Keep Calm and Trust Jesus

One of the aspects of my job that I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do is reading. I read a lot. I read for sermon prep. I read for Bible Studies. I read for ministry vision. I read to understand what’s going on in this world. And, I read for personal enjoyment and edification.

My reading takes me through the centuries of Christian history all at one time. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that the devotional emphasis of the authors from different centuries has changed. In earlier writings, there is an emphasis on enjoying communion with God through one’s relationships with God personally and with his people, the Church. Many modern authors, however, emphasize experiencing one’s relationship with God through activities of personal devotion and individual discipleship. They tell us that we need to pray more, tithe more, evangelize more, volunteer more, etc.

I think this modern emphasis on doing more things to enhance our experience of our personal relationship with God is a reflection of the contemporary understanding of Christianity. In my opinion, Christianity has become an adjective of our lives that describes the activities that we do rather than a noun that defines us. The more devout we are in participating in Christian activities (prayer, bible study, church, missions, evangelism outreaches, etc) means that we are more Christian than those who are less devout in those same activities. And, since devout equals Christian, we want to be more devout so that we can be more Christian (as if that’s possible). So, we readily accept the challenge to do more things for God, at least on the surface.

I find this to be exhausting. I can’t do everything that I keep reading modern Christian authors telling me that I need to be doing. You can’t either. This mindset creates an insane fury of activity in our lives that we can’t keep up.

The ancient authors, taking their cue from the Bible, offer a helpful reminder to us. Christian is not something (or many things) that we do; it is who we are in Christ. He’s done everything for us. We can’t improve upon his work. Therefore, we are to enjoy our secure life in him by enjoying our time with him and our relationship with his people. We glorify him by using the gifts he has given each of us to do what you can do to serve him in the context of our daily lives as we walk with his people. Then, we trust him to do the rest through the gifts and opportunities he has given to the other people in his church. In modern parlance, we are to “keep calm, and trust Jesus.”

CHD

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Gleanings from Adolf Schlatter on the Book of Revelation

The following regarding the apostle John’s presentation of what the church must face and fight throughout her life in this world as she awaits her Lord’s return from:

Adolf Schlatter, The Theology of the Apostles: The Development of New Testament Theology, translated by Andreas J. Köstenberger (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 109-110.

“John did not expect toleration for the community of Jesus from the Roman world. . . . he charged Rome with the weighty guilt of perverting sensual desires. The great city drives the nations into a frenzy of pleasures, so that their chastity was compromised by that whore Rome (ch. 17).

But the already existing evil is not the final one; it rather reveals evil at work by indicating that the most severe sin still lies in the future. This evil arises from the will that craves for power for the sake of power, deifying itself (13:4-8). That is why the world possesses no tolerance for Jesus’ community. For the person who strives for world rule and others’ worship cannot bear Jesus’ word and wages war against his rule. On this account it becomes the prophet’s calling to testify to the community regarding the necessity of this struggle and thus to equip the community for it. In this way Christ grants to the community his protecting grace by the service of his messenger (1:1; 22:6): for it is grace that gives to the community the seeing eye that perceives the imminent struggle, freeing it from vain hopes and granting it the power to forsake success, not to desire blessedness and rule for itself, and to enter the fight with the assurance that it will bring death, but that it will be transformed into victory through Christ. . . .

John sees in the anti-Christian period not merely an event that needs to take place before the Christ can come and that the church can merely passively observe. He rather pits one community against the other, the worshipers of the ruler of this world against the worshipers of the heavenly Lord. The Antichrist demands even Christians to serve him and to worship him. They are directly affected by his rule with its seduction and oppression, so that it becomes an existential question for the church whether or not it is up to the task. . . .

