Joshua 6 & 7. There was Achan among the other warriors of Israel. They routed the mighty, fortified city of Jericho. As the Lord commanded, they went through Jericho and killed every living thing. No one was supposed to take any spoils from that victory as it served as a reminder to all the Israelites that victory was being granted by God, to whom they paid tribute by leaving the goods after conquering. As Achan was walking through the conquered city, something shiny catches his eye. He looks closer and sure enough it looks like one of those ornate coats the Babylonians make. So he allows his eyes to fix upon the coat. He then notices some silver shekels and a nice size chunk of gold. Then he thinks to himself-"What a shame that such a fine robe would go to waste". He begins longing after the coat, the silver, and the gold. Without a moment more of thought, Achan swipes the coat, swipes the gold, and swipes the silver. Pockets bulging, Achan hurries to his tent where he perhaps thinks about what he has done. He then decides to hide the stolen goods under his family’s tent. So his sin had run its course. He saw, he coveted, he took, he hid. As a result of Achan's one, personal, secret sin, God disciplines all of Israel (Achan's "team", you might say) by allowing an inferior opponent (Ai) to whoop them in a skirmish, leaving several of Achan's countrymen dead. After such an overwhelming victory against Jericho, Israel had to be baffled as to why God would not deliver Ai in to their hands. It was the "secret" sin of Achan that caused the entire nation to pay. To make matters personally worse- Israel didn't just punish Achan for his sin- his whole family died in judgment with him. One man's sinful action caused all sorts of corporate pain.

Marion Jones made a decision. She saw the potential fame, the glamour of being an Olympic champion, longed for the glory of winning, and in a season of weakness, began taking at least two performance enhancing drugs she knew were illegal and unethical. She kept it secret, even lied about taking them, but as is the case with all sin- it found her out. She could probably have kept denying guilt, but this week it seemingly got the best of her (not to mention more legal scrutiny and a possible perjury charge) and she fessed' up. I am truly glad for this, I do respect her for confessing the way she did, but her team now has to pay for her personal sin.

Passion Richardson has thought of herself as part of an Olympic relay bronze-medal winning team for the better part of seven years. The bronze medal from Syndey is no doubt hanging somewhere in her living room. Now, the IOC will be calling to ask for the bronze medal back. She has to be ticked. "What a crock- I didn't take steroids!", she must be thinking. Yet, it's true- because of one person's sin, the whole team pays.

Marion Jones, in a sense, is Achan. I know she must be hurting. I don't know if she knows Christ. I hope this situation will be used of the Lord to bring her to trust Jesus. Still, it really illustrates how sin affects the people around us. There really isn't any such thing as "secret sin".

I think the words of C.S. Lewis are helpful here:

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin…But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ.

There is a redemptive reminder that comes to me when I consider the sin of one causing the pain of others. My sin causes pain to my family, my friends, my congregation, etc. No sin happens in a vacuum. My sin, caused Christ's pain. In closing, I am drawn to the beauty of Romans 5:

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Death in Adam, Life in Christ 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Time to Cash out, don't blame it on Joe

Joe Torre is not the Yankees problem, Brian Cashman is. Steinbrenner has given him the largest budget in baseball and he has managed to overpay everyone except Jeter and A-Rod (and we didn't need A-Rod, we needed pitching). Giambi for $25 million? Give me a break! He wasn't worth that when he was on steroids.
Joe Torre is an average manager, but an excellent personality juggler. That's what the Yankees have needed for the past 12 years- all playoff years. Further, Joe Torre is a class act working for a pretty fickle, jerky guy. If I were Torre, I'd quit and wait for the MLB Commissioner job- he'd make a great commish.

Unfortunately, I think we're going to lose Posada next year- that'll be a sizable loss. Mariano Rivera is on the decline, so losing him won't be devastating. A-Rod can go choke in the playoffs for someone else. The Rocket should now retire for good. Mussina needs to become a middle reliever, at a high price unfortunately, another Cashman blunder. All these guys gone will mean a bunch more money to spend. If Cashman is still the GM (and all indications look like he will be), he'll probably squander it on some big name guys on the decline. If I were GM, I'd go after the top two free agent pitchers, re-sign Pettite, keep Wang, and pick up a solid third baseman when A-Rod leaves. The 1996 Yanks, my favorite in the recent era, had a bunch of ham-n-eggers who jelled well as a team and won the World Series. We need to return to that. Pitching, pitching, pitching. Maybe David Cone will come out of retirment?

