Lifespring Church Spring Conference: Saturday, April 21, 2018

 

God and The Christian Mind: The Biblical way to think, discern and walk in this present world

 

II Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Location:  Lifespring Church, 30 Hallett Ave, Crosby, MN (www.visitlifespring.com

Date:  Saturday, April 21, 2018 (1:00-9:00 p.m.)

Who:  Parent, Students, adults and young people of all ages  

Cost: It’s Free!  (Free-will donation basket will be available to onset the cost of the meal)

Do I need to register, therefore? Yes. Please, please register at  wwww.eventbrite.com (search: God and the Christian mind)

Why this Conference?  How do we walk the wise path of life living in our increasingly secular and pagan culture;  with all kinds of subtle, siren voices leading us down the path of destruction. God has give us his revealed Word, which is sufficient to make us wise for salvation and all of life (Proverbs 3:16-17, II Timothy 3:15) What must we believe, and how does Scripture lead and guide us to think, live and discern?  

Speakers:  Paul Helseth and Ardel Caneday are seasoned professors and churchmen who are also long-time friends and colleagues in Bible and theology Department at Northwestern University–Roseville.  Both have  taught a generation of college students in the Sufficiency of Scripture to address all the needs and dilemmas of the current culture. Many former students will testify to How God used their classes and their counsel to help set them on a God-ward trajectory for life.

Dr. Paul K Helseth is professor of Christian thought at Northwestern and a member of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Dr Ardel B. Caneday is professor of New Testament and Greek at Northwestern and a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church.    

We believe that all, young and old, will benefit from both the teaching, worship and good fellowship among Gods people.

*We  would encourage you to view this as an opportunity to intentionally invite young students

1:30—Welcome  and singing

1:45—Session 1:  The Doctrine of Creation and the Christian Mind

2:30—Break

3:00—Session 2: The Myth of Neutrality and a Sacramental View of the Universe

4:00–Session 3 :  Scripture: How God Makes Himself Known

(with Q/A following)

5:15—Diner

6:45–Singing

7:00—Application: How to Rightly Discern: Human Sexuality in an Age of Calculated Confusion

8:00—Application: How to Rightly Discern the New Social Justice  Movement

(with Q/A following)

 

 

Proverbs 2:1-12a My son, if you receive my words  and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil.

Youth-Driven Culture

Youth-Driven Culture

FROM  Jan 22, 2018 Category: Articles

Maybe it began earlier than the 1950s and ‘60s, but those decades seem to mark the rise of the fascination with youth in American culture. The famous line that celebrates all things young, often wrongly attributed to James Dean, declares, “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse behind.”

Popular music, that telling barometer of popular culture, has kept pace with this trend. Nearly every heavy-metal band of the 1980s and ‘90s had a stock ballad about young heroes going down in a “blaze of glory.” Other popmusic references stress the invincible power of youth. Rod Stewart sings of being “Forever Young.” In their hit single “We Are Young,” the contemporary super group Fun declares that these same youth will “set the world on fire.” Bruce Springsteen’s barstool-seated narrator in “Glory Days” drowns the disappointments of his middle-aged life by retelling stories of high school exploits and triumphs. None of us may want to relive our awkward junior high moments, but who among us doesn’t harbor secret desires to be young again and seemingly able to conquer the world?

The subtle and not-so-subtle pulls of the idolization of youth manifest themselves in three areas. The first is an elevation of youth over the aged. This reverses the biblical paradigm. The second is a view of being human that values prettiness (not to be confused with beauty and aesthetics), strength, and human achievement. Think of the captain of the cheerleading squad and the star quarterback. The third is the dominance of the market by the youth demographic. That is to say, in order to be relevant and successful, one must appeal to the youth or to youthful tastes. These manifestations of our youth-driven culture deserve a closer look.

