February 25, 2015

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_The Bowman newsletter should arrive in the next day or two. Any who are interested in reading my contribution can find it here. I’m hoping it will generate helpful dialogue about how Christians should respond to the idea of sabbath.

In the Our Crazy World Department, Wesleyan University has expanded the list of letters defining sexual identity: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. As usual Carl Trueman helpfully weighs in.

Mark Altrogge writes about Why you should think twice before badmouthing Obama. Good point.

Here is why we must not forget the Psalms.

Finally, for the theological geeks, Justin Taylor distills some conclusions from Everett Ferguson’s 975-page tome on Baptism. Ever wonder how the early church viewed baptism? This piece will provide a head start.


November 2, 2012

We had a great Fall Frenzy the other night at Bowman. Conservatively, we had well over 150 people pass through our doors. Thanks to Bonnie and her crew for making it happen.

In the past several weeks or so I’ve posted several things about the Sabbath. One of the posts generated more comments than usual. The bottom line is that the Sabbath is not an easy issue to unpack. That said, here is a piece that is worth reflecting on. It isn’t exactly my view, but most of us need to move in the author’s direction.

Desiring God has some free books on Calvin available in all formats. You will be enriched by reading any, or all, of these books.

Bob Mundorff discusses the grace verses law tension. This is something we always need to be reminded of. He quotes one of my favorite poems:

Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings

This next post by C Michael Patton is certainly provocative. It is titled “You Can’t Judge A Person’s Salvation” … and Other Stupid Statements.” Let me know what you think. Here’s a quote:

So, I don’t believe that once someone says he is a Christian, we are somehow obligated to take them at their word. In fact, my default position (at least here in America) is that this is nothing more than a verbal affirmation of their initiation into American culture. I normally start by not believing them.

Finally, below is a video you’ve probably already seen. Yes, the election will be over soon. We’re more than likely in for four more years. Ohio seems to be the president’s and thus the election itself (in spite of what deluded Karl Rove says).

Why Worship On Sundays?

October 16, 2012

This past week I had a close encounter with a Seventh Day Adventist. It provided me with an opportunity to rethink the underpinnings of Sunday worship. Why did the day we worship change?

The Sabbath is about God entering his rest at the conclusion of creation. Genesis 2:1-3 says: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” The celebration of this rest became mandatory for God’s people in the Mosaic economy (Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”).

The Sabbath is tied to creation and has a lasting significance. On balance, the command to remember it comes from Moses. We have been released from the Mosaic Law (Romans 7:4 “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”). We can’t use the 10 Commandments as support for Saturday worship. We died to the law.

We derive our primary direction from the New Testament, the law of Christ (1Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:2). In the NT there are two things to note in relation to the Sabbath. First, Jesus seems to have at least relax the Sabbath requirement by allowing the disciples to harvest grain on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-27). He also said that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27). Second, while the other nine commandments are reiterated in the New Testament, the command to keep the Sabbath is missing. So to summarize to this point, the Mosaic commands are no longer binding on believers and the source of our direction, the New Testament, doesn’t command us to keep the Sabbath. Paul in Colossians 2:16 tells his readers to “let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to … a Sabbath.” This verse is as clear as it gets. We shouldn’t let anyone judge us in regards to keeping the Sabbath. Our Adventist friends tell us that Sunday worship is the mark of the beast (Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. p. 196.).

While we don’t have a specific command to gather on the first day of the week, we do find Apostolic evidence of this practice. Acts 20:7 says, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” It seems that the church is gathering for worship on Sunday. 1Corinthians 16:2 (NLT) says, “On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.” Again, it seems that the church gathered on the first day of “each” week.

My Adventist friend the other day suggested that the apostolic direction was perhaps wrong. Maybe they didn’t have the authority to change the day. Of course, if the apostoles were wrong about this, why not other stuff? So, why was the day changed? Remember the Sabbath was about God resting from his work. Believers now rest not on the day God finished the old creation but rather on the day Christ finished his work of the new creation. Jesus rose on the first day of the week. We worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10), to celebrate his rest and to symbolize our rest in Christ’s work (Hebrews 4:9-10). Think of it this way: the New Covenant brought many changes. The place of worship, the priesthood, the sign of the covenant, and many other things were changed. Doesn’t it make sense that the day of worship changed as well?