Steinbrenner will probably fire Torre- or they'll work out some "graceful" exit for him. That's too bad, Cashman is the one who should be whacked. No doubt.

The End Is Near...

The past several days, for all the great celebrating we did at church, contained several events that make me convinced the end is near.

- The Westminster Eagles (the soccer team I coach) lost in the last 5 minutes of the game for the second time this season.
- The Yankees lost to the Indians (because of a plague of locusts in game 2).
- The Sabres lost their first two games of the new NHL season.
- The Bills lost to the Cowboys on a lucky 53- yard field goal.
- I missed an opportunity on a giant 9-point buck (with "stuff" on the bases of his antlers- very cool, mature deer) because I set up wrong yesterday morning.
- I had to drink coffee (the nectar of demons) this morning to warm up and wake up...sorry Dad- no whiskey in it.
Too much oddity...too much strangeness...too much catastrophe to be a coincidence.

The Final Dedication

The top picture is the cornerstone for Redeemer's new sanctuary. It says "2006" because that's when it was laid. It took 15 months to construct the building.
In my ten years of ministry at Redeemer, it would be hard to choose a greater highlight than this past Saturday and Sunday. I have already posted the liturgy for Saturday night's partial dedication service. Here is Sunday morning's "final" dedication portion of our morning service in it's entirety.

The Final Dedication of the Redeemer Sanctuary
Sunday, October 7, 2007 (11 AM)

Through the ages, Almighty God has moved his people to build houses of prayer and praise, and to set apart places for the ministry of His Holy Word and Sacraments. With gratitude for the sanctuary we have now gathered to, we act now to dedicate and consecrate it in God’s Name and for His glory.

Opening Prayer Pastor Anthony J. Felich

Lord God, the Psalmist has said by the power of your Holy Spirit, and we agree- “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it, labor in vain.”

We give thanks to you O God, for you are good; your steadfast love endures forever!

Open to us the gates of righteousness, that we may enter through them and give thanks to you! This day of dedication has finally come and we joyfully acknowledge- This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that you have made, O Lord, let us rejoice and be glad in it through Christ Jesus, our Savior Amen.

Pastor: Peace be to this house, and to all who enter here: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Congregation: Our help is in the Name of the Lord; The maker of heaven and earth.

The Prayer of the Elders

Ever-living Father, watchful and caring, our source and our end: All that we are and all that we have is yours.

Accept us now, as we dedicate this place to which we come to praise your Name, to ask your forgiveness, to know your healing power, to hear your Word, and to be nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son. Be present always to guide and to judge, to illumine and to bless your people.

Lord Jesus Christ, make this a temple of your presence and a house of prayer. Be always near us when we seek you in this place.

Draw us to you, when we come alone and when we come with others, to find comfort and wisdom, to be supported and strengthened, to rejoice and give thanks. May it be here, Lord Christ, that we are made one with you and with one another, so that our lives are sustained and sanctified for your service.

Holy Spirit, open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts, that we may grow closer to you through joy and through suffering.

Be with us in the fullness of your power as new members are added to your household, as we grow in grace through the years, when we are joined in marriage, when we turn to you in sickness or special need, and, at the last, when we are committed into the Father’s hands.

Now, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sanctify this place; For everything in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; And you are exalted as head over all. Amen.

Dedication Litany (Congregation Standing)

Pastor: How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord.

Congregation: I long, yes, faint with longing to be able to enter your courtyard and come near to the Living God.

Pastor: Even the sparrows and swallows are welcome to come and nest among your altars and there have their young, O Lord, my King and my God!

Congregation: How happy are those who can live in your Temple, singing your praises.

Pastor: Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who trust Christ and love His Law.

Congregation: When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!

Pastor: They will grow constantly in strength, and each of them is invited to meet with the Lord in Zion.

Congregation: O Jehovah, God of the Covenant of Grace and Lord of the Universe, hear our prayer!

