Preference versus PrincipleOctober 4, 2015 in Bible - NT - James, Law and Gospel, Meditations, Sexuality, Ten Commandments
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
God’s Compassion in SufferingsSeptember 7, 2015 in Bible - NT - James, Bible - OT - Ezekiel, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Job, Meditations, Providence, Sanctification, Trials
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Responding to ObergefellJune 28, 2015 in Bible - NT - James, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Bible - OT - Psalms, Homosexuality, Law and Gospel, Meditations, Politics, Ten Commandments
Homosexuality and the ChristianApril 23, 2015 in Bible - NT - James, Book Reviews, Homosexuality, Sexuality, Temptation
I finished reading Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends by Mark Yarhouse. Yarhouse is Professor of Psychology at Regent University. I appreciated his distinction between attraction, orientation, and identity. Attraction is a base level sexual temptation that certain folks experience more than others for members of the same sex. Orientation is attraction that seems to be persistent. Identity is when someone chooses to label themselves as homosexual. I think that these distinctions are helpful; he is articulating James 1:13-15 but in a way that is at times confusing. James would be willing to acknowledge that certain of our desires are sinful and that these desires move us to practice sin. So sin is more than mere behavior – it reaches to our desires. Yarhouse seems to want to say that our “attractions” are never sinful in themselves; he places the label of sin almost exclusively on our behavior and I’m not convinced that’s biblical. Nevertheless, it is true that being tempted is not the same as sinning – Jesus was tempted and yet without sin. So I’m not completely throwing out his distinctions because I think there is a kernel of truth there. Yarhouse is a psychologist and so speaks for that community; as a pastor I’m much more interested in what Scripture has to say and on that I find him less than fully satisfying. Sam Allberry’s Is God Anti-Gay? is more helpful and makes some of the same distinctions.
I appreciated his emphasis on reaching people who struggle with same-sex attraction – and reaching them as “our people.” I think that this is an area where I could certainly grow. At the same time, I simply don’t agree with his approach to some specific cases; for instance, if my child were to choose homosexuality, I would not “respect” that choice. I think that is the wrong framework within which to process the decision. I guess I’ll “respect” him to the extent of holding him accountable for his choice and urging the church to hold him accountable; but I won’t “respect” him in the sense of saying, “I recognize that’s a legitimate choice to make.” May it never be!
So while there were some good an helpful distinctions and the book was very charitable, there are times where I think his allegiance to psychology is more apparent than to Scripture.
A happy Thursday to you! This past Sunday I preached on Treasuring the Word. So have you considered this week how to implement a plan to get into the Word more in the coming year?
Remember that a wish is different than a goal. A wish comes flying through like a butterfly – it floats about, occasionally landing here or there, but it’s notoriously hard to pin down. A goal lands like an Army Ranger – it hits the ground and sets about doing what it’s supposed to do. When the Word is preached we all – me included – have a multitude of impressions and wishes that touch us. But the Spirit wants not merely to impress us but to change us – to begin transforming our habits.
James reminds us:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (1:22-25)
So what things did the Spirit impress upon you during the sermon? What are you going to do to implement those things? Set a goal. Be very specific – goals are measurable, you should be able to check them off. At the end of the day, week, month, or year you should be able to say, “Yes – I did that.” So what new Bible reading habits do you want to implement this year – in your personal life and in your home? Don’t let that butterfly fly away! Get to it and make a plan.
Sins of Omission and CommissionJanuary 22, 2015 in Bible - NT - James, Church Calendar, Confession, Newsletter, Sin
This coming Sunday we recite question numbers 14-15 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Question number 14 directs us to the topic of sin:
Q. 14. What is sin?A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
Why Sing Psalms?January 27, 2014 in Bible - NT - James, Bible - OT - Psalms, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Singing Psalms, Worship
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
Confess Your Sins to One AnotherJanuary 20, 2014 in Atonement, Bible - NT - James, Bible - NT - Romans, Confession, Ecclesiology, Meditations