Redeeming the Time by Establishing Traditions

We think of time in a very linear and mechanical way. We break time down into very small increments, like minutes and hours. But that has not always been the case for humankind. We once thought about time as cyclical. Lunar cycles for instance. Just go check an Old Farmer’s Almanac, it suggests planting crops according to Lunar Cycles. We call certain moon phases harvest moons. That’s because men once watched the sky for “times and seasons”, as Moses would write in Genesis. Harvest was a time of celebration and thanks for the work done in Summer. Spring a time of renewal and blessing and life after a period of cold and inactivity. These were common among pagans, and when Christianity blossomed in the West, the teachings of Christ redirected their celebrations. Instead of sacrificial pleadings with false gods for capricious favor, these celebrations became times of Thanksgiving, expressions of gratitude.

But we have become a people of science. Clocks mark our days. Months fly by with no thought of the season. The holidays are ushered in by Madison Ave and big box retailers. Stress and busyness descend on the American consumer like a storm. The parties begin, then, all at once, it is a pile of paper and boxes and credit card bills. It is time for Christians to begin re-investing meaning into these celebrations again, redeeming them from consumer practice, as our forefathers did from pagan.

On Sunday mornings Solomon’s Porch has been doing a series of short talks on the reformers called “From Luther