John considered the prophecy necessary not merely owing to human aversion to suffering, which shivers in the face of torment and death. John, of course, also aids the church in this regard; he equips the martyrs. But the temptation accompanying the final confrontation is more profound. There were, after all, ways by which it could be avoided, alterations of Christianity that satisfied the needs of the Greeks and thereby removed or at least softened the contrast between Hellenism and Christianity. Syncretistic constructs that intermingled Greek thought with Christianity had already been formed by the gnostic movement, and the book begins with the order to exclude them from the churches. Thus the church was confronted with danger not merely from the outside but also from within, since gnostic prophecy fought Jesus in the name of the “Spirit,” despising Jesus’ promise and thereby dispensing with the Christ’s victory over the world, creating in its place a religion by which man glorified himself and elevated himself to unlimited power. Thus the same will was revealed in it from which the self-deifying dominion arose outside the church. For this reason John prophesied that the world rulers would unite with false prophets, thereby bringing sin to completion and providing it with the power that seduced all (13:11-17).”

In light of the upcoming denominational meetings next month not only in the ARP, but several other Protestant denominations, to say nothing of the present distress in America, we would do well to remind ourselves, or perhaps learn for the first time, that Our Lord is purifying for himself his bride. There are those who, in the name of heralding the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, herald a gospel that praises Man’s powers to employ his strategies for harnessing God for Man’s agenda. But the Gospel power that saves will not make America or even the Church Great, at least not in the way so many often measure greatness. But it will announce the greatness of the Triune God in what he has done, is doing and will do through the resurrected and reigning Lord Jesus. As this gospel goes forth, sinners will receive that which they can never manipulate and manage but will transform them to be like the Lord Jesus, and cause them to be willing to suffer not only in the society as a whole but even in the church. Our duty and privilege is not to produce a particular result–to prevent people from leaving the church, per se, but to proclaim and testify to him Who Is the Truth.

Christian Worship is About Jesus

I want to begin this post with a confession: I struggle with self-centeredness occasionally. Ok, you got me, I struggle with it a lot. That should come as no surprise to you or anyone else reading this post. You know that I am no different than you and are well aware that we both struggle with self-centeredness. Like the Apostle Paul, we fight the fleshly temptation to honor ourselves rather than God (Rom. 7:15-19). This is true for us even after our hearts have been transformed by the gospel of grace in Christ.

I don’t know about you, but my self-centeredness is periodically seen in my attitude before, during and after corporate worship. This was true before I became a pastor, and sadly it’s still true. (Shh, don’t tell anybody. Pastors are supposed to be super-spiritual.) There are times when I don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to get dressed, don’t want be around people, don’t want to sing the selected songs, don’t want to lead the prayers, and certainly don’t want to preach the passage before me or hear it preached. Simply, on those days, I don’t want it to be about God; I want it to be about ME!

When I feel this way, I find myself drawing strength from the Spirit of God as he enables me to obey the command of God to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. He provides me with the strength necessary to obey the will of God, not just the inspiration to be obedient. I believe that on those days this same Spirit also brings to my mind a biblical lesson about worship, which I learned as a young man by watching and listening to my dad (Big Rick) on Sundays.

Worship is about Jesus, not you.

Big Rick taught me that when we gather on Sunday with the church congregation we are worshipping Jesus, and Jesus alone. He is the one who was, the one who is and the one who is to come (Rev. 4:8). He is our creator, our Savior, our head, our peace, our hope, our king and our glory. He is the “image of the invisible God,” and the one in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15-20). Without him, we are nothing but hopeless sinners without the hope of everlasting life. But, with him, we are children of the living God (John 1:1-13; 1 John 3:1-3). Without him, we do not know God. But, with him, we see God because he, “the only God, who is at the Father’s side,” has made him known to us (John 1:18).