The trend of exalting youth and sidelining the elderly stems from a deeper problem summed up in the expression, “Newer is better.” We celebrate the new and innovative while looking down on the past and tradition. There is a compelling vitality to youth and to new ideas, but that does not mean there is no wisdom to be found in the past. It is a sign of hubris to think one can face life without the wisdom of those who have gone before. There is something about being young that makes the young think they are immune to the mistakes or missteps of those who have gone before. We all think too highly of ourselves and our capacities. Simply put, we need the wisdom of the past and of the elderly.

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WE NEED THE WISDOM OF THE PAST AND OF THE ELDERLY.

The idolization of youth even seeps into the church. One of the ways in which we see this is in the stress on church youth groups. Curiously, Jonathan Edwards, in his letter to Deborah Hathaway, referred to as “Letter to a Young Convert,” encouraged her to join with the other youth in the church to pray together and to discuss their progress in sanctification as an encouragement to one another. In short, he was calling for her to start a youth group. Youth groups can serve a significant purpose and can be meaningful ministries. However, they can separate the youth from the other age groups in the church. The church needs to worship, learn, and pray together, old and young side by side. The culture tries to push the aged away. The church cannot afford to do that.

As we need the wisdom of the elderly in the body of Christ, we also need the wisdom of the past. Newer isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s worse; sometimes it’s wrong. As the church, we are a people with a past. The Holy Spirit is not a gift unique to the church in the twenty-first century. We ignore or disdain the past to our detriment.

The way out of enslavement to this undue celebration of youth is to foster a genuinely diverse community in our homes and in our churches. Generation gaps can be awkward and barriers to both sides having genuine and authentic fellowship. But God has designed His church in such a way that we need each other. Paul specifically commands Timothy to have the older teach the younger (Titus 2:1–4). We miss out when we think we have nothing to learn from others at different stages of life. The church of today also misses out when it thinks it has nothing to learn from the church of yesterday.

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CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN NEED TO HEAR THE STORIES OF THEIR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS.

The older may feel intimidation in trying to reach out to the younger, but the older should take the initiative. Young people can take the buds out of their ears and look up from their iPods. Children and grandchildren need to hear the stories of their parents and grandparents.

The second manifestation of our youth-driven culture is a warped view of humanity. Our culture determines a human being’s value based on how he or she looks. Parents, teachers, youth pastors, and pastors know how body image can be absolutely devastating to today’s youth. We also know theologically that human dignity, and hence human value, stems from our creation in the image of God. Our youth-obsessed culture uses a flawed metric for determining human worth.

Conversely, we also lose sight of human frailty and depravity. We are not strong. Isaiah reminds us, “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:30–31a). The theme of God’s strength manifested in our weakness reverberates through Paul’s writings. We will not hear it, however, if we are fixated on images of youthful strength and invincibility.

We need to help youth see that their value derives from being made in the image of the Creator and of the Redeemer. In today’s culture, adolescence is increasingly difficult to navigate well. Our youth are surrounded by images of the pretty and the skinny, the young and the beautiful. Images of perfection bombard them. My friend Walt Mueller, author and president of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, has been studying the advertising industry for years. His conclusion? Overt and subtle images pass before a typical teen’s eyes potentially hundreds of times a week. Add to that the body-image message coming through much of pop music and movies, and you see the challenge. Youth culture needs the church’s help to think biblically about a healthy, God-honoring view of self and others.

The third manifestation of the youth culture has to do with the way the youth demographic drives the market. The economic engine driving much of popular culture, in terms of movies and music at least, is that group with discretionary funds—teens and twenty-somethings. Youth groups and even churches, desiring to be successful, hurry to catch up.

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WE ALL NEED A CHURCH OF YOUNG AND OLD—AND IN BETWEEN—THAT PROCLAIMS AND LIVES THE GOSPEL.

