Expository Preaching as Prostration Before God

Here, Craig Houston shares what is the beginning of wisdom for those who preach the Word of God.

 

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Music in the Worship of God

There has been significant discussion recently regarding matters of music. In this video I focus on the use of music in the worship of God which is distinctly different than music in general.

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The Gospel: The Worst of Me Was Laid on Him and the Best of Him Was Laid on Me

Here is a wonderful explanation of the Gospel by Steven Lawson

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Give Me More Boring Men

The picture of a husband in Ephesians 5:22-33 is such a dramatic contrast to the he-man, chest-beating image that we often see today – even in Christian circles. The Bible exalts husbands who model humility and service toward their wives instead of parading themselves in the public spotlight. Godly husbands fulfill their responsibilities in both the public sphere and also in private, when no one else is looking.

Ann Voskamp has captured some of the really practical elements of this in her article,  ”The Real Truth About ‘Boring’ Men — and the Women Who Live With Them.” She defines and gives a glimpse of the “boring” man. We need more of them. I need more of this kind of “boring” myself.

Included below are some excerpts from the article that I especially liked: (more…)

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Please Forgive Me

During the panel discussion on rap I should have engaged such a controversial subject as this with greater discernment, explicit scriptural grounding, clarity, definition of terms (like “rap”) and precision that comes from a full grasp of the subject. These were lacking in the rap discussion. The very question itself lacked clarity and nuance which opened the door to the misrepresentations common to the broad brush. In framing the question, I failed to distinguish between the use of music in worship compared to simply listening to music. We failed to distinguish between the various expressions of the artists. I failed to correct a panelist who made an unsavory comment. Panel discussions, off the cuff are useful for certain things, but to use a surprise question to a panel to engage a broader audience on such a complex controversial topic as musical genres they may not have been knowledgeable of was unwise. I did not engage this topic with the required care. There were moments where it lacked the brotherly tone that is essential for our critiques within the body of Christ. In at least these senses, it was unworthy of our Lord. Please forgive me.

I also understand that a further failure was that I did not provide adequate context for the Q&A Session which existed in the midst of over 40 messages on the subject of the worship of God. Below is my opening message at the conference which explains that context.

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An Apology

A few days ago I released a video clip from a panel discussion at our conference on The Worship of God. One of the panelists, Geoff Botkin, referred to the people driving Christian rap as “disobedient cowards.” I interpreted his statement to mean that, in every culture, Christians are often cowards in the face of various elements of their cultures that are infected with worldliness. Geoff has explained to me that he did not intend to impugn the work of sincere men, and that he would like to apologize for any confusion caused by his statement. Here is his apology:

“I need to apologize for the unintended offense and confusion of my comments on disobedient cowardice. I certainly do not believe that all of today’s Christian rappers are cowardly. My most sincere apologies go to anyone out there who was hurt by my strong language. While I do hold concerns about the use and misuse of rap, my words were not directed at any particular artist. My greater concern is for the broad cultural conformity and compromise that is not limited to reformed rap.”  Geoff Botkin

We look forward to God glorifying dialogue with our brothers in Christ on the important matters of culture and the transforming power of the gospel.

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What About Holy Hip-Hop?

UPDATE

An Apology:

A few days ago I released a video clip from a panel discussion at our conference on The Worship of God (ncfic.org/worship) One of the panelists, Geoff Botkin, referred to the people driving Christian rap as “disobedient cowards.” I interpreted his statement to mean that, in every culture, Christians are often cowards in the face of various elements of their cultures that are infected with worldliness. Geoff has explained to me that he did not intend to impugn the work of sincere men, and that he would like to apologize for any confusion caused by his statement. Here is his apology:

“I need to apologize for the unintended offense and confusion of my comments on disobedient cowardice. I certainly do not believe that all of today’s Christian rappers are cowardly. My most sincere apologies go to anyone out there who was hurt by my strong language. While I do hold concerns about the use and misuse of rap, my words were not directed at any particular artist. My greater concern is for the broad cultural conformity and compromise that is not limited to reformed rap.”  Geoff Botkin

We look forward to God glorifying dialogue with our brothers in Christ on the important matters of culture and the transforming power of the gospel.

