Ordinary Christian Work – Tim Challies

Ordinary Christian Work by Tim Challies | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August 2014As we noted last week when we introduced the August issue of Tabletalk, the featured articles all cover the theme of “the ordinary Christian life”.

Pastor Tim Challies wrote the second main article on the ordinary Christian and his work, and it is a fine summary of how believers ought to view and carry out their daily labors in Christ’s kingdom.

If you are feeling down and discouraged because you judge your work doesn’t matter or is too insignificant, read this to refresh your soul and strengthen your hands for extra-ordinary service! This is a must read as we start the work-week!

I give you a snapshot of Challies’ article here. Read the rest at this Ligonier link (or the one above):

Of the many legacies of the Protestant Reformation, few have had greater and wider-reaching impact than the rediscovery of the biblical understanding of vocation. Before the Reformation, the only people with a vocation or calling were those who were engaged in full-time church work—monks, nuns, or priests. As Gene Veith writes in God at Work:

The ordinary occupations of life—being a peasant farmer or kitchen maid, making tools or clothing, being a soldier or even king—were acknowledged as necessary but worldly. Such people could be saved, but they were mired in the world. To serve God fully, to live a life that is truly spiritual, required a full-time commitment.

As the Reformers looked past uninspired traditions in their return to the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word, they found that full-time ministry was a vocation, but it was by no means the only vocation. They saw that each of us has a vocation and that each vocation has dignity and value in the eyes of the Lord. We can all honor God in the work we do.

Yet that old tradition is never far off, and if we do not constantly return to God’s Word and allow it to correct us, we will soon drift back.

The Fifty Best Books of the 20th Century | Intercollegiate Review

The Fifty Best Books of the 20th Century | Intercollegiate Review.

By now you know I like lists such as these. They help me (and, I trust, you too) to see the bigger bigger of significant literature in our time and in times past. This post was recently made on the Intercollegiate Review website (July 14, 2014), a conservative publication for students. I found this list to be worth noting here. This is how “IR” introduced the post:

On the eve of the new millennium, the Intercollegiate Review published a list of the fifty worst and fifty best books of the 20th century.  Although now approaching fifteen years since publication, this list tells us much about our recent historical inheritance, and provides a valuable reminder of the vitality of conservatism and the errors of liberalism.

Abolition of man-CS lewisSo which are these books? Here is “IR’s” introduction to the top non-fiction titles of the previous century, and the first five on that list. For the rest, visit the link above.

I might add, that this list would make a good place to start if you are interested in reading broadly – and the Reformed Christian ought to do this. You will also notice several titles of significance to the Christian faith on this list.

Prominent on the “Best” list, on the other hand, are many volumes of extraordinary reflection and creativity in a traditional form, which heartens us with the knowledge that fine writing and clear-mindedness are perennially possible.

 

1. Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1907)

Pessimism and nostalgia at the bright dawn of the twentieth century must have seemed bizarre to contemporaries. After a century of war, mass murder, and fanaticism, we know that Adams’s insight was keen indeed.

2. C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1947)

Preferable to Lewis’s other remarkable books simply because of the title, which reveals the true intent of liberalism.

3. Whittaker Chambers, Witness (1952)

The haunting, lyrical testament to truth and humanity in a century of lies (and worse). Chambers achieves immortality recounting his spiritual journey from the dark side (Soviet Communism) to the—in his eyes—doomed West. One of the great autobiographies of the millennium.

4. T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays, 1917–1932 (1932, 1950)

Here, one of the century’s foremost literary innovators insists that innovation is only possible through an intense engagement of tradition. Every line of Eliot’s prose bristles with intelligence and extreme deliberation.

5. Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History (1934–61)

Made the possibility of a divine role in history respectable among serious historians. Though ignored by academic careerists, Toynbee is still read by those whose intellectual horizons extend beyond present fashions.

Supreme Court rules ObamaCare provision can’t force some employers to cover contraception | Fox News

Supreme Court rules ObamaCare provision can’t force some employers to cover contraception | Fox News.

hobby_lobby_300x225Since we have been following the case of Hobby Lobby (owned by the Green family who are Christians) against the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”), I thought it good to report that yesterday the Supreme Court of our land ruled in favor of the company by a 5-4 vote. This vote also affects other Christian-owned companies who were fighting this mandate, including AutoCam here in Grand Rapids.

In this news report, Fox News reports on the meaning and significance of this decision. For the full story, follow the link above.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that certain “closely held” for-profit businesses can cite religious objections in order to opt out of a requirement in ObamaCare to provide free contraceptive coverage for their employees.

