Friday, December 18, 2015

Danger of standing in judgement

Romans 2:1-7
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice te very same things. We know that the judgement of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself- that you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forebearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impertinent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgement will be revealed.

-- Paul unleashes, in the verses just prior to these, a whole laundry list of things that fall under the heading "all manners of unrighteousness" these include sexually immoral things, evil, covetousness, slander, malice, boastfulness, haughtiness, foolishness, faithlessness, and so on... then the Apostle jumps into this diatribe in which he jumps down the throat of those who consider themselves to be holy, blameless before God, righteous, His chosen people. Paul's words here are to the church.
They are words warning us to tread carefully when choosing to stand in judgement of the world, and of those whom we have deemed unworthy of the love of God. There is warning for us, the church, not to stand in judgement of the world simply because they do those same things that we are guilty of doing. Paul commends the church also, saying that we are right in knowing that God's righteous anger will fall on those who do "such things". The warning, however is that we, the church, need to be careful of making sweeping comments on the damnable on the coming judgement of the world and then sweeping our own sins under the rug of God's love and patience for His people. We tuck our sins in nearly to our back pocket and proclaim that we are better than the world because our sins are no longer sins. To thus Paul says, in not so clean words, be careful church...

If we live by the standard of the world, and rest upon the love, patience, and forebearance of God towards those who He loves, we better be certain that we understand the purpose of his patience, his love, and his holding back of the wrath we so very much deserve. It is in order that we might be driven to repentance, and that we might be used to shine light onto the path of repentance to the world. It is so that our prayers do not mimick those of the Pharisee, thanking God for making us better than the lowly sinners around us.

We shall not stand in judgement of the world for their sins, we stand in heartbreak over the sins of this world, wishing, hoping, and praying that through our redemption and adoption as sins and daughters, the world might see and know the love of a father who forebears Hi righteous judgement for those whom he calls children.

Father God, let me not look upon this fallen world, judging them for the same sins I commit without first coming to the cross of Christ, and there allowing you to bare my heart and mind to the level of atrocity that you have forgiven in me. Lord, in your lovingkindness I find forgiveness and peace which stir my soul to joyful repentance for the things I do. Lord, let the light of your peace shine through me, allow my words against the sins of this fallen world resonate with the love of your gospel. Let them see forgiveness of sins like theirs that you light awaken them from darkness and death. Let me see the glory of the fullness of joy found in Christ.

Monday, December 14, 2015

wise fools

After seeing yesterday that those who suppress the truth of God, revealed in plain sight, are destined to suffer the eternal wrath of God absent the redemption of Jesus Christ, today we see in better detail how we came to begin suppressing the truth:

Romans 1:21-25
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts became darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

-- Those who have suppressed the truth are those who know God, but have chosen now not to honor God or to give him thanks. But how did they get there?
     Suppose that those who originally recognized they glory of God, apparent in the beauty of creation, decided to "become wise" and gain deeper understanding of God through the study of his creation. Yet, as they became further immersed in their study of creation, they become enamored in the intricate beauty of the creation they are studying. They begin to focus more and more on the objects they are studying, until they begin to lose their focus on the creator, and begin praising the creature. Their thinking has been lowered from the heavenly realm to the worldly realm, and they begin to exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, animals, creeping things... They continue to sink lower and lower, their hearts becoming darker in the process as they slowly digress into what amounts to idol worship. God, being holy and jealous for his own glory, will not compete for their affections, and eventually gives them over to the lusts of their impurity, and their suppression of the glory of God.