Pastor: O God, our Defender and our Shield, bring glory to yourself in this place, from this day and to the end of the age.

Congregation: A single day spent in your temple is better than a thousand elsewhere! I would rather be a doorman of the Temple of my God than live in palaces of wickedness.

Pastor: For Jehovah is our Light and our Protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who are united to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Congregation: We now, the members and friends of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, mindful of the inheritance into which we have entered, and the glorious company, seen and unseen, whose communion we share, do covenant together in this act of dedication, offering ourselves anew to the worship and work of our heavenly Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor: May this hallowed place ever be a haven of refuge, a mantel for the proclamation of the gospel of grace, a launching pad for mission, and a symbol of our unity in the faith.

Congregation: We dedicate this Sanctuary in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Pronouncement of Dedication

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the Church, I do now by the authority of the Session of this Church, pronounce and declare this new sanctuary of Redeemer Presbyterian Church to be fully dedicated for the worship of almighty God, the faithful preaching of the Scriptures- which includes both the regular exposition of the Word of God and the constant, clear proclamation of the good news of Christ contained therein, the administration of His holy sacraments, and all other such gatherings which call upon the name of the Lord- both in times of joy and earthly sorrow.

Soli Deo Gloria- To God Alone be the Glory. Amen.

Closing Prayer Pastor Nathan E. Currey

O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart.

With King Solomon of old, we ask- Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that we have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servants and hear our plea, O Lord our God, hear the cry and to the prayer that your people pray before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, a place about which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayers that your covenant people offer in this place. Please, O Lord, receive through Christ the praise, honor, and glory we your servants seek to give you when we worship in this sanctuary now, and until the day the Lord Jesus comes back for His Bride. We pray this prayer through Christ, Amen.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Dedication Weekend at Redeemer

Today and tomorrow will be among the most special days in our church's history. Redeemer was "particularized" (Presbyterian lingo for becoming official) in November of 1994. This weekend, almost 13 years later we will endeavor together, as a church, to dedicate our new sanctuary to the glory of God.

I have very much enjoyed crafting the liturgy for tonight's service and tomorrow's final dedication during the morning worship service. In putting together the liturgy, I used Scripture, portions of the Westminster Confession and shorter catechism, our Book of Church order, The Book of Common Prayer, and a quote from Martin Luther on music. I'll post the liturgy for tonight's partial dedication here, hoping it will be a blessing to you.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Service of Partial Dedication
October 6, 2007


*Call to Worship Pastor Nathan Currey

*Hymn of Adoration Give Praise to God by James Boice

Give praise to God who reigns above, for perfect knowledge, wisdom, love; His judgments are divine, devout, His paths beyond all tracing out. Come, lift your voice to heaven’s high throne, and glory give to God alone!

No one can counsel God all-wise, or truths unveil to his sharp eyes; He marks our paths behind, before; He is our steadfast counselor. Come, lift your voice to heaven’s high throne, and glory give to God alone!

Nothing exists that God might need, for all things good from him proceed. We praise him as our Lord, and yet we never place God in our debt. Come, lift your voice to heaven’s high throne, and glory give to God alone!

Creation, life, salvation too, and all things else both good and true, come from and through our God always, and fill our hearts with grateful praise. Come, lift your voice to heaven’s high throne, and glory give to God alone!


Choral Anthem
Praise the Lord. Let songs of joy break forth, sing alleluia. Praise His name forevermore. Shout, sing and dance, come dance and celebrate. Rejoice; let all within us praise His name. O praise His name forevermore.

“What do these things mean?” Pastor Anthony Felich

Dedication of the Pulpit Elder Galen Mussman

Elder: The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation. In every age God has spoken through the voices of prophets, pastors, and teachers.

Congregation: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Elder: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Congregation: Purify the lives and the lips of those who speak here, that your word only may be proclaimed, and your word only may be heard.

Elder: Your word is a light to our feet and a light upon our path.