This understanding of Jesus puts our self-centeredness into its proper perspective. It makes it seem pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? It’s insane to think that we can compete with the marvelous brilliance of the glory of Christ, the Creator of the world and the King of Glory. He commands the angels. His birth was announced by the angelic host. Not mine. Not yours. Not anybody else’s. He has given you and me the privilege to enter into his courts of praise and to stand in his presence in his grace (Ps. 100). Doesn’t he get to demand, then, what we do in worship and when we do it, regardless of whether or not you and I always like it? Yes, he does. So, ultimately, it’s really of question of who we worship, isn’t it? Are we going to worship Jesus or ourselves? Self-centeredness is nothing less than self-worship. Are we really going to say that we are more important than Jesus?

Through the years, I have learned that Christ-honoring Christians get out of bed, dress, go to church, sing the songs, pray the prayers and expectantly listen to the sermon each week solely because Jesus is worthy, not necessarily because they always want to do it. To them, it is Jesus who matters most. He is the one who deserves their praise. The same should be true for all of us who profess faith in Christ. He is the one who sits enthroned in the heavens. He is the one who gave himself for us. He is the one who will return to judge the living and the dead. He is the one who promised and secured our eternal destiny by his precious blood. If that doesn’t make you want to get up to worship him, then nothing will — no friends, no music, no preacher, no enticing atmosphere, no nothing. While friends and entertainments may draw us to worship for a while, they will not last. The only thing that will cause us to worship regularly is a heart devoted to the Lamb who is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing because he was slain for the sins of the world (Rev. 5:12).

Lessons on Christian Worship from Big Rick, pt. 1

imageOn October 6, 2015 Rick Davis turned 66 years old. For 36 of his 66 years he has been my dad, and somewhere along the way he affectionally became known as Big Rick. He has a rich legacy as a man who has lived a consistent, principled and hard-working life of devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, I dedicate the next several posts to him. After all, he taught me most everything I know about being a man, about being a husband and about being a father.

Out of all the lessons that Big Rick has taught me, I believe the most important have to do with the proper way to worship our great God. The Bible clearly tells us that we were created to worship God and that worshipping him is the most important thing we will ever do. The Westminster Divines famously stated that our chief end as humans is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever” (WSC Q1). And, though I can’t remember Big Rick ever quoting that statement to me directly, he certainly believes it. His belief demanded — and still demands — that he and his family set aside the Lord’s Day as the day for the corporate worship of our Triune God.

Sunday is the Lord’s Day.

I was in seminary when I first read section 21.8 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which states, “As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him…” The Confession goes on to say that “the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s Day” is “the Christian Sabbath.” This language was fresh and new to me, but the concept wasn’t because Big Rick had instilled in me from a young age that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Therefore, we worshipped the Lord on the Sunday. We devoted ourselves to him on that day. We ordered our family’s schedule to ensure that we were available to worship the Lord each Sunday.

Lesson Learned.

I remember faking an illness one Sunday when I was about 11 or 12 years old because I didn’t want to go to church. I wanted to stay at home. I’m confident that Big Rick sensed that I was faking, yet he didn’t stand strong in opposition. He and my brother went on to church while my mom stayed home with me. Later that afternoon, my friend from up the street invited me to come play basketball with him and some of our other friends. I wanted to go. So, I got dressed, laced up my shoes and headed out the door. As I was leaving, Big Rick asked, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to play basketball.” He responded, “No, you’re not. You’re sick.” I protested, “I’m better.” He said, “No, you’re not. You’re still sick. You were too sick to go to church this morning, and you haven’t gotten well enough to go play basketball.” I shot back, “But Dad…” He graciously replied, “Son, you need to understand that if you’re too sick to go to church, then you’re too sick to do anything else. That’s the rule in our house.” That was the end of the conversation. It was over. I was staying at home. Point made.

Sadly, that little episode will seem harsh to many in the Christian church today. It shouldn’t, but it will. I was not negatively effected by Big Rick’s rule on church attendance. In fact, the opposite is true. By refusing to let me go play basketball after I faked an illness to get out of worshipping the Lord, Big Rick made me realize that worship is important. It is a matter of obedience to our God who sits enthroned in heaven, who loves us, and who has drawn us to himself in his grace. It was a priority for our family. That was a lesson that I desperately needed to learn and one that helps shape to this day. (I also needed to learn that lying was wrong, but that’s for another post.) Worship is imperative for God’s people because God commands and deserves our worship. Sunday is his day.

