Happy Birthday, John Calvin

Calvin's B'day CakeToday marks the 500th Birthday of one of the most influential theologians in the life of the church of Jesus Christ.

There has probably never been one so misrepresented and slandered than Calvin.  But for those who take time to read his work there is an exaltation of Jesus Christ and a worship of God that is unsurpassed.

So I gladly join the hosts in saying Happy Birthday!!

My favorite quote ABOUT Calvin comes from the pen of one of my favorite contemporary theologians, J. I. Packer.  Packer writes in Honoring the People of God, page 19:

“The amount of misrepresentation to which Calvin’s theology has been subjected is enough to prove his doctrine of total depravity several times over.”

Happy Independence Day!! Give Thanks to our Great God for His Gift

Declaration of Independence On July 4, 1776 our nation was born with the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.  I wonder, how long it has been since you read this document?  Have you ever read it?  I understand from talking to some high schoolers that it is mentioned in class, and the opening words are sometimes read, but that there is no requirement in their history classes to read the document.  This is sad! Is it any wonder that patriotism is waning in our great nation?

Tomorrow when we gather to worship we will not have a “patriotic service”, for we gather not to worship America but rather to worship the Living God who gave us the gift of America.  We will have a prayer to that Great and Sovereign God for protection for this country.  Peggy Noonan, in today’s Wall Street Journal, tells of asking historian David McCullough, “. . . how he accounted in his imagination for the amazing fact of the genius cluster that founded our nation. How did so many gifted men, true geniuses, walk into history at the same time, in the same place, and come together to pursue so brilliantly a common endeavor?” His answer was simply, “I think it was providential.”

Today, as a church family, we will gather for a cookout in celebration of our nation’s birth.  The Declaration of Independence will be read and we will probably sing a patriotic song or two.  We will thank God for this great gift that He, and He in His mercy alone, has given us.  We must remember the truth of Scripture, as stated in Daniel 2:21 — “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men. And knowledge to men of understanding.” You can replace “kings” with “nations” or “presidents.”   So even as we celebrate the birth of our nation, may be remember that is is because of the benevolence of, as the Declaration states, “nature’s God.”

Here’s a novel idea:  While you are eating those bar-b-que ribs, or hamburgers and hot dogs today with your family and friends, why not take about 10 minutes and read aloud the Declaration of Independence?  You can find a text version HERE.

So? Whom Do We Really Worship?

One of my major concerns about evangelical Christianity in the 21st Century is that worship is not that . . . at least not toward the proper object of worship, the True and Living God.  In many churches man is exalted, recognized, applauded, and congratulated, but God is less and less the main focus.  God’s word is not read all that much . . . prayers are brief . . . being silent before God (Psalm 46:10) is feared . . . songs don’t reflect doctrinal truth, but rather emotional syrupy sentimentality.   In other words man is catered to rather than being pointed to the Sovereign Creator and Redeemer.

This was brought to my mind when I read the following in a blog that I frequent.  The writer is recounting a recent vacation where he visited a local (I’m sad to say) Southern Baptist Church:

Away on vacation in North Carolina at the OBX last week. We attended worship at a Southern Baptist church. First they introduced all the visitors. Then they honored all the fathers. Then we sang happy birthday to all the birthdays. Then we sang Happy anniversary to all the anniversaries. Then the pastor called the kids up front and played with a ventriloquist doll, and the point was to come to VBS next week.

I wondered when we’d get to God, you know, worshipping God as part of a worship service?

My hopes were raised by the call to confess a Creed.

But the Creed was, and I am not kidding, the following.

I’m too anointed to be disappointed.
I’m too blessed to be depressed.
I’m too chosen to be frozen.
I’m too elected to be rejected.
And I’ve got more to shout about than to pout about in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

I don’t think God showed in the service at all.

We had three choices on the Island, Catholic, Methodist, and Baptist.

We made the wrong choice……… (from The Boar’s Head Tavern)

The first part of this man’s statement describes much of what I observe as I visit churches around the SBC (and that is my demonination).  As for the creed?  I think I’ll stick with The Apostles Creed !!

A friend of mine, Tom Ascol, posed this question in the Founders Journal in 2004:

What if I had to choose between a liberal church that does not believe in the full authority of Scripture yet thinks highly enough of it to read it publicly in worship, and a fundamentalist church that loudly affirms Scripture’s inerrancy but feels no compulsion to read it or be governed by it in worship?

We will prove our belief about the Scriptures and about worship, more by what we do than what we say.  Our worship services should include multiple readings of God’s word.

We must remember that “worship” means focusing on some(One) who is worthy of great worth.  It is not us (Psalm 115:1 — Not to us O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory) but it is God, through Jesus Christ, that is to command our attention.

Let’s work hard to keep the focus as it should be . . . on the Sovereign Creator and Redeemer.  Gazing upon Him will change us into His image!!  Programs, and entertainment, and man-centered activity will not. Let’s keep that out of “worship” so that it will really be that!!