Congregation: We dedicate this Pulpit in the Name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dedication of the Baptismal Font Elder Michael Preston

Elder: Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, does signify and seal our ingrafting in to Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Congregation: There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Elder: For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Congregation: We dedicate this Baptismal font in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dedication of the Communion Table Elder Robert Albright

Elder: The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

Congregation: For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Elder: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Congregation: We dedicate this Communion Table in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dedication of the Pews Elder Benjamin Vos

Elder: The visible church consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. The people of God are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God. These pews represent the gathering of God’s people each Lord’s Day for the purpose of worshiping Almighty God in Spirit and in Truth.

Congregation: We dedicate these pews in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dedication of the Organ and Piano Elder Joel Thomas

Elder: Martin Luther said- “I wish to see all arts, principally music, in the service of Him who gave and created them. Music is a fair and glorious gift of God. I wouldn't for the world forgo my humble share of music. Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid, and reasonable. I am strongly persuaded that after theology, there is no art that can be placed on a level with music, for besides theology, music is the only art capable of affording, peace and joy of the heart - the devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God.” Father, your people worship you with many voices and sounds, in times of joy and sorrow.

Congregation: Heavenly Father, move us to express the wonder, the power, and the glory of your creation in the music we make and in the songs we sing.

Elder: Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise him with strings and pipe.

Congregation: We dedicate these instruments in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dedication of the Steeple Elder Scott Creecy

Elder: A church steeple towering upwards toward the Lord can give us and the community a sense of our spirits reaching upwards toward God. And since our church, with its steeple, is centrally located, it is easy to make the conceptual leap to seeing our church and its steeple as representing the entire community's need and hopeful willingness to look upward to God for guidance and strength. The significance of our steeple is more than mere symbolism; it is correspondence. The very structure of our steeple, pointing upward toward the sky, suggests the greatness of our God as we gaze heavenward, and it represents a call for people to come unto Him and worship. The book of Isaiah records a longing for the Temple to draw people to God, so also we desire the steeple to be a lasting invitation to all.

Congregation: It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills;

Elder: and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:

Congregation: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

Elder: For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Congregation: We dedicate this Steeple in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Handing of the Keys to the Deacons
- Elder Robert Reymond Jr. to Deacon Todd Vesper (Chairman)

Elder: Our Book of Church Order states that a particular church consists of a number of professing Christians, with their children, associated together for divine worship and godly living, agreeable to the Scriptures, and submitting to the lawful government of Christ's kingdom. Its officers are it’s teaching and ruling elders and its deacons.

Deacon: The elders jointly have the government and spiritual oversight of the Church, including teaching. Only those elders who are specially gifted, called and trained by God to preach may serve as teaching elders. The office of deacon is not one of rule, but rather of service both to the physical and spiritual needs of the people.

Elder: It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. It is their duty also to develop the grace of liberality in the members of the church, to devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people, and to distribute these gifts among the objects to which they are contributed. They shall have the care of the property of the congregation, both real and personal, and shall keep in proper repair the church edifice and other buildings belonging to the congregation. I hereby entrust the keys to this sanctuary to the diaconate of Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

*Closing Hymn O Bless Our God with One Accord (Psalm 134) arr. L.J. Lamberts

O bless our God with one accord, ye faithful servants of the Lord, who in this house do stand by night; and praise him there with all your might.

Lift up your hands, and prayer draw nigh unto his sanctuary high; bless ye the Lord, kneel at his feet, and worship him with reverence meet.

Jehovah bless thee from above, from Zion in his boundless love, our god, who heav’n and earth did frame; blest be his great and ho-ly name.



Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

That one guitar...felt good in his hands...

A couple weeks ago Nathan Clark George came to do a concert at our church. It was a great concert, a real blessing and encouragement. His music is original, biblical, honest, and great quality (see my earlier review of NCG). Nathan is coming back to Redeemer in December to present a Christmas concert with three other musicians.

One of the sweeter parts of Nathan's visit was fellowship my family could have with his. Chief among great accomplishments while the George's were here was treating them to the best barbecue in the world (KC style). Their poor children thought Memphis had the best! I think their eyes are now open and aware of their former error. I'm always trying to help a brother out in such ways of enlightenment.
My oldest son AJ (pictured above on the right with Elaine & Jonathan George), has wanted to learn the guitar since hearing Nathan lead worship at Horn Creek this past Summer. A few weeks ago, AJ had me build him a banjo out of an old detergent bottle, a wood stake, and some fishing line. AJ can sing one of Nathan's songs on it (for the most part)! AJ was anxious to see what a real musician could do with his banjo. As you would imagine, Nathan was able to make it play a tune or two! Great times!