We Need More.

I wish we had more fathers and mothers who made the corporate worship of our great, Triune God a priority with their families. We can say that our faith and worship is most important to us, but our actions speak louder than our words. Big Rick didn’t need to tell me repeatedly that Sunday at church was the axis around which our family revolved. He made it plain by his insistence on worshipping alongside of my mom, my brother and me each Sunday. I thank God for him and pray that he will give us more Big Ricks. If God answers that prayer, the Church will be much stronger. That’s a guarantee!

Truth, Trustworthiness and “Right Reason”

All human relationships are rooted in and grow in good ways on trust. Consider this: the one basic lesson that God teaches us is that he can be trusted. Therefore, we should entrust ourselves to him. The lie that Satan tempted Eve with was that God could not be trusted. Trust is rooted in truth and our experiencing over time a person’s faithfulness to truth. When someone demonstrates faithfulness to truth, we regard them as a person of integrity, or a person with integrity, who can be trusted.

The term integrity is related to our terms integral and integrated. The terms communicate something about the relational bond or connection that two or more realities have to each other. Of the many ways we can discern that someone is a person of integrity is our detecting that their actions are consistent with their verbal affirmations. If they say they are going to do a particular thing, they do it. If they say they are not going to do a particular thing, they do not do it. If they fail in some way to keep their word, if they are a person of integrity, they admit this failure and they pledge themselves to do better.

Of course, according to Scripture, all people are sinners, and therefore in various ways and to varying degrees cannot be trusted; we all fail in some ways to have integrity. But Scripture also teaches that all people are created in God’s image, live in the one creation God has made, and that the whole creation reveals God. This means, among other things, that no person can live without, to some degree, admitting and submitting to God’s truth. God’s truth surrounds us and possesses us. That is, because we are God’s creatures created in his image, our very being reveals God’s truth. As the apostle Paul stated, “In him [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). No person can escape God’s truth, but they can deny and rebel against it. When we do, we do not merely go against God, but ourselves. To sin against God is to go against the truth and to begin to disintegrate; the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

The gospel message of Scripture is that Jesus is The Truth, and by trusting him we are forgiven of our sin and progressively changed by his Spirit of Truth so that we resemble him in our speaking, loving and practicing truth. Do a word search with the word truth using any reputable Bible research tool and read the texts that come up. You will quickly find that Christianity is regarded by the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as being the way of truth that has the word of truth, the gospel (consider this short list: John 14:6; 17:17; Eph. 1:13; 4:21; Col. 1:5; 2Thess. 2:10-13; Titus 1:1; James 1:18; 3:14; 5:19; 1Peter 1:22; 2Peter 2:2; 1John 1:6-8; 2 John 1:2). Truth equals life. Eternal life is knowing God, who is Truth (John 17:3). The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, who is Truth (Rom. 6:23).

When God saves sinners he reveals to them by his Spirit of Truth that he is trustworthy, that he is Truth. Among other things, this means that when God saves us he does a work that is internal to us or within us that has a corresponding work outside of us. This could get a little complicated but it really need not. In short, God’s Spirit affects our thinking and desires so that we come to understand enough of the truth so that we love and obey it (Gal. 5:7; 1Pet. 1:22). Put another way, God’s Spirit causes true Christians to reason rightly about things that are both internal and external to them to the degree that they entrust themselves to God’s Word. Being saved from sin can be described, then as having “right reason.” This is one of the ways that the 19th century Old Princeton theologians described salvation. “Right reason” for the Old Princeton theologians did not mean perfect or flawless reasoning. Still less, did it mean morally neutral reasoning. That does not exist among humans, and the Old Princetonians did not teach or believe that it did. Instead, “right reason” for them meant “corrected” reasoning; reasoning that had been corrected or “righted” and would continue getting corrected (what Scripture calls “sanctification,” see John 17:17) so that the person would increasingly love and obey the truth.

