Monthly Archives: June 2008

authority, what authority?

This morning I was reading in Titus. 

To young Titus, Paul gives an interesting instruction: “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority” (2:15).  What authority does Titus possess?  And what are “these things” which he was to declare?  

Perhaps he was to declare what follows in the subsequent verses.  Paul clearly instructs Titus with the kinds of exhortations he ought to prepare himself to give to God’s people – to be obedient, to avoid quareling, to be gentle, to be kind toward all people (especially the foolish and disobedient, who are just as we once were before the grace of God saved us).   He may be young.  He may be inexperienced.  However, such were the words of exhortation and even rebuke that Titus the minister of God must declare “with all authority.”  Indeed, the only authority in the church is declarative.

But, as I check the text, I wonder if it is not the paragraph that precedes 2:15 which chronicles what Titus was to declare with all authority… they are words SOLELY about the grace of the gospel.  The gospel which has brought salvation.  The gospel that trains God’s people to renounce ungodliness and worldliness, the gospel that trains us to responsively live self-controlled lives as we anticipate the consummation of the gospel – the blessed hope of Christ’s return to call his children home and to FULLY redeem us from all lawlessness.  The gospel that we are a people of God’s own possession… who in gracious thankfulness for grace are to be zealous for good works!  That is the task of Titus – to declare the fullness of the gospel with all authority!   Whose authority?  The authority of Christ who possess us! 

I only blog this because at the present moment, I am finding myself wrestling uncomfortably with the ‘authority’ position in which I find myself.  I am a church planter leading a people to establish a gospel-centered and dependent local church in the west valley of the Lehigh Valley.  I am – in this moment of my life’s short history – called by God to “declare things, to exhort and rebuke, with all authority.”  “With all authority” means “without trying to make people like you.”  It means, “without trying to be visibly successful, just faithful.” 

What a reminder to people in pastoral ministry… our role is to declare the gospel with all authority because the authority of the gospel is what sandwiches us in our calling, just as the gospel sandwiches Paul’s word to Titus in Titus 2:15 (consider 2:11-14 and 3:1-7).

It is only when I rest fully on the gospel to deliver me from my sin and wickedness that I have a chance of speaking authoritatively in conformity to God’s Word… because only through the gospel is there no looking over my shoulder to see who likes me or pets me or scratches my selfish-itch. 

I praise God with confidence today.  Confidence in my pastoral/planting role…  “all authority” was given to Jesus to send his church out (Mt. 28:19-20) … and now I am to join Christ’s church throughout the ages as I declare “with all authority” his name, his news, his gospel to this time, this people, this place, this church plant in the West Valley!  

 

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the taste of God

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! 

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

 

 Yesterday I worshiped quietly over a cup of coffee while the family slept in on our beach vacation.  Last week I joined in worship with a few thousand PCA ministers, ruling elders and their families at General Assembly.  Two Sundays ago, I worshiped at 423 – the afternoon/contemporary service of Northeast PCA in Columbia, SC.  Three Sundays ago, I worshiped at Cornerstone PCA in Coopersburg PA. 

Every experience of corporate gathering is different. The taste of worship is unique.  How often I sin by evaluating corporate worship based on my palate… my taste buds.  But this week, I have realized something.  It is not about the taste of worship (meaty, ice-creamy, hearty, buffet-y).  It is not about the taste of worship at all. 

It is about the taste of the Lord.  His character.  His goodness.  His gospel of Christ’s perfect life and death for his children.  His drawing us to him by giving us new hearts.  His kingdom of perfect love that will restore all things.  His oneness with himself.  His love as definition.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!   Here is the reason for my post:  expressing my shame in how I enjoy studying (I have been reading and thinking and discussing with people for some time now) about the kind of corporate worship that pleases the Lord by being true to his Word and by engaging the whole person (the mind and 5 senses).  It has been fun to think about a worship experience that whets the palate as we taste wholistic nourishment.   I think I have done this without sitting in judgment on others, simply doing it out of consideration of our church plant’s coming worship services.