At the recent Worship of God conference, attendees were encouraged to prepare questions for the concluding time of Q&A. One of the questions we received was: “Any thoughts on reformed rap artists? … Their musical styles would be considered offensive to some, but the doctrine within the songs is sound.” Panelists Dan Horn, Scott Aniol, Geoff Botkin, Joel Beeke, Jason Dohm, and Joe Morecraft weigh in.

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A Place to Rest Your Head

America Is the Loneliest Country in the World

One of the great blessings of being in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is that it is a family – a big family – a diverse family of extended brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers.  God is so kind to bring us into a community like that – bigger than we are and bigger than our biological families. It is designed to be a community of love where there are over 50 “one another’s” to shepherd a culture of love and genuineness.  We may live in the loneliest country in the world, but God always gives His people a better country. It begins with the Church, the body of Christ, in communities all around the world, and it culminates in a heavenly country unmatched by anything ever produced on the earth. Thankfully, those who have believed in Jesus Christ can have a country within a country. Michael Snyder has put together a number of reasons that “America is the Loneliest Country in the World.”  He asks, “Is it because we have abandoned the traditional family structure?”  I would add, that it has also abandoned Christ, and His family. Both of these families – the church and the family- when operating according to the divine design, are such wonderful hedges against loneliness.

In contrast, Snyder describes a completely different world that has emerged in America – a complete contradiction to the kind of beneficial kingdom our Lord has provided for us.

Of all the nations on the entire planet, the United States is the most lonely place to be.  We have the highest percentage of one person households on the entire globe, and the average size of our households has been steadily decreasing.  Studies have shown that the number of close friends that Americans have is falling, and we have the highest divorce rate in the world by a wide margin.  So why is this happening?  (more…)

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How to Soak the Next Generation in God’s Word

Here is a wonderful article by Jani Ortlund on what the most important parental priority is.  She says,

“Let’s become women who value and pass on God’s Word!

How do we help children revere and feast on the most influential book of all time? No book has sold more copies, in more languages—ever. No book has affected the world more deeply. How can we raise Bible soaked and saturated children, teenagers, and young adults?

How to Soak the Next Generation in the Word

  1. Cherish your own Bible. Read it, study it, quote it, meditate on it, revere it. Do the children in your life see you reading God’s Word, praying over it, sharing it? Do they see you carrying it to church? Does your Bible have a place of honor in your home? Do children sense it is your most valuable earthly treasure?
  2. Share the Bible with the next generation. Every single day of that child’s life, surround him with God’s Word (Deut. 6:6–9; 2 Tim. 1:5). Read it together after dinner, put it on the walls of your home, quote it as you pray over him, listen to it in musical forms, memorize it together.

One of our greatest delights is to see our married children feeding the Word of God to our granddarlings. Our son-in-law, John Scheidt, reads a children’s Bible* to their three pre-schoolers every night after dinner while they enjoy a small dessert: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8).

Imagine my surprised delight during a recent visit, when John paused in the middle of a Bible story and five-year-old Lizzie carried on by memory for our listening pleasure! She has heard His Word since birth, and it is hidden deep in her young soul.

The Benefits of Soaking the Next Generation in the Word

Think of the benefits this practice may bring to the children in your life:

  • You will be giving him something outside of himself to lift him from the prison of his godless culture.
  • He will know where to go when he needs hope, guidance, or comfort.
  • When life seems miserable, he may remember to immerse himself in the mercies of God.
  • He will be able to find a promise from His Heavenly Father when everything around him collapses in chaos and confusion.
  • If he remembers the Word “in the year of drought” (Jer. 17:8), his life will not be characterized by anxiety and fear.
  • Most importantly, he will be able to grow more and more in love with Jesus—the Living, Eternal Word, who is the focal point and basic message of the whole Bible (Luke 24:27, 44).
  • Your child will have the opportunity to draw near to God as he reads his Bible. All Scripture is “breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Think how close you are to someone when you can feel his breath. Near . . . very near. Face to face, in a sense.