Of course, all of what I have written is greatly mocked in many quarters throughout Western culture today, and even called into question by many who call themselves Christians. For well over a century, and to a lightening degree over the past 25 years, the term truth and the practicing of truth has been regarded as only about how the individual feels and thinks about what they are experiencing. The knowing subject, or the person is regarded as the sole authority for truth claims and truthful conduct. Truth is thought to be only subjective, person relative, or based on what someone likes. Many have a Facebook view of truth. In other words, there has been an assault on the biblical concept of truth. Sadly, this view of truth has been embraced by many people confessing to be Christians, many even pastors. Among the many results has been a lack of integrity among them, and within the congregations they pastor. Of course, all Christians are still sinners, who will in this lifetime have constant need to confess sin, repent of it, seek forgiveness, and strive to live more faithful to The Truth, that is, to Jesus, not simply one’s self.

We are currently awash in the United States with media outlets that routinely lie, and politicians who are skilled liars. But in a culture that substitutes human feelings and sincerity for truth, a lie gets redefined, and a sustained interest in holding people accountable for anything outside their own sincerity is seriously diminished. No wonder there is great distrust and cynicism that marks much of public life in America. Individual Christians and the Church corporately are to be different, and truly, those who are of The Truth will stand out as different in a culture of lies where many have shown themselves to be untrustworthy.

Distorting the Gospel

There is such a thing as the distortion of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-10). It can be detected.

As long as we insist on defining ourselves based on our physical features, our economic status, our perceived political power or the lack thereof, our relationships with other human beings, or our standard of success in our activities and relationships in life, so that these become the controlling lens through which we interpret Jesus, we will distort his gospel. We might use all the right biblical and theological language to express what we believe in order to support what we are doing. By itself this does not mean we have arrived at an accurate understanding and implementation of the gospel and obedience to it. The Bible teaches us to think of all humans as creatures created in the image of God, male or female, who were originally created with knowledge, righteousness and holiness, and dominion over the other creatures, and yet fell from this condition by sinning against God. All humans are sinners in need of the power of God’s Holy Spirit to reveal to them that the Lord Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension is the only sufficient means of rescue from the penalty, power and presence of sin.

There is a reason for why non-Christians make a big deal about race, gender, marital status, sexual practices, financial status, and politics, etc., etc., etc. They do not have the biblical categories of creature created in the image of God, or sin, or righteousness, or justice, or holiness, or the church, or the kingdom of God, or any of the other categories that are essential to and defining features of biblical Christianity. Some of them might use the terms or phrases in the bible, but they do not use them to express biblical Christianity; they use them to railroad an agenda in the name of biblical Christianity. In part, this means that if we are not learning how the terminology in Scripture is used by the biblical writers we become easy prey to the false gospels that are declared around us.

The supernatural gospel of God’s supernatural kingdom is from above and comes down from above through God’s supernatural means of grace and brings a supernatural power that cannot be confined to or simply defined by what we humans have access to. To be focused on what we have access to on earth to enact a political and social agenda and call this Christianity and the bringing of God’s kingdom is to be like Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.

If you call yourself a Christian, quit bellowing about your or anyone’s race, gender, political marginalization, economic status, perceived or real injustices suffered, sexual desires and fantasies, passions, gifts, abilities, or ministry. Yes, we are citizens in some sense in this world, but this citizenship is to be understood and utilized in the light of the more fundamental and glorious truth that our lasting and defining citizenship is in heaven and hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). You are going to harp about the injustices you have suffered in the light of the eternal Son of God’s persecutions and death on the cross?