The 5-4 decision, in favor of arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby and one other company, marks the first time the court has ruled that for-profit businesses can cite religious views under federal law. It also is a blow to a provision of the Affordable Care Act which President Obama’s supporters touted heavily during the 2012 presidential campaign.

“Today is a great day for religious liberty,” Adele Keim, counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which represented Hobby Lobby, told Fox News.

Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay Marriage – Kevin DeYoung

Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay Marriage | TGC.

marriagepic-2Also this week, pastor Kevin DeYoung posted these vital questions for those in the Christian camp who support homosexual marriage (June 17, 2014). They are compelling and help define the stand we must make on the basis of God’s Word.

Here is his introduction; visit the link above to read his five questions:

So you’ve become convinced that the Bible supports gay marriage. You’ve studied the issue, read some books, looked at the relevant Bible passages and concluded that Scripture does not prohibit same-sex intercourse so long as it takes place in the context of a loving, monogamous, lifelong covenanted relationship. You still love Jesus. You still believe the Bible. In fact, you would argue that it’s because you love Jesus and because you believe the Bible that you now embrace gay marriage as a God-sanctioned good.

As far as you are concerned, you haven’t rejected your evangelical faith. You haven’t turned your back on God. You haven’t become a moral relativist. You’ve never suggested anything goes when it comes to sexual behavior. In most things, you tend to be quite conservative. You affirm the family, and you believe in the permanence of marriage. But now you’ve simply come to the conclusion that two men or two women should be able to enter into the institution of marriage–both as a legal right and as a biblically faithful expression of one’s sexuality.

Setting aside the issue of biblical interpretation for the moment, let me ask five questions.

 

Nine statements by Obama made a mockery of God’s Word

Nine statements by Obama yesterday made a mockery of God’ ….

On Wednesday of this week I received this notice from the American Family Association. It points out how our president in a speech the day before openly defied the teaching of God’s Word on marriage and godly sexuality by boasting about the homosexual agenda he has promoted since becoming our nation’s leader. And this from a professing Christian who claims to be following holy Scripture and representing our Lord! He may mock but God is not mocked!

As we continue to watch the rapid anti-Christian moral decline in this land, we need to be courageous in defending and teaching the truth of God’s Word and we need to be mighty in prayer for the church, as well as for our leaders.

Here is the first part of the AFA post; find the rest at the link above.

June 18, 2014

Yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke at an LGBT fundraiser in New York City. You can watch or read the entire speech here.

I thought you might like to know what he said, so here are a few excerpts from the transcript of his speech:

- The day that the Supreme Court issued its ruling, United States v. Windsor, was a great day for America.

- So Pride Month is a time for celebration, and this year we’ve got a lot to celebrate.  If you think about everything that’s happened in the last 12 months, it is remarkable.  In nine more states you’re now free to marry the person you love – that includes my two home states of Hawaii and Illinois. The NFL drafted its first openly gay player. The U.S. Postal Service made history by putting an openly gay person on a stamp – the late, great Harvey Milk smiling from ear to ear.

- When I took office, only two states had marriage equality.  Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia do.

- But because of your help, we’ve been able to do more to protect the rights of lesbian and gay, and bisexual and transgender Americans than any administration in history.

Same-Sex Relationships: In Churches, Change Is Coming, But Slowly

Same-Sex Relationships: In Churches, Change Is Coming, But Slowly.

Want to know another way in which homosexual rights advocates are pushing their agenda (full acceptance in society and in the church) in our present culture? Pay attention to what is being published – by the major publishing houses (secular) and, more noteworthy, by Christian/evangelical publishing houses.

Bibles Yes to Same-SexPublisher’s Weekly has a religious book news edition, and it recently referenced some significant publications in the church world on this issue. We ought to be aware of the continued compromise by the church on this matter, and we ought to commend those who continue to hold to the Bible’s unchanging standards (God’s Word!) on sexuality – including Dr.A.Mohler (see below).

I quote from a portion of the news item below. You will find all of it at the link provided above.

Just as attitudes toward homosexuality have shifted greatly in the wider culture, change is coming in Christian churches too, though at a relative snail’s pace. Churches worry today about stemming the tide of young refugees from the pews, and intolerance toward gays is a key issue: a 2011 survey by the Barna Group found that 59% of young Christians say they leave churches in part because of sexual intolerance; polls by both the Pew Research Center and the Public Religion Research Institute found almost two-thirds saying homosexuality should be accepted by society and the church.