The ever-insightful Southern writer Flannery O’Connor once weighed in on a debate over the use of a controversial novel in a public school classroom. Rather than debate the particular merits or demerits of the book, O’Connor raised a deeper question. She observed that advocates for the book made their case by claiming it was trendy and hip, for which reason the young people of the day were into it. Why not meet them where they were?, went the argument. O’Connor instead made a case for reliance on the literary canon, not popular fiction. Then she went on the attack in her closing lines: “And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed” (“Fiction Is a Subject with a History—It Should Be Taught that Way”).

Some may dismiss O’Connor’s argument, seeing it as an elitist appeal. But she raises a fair point. There are felt needs and there are true needs. Sometimes it takes quite a few decades to see the difference.

Sociologist Christian Smith coined the phrase moralistic therapeutic deism to describe the prominent religious view of American youth. His description sticks, but how should we respond? To simply cater to such tastes is to pander. In doing so, the gospel and the demands of the Christian life are lost.

One of those rock ballads I alluded to earlier echoes again and again a haunting line: “Give me something to believe in.” It tells a story of seeking, but finding only disappointment and disillusionment. Yet the desire to believe in something persists. Sociologists tell us that contemporary youth culture values authenticity. We reach out to youth culture best by not pandering and by not pretending to be hip—it’s too hard to pull it off anyway. One person’s respect for another grows immensely when one simply speaks and lives the truth in love.

Youth culture today faces a great deal of anxiety. On nearly every level, an uncertain future waits on the horizon. But these anxieties are only the symptoms of the real problem, shadows of the anxiety humanity faces because of alienation. Our sin separates us from God. And we need someone to believe in. None of us, young or old, needs a therapeutic religion. We all need the gospel. And we all need a church of young and old—and in between—that proclaims and lives the gospel.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

What is Advent?

What is Advent?   The great proclamation “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) assures us that God has entered into human history through the incarnation of the Son. The season of Advent, a season of waiting, is designed to cultivate our awareness of God’s actions—past, present, and future. In Advent we hear the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming as addressed to us—people who wait for the second coming. In Advent we heighten our anticipation for the ultimate fulfillment of all Old Testament promises, when the wolf will lie down with the lamb, death will be swallowed up, and every tear will be wiped away. In this way Advent highlights for us the larger story of God’s redemptive plan. A deliberate tension must be built into our practice of the Advent season. Christ has come, and yet not all things have reached completion. While we remember Israel’s waiting and hoping and we give thanks for Christ’s birth, we also anticipate his second coming at the end of time. For this reason Advent began as a penitential season, a time for discipline and intentional repentance in the confident expectation and hope of Christ’s coming again.  (The Worship Sourcebook, p 421)

Thanksgiving at Job’s House

 

Thanksgiving at Job’s House, by Joe Reed 

Thanksgiving, that most excellent of perhaps all uniquely American traditions, stands in the doorway where we bid farewell to warmer weather and all its labors and rewards, and turn to meet the cold embrace of winter. It’s a moment to reflect on God’s generosity to us, His faithful provision for us, and to remember that our lives very much hang upon His grace to give us the strength to rise up and labor, the sun and rain to make our labors fruitful, and the friends and families around us to make them enjoyable. God owes us none of these, nor can we force His hand to provide them for us. So, we give thanks.

 

Sometimes a person gives thanks this way: “I didn’t have the best year. My life involved much hardship. I suffered pain, and I suffered loss. But then I realized that there are other people who have it much worse than I do, so I shouldn’t complain. Instead, I’m thankful. It could be worse!”

 

I understand the sentiment. But I wonder sometimes, what does that other person have to be thankful for? Life is rarely as good as it could be, but sometimes it’s about as bad as it could be.

 

I often think about Job at Thanksgiving. Job lived as the richest man in his corner of the earth, proud father of 10 close-knit children, an upright man who worshiped God with all his heart, a man blessed almost immeasurably in every aspect of life.

 And then, in a moment, without warning, he found himself the most miserable man in the world. His livestock was all carried off, his servants destroyed, his children killed in an instant, his health was completely broken. The only thing remaining to Job were the messengers who bore him the ill tidings, an inconsolable and angry wife, a pile of ashes to sit in, a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape his oozing boils, and three friends determined to convince him what a terrible person he was.