When we sound just like all the non-Christians that surround us, this would be a clear indicator that we are conforming to the world and not being transformed by the renewal of our minds in and by the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In that case it is difficult to see how what we are saying and doing is going to be of any help to anyone believing the gospel, experiencing salvation through it, and finding their life through sacrificial service that makes a huge deal about the King of kings and Lord of lords, and not us. It is also difficult to see how we then have any legitimate claim to the name “Christian.”

Who a Christian is In Christ

Most of these are taken and some adapted from Neil Anderson’s book Living Free in Christ. I have never read that book, so this is not meant to be an endorsement of it per se. But this is a great list (not exhaustive) of what the New Testament alone says about the true Christian. Please note that these are not things that we accomplish. These have been accomplished for us and in us and through us! That is, for those of us who are united to Christ by faith. Biblical Christianity is not about us achieving something for God but us receiving his love, his forgiveness, his reconciliation and his power. He gives. We receive, and then, and only then are we able to live pleasing to him. And that is the essence of the Christian faith and life. Merry Christmas!!

I am God’s child—John 1:12

I am Christ’s friend—John 15:15

I have been justified by God—Romans 5:1

I am united with the Lord and one with him in spirit—1Corinthians 6:17

I have been bought with a price; I belong to God—1Corinthians 6:20

I am a member of Christ’s Body (the Church)—1Corinthians 12:27

I am a saint—Ephesians 1:1

I have been adopted by the heavenly Father—Ephesians 1:5

I have direct access to God the Father through the Holy Spirit—Ephesians 2:18

I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins—Colossians 1:14

I am complete in Christ—Colossians 2:10

I have had God’s love poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit—Romans 5:5

I have been given the power of a new life—Romans 6:4-5

I am free forever from God’s condemnation—Romans 8:1-2

I am assured that all things work together for my good—Romans 8:28

I cannot be separated from God’s love by anyone or anything—Romans 8:31-39

I have been established, anointed and sealed by God—2Cor. 1:21

I am hidden with Christ in God—Colossians 3:3

I am being perfected by God’s good work in me throughout my life—Philippians 1:6

I am a citizen of heaven—Philippians 3:20

I have been given a spirit of power, of love and of a sound min—2Timothy 1:7

I can find grace and mercy in time of need—Hebrews 4:16

I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me—1John 5:18

I am the salt and light of the earth—Matt. 5:13-14

I am a branch of the True Vine, Jesus—John 15:1-5

I have been chosen and appointed to bear much fruit—John 15:16

I am a witness of and for Christ through His work through His apostles—Acts 1:8

I am God’s temple—1Corinthians 3:16

I am a minister of Christ’s reconciliation—2Corinthians 5:17-20

I am God’s co-worker—2Corinthians 6:1

I am seated in the heavenly realm with Christ—Ephesians 2:6

I am God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works—Ephesians 2:10

I can approach God with freedom and confidence—Ephesians 3:12

I can be content in all my circumstances no matter how difficult because of Christ’s strengthening of me—Philippians 4:13

The Failure of God

People do not operate without an appeal to some view of and dependence on “a Transcendent” or a “Metanarrative” or “an Absolute.” Induction cannot proceed without some things already being Deduced from the start. People may not be aware of what their “Transcendent” or “Metanarrative” or “Absolute” is but they have one.

Everybody has a God. Everybody is religious. Everybody is always worshiping their God.

The problem is that the god of humanism, political liberalism, and of postmodern nihilism is not fixing anything, because it can’t because it does not have the power to fix any human problem, because it IS the problem.

On Presuppositional Analysis

According to Scripture, human reasoning is both finite, or limited in its capabilities and also fallen, or conditioned by moral corruption, even as it is governed by presuppositions. Presuppositions are beliefs upon which our reasoning is based, or as one philosopher stated “controlling beliefs that determine what we think.” The “what” in that previous definition is also synonymous with “how.” By definition a presuppositional analysis places stress on the rational connections between beliefs and reasoning. But such an analysis is always done by a person who is dependent on their own finite and fallen reasoning for their presuppositional analysis.