Oh, let’s become women who value and pass on God’s Word! Let’s be more concerned with the spiritual food we are feeding our children than we are even with their physical food. May we raise a generation who can say—in the midst of everything life brings them—”Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).

How do you help your children learn and love God’s Word?”

*Note: I absolutely love this article with the exception of one point. She mentions the use of “children’s Bibles.” Just for clarification, I am not in favor of using children’s bibles with pictures and images that misrepresent the situation being depicted. Additionally, many of them contain what I believe are second commandment violations – pictures of Jesus, which summarily give a very wrong impression of our Lord and Savior. God gave us words, not pictures, and my view is that words are enough for children and adults.

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Counterfeit Worship

I’ve just released a new book of three essays on “Counterfeit Worship,’ which centers on John Knox’s famous treatise on the “Idolatry of the Mass.” In this short work, Knox explains how inventions in worship are idolatry.  Here is one of the statements he makes exposing various inventions in worship that were popular in his day,

“In the Papistical mass the congregation gets nothing except the beholding of your juking’s*, nodding, crossings, turning, uplifting, which are all nothing but an evil profaning of Christ’s Supper.  Now, juke*, cross, and nod as you wish.  They are but your own inventions.  And finally, brethren, you receive nothing, but gazed and beheld while that one ate and drink all.”

– John Knox

To order your copy of Counterfeit Worship, click here.

*Juke, v. i. [from Scottish jouk to bow.] To bend the neck; to bow or duck the head. [Written also {jook} and {jouk}.] [1913 Webster]

 

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Making Students Unlike Their Fathers

While president of Princeton, Woodrow Wilson said, “Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life,” he said. “Our problem is to make them as unlike their fathers as we can. Their fathers are specialized persons. The problem of the college faculty is to generalize the younger generation all over again.” from The New York Times in 1909.

This type of thinking is not the product of the Bible but of the world. Fathers are to have an intimate role in the discipleship of their children (Deut. 6:6-9). Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” This can apply to a discipline, a trade, or a career as well.

It is not the duty of teachers to undo the training of fathers. It is the duty of children to honor their fathers and what they have taught them. Proverbs 6:20-21 says, “My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck.”

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Warnings Against Empty Religion

Prayer is essential to the Christian life. There are those however who may cry out to God and yet worship themselves.

Hosea says, “They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds” (Hos. 7:14). Again he says, “Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him” (Hos. 11:7).

Then, in Matthew, we read, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8).

When we pray or live therefore, let us pray with our mouth and with our heart and worship the God of heaven.

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

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The Trinity Explained Visually

Spurgeon Explains the Looseness of the Age

Mark you, in proportion as the modern theology is preached the vice of this generation increases. To a great degree I attribute the looseness of the age to the laxity of the doctrine preached by its teachers. From the pulpit they have taught the people that sin is a trifle. From the pulpit these traitors to God and to his Christ have taught the people that there is no hell to be feared. A little, little hell, perhaps, there may be; but just punishment for sin is made nothing of. The precious atoning sacrifice of Christ has been derided and misrepresented by those who were pledged to preach it. They have given the people the name of the gospel, but the gospel itself has evaporated in their hands.

From hundreds of pulpits the gospel is as clean gone as the dodo from its old haunts; and still the preachers take the position and name of Christ’s ministers. Well, and what comes of it? Why, their congregations grow thinner and thinner; and so it must be. Jesus says, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men;” but if you go in your own way, with your own net, you will make nothing of it, and the Lord promises you no help in it.

The Lord’s directions make himself our leader and example. It is, “Follow me, follow me. Preach my gospel. Preach what I preached. Teach what I taught, and keep to that.” With that blessed servility which becomes one whose ambition it is to be a copyist, and never to be an original, copy Christ even in jots and tittles. Do this, and he will make you fishers of men; but if you do not do this, you shall fish in vain.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Soul Winner, (New York: Cosimo Publications, 2007) p. 227.

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