David Maxwell, executive editor at Westminster John Knox Press (of the liberal Presbyterian Church U.S.A. denomination), says those who have grown up in more conservative churches are looking to liberal Christian and general interest publishers for books that reflect their evolving views, citing their June book, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart by Mark Achtemeier (see Reviews, May 12).

More disturbing for conservative Christians are books supportive of same-sex relationships from evangelical publishers. In May, Convergent—an imprint of the Christian publishing division of Penguin Random House—published Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, in which he explores the Bible in its historical context and concludes that the few scriptural passages referring to homosexuality have been wrongly and selectively interpreted. That drew impassioned responses: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Press quickly published God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, the first in its new Conversant e-book series.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary and editor of the essay collection, deplored Vines’ assertion that Christians can maintain a “high view” of the authority of scripture while rejecting traditional interpretations of its teachings. Mohler also called it “distressing” that an evangelical house published the book, and other groups and organizations have piled on; in May the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) also denounced the book and the publisher. Stephen Cobb, chief publishing executive for the Christian imprints of Penguin Random House, notes that the four imprints he oversees—WaterBrook, Multnomah, Convergent, and Image—have distinct editorial identities and do not all fit under the conservative “evangelical” umbrella.

Memorial Day 2014 | A Country Worth Dying For

Memorial Day 2014 | A Country Worth Dying For.

Memorial Day-2014The message of this brief Memorial Day post by the Heritage Foundation is not the only message we who follow Christ the King ought to hear. As those who belong to the kingdom of heaven, we know that the only country truly worth dying for is that new country to which we have been called by the Lord’s sovereign grace (Heb.11:8-16).

Yet, on this day when we remember those who have died serving in our earthly country’s service (including many believers) – protecting our freedoms, including those to worship our gracious Lord and to pursue our heavenly homeland – it is fitting to pause and thank God for preserving these freedoms for us through these people and to honor those who have served in our military.

I am especially grateful for my own father’s service (U.S. Army, Korean War), that of our son Thad (Army Reserves, Military Police, including almost a year in Gitmo), and that of our nephew Andrew Schipper.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday. And don’t forget the reason for this Memorial Day.

Here is a quote from the above-linked article; follow the link to see the rest.

The world drew a breath when Reagan, speaking at an anniversary event marking the start of the great crusade to liberate Europe, spoke to a sea of weathered veteran faces and called them “our boys.” For that is what they were — millions in uniform on the land, fighting on the seas, and soaring across the skies. They were our sons (and daughters), our husbands (and wives), fathers, mothers. They were white, Asian, black, Hispanic, Jewish. They were an army of all of us. And they were young.

They are the ones who bore the burden. On Memorial Day we remember that. We remember every member of every generation who gave their lives in service of their country.

Some were drafted. Some were volunteers. Some were brave beyond human understanding. Many were mere mortals who just wanted to serve and go home.

We mourn their loss, but we also celebrate their service — for they shared in common the sacred belief that this was, and remains, a nation worth fighting for.

The very best we can do to honor what they did is to commit ourselves to keep America a country worth fighting — and dying – for.

Living — and then dying — by the economic sword – Reformation21 Blog

Living — and then dying — by the economic sword – Reformation21 Blog.

CTrueman-1For our Saturday “culture watch” and “Reformed worldview” post today, we turn to this brief post by Dr. Carl Trueman, as he made comments on the recent actions of World Vision and Mozilla (developers of the Firefox browser) on the issue of homosexuality (posted on “Ref21″) on April 3, 2014).

Here are a few of his thoughts; find the rest at the link above.

Given the instructive chronological juxtaposition, how should Christians react? A few thoughts come to mind. First, both Christians and their opponents have the right under the First Amendment to express their disagreement with the actions of World Vision and Mozilla without government interference. That does not seem to be in jeopardy at this point and we should be grateful for that freedom.

Second, we should understand that to live in a free society means that all have, among other things, the right to withdraw economic support from a group with which they disagree. As a result, Christians should accept that those who live by the sword of legitimate economic sanctions in one context might well find themselves dying by the same legitimate economic sword in another. That is the price, or the risk, of freedom.

Third, given the above, the pastoral response is surely to start now to strengthen Christian people for the hardship and marginalization that is likely to come, as it would seem that these kinds of events are set to become more frequent. Yes, we should lament the moral malaise of society; we should use our freedoms to try to reverse that; but we should also acknowledge that the methods we use to gain influence ourselves are also open to our enemies. And thus we should think twice about crying foul on that particular point when the results are not to our liking.

