Living in Light of Two Ages
Real Clear Religion recently ran a column on Ugly Clerical Vestments. This was my pick. Can't tell if it is a burger or a "Sloppy Joe."
This is a home movie from Wrigley in 1938 (although the opening slide says 1937). You can almost smell the beer, cigars, hot dogs and freshly mowed grass! (s.t. John Siston)
The Phoenix Preacher reveals the annual (and not public) budget of an unnamed Calvary Chapel.
The figures are pretty staggering. The pastor's annual salary is 320K, plus 30K annual vacation allowance, a 50K annual retirement contribution, $550 monthly auto allowance, a 750K life insurance policy, plus stuff like auto maintenance, cell phones, book royalties, etc. The weekly church attendence is about 3,000 (Calvary Chapel's do not have church membership) and they have substantial revenues.
What a church pays its pastor is that church's business. The problem is the budget is not approved by the church--the members do not even see an annual budget, nor do the people know what the pastor is being paid. The budget was approved by a "board" of the pastor's choosing (personal friends who live far away, and who conduct church business meetings over the phone, and do things like approve budgets, etc.)
Caveat emptor! If you go to a church like this, and don't vote with your feet, well then, you get exactly that for which you ask.
Since many pastors are tempted to so the same (if they could), God places us in a biblical (Presbyterian) form of church government so that the pastors are accountable to the elders (consistory or session) for their life and doctrine, and so that all things are done decently and in good (i.e., biblical) order.
Meanwhile, like most Reformed and Presbyterian churches, Christ Reformed Church will hold an annual congregational meeting (ironically, ours is this coming Sunday). We will elect elders and deacons from among the congregation, men who do things like prepare an annual budget (including my annual salary and benefits) which is, in turn, presented to the congregation for their approval. This is a very public activity conducted by the church and its members.
If you are in a church where the "Moses Model" rules the day, don't be surprised by what happens in the shadows. Ask that all things be done in the open, so that there are no secret budgets or "board members" who are not members of the church. There is a reason why Presbyterian and Reformed church government has well-defined church orders (constitutions) and well-tested rules of procedure. We are all sinners who need checks and balances, pastors included.
Under the "Moses Model," pastors and their boards operate in the dark and do as they please--including the passing of budgets like the one described above.
The Eighteenth in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John
Apparently, the Jews were demanding witnesses to confirm that Jesus is who he claims to be. They have accused Jesus of being a Sabbath-breaker and a blasphemer. The three greatest figures in the Judaism of Jesus’s day were Moses, Abraham, and David. Jacob and Joshua were not far behind in terms of status. If the Jews want witnesses, ironically, Jesus can adduce all five of Israel’s greatest historical figures as witnesses who will testify that Jesus is the coming one and redeemer of Israel. In John 5, Jesus ends a lengthy discourse by telling his accusers that he is that one of whom Moses had been speaking when referring to the great prophet yet to come. Jesus has told the Jews that he cannot break the Sabbath commandment because God works on the Sabbath. He also told them that he cannot blaspheme God because he speaks only the words the Father gives him. Now, at the end of this exchange, says Jesus, it is the testimony of Moses which ultimately condemns those accusing Jesus of all sorts of sins which were in Israel at the time capital crimes. Moses condemns Jesus’ accusers because they do not believe the very Scriptures they cite in response to Jesus’ miracles and teaching. If you want witnesses, well then consider Moses, Abraham, David, Jacob, and Joshua who all testify on Jesus’ behalf. The Jews of Jesus’ day have not learned one of life’s most important lessons: “be careful what you ask for.”
We are continuing our series on the Gospel of John, and we are in the process of working our way through John chapter 5, in which Jesus has returned to Jerusalem from the Galilee region for a feast of the Jews. The chapter recounts the miraculous healing of a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years and the lengthy discourse which follows between Jesus and those Jews who had been accusing him of breaking the Sabbath and claiming to be God. Although, the chapter recounts one event and the dialogue which follows, I have broken the chapter into three sections so as not to hurry through and skip the important details we find in the text. In this chapter, Jesus reveals a great deal about his divine identity, as well as important details about the nature of his messianic mission.