So, how do we respond to this? First, there is a continuing place for the Sabbath principle. Remember, this principle goes back to creation. Look at my post from the other day. Remembering that the Sabbath was made for man, we neglect it at our own peril. I think (for what that’s worth) that evangelicals are much too cavalier with regard to this principle. Perhaps I’ve listen too much to the Puritans in this area. This is a gift from God to his people. Second, don’t let anyone judge you with regard to the Sabbath. Third, it seems the best day to practice the Sabbath principle is Sunday. Finally, it isn’t always possible to keep this Sabbath principle on Sunday. If this is true for you, find another day to rest and worship with God’s people.

Questions? Comments?

The Sabbath

October 13, 2012

Here is a wonderful post by Ray Ortlund. Somehow, I think many have lost this truth. Remember, the Sabbath is a creation ordinance, not merely something found in Moses. Next week I’ll give reasons as to why the day changed.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  Exodus 20:8

Let’s not dictate Sabbath observance today.  The point of the Sabbath is a dress rehearsal for a future eternity of glad rest in God.  So, for now, every one of us can work out the details personally.  But in our frantic modern world, the Sabbath offers wisdom that has lasted since the beginning (Genesis 2:2-3).  It is not written on our calendars as much as we are built into its calendar.  It seems to be part of the God-created rhythm for weekly human flourishing.

If we did set apart one day each week for rejuvenation in God, we would immediately add to every year over seven weeks of vacation.  And not for doing nothing but for worship, for friends, for mercy, for an afternoon nap, for reading and thinking, for lingering around the dinner table and sharing good jokes and tender words and personal prayers.

How else can we find quietness of heart in today’s world?  If anyone has a more biblical (and more immediately beneficial) place to begin, I’m open.  But raising hermeneutical objections to the Sabbath principle doesn’t in itself actually help any of us.

I wonder if the very concept of “the weekend” is biblical.  It seems to me that “the weekend” turns Sunday into a second Saturday.  Home Depot may gain, but we lose.  It turns Sunday into a day to catch up on what we didn’t do Saturday or a day to ramp up for what’s ahead on Monday.  It hollows out our whole week, because it marginalizes God and church and sermons and all the other vital things that happen in our lives only when we make the vital things also the central things.  If we accept the concept of “the weekend,” we risk “fitting God in” rather than centering our every week around him.  We risk living soul-exhausted lives, and wondering why God isn’t more real to us, why we’re grumpy.

If we want to find our way back into quietness of heart and reality with God, the first step might be simple.  Bold, but simple.


October 8, 2012

This piece is just funny. It answers the ageless question, Are Veggie Dogs just as good as real hot dogs?. I think you know the answer.

So I had to try one. Of course. Because I am nothing if not stubborn. All I can say is Mmmm, yummy. The texture was reminiscent of custard wrapped in a latex balloon, and it tasted like paste. There’s not enough mustard and onion in the world to make that thing palatable.

Tullian wrestles with Ted Turner’s famous pronouncement: Christianity is the Religion for losers. Yep, Ted was right.

It is sooooo easy to be judgmental, especially in areas of little or no importance. Luma tracks her pilgrimage in this area.

When it comes to secondary (non-sin) issues we are tempted to strain gnats and swallow camels (Matt. 23:24). Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’…” (Matt. 9:13) and “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matt. 12:7).

I grieve in my spirit when I remember how I have condemned the guiltless.

Randy Alcorn writes about the importance of Sabbath both in this life and the life to come. Here is his concluding paragraph:

God rested on the seventh day, before sin entered the world. He prescribed rest for sinless Adam and Eve, and he prescribed it for those under the curse of sin. Regular rest will be part of the life to come in the new universe. (Wouldn’t it be wise to learn how to rest now?)

It is amazing what people can do with a cello.