We are implored to keep our minds on the things above, to keep our thoughts focused on the things of God. Spelled out in this letter to the Romans, we are granted a look into what happens when we slowly begin to lower our eyes and allow our praises to begin resting on the things of creation, and slip away from the creator. The end result of the cycle is a suppression of truth which will lead to a decision (conscious or not) to begin to worship and serve our new idols. What is worse is that this cycle often begins in the name of wisdom. We decide we want to seek deeper knowledge of God, we decide to study what he has made... not a bad idea, but easily twisted, distorted, perverted into making us fools. It begins to split our focus, and our worship starts to drift. God is not interested in our double-minded worship. Focus being shifted to creation, rather than creator, is an insidious, demonic assault on our worship. The attribution of the beauty of an object as a possession of that object is an exchange of the glory of God for the glory of that object. And, even though pleasure can be found in the worship of creation, joy is robbed, resulting in the absence of the fullness of joy which is found only at the right hand of God.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

rescued from wrath

Seeing through these first few bits of Romans that joy is to be found in the study of Scripture, and that as that joy grows in this study that we then feel compelled to proclaim the truths found in Scripture, and that through this proclamation, our joy grows further, and that through this proclaimed truth of the gospel, faith is created, strengthened, re-kindled, and emboldened, leading into and throughout the creation of new life, and that bearing witness to this process further deepens joy... we come today to the balance of that joy. We start to see today why we have such joy:

Romans 1:18-20 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Wrath: God's righteous anger, which stands in direct opposition to all unrighteousness

Unrighteousness of men: the suppression of the revealed power and nature of God throughout all of creation

Without excuse: ignorance of the eternal power and divine nature of God is not an excusable offense, rather it is the eternal mark of damnation secondary to the fall, and present on each of us

Meditation: For those who have been gifted an awakening of their eyes, hearts, and minds to the revealed truth of God, we see creation differently than those who live in darkness. We are called to shine our grace-given light into this darkness that others may see beyond the suppression of the world, which causes blindness to the glory revealed in all things created. Suffering under the eternal wrath of God is at stake, and the joy and peace found in the rescue from this fate is a deep drink from the sweet waters of of Father's fountain of grace. Our joy is magnified by the reality of our rescue from a fate we were owed, our price paid and our portion of wrath poured out into the cup consumed by Christ.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Proclaim faith

Yesterday really hit hard on the need to tell, today answers the what to tell, and why we must proclaim only the gospel.

Romans 1:16-17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "the righteous shall live by faith."

Gospel: the revelation is Jesus as the incarnate, trinitarian son, told from the Old Testament prophets, proclaimed, lived, and fulfilled in the New Testament gospels, explained in the epistles. The power and God-ordained means by which faith is created, belief is rooted, and salvation is initiated.
Faith: the gospel reveals the righteousness of God across the full history of faith. Such righteousness holds power sufficient to bring to life those dead in darkness, to exchange the heart of stone for a heart of fertile soil. Soil in which the seed of faith grows, changing the way we live, how we organize our days, how we pattern our lives.

Meditation: if we are to seek joy in the proclamation of truth, the gospel must be that truth. The speaking of the gospel is the ordained means of faith creation. The birth of a new creation in Jesus must be seen as the most praise-worthy out-working of the power of the Spirit in our current presence. We must proclaim this truth, that through the speaking of the word faith might be created, and God may be glorified through our praise.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Submitted to the sovereign will

If yesterday's passage was intended to spark within me a renewed pursuit of joy that can only be found in deeper study of the word, today's might well be intended to remind me of the joy found in truth...

Romans 1:8-15 ESV
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you- that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

"My God"- personal relationship built upon Jesus Christ
God- whom I serve in the gospel of Jesus
God's will- perhaps to finally succeed in going to Rome, though has yet before been to prevent this journey... sovereign
Imparting spiritual gifts- mutual encouragement through the sharing of faith, both theirs and ours. Joy to be had in giving and receiving
Eager to preach- that a harvest may be reaped

Purpose/ meditation:
A spirit, surrendered to the sovereign will of God seeks, desires, and longs for the company of brothers, that through fellowship we may give and receive encouragement. A heart surrendered to this same sovereign will desires to seek joy through the proclamation of truth, through which faith is created, re-kindled, strengthened, and perfected in whosoever has ears to hear. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Trying something new

