Bringing God Down

Today is Good Friday, which is the day where we celebrate the fact that Jesus died for his people. To some, this notion that Jesus needed to die for someone else’s sins may seem radically absurd.

But John Stott wrote in The Cross of Christ that the cross reveals two things. First, the absolutely blinding perfection of God. And second, the deep sinfulness of human beings.

He writes,

If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it. When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners,’ then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.

The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.

Communities of Grace vs. Communities of Performance

Tim Chester posted about different types of church communities and how the ethos of the group affects individuals.

Communities of Performance

  • People talk about grace, but communicate legalism
  • Unbelievers can’t imagine themselves as Christians
  • Drive away broken people
  • The world is seen as threatening and ‘other’
  • Conversion is superficial—people are called to respectable behavior
  • People are secretly hurting
  • People see faith and repentance as actions that took place at conversion
  • The gospel is for unbelievers

Communities of Grace

  • People can see grace in action
  • Unbelievers feel like they can belong
  • Attract broken people
  • People are loved as fellow sinners in need of grace
  • Conversion is radical—people are called to transformed affections
  • People are open about their problems
  • People see faith and repentance as daily activities
  • The gospel is for both unbelievers and believers

Why People Don’t Sing in Church

Jorge Sedaca, who is on staff at the North American Mission Board in church planting, posted an article recently about visiting churches and experiencing some thoughts on why people don’t sing in church. I’ve summarized his thoughts below, but the whole article is worth a read for those of you who are interested in engaging a congregation in corporate worship. It is interesting to note that he likes many of the songs that I can’t stand, but hey, to each his own.

Here’s his observations of why people don’t sing in church:

1. The congregation is unfamiliar with the songs being used.

2. The use of too many new songs week after week.

3. The songs selected are not suitable for congregational singing.

4. The overall quality of the songs is very poor.

Hey worship leaders, your congregations want to sing. If you ever find yourself looking out at a group of people while leading worship and find yourself thinking, “man, it’s dead out there. They don’t get it,” Maybe you don’t get it and need to tweak how you’re leading them.

When College Costs More than a House

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. He knows a couple who is about to get married and who has a debt burden from college that exceeds $100,000 between the two of them.

That’s a bad place to start a marriage.

Are these Ivy League graduates or med school students? No. They’re graduating from Cedarville with degrees in education and English. To put it in perspective, my first home in Louisville cost my wife and I less than $100,000 and we mortgaged that amount for 30 years. Our monthly payment was around $850 per month. This makes perfect sense when you’re purchasing an asset that appreciates in value  over time, like a home. But that is a crazy amount to pay for degrees in education and English from a small Bible college.

With this kind of sticker price, is this worth it? Most people go to college because it’s what you do in order to secure a decent job and better lifestyle in the future. College is supposed to do two things. First, it is supposed to educate and train you to contribute to society in a particular field (prepare you for a vocation) and second to indirectly recommend you to potential employers by awarding you a degree.

If employment does not await the graduate with sufficient income to offset the debt burden, then the college education becomes an obscenely expensive venture that will not propel a person’s career.

The Bible says that “the rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov 22:7). College is supposed to lead to a good career. A good career is supposed to produce freedom and financial independence. This freedom can then, in turn, be used to serve God and the financial affluence given to advance Kingdom causes.

But when colleges are charging $100,000 for degrees that lead to careers that pay in the $30,000 price range, the student has enslaved himself to a life of financial slavery.