Unions Getting Creative in Election-Year Struggle

Unions Getting Creative in Election-Year Struggle.

Unions-1In our culture watch and Reformed worldview items we like to keep our eye on the worldly labor unions. They may not have the power and influence they once did (former President Ronald Reagan had much to do with busting their unquestioned power), but they still wield much of these. In fact, under our current President they are once again flexing their muscles.

With that in mind, this “Foundry” (Heritage Foundation) report from last week (April 2, 2014) caught my attention. Though brief, it is an interesting glance at both union advances and setbacks.

Here is the opening of the report; read the rest at the link above.

If it seems like unions are making a fuss lately, it’s because they are.

It’s an election year, and they need money.

Just one in 15 private-sector workers is a union member—in 2013, union membership was at its lowest rate since 1916.

That might explain why they’re grasping for new members in stunts like unionizing college athletes, especially as their influence in the workplace is being challenged in the courts.

As Kevin Mooney reported for The Foundry:

Lawyers with National Right to Work Foundation…argued before the high court that it is unconstitutional to compel Illinois residents to fund SEIU’s political activism. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, payment of union dues by personal caregivers no longer would be mandatory but become voluntary.

“They’re trying to lock people into paying dues while they still can,” said Linda Dobbs, a dues-paying California union member who questioned a visit she received from some aggressive union representatives.

Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court: landmark case for religious liberty to be heard Tues. – Baptist Press

Baptist Press -Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court: landmark case for religious liberty to be heard Tues. – News with a Christian Perspective.

Today, as the Supreme Court returns to its work, our justices will begin treating the cases of two companies owned by Christian families who are opposed to the unbiblical and unethical demands of the Affordable Healthcare Act (unaffectionately known as “Obamacare”). Baptist Press carried this report about the significance of these cases, and indeed, as Christians we ought to be informed and concerned about the outcome of these cases (Read the full report at the link above.).

Which means that we ought also be in prayer today for our SC and those defending these Christian businesses. The AFA (American Family Association) offered a sample prayer in its mailing yesterday, which I thought was appropriate to use as a guide (see below).

hobby_lobby_300x225WASHINGTON (BP) — The fate of religious freedom for Americans, especially business owners, could hang in the balance when the U.S. Supreme Court convenes March 25.

The justices will hear oral arguments that day in challenges by two family owned corporations to the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate, which requires employers to provide abortion-causing drugs for their workers. Hobby Lobby, a nationwide retail chain based in Oklahoma City, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania business, contend the federal regulation violates their owners’ consciences and a 1993 law protecting religious liberty.

Religious freedom advocates predict the Supreme Court’s decision will be far-reaching.

The high court’s opinion “will determine the next 100 years of church/state jurisprudence,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Joshua Hawley, a lawyer assisting Hobby Lobby, described it as “a landmark case.”

“It has major significance for religious liberty” and “for what constitutional rights business owners can claim,” said Hawley, a member of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s legal team and an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law.

Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, explained to Baptist Press the consequences for not only the Green family, the evangelicals who own Hobby Lobby, and the Hahns, the pro-life Mennonite family that owns Conestoga Wood, but other people who seek to exercise their religious beliefs.

“If the Hahn and Green families lose, the door would be open to allow the government to force people of faith to pay massive fines threatening jobs and health coverage just simply because they are choosing not to violate their faith and conscience,” Bowman told BP in an email interview.

“If the Hahn and Green families win, it will protect religious liberty as promised in the Constitution and American law, and people of faith will not be subject to massive fines just because they don’t want to help destroy human life.”

P.S. You may also be interested in this infographic on the Hobby Lobby case.

The AFA offered this prayer as a guide for Christians today (You will want to adapt some of the wording to match your own convictions, but I hope you can appreciate its emphasis on the sovereignty of God.):

Lord God, Our Father, you are the Righteous Judge over all the earth. We pray that you will have mercy on the United States as the Supreme Court hears a case that will shape the balance between government power and freedom of religion.

Give words to the attorneys for Hobby Lobby as they argue that our free exercise of religion includes how Christians live and work, not just what we do when we gather for worship, so that whatever we do in word or deed, we may do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

God, enlighten the Justices of the Supreme Court to acknowledge that you alone are Lord of our consciences. Give the Court humility to recognize that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that you have instituted human government so that your people may serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before you, all the days of our life.

And Lord, give us grace and boldness to use the religious liberty that we still have to make your truth and mercy known. Amen.

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