It has become (painfully) apparent that my personal bible reading/study has been suffering neglect for the better part of the last couple of years. I've been busy, and in an irresponsible manner, my meditation and study time has been pushed to the outer margins of my schedule. As this year is closing, and with it my educational journey ending (hooray), I'm convicted that now is the time to face the problem.
Today, I'm starting a new journey. I have always wanted (always= for a couple years) to journal my way through the bible, including hand-writing the scriptures out in their entirety, and then jotting down a few thoughts about the passage. I always thought it'd be a great way to become more intimately involved with the words themselves, aiding me in the realm of memorizing the word while improving my meditation. So, that's what I did this morning... and it was pretty dang good. But as I finished, I felt a desire that I should really go one deeper step. I should type it out as well. Just to get one more deeply, intentional run through the text... so, that's why I'm back here today. And, why I hope to be back here on a more regular basis. I figure that I may as well share this process with any of you who find your way here, who knows, maybe it'll help encourage someone else. So, after that rambling introduction, here's to a new journey:

Romans 1:1-7 ESV
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

-- Paul: called, set apart; Apostle
-- Gospel of God: promised in the Old Testament scriptures; prophesied; revealing the Son
--Son: David's descendant, fulfilling those prophesies of the Old Testament; further and fully declared via his resurrection, by the power of the Holy Spirit 
--Lord: Master/Giver/Provider; gifter of grace and apostleship, as to Paul, as to all who are called

Purpose: to bring glory to the name of Jesus; to bring obedience of faith among The  Church of the called.

Meditation: Joy is completed in the praise being offered through the obedience of the faithful; which is stirred to life in the heart awakened by the effectual call of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who gives to his people grace and teaching that we may better understand the enormity of who he is, through the study of his gospel which is proclaimed throughout the entirety of his holy scripture.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Crying in church

My daughter caught me crying in church yesterday.

I work every Saturday night, and my Sundays are tough days. I choose to work every Saturday because it means I never work a Sunday. I get off work with enough time to get home, shower, help get the kids dressed, grab some dinner on the way and get to church. I fight to listen to every word preached without drifting to sleep, and sometimes I fail in that quest. Regardless, I end up entering Sunday morning physically tired, mentally taxed, and spiritually thirsty.

This Sunday was exceptionally so, with the time change, plus an emotionally trying night that included joining a family in singing Amazing Grace over their loved one as they lay dying in a beautiful moment, I was drained.

Though, I tend to be pretty emotionless in life (to a fault, probably), I am generally a mess when I get really tired. I was hopeful that yesterday wouldn't be a big problem though, it was the first sermon in a new series in Revelation. Introductory sermons are rarely the type that stir deep emotion. There was something else I did not account for... Lord's Supper

One of the most heart-wrenching things to go to on a good day, a trip to the Lord's table will generally make me grateful, introspectively aware of my continued depraved nature at war with the work of God in my life, and generally filled with a sense of purpose and peace.

The twist on this day: it was the first time that a handful of newly baptized brothers and sisters.were able to approach the table, and to top it off, one of them happened to be our pastor's daughter. Father-child relationships are always good for getting me a little misty eyed anyway, but to take this up a notch, the look on our pastor's face as he knelt down next to his daughter to pray with her before taking of each sacrament, I couldn't hold back tears. I wrapped my arms around my own little lady, sitting on my lap, and kissed her head, praying earnestly for the spirit to work in her own life and heart. I see signs in her life, even at her age, of work being done, a hunger for knowledge, a growing enjoyment of studying the word, and I long for the day when she first gets to taste the remembrance of her Savior's sacrifice, the foretaste of glory to come.

Tears welled up in that moment. She caught me, her sweet voice asking me if I was ok. It was hard to find the words to explain the range of feeling raging through me at that point. I explained the best I could that I was just thinking about the day to come when she would get to join us in the Supper. She wrapped her arms a little tighter around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. She is growing so fast, and I know I have made many mistakes (with many more to come). But I hope I will manage to have the courage to continue to willingly cry in front of my children, and even more so to help them understand why. I hope both my kids grow up knowing that there are things in this life that are worth their tears.