HOWEVER, I realize today how easy it is to think about public worship that pleases God (biblically-reflective and regulated elements, whole-person involvement, non-performance for man, etc.) without thinking about my life of worship that either is or isn’t pleasing to God.   In my LIFE, not just in the future worship services of West Valley PCA, do I taste and see the Lord’s goodness daily?  Moment by moment?  Do I rehearse through Scripture and prayer the goodness of the Lord to his people in his gospel – tasting moment by moment the character of my holy Lord (to whom I belong)?  Do I?  Or, do I just want to talk about the taste of a worship service… that will never do.

May my life be a sacrifice of worship where I give all of myself to taste all of who God has revealed himself to be… only then may I think and discuss a worship service where we give up all of ourselves in a transcendant hour to taste all of who God has revealed himself to be for his glory!

from the beach,

jp

 

 

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where have I been?

25 phrases that obligate me to be concise but comprehensive on what has happened since the last time I blogged (May 29):  In no particular order:

  1. Eating steak in Dallas Texas with old PCA friends.
  2. Sitting and listening to long reports about the work of God in the PCA (as i type).
  3. Sitting in General Assembly seminars and learning with co-pastors about “sacramental theology – the doctrine of God’s presence in/through the church,” “the direction of the PCA,” “why there are so many messed up marriages in the church” – and I am not sure which seminars I will attend tomorrow.
  4. Bantering over wings and a drink about biblical theology and churchplanting that is contextually relevant but faithful to our call, Scripture, and our ecclesiastical system.
  5. Driving to Georgia to drop Lina and Kori off in 100 degree weather to bike across Georgia (450+ miles of which they have finished 150+). 
  6. Watching Lina finish her first year of school and seeing her heart knit to her friends whom she will miss over the summer.
  7. Spending personal time in 1st and 2nd Timothy in consideration of what it is to be a faithful pastor, preacher, man of God, husband and father.
  8. Rolling and wrestling and playing with Nate.
  9. Listening to Meggie’s incredibly imaginative syllogisms.
  10. Planting a garden – and fencing it off from the rabbits.
  11. Getting my finger slammed in a car door and unwisely avoiding stiches.
  12. Going on a vision retreat with “vision catalysts” from West Valley PCA and experiencing the blessing of God to unite us around a picture of his heavenly-kingdom coming to the West Valley.
  13. Honing that vision with others in route to excitedly – Lord willing – having 40 adults “own” the Vision the Lord has for West Valley PCA (in process over the next month).
  14. Experiencing the blessing of God to spend time with friends in the West Valley (wvpc planters) in diverse ways: remodeling the church plant office, gathering needed supplies, strategizing, and ministering alonside them in life/counsel.
  15. Planning to meet on June 22nd – to start our regular Sunday evening prayer/planning meetings.
  16. Reading Tim Keller’s The Reason for God and praying about doing a skeptic’s study with people in Emmaus.
  17. Driving around the west valley checking into a worship site – O GOD YOUR WORK ALONE (not going to be easy).
  18. Meeting with a local artist who might design a web site/logo for west valley pca.
  19. Eating Texas Barbecue.
  20. Reading D.A. Carson’s “Christ and Culture Revisited” – a reconsidering of Reinhold Niebuhr’s classic work through the lens of biblical theology.
  21. Chiropractic visit after chiropractic visit to deal with a herniated disc in my neck.
  22. Beginning to run again to train for the upcoming NISOA (college soccer refereeing) season.
  23. Getting to hang out with my bro and Ashley in Columbia SC – seeing my niece and getting to trek down to their “lot” upon which their new house will be built.
  24. Speaking at Northeast PCA in Columbia SC – sharing our kingdom vision for West Valley and enjoying round-table discussion with good ole Southerners who wept with me over God’s work.
  25. Going to eat another Texas steak.

 Hoping to chronicle more West Valley church plant details upon my return from Texas.  And, I owe thanks to my technologically savvy Grandma for encouraging me to unlapse the lapsed blog.

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