Two Sundays ago, we covered Jesus’ miraculous healing of the invalid at the Pools of Bethesda (vv. 1-18), who without offering so much as a word of gratitude pointed out Jesus to the Jewish leaders who, in turn, promptly accused our Lord of breaking the Sabbath and speaking blasphemies. Last week, we took up the first part of Jesus’ response to the Jews (vv. 19-29), wherein Jesus made four specific declarations about his deity and his divine authority in response to these accusations. In verse 19, Jesus tells his accusers that he does only that which is his Father’s will, and in fact, that he can do nothing apart from his Father’s will–this is a major theme in the latter portion of the dialogue we are covering. Jesus also speaks of how he is the object of the Father’s love–pointing to an intimate and eternal inter-Trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son. This relationship also implies Jesus’ deity.
Jesus goes on to tell the Jews that even now he raises the dead through his word (regeneration) because the authority to do so has been given him by the Father. There is indeed a bodily resurrection of the dead at the end of the age, and whether or not people rise to eternal blessing or curse depends upon whether or not Jesus gives them life. Declaring himself to be the Son of Man, who, in Daniel 7:13-14, enters into the presence of the Ancient of Days (YHWH), Jesus goes on to tell those questioning him, that all authority to judge all people and nations has been given by the Father to Jesus. It is Jesus who gives life to the dead bones in Ezekiel’s vision, which in the vision is a task YHWH ascribes to himself. It is Jesus who will raise the dead (both the righteous and the unrighteous) from their graves on the last day.
To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here
As our friends in the East get clobbered with yet another severe winter storm, we in the West, especially in California, are in the midst of a severe drought.
But it does snow here too--just in small amounts and every twenty-five years or so. LA got two inches of snow in 1932 (the record). The local mountains get a decent amount of snow, but it is rare in the LA basin. Snow in Los Angeles
Orange County has had small amounts of snow (flurries, really) in isolated areas the last couple of winters--with quite a bit up in the foothills in December. But we've seen nothing like the winter of 1947 when it snowed for three consecutive days!
Meanwhile, it is in the mid-70's as I write this. If we don't get a whole bunch of rain before the end of March, we are gonna have a miserable hot and dry summer of fires and state-wide mandatory water rationing. No watering of lawns, dirty cars, and two minute showers.
Sunday Morning (February 8): We are working our way through the books of 2 Peter and Jude. This coming Lord's Day we will take up Peter's continuing polemic against false teachers and false prophets in verses 10b-22 of 2 Peter 2. Our Lord's Day worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: I am continuing my series on the Canons of Dort, and this Lord's Day we are working our way through the Fifth Head of Doctrine (articles 8-9). We will discuss how God preserves his own. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study (February 4): We wrap-up our series "Run Through Romans," as we look at chapters 15 and 16 of this great book.
The Academy (February 6): We are continuing our study of Michael Horton's The Christian Faith. We will be discussing Reformed contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as the Trinity in modern theology (pp. 288-299).
For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website: Christ Reformed Church
Were The Jews Expecting a Divine Messiah?
This week on the White Horse Inn Michael Horton talks with New Testament scholar, Craig Evans. Craig is the Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University in Nova Scotia. He is the author of numerous books including Jesus & His World and the Holman Quicksource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
On this episode we explore the messianic expectations of first century Judaism. What were the Jews expecting the Messiah would come to do? Was he merely to be human? Or was he to be angelic or divine? How have the Dead Sea Scrolls altered our conception of the first century context or even the New Testament? What parallels exist that would seem to point to the fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth? Join us as we look at the messianic parallels between the Melchizedek Scroll and the Book of Hebrews on the White Horse Inn.