Monday, June 29, 2015

White-washed Babylon

That title is stolen from a statement made by our pastor this weekend, and struck me as a deeply insightful launch point for a little discussion.

I have, for the most part, kept my thoughts and opinions to myself this past week following the SCOTUS decision. Today, I thought maybe I would share a couple of thoughts about not only this topic, but also the state of our country as a whole:

1) The USA is not the land of promise, or heaven, or Zion-
      It is not like this decision is the first time, and it will not be the last, that the US government has passed laws that condone sin. There are a lot of sins in our life that are perfectly legal. We, in the US, became so coddled in our democracy that some Christians (and especially "Christians") who fell into a false sense that we were living in some kind of vast wondrous paradise. They believe the lie that we are a Christian nation. This is, has been, and always will be, patently false. We are nothing more than the white-washed Babylon alluded to before. We are a country of sinful men and women, who do sinful things, that are glossed over because somehow we have gotten into our heads that we are better or different than the world. We are a Pharisitic nation, made to look good on the outside, but are filled with dead men's bones and all matter on uncleanliness (to steal Jesus' description). Why are we surprised that the governing body of such a country would pass laws that are not in keeping with our Biblical worldview?!
Generations of American Christians fell for the twisted lies of Satan. He allowed us to get comfy cozy, nestled up next to our chosen secret sins. He lured us into a false sense of protection from the evils of the world. And now, when that bandage has begun to crack, and we have been forced into realizing that maybe our Zion is in fact just another piece of broken creation, we cry out that its not right!?
We live in and among the world, our country is not a Christian nation. We are not ruled by Christian men and women, and we are not governed by a Biblical government. We can't expect our government to rule any differently.

2) God is still God-
     A court of men cannot overrule the law of God. That being said, we are commanded, as followers of Christ to obey the law of God. The law of God governs how we live, being summed up by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew,
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love, in this way, is defined by obedience to the teachings and example of Jesus. This means that we are to be honest, caring, compassionate. It means that we are to call sin out for what it is, but to use that aspect of the Law as a light in the darkness, revealing the path to salvation, peace, and righteousness that is only found in Christ. This means that when we point out a sin, be it an issue of sexual immorality, pride, deceit, etc. that we ensure that we are seeking the eternal good of those to whom we are speaking, and not simply seeking to judge and condemn. Jesus shows how we do this in His many interactions with sinners, dining with them, teaching them, etc. Over and over in his ministry, we see that he has compassion on a person or people, and out of that inner-surging of love he calls forth their sin, speaks about it plainly, and offers up forgiveness which is given only through Him. We see this with the woman caught in adultery, at the well, Jesus speaks openly with her about a multitude of sins, he offers her forgiveness, and when she acknowledge him as Lord, he tells her to go forth and sin no more.

3) Governments are still ordained-
      In Romans, Paul exhorts us
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."

There is two sides to this, the first is that, as Christians, we must submit ourselves to our government. This does not mean that we sit idly by and do whatever the government says we are to do, but that we respect the authority of government. We abide by the governing authority so long as it does not violate the Law of God. If the government is forcing its people to violate God's law, then yes, we resist, God's Law supersedes man's laws. However, if the government passes a law that in itself does not force a Christian to violate the Law of God, then we have no need or reason to resist. In the direct case of this SCOTUS decision, the government is not forcing us to break the Law of God, though there is threat of punishment for God's people if we do not fully embrace the decision. In this instance, we are still free to practice as we believe is right, we might just have to face persecution for doing so... just like the Bible tells us we will.
I do also want to mention that the Bible is clear about repercussions on those who condone, promote, and institutionalize sin. Which should cause us to pray more fervently for our country.