 

Job also had his life – you recall that God demanded his life be spared. And yet Job wasn’t thankful for that either: “Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” (3:11) For Job, life really was as bad as it could get.

 

Imagine visiting Job’s ash heap on Thanksgiving. “Job, what are you thankful for? You’ve got nothing left, except your life, which you don’t want.” For what can Job be thankful?

 

The answer Job would give is this: 

 

I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

yet in my flesh I shall see God. (Job 19:25-26)

 

For Job, probably writing some 1500 years before the first Christmas, Thanksgiving was summed up in these few words: Jesus is coming. And when He comes, all this mess is going to go away.

 

Heaven is described as a place where God Himself wipes away every tear. Jesus gets us there, meets us there, and keeps us there. We may have many wonderful blessings for which to give thanks this year, or we may, like Job, have essentially nothing that gives us any sense of joy. But we have this: “Our Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” Nothing changes that truth. Nothing threatens Jesus’ arrival, or His ability to set all things right. And for that, we may indeed be truly thankful. 

Common Slaves Conference Audio

 

Common Slaves Conference Audio

by common slaves

(from Pastor Joe Reed)  

We are delighted to be able to share the audio from our Conference “Small Church, Big Problems.” Our speakers and their sessions were, in my incredibly humble and slightly biased opinion, second to none. LifeSpring Church in Crosby extended the greatest hospitality to us, and we are so thankful. I’d hold up our conference attended by 50 dear folks to any I’ve ever been to attended by thousands. It really was that good.

Thanks to all who joined us!

Check out the Conference Audio page to hear or download the sessions and see a brief intro to our speakers, or take a shortcut here

www.commonslaves.com

 

Christ Alone

Christ Alone (Priest, Prophet, King) 

from Table Talk, November 2012

by 

Reformed theology affirms that Scripture and its teaching on grace and faith emphasize that salvation is solus Christus, “by Christ alone”—that is, Christ is the only Savior (Acts 4:12). B.B.Warfield wrote, “The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests.”

The centrality of Christ is the foundation of the Protestant faith. Martin Luther said that Jesus Christ is the “center and circumference of the Bible”—meaning that who He is and what He did in His death and resurrection is the fundamental content of Scripture. Ulrich Zwingli said, “Christ is the Head of all believers who are His body and without Him the body is dead.”

Without Christ, we can do nothing; in Him, we can do all things (John 15:5Phil. 4:13). Christ alone can bring salvation. Paul makes plain in Romans 1–2 that though there is a self-manifestation of God outside of His saving work in Christ, no amount of natural theology can unite God and man. Union with Christ is the only way of salvation.

We urgently need to hear solus Christus in our day of pluralistic theology. Many people today question the belief that salvation is only by faith in Christ. As Carl Braaten says, they “are returning to a form of the old bankrupt nineteenth-century Christological approach of Protestant liberalism and calling it ‘new,’ when it is actually scarcely more than a shallow Jesusology.” The end result is that today, many people—as H. R. Niebuhr famously said of liberalism—proclaim and worship “a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

Our Reformed forebears, drawing on a perspective traceable all the way back to the fourth-century writer Eusebius of Caesarea, found it helpful to think about Christ as a Prophet, Priest, and King. The 1689 London Baptist Confession, for instance, puts it this way: “Christ, and Christ alone, is fitted to be mediator between God and man. He is the prophet, priest and king of the church of God” (8.9). Let us look more closely at these three offices.

Christ the Prophet

Christ is the Prophet whom we need to instruct us in the things of God so as to heal our blindness and ignorance. The Heidelberg Catechism calls Him “our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption” (A. 31). “The Lord thy God,” Moses declared in Deuteronomy 18:15, “will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (KJV). He is God’s Son, and God demands that we listen to Him (Matt. 17:5).