To my pastor friends and other faithful, variously located readers- I highly recommend inviting Nathan to present a concert at your church. I am sure it will be a blessing to you and your church family as it was for us at Redeemer. Also, check out his site for music samples.

What is my practice?

1 John 3:4-10 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. [5] You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. [6] No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. [7] Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. [8] Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. [9] No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. [10] By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

There is a key word to understand in this portion of John’s letter. The word is “practice”. It has to do with practicing sin or practicing righteousness. What does it mean to “practice” something?

Practice means:
[v] learn by repetition
[v] engage in a rehearsal (of)
avail oneself to; "apply a principle"; "practice a religion"; "use care when going down the stairs"; "use your common sense"; "practice non-violent resistance"
carry out or practice; as of jobs and professions; "practice law" 1. Frequently repeated or customary action; habitual performance; a succession of acts of a similar kind usage; habit; custom; as, the practice of rising early; the practice of making regular entries of accounts; the practice of daily exercise.

When we say someone is “practicing medicine”, we mean that he or she is in the vocation of assessing the physical well-being of a patient and then prescribing something to assist with that condition or remedy a particular ailment. We call a doctor’s office a “medical practice”.
When we say someone is “practicing law”, we mean that he or she is in the vocation of prosecuting a violator of the law by using the law -or- he or she who is practicing law is in the vocation of defending someone who has been accused of violating the law. This defense is done with a knowledge of the law. We might call a firm of lawyers- a practice.

Practice is a term that describes what someone applies his or herself to. It is a customary action, a habitual performance, a succession of acts in similar kind. It is not one act alone, it is descriptive of regular acts that eventually show an identifiable pattern. When this is the case, we would call it a practice. Something done over and over again.

1 John is a spiritual health assessment of sorts and the Apostle makes very clear in the above text- we are the children of God by adoption through Christ. This supernatural adoption will bear itself out in our lives. He uses this word “practice” to describe what we will look like if we are His children. We will not practice sin, but rather will practice righteousness.

This text (and the bible, for that matter) are clear: We are not redeemed by our practice, however our practice clearly displays if we are redeemed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Major League Soccer's Unsung MVP does it again!

Here is a brilliant goal by Cuauhtemoc Blanco, the most impacting player in the MLS this year.

What makes this goal better is how he "draws" a foul to gain a free kick. Blanco has been a master of such manuevers for the better part of 18 years. His team (Chicago) was virtually out of playoff running before he joined them a couple months ago.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bow-hunting time

Today is the open to the bow hunting season in Kansas. Things are too hectic at church in preparation for this weekend's big sanctuary dedication activities for me to leave town to hunt my favorite spot for a few days like I usually do. So, in the spirit of not missing an opening day, I spent a couple enjoyable hours sitting in one of my stands close to home this morning. It was a cool, windless morning. I got in to my stand at 5:15 am and sat in the chilly pre-dawn hour and a half in time to listen to owls hooting, coyotes howling, a coon screaming at something, cattle lowing in the distance, and the scurrying sound of a squirrel going after fresh acorns (not to mention an obnoxious dog-undoubtedly chained up and cranky-barking like an idiot on the neighboring property). Around 7:30 a doe and a fawn came within range, but it's too early to take a doe, so I passed. An hour later, three more does came in to range, I just enjoyed watching them move on to their beds for the day. Immediately after the does moved off, a 2 1/2 year-old eight-point buck moved in the same area. I didn't have a clear shot, but I wouldn't have taken one even if I did. I'm looking to take a four-year old or better buck this year. No rush. Many more sits required and a few weeks more before I can expect to see a big boy. I'll try to take a few does in the middle of the month to make the time pass before the big bucks are trawling and I take a week vacation. Does taste better and I have various people who want the meat.

I got in to the office around 9:30 am today already having been up 5 1/2 hours. After dinner, I'm heading to another stand till dark. Time to watch, wait, pray (and not just for a big buck to come by!), and relax.