4) We are not left without guidance-
      We are given detailed, Biblical accounts of how to handle living in and among a country like ours. We are given the book of Daniel. Daniel is a man (really an adolescent) who finds himself, a devout follower of God, being made to live among a culture and country that did not meet his worldview (to put it mildly). Throughout the story of his captivity, we learn by Daniel's example that it is possible to live in perfect peace and harmony with the world, without compromising your heartfelt convictions in following God. We are also shown that in order to do such things requires reckless obedience to the sovereign will of God, and a willingness to suffer (and possibly die for) those choices. Daniel spoke boldly, proclaiming that he would not defile himself under the directives of the king. He worked diplomatically to ensure that he could live according to the expressed will of God, and was willing to pay whatever the cost would be for his choice. He was obedient to God, and lived at peace with his government. He did not compromise on how he would live, he didn't snuggle up to the edge of sin, he lived a bold testimony of his faith. We, as Christians, can learn a ton from this... we can live according to our faith, standing firm on our convictions, and still live at peace with those who disagree with us. Paul instructs us in this as well, telling us in Romans 12, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Paul was a staunch proponent of living by the Law of God, under the grace and mercy of Christ, so if he also tells us to live at peace with all (so far as it depends on us), then we must deduce that we can do both. We can live as Jesus instructs us to, boldly holding fast to our convictions, and still seek to live at peace with all people. We have commands and examples to follow to allow ourselves to live at peace in such a way that if there is conflict among us, it be because of them and not us.

So, to wrap this all up, I want to say one last thing:
  I am so tired of the mass delusion of so many that our world was somehow shattered this week. I am thankful and grateful for the SCOTUS decision. If for no other reason than this:
 Throughout scripture, especially throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus, we find that it is those who are truly able to accept their brokenness and their need of a savior who see the most powerful miracles done. It is not the pharisees, those who believe they are good and righteous, through whom Jesus does his greatest works. So, if this decision is finally breaking through the white-washed facade of the distorted reality, and allowing churches and their people to realize that there is work to be done within our cities, then hallelujah! God works all things for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose... that includes decisions made by our governments. It is time for us Christians to stand up, and live as we have been commanded to live, following the examples given to us.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunday morning is for the church

Sunday morning is for the church.... it's a phrase I have heard many, many times over the past year or two, and it's a phrase that carries a ton of weight in my mind.

When Christians gather into their local churches on a Sunday morning, they are doing so to worship, exalt, and praise the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We gather so that we may be filled, that we might empty ourselves of all the accumulated filth of the week so that the Spirit can then refill us with Himself. We gather to sing holy songs to God, to raise our hands in surrender to His will. We gather to meet with fellow believers that we can lay down our burdens, and multiply our joys. We gather to hear the Word of God proclaimed that we might better grasp His unfathomable grace towards sinners like us. We gather to learn His will that we might better love and serve. We gather to fulfill the words of Hebrews 10:23-25 that we might better hold fast the confession of our faith, that we will assemble together that we might stir up one another to love and good works. We gather so that by the deepening of our understanding of God's instruction and will for our lives we can better become not only hearers of the Word but also doers of the Word.

We gather to be edified, encouraged, filled, equipped, trained, sharpened, rebuked, and ultimately to be sent out. We gather for the glory of the Father, and that it may be manifested through the faithful obedience of His people. That we would leave, having been witnesses to the resurrection of Christ, that we may then go into all the world, proclaiming His gospel to people of every tribe, tongue, and nation. We gather that we can fulfill the call of the church.

That is why Sunday morning is for the church. It is also why Sunday morning is not for those who are not of the church. This is not to say that we should not be open, welcoming, loving, missional, and intentional with those who visit our churches on Sunday morning. But it is to say that the primary goal of the church on a Sunday morning is not to be singularly evangelistic. Too many of our churches have gotten this priority out of focus and out of order, creating an "experience" on Sunday morning that is tantamount to a spectator sport. We file the people into the seats, we put on a show, they drop their payment in the offering, and they go about their lives... unchanged. These churches have traded deep, theological, powerful exegesis of Scripture for anecdotes and story-telling. We have traded preaching for evangelizing. In turn, we have traded pastors for evangelists. In turn, we have traded local bodies of equipped saints for morally self-righteous social clubs.

