Final Launch Reminder

For all who have followed this little blog, a little reminder it has moved:

Growing In Grace has moved from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. There is an all new look, with a magazine kind of flair. In its new location you will find an out-front homepage with:

  • a sermon page
  • a rotator containing feature articles
  • Recent News
  • More News, with a focus on the preaching ministry of Calvary Community Church
  • wrapped up with an area containing a Tag Cloud, Twitter feed, Social Media connection, Instagram feed, and blogroll.

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds when you go there.

As always, I hope this little blog will help you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” and to enjoy the journey as we do that together.

Launch!

The re-tooling is complete.

Growing In Grace has moved from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. There is an all new look, with a magazine kind of flair. In its new location you will find an out-front homepage with:

  • a sermon page
  • a rotator containing feature articles
  • Recent News
  • More News, with a focus on the preaching ministry of Calvary Community Church
  • wrapped up with an area containing a Tag Cloud, Twitter feed, Social Media connection, Instagram feed, and blogroll.

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds when you go there.

As always, I hope this little blog will help you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” and to enjoy the journey as we do that together.

God Was Tatted Up So That He Would Not Forget You

Despondency and discouragement are an unfortunate part of the human experience. While not simply dealt with in many cases, the solution must always include turning to the LORD, through the Word.

Alec Motyer:

The Lord’s therapy is to bring us, by means of his Word, pondered and understood, out of depression and the downcast face (Luke 24:17) into the burning heart, bouyant step, and the assured testimony (Luke 24:32-35). (from Isaiah By The Day, p. 245)

My reading of Isaiah this morning provided an example of what a counseling session looks like between God and his people.

A despondent people:

And Zion has said:

‘Yahweh has left me;

and, Sovereign though he is, he has forgotten me!’ (Isaiah 49:14)

But then, a precious promise, spoken by God, for countering the despondency of his people:

Does a woman forget the infant at her breast,

so as to fail in compassion for the son of her body?

Even these may forget!

But as for me, I will not forget you.

Behold!

On my palms I have engraved you;

your walls are constantly in front of me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

 

Looking For Urgently Needed Rescue

“Luther wrote, “It is by living, no — more — by dying and being damned to hell that one becomes a theologian, not by knowing, reading, or speculating.” We learn on the road, as pilgrims making our way to the City of God through the trails, burdens, questions, and fears of our own hearts as well as the world around us. We learn truly of God’s providence as we suffer, of God’s forgiveness in our sins, of the resurrection of the dead as we lie dying. Luther’s poignant but hyperbolic statement does not mean that we do not read or study, but that even as we do this, it is more like looking for urgently needed rescue than contemplating eternal truths. We do theology on our knees, calling on the name of our Redeemer.”

– Michael Horton, The Christian Faith
(HT: Wesley Hill)

More On Homosexuality And So-Called “Same-Sex Marriage”

This past Sunday I promised I would write at least three additional articles on these issues, continuing to think them through. Wednesday’s Between Sundays was the first of those articles.

Unfortunately, due to other pressing concerns this week, I have run out of time to commit to writing the other two articles well. So, rather than provide second-rate writing (and thinking), I am going to point you to five articles I read as I prepared for the sermon, to keep your thinking and conversating going.

Jonathan Parnell writes about the shifting definition of tolerance, which fundamentally alters the way these issues are discussed in the public square. In part:

Old tolerance — that is, before the onslaught of postmodernism — defines the concept as to “accept the existence of different views.” New tolerance, however, defines tolerance as to “accept different views.” More than just accepting a view’s existence, new tolerance adds that you’d better not say it’s wrong either. New tolerance demands that we consider every opinion to be equally valid. The only wrong is to say that everything’s not right. Just wait, it gets more complicated…..Continue Reading

I argued Sunday that we must move into conversations about these issues in love. But that doesn’t mean we should sacrifice truth, firmness, and boldness. For the end-game in our culture is not merely a re-definition of marriage, it is that all people must approve of the re-definition, or suffer the consequences. Pastor John Piper writes that “There Is No Demilitarized Zone In The Issue Of Homosexuality.”

I am sure many of us have read, with great interest, the storm surrounding the comments of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy. Trevin Wax winsomely explains “Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus”:

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite….Continue Reading..

One of the temptations in fighting, winsomely and lovingly, for truth is to give up and give in; to opt out, because such labors make us weary. In an excellent essay from Denny Burke, he exhorts us: Don’t opt out and hide in the basement during the debate!…Continue Reading..

And finally, what of the freedoms promised in the Bill of Rights? Remember that one the authors called “the free exercise” of religion? Ross Douthat, a writer for The New York Times, writes:

…there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

You can see this confusion at work in the Obama White House’s own Department of Health and Human Services, which created a religious exemption to its mandate requiring employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and the days-after pill that covers only churches, and treats religious hospitals, schools and charities as purely secular operations. The defenders of the H.H.S. mandate note that it protects freedom of worship, which indeed it does. But a genuine free exercise of religion, not so much….

Now we have the great Chick-fil-A imbroglio, in which mayors and an alderman in several American cities threatened to prevent the delicious chicken chain from opening new outlets because its Christian president told an interviewer that he supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.” Their conceit seemed to be that the religious liberties afforded to congregations (no official, to my knowledge, has threatened to close down any Chicago churches) do not extend to religious businessmen. Or alternatively, it was that while a businessman may have the right to his private beliefs, the local zoning committee has veto power over how those beliefs are exercised and expressed…..Continue Reading..

I invite you to continue the discussion this Sunday after our worship service at Calvary Community Church. And, lunch will be on us.

I Will Myself Shoulder The Weight

And right up to old age I, [Yahweh], am the same

And right up to grey hair I will myself shoulder the weight.

It is I who made,

and it is I who will carry,

and it is I who will shoulder the weight –

and rescue!

(Isaiah 46:4, translation by Alec Motyer)

I don’t know about you, but I need to hear over and over again that it is God that shoulders the weights, it is he who carries the burdens. And this is all of his rich and glorious grace, and because this is of God’s grace, it will last forever. “Our position on his burden-bearing shoulders is totally down to him.” (Motyer)

It is this that becomes the source of the kind of singing we belt out in How Firm A Foundation, by Richard Keen:

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,

He will not, he cannot desert to its foes.

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

He’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Accepting, and reveling, in this is Growing in Grace.