As the Prophet, Jesus is the only One who can reveal what God has been purposing in history “since the world began” and who can teach and make manifest the real meaning of the “scriptures of the prophets” (the Old Testament; see Rom. 16:25–26). We can expect to make progress in the Christian life only as we heed His instruction and teaching.

Christ the Priest

Christ is also Priest—our sorely needed High Priest, who, as the Heidelberg Catechism says, “by the sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us” (A. 31). In the words of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, “because of our estrangement from God and the imperfection of our services at best, we need his priestly office to reconcile us to God and render us acceptable to him” (8.10).

Salvation is only in Jesus Christ because there are two conditions that, no matter how hard we try, we can never meet. Yet, they must be done if we are to be saved. The first is to satisfy the justice of God through obedience to the law. The second is to pay the price of our sins. We cannot do either, but Christ did both perfectly. Romans 5:19 says, “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5:10 says, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” There is no other way to come into the presence of God than through Christ alone.

Jesus’ sacrifice took place once only, but He still continues as our great High Priest, the One through whom all acceptable prayer and praise are made to God. In heavenly places, He remains our constant Intercessor and Advocate (Rom. 8:341 John 2:1). Little wonder, then, that Paul calls for glory to be given to God “through Jesus Christ for ever” (Rom. 16:27). We can grow in our enjoyment of access to God only by a deepening reliance on Him as our Sacrifice and Intercessor.

Christ the King

Finally, Christ is the King, ruling over all things. Over His church He reigns by means of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:30–33). He sovereignly gives repentance to the impenitent and bestows forgiveness on the guilty (Acts 5:31). Christ is “our eternal King who governs us by His word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in the enjoyment of that salvation, He has purchased for us” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A. 31). As the royal Heir of the new creation, He will lead us into a kingdom of eternal light and love.

As such, we can agree with John Calvin when he says, “We may patiently pass through this life with its misery, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles—content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph.” We can grow in the Christian life only as we live obediently under Christ’s rule and by His power.

If you are a child of God, Christ in His threefold office as Prophet, Priest, and King will mean everything to you. Do you love solus Christus? Do you love Him in His person, offices, natures, and benefits? Is He your Prophet to teach you; your Priest to sacrifice for, intercede for, and bless you; and your King to rule and guide you?

After a rousing performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the famous Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini is said to have told the orchestra: “I am nothing. You are nothing. Beethoven is everything.” If Toscanini could say that about a brilliant but dead composer, how much more should Christians say that about the living Savior, who, with respect to our salvation, is the composer, musician, and even the beautiful music itself.

Through Faith Alone

How are we justified through faith alone?  

Peter Jeffrey:  in Giving His Son to die in our place God demonstrated His Justice.  Our sins are not overlooked.  They are dealt with exactly as God had always said they should be dealt with.  They are punished, but because they have been laid on Jesus and he has taken responsibility for them, he takes our punishment instead of us. On the Grounds of what Jesus has done, God is able to justify guilty sinners.  He is acting in a perfectly lawful way because our sins have been dealt with according to divine law.  Our sins are credited to Jesus and God treats Jesus as he should treat us–he is forsaken and dies in our place.  Jesus righteousness is credited to us and God treats us as he has always treated Jesus–we become his children and he owns us as his redeemed people.  

CJ Mahaney Faith is not a means of saving ourselves; faith/repentance is a means of admitting we cannot save ourselves. It is a way of throwing ourselves upon the mercy of God and begging the savior to save us.  

Martin Lloyd Jones: It does not mean we are made righteous, but rather that God regards us as righteous and declares us to be righteous.  This has often been a difficulty to many people.  They say that because they are conscious of sin within they cannot be in a justified state; but anyone who speaks like that shows immediately that he has not understanding of this great and crucial doctrine of justification. Justification makes no actual change in us; but is a declaration by God concerning us.  It is not something that results from what we do but rather something that is done for us.  We have only been made righteous in the sense that God regard us to as righteous, and pronounces us to be righteous.