Evangelists are amazing people, given a supernatural gift of proclaiming the gospel in a way that is easily understood that the Spirit is able to work through to call out to sinners that they will hear the effectual call of the Savior and will come to Him and be saved. God gifts such people for a very powerful and wonderful purpose... to proclaim, and bring unbelievers to Jesus. In short, to bring sheep back into the fold. But once they are in the fold, who is there to watch over them, to lead them, to protect them? A flock needs a shepherd, a pastor. These men are gifted, primarily, to do exactly the job of watching over the sheep. They are teachers, protectors, leaders, and they are to be placed among the flock that the sheep may learn the way to follow Christ, to obey His command, and to live. The church needs these men, and we need them on Sunday morning, when the flock gathers together.

We, as the church, need to take back Sunday morning for what it is intended to be. By doing so, we will be filled and equipped to go out into the world, using our own unique giftings from God to reach out. We need the evangelists to be there, out, with us that we can be used by the Spirit, to be doers of the Word that God can be glorified through the obedience of His people.

We need to be the church, the collection of the saints, the collection of the called. I am grateful to serve in a church that strongly proclaims this truth, and thankful that within this body of believers we have strong shepherds, evangelists, and multitudes of others. Let us be filled, let us go out and fulfill the command of the God we worship on Sunday morning.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

genuine religion

A friend and I are currently reading through John Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion. Though I am merely through the first few chapters, I am amazed at so much of Calvin's insights and wisdom. Even more so as I consider Calvin was only 27 when he wrote the Institutes and had only been converted for 4 years...

I was re-reading a portion of it just a few moments ago, and I wanted to share it here, hoping that through the typing of these words, they may grain a greater footing in my soul and ring truer in my mind:

"For, first of all, the pious mind does not devise for itself any kind of God, but looks alone to the one true God; nor does it feign for Him any character it pleases, but is contented to have Him in the character in which He manifests Himself always guarding, with the utmost diligences to have him in transgressing His will, and wandering, with daring presumptions from the right path. He by whom God is thus known perceiving how He governs all things, confides in Him as his guardian and protector, and casts himself entirely upon His faithfulness, -- perceiving Him to be the source of every blessing, if he is in any strait or feels any want, he instantly recurs to His protection and trusts to His aid, --persuaded that He is good and merciful, he reclines on Him with sure confidence, and doubts not that, in the divine clemency, a remedy will be provided for his every time of need, --acknowledging him as Father and Lord he considers himself bound to have respect to His authority in all things, to reverence His majesty aim at the advancement of His glory, and obey His commands, --regarding Him as a just judge, armed with severity to punish crimes, he keeps the Judgment-seat always in his view. Standing in awe of it, he curbs himself, and fears to provoke His anger. Nevertheless, he is not so terrified by an apprehension of Judgment as to wish he could withdraw himself, even if the means of escape lay before him; nay he embraces Him not less as the avenger of wickedness than as the rewarder of the righteous; because he perceives that it equally appertains to His glory to store up punishment for the one, and eternal life for the other. Besides, it is not the mere fear of punishment that restrains him from sin. Loving and revering God as his father, honoring Him as master, although there were no hell, he would revolt at the very idea of offending Him.

Such is pure and genuine religion, namely, confidence in God coupled with serious fear-- fear, which both includes in it willing reverence, and brings along with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed by the law. And it ought to be more carefully considered that all men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare." John Calvin, 1539(ish)

   I long to be of this pious mind. I want to recline on God with the sure confidence in the divine clemency of God. I want to live my life cloaked in the righteousness of Christ, such that it is not the mere fear of judgment that prevents my sin, but that it is out of love and reverence for my Lord. I want to live in light of the glory of heaven, not of the fear of hell... I want pure and genuine religion.

I want it for myself, I want it for my family, I want it for my church, I want it for each of my brothers and sisters on this earth... I want to throw off the ostentatious ceremony for the sincere heart of worship.