Our finitude means we are limited in particular ways. The truth that we are morally fallen highlights that we are blinded to particular realities and in this spiritual and moral blindedness we fail to love and honor God as God, and fail to love and serve our neighbor for who he or she is. There is an incapacity that sin saddles us with and this is inextricably joined to what we willingly choose. We are willfully blind to particular realities because of our sin. In our sin we have a vested interest in not seeing our sin. Among other things, this means that in our sin we have a vested interest in not dealing honestly with our presuppositions or those of others.

Those who are prone to stress a presuppositional analysis of other people’s thinking are prone to cut-off their investigation of those people’s thinking when and to the degree that they are satisfied for whatever reason (and these can be numerous and perhaps even often unknown to us) that they have sufficiently understood the rational connections existing in those people’s thinking. Thus, when John has to his satisfaction sufficiently understood Bill’s reasoning based on John’s presuppositional analysis of Bill’s reasoning, John believes himself to have a better understanding of Bill’s reasoning than Bill has of his own reasoning. Now, it is possible that John may very well have in various ways and to varying degrees a better understanding of Bill’s reasoning than Bill has of his own reasoning. But it is also true that John may be mistaken at particular points in his presuppositional analysis of Bill’s reasoning. Furthermore, John is also subject to a presuppositional analysis.

A friend of mine once wrote a rather provocative song about some of these things and in it he sung, “I am trapped within my reason.” Well, at least some people recognize some of the legitimacy of that statement. You see, it may be that in his presuppositional analysis of Bill’s thinking that John is simply imposing his own pattern of thought upon Bill. Perhaps this helps, at least in part, explain some of the doctrinal disputes that mark some sectors of the Church, both now and throughout history. And, oh, by the way, people can’t be reduced to their reasoning. Think about it.

Happy Thanksgiving and A Blessed Advent

Thanksgiving is upon us, and Advent is on its heels. These two wonderful seasons bring great joy and thankfulness into our lives. This is always an exciting time of the year. As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, Advent, and then Christmas, take a moment to pause and give thanks to the God who is good beyond measure to his people — to you and me. I read a devotional once that said the following, in regard to the part of the Lord’s prayer where we pray for daily bread:

“God is good. He is generous with His gifts. The Bible tells us that God sends His sun on the evil and the good and causes it to rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. God is so good that He freely gives animals, birds, fish, and people all that they need to live. He gives food and possessions even to people who never ask Him for them. So why should we include this things in our prayers? For one thing, although God generously gives many things to many people, He gives His promise to supply needs only to those who depend upon Him. Another reason to ask God for what we need is that asking shows that we know and worship God as the One who provides for His creatures.”

I would add a third reason for why we pray for our daily bread. This prayer trains our hearts to be thankful to the God who graciously provided those things for which we asked. If we ask the Lord for the things needed to meet our daily needs, then we will be full of thanksgiving and gratitude when He gives them to us. So, as you sit down to partake of your Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, take a moment to thank God for the bounteous ways He has answered your prayer for daily bread throughout your life. I bet it will blow your mind. The bounty of food before you is only a representation of the bounty God has given you in Christ.

Also, by the following this link — ADVENT CALENDAR 2015 — you will find an Advent Calendar for you to use during the season of Advent, which begins on Sunday, November 29 (if you celebrate it). The calendar is designed to help us fulfill our mission of “growing in Christ and witnessing to the World of his glory” in an intentional and practical way. Each day you will find a specific “action” for you to take either by yourself or with your family. The actions all fall under one of the four discipleship components of our congregation — worship, nurture (education), care for others, and gospel witness. My wife, Patti, and I developed the calendar for our family, and we offer it to you to use as well (please make it specific for your congregation and family). Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Participation in his mission is the best way to prepare.

May the Lord richly bless you in his grace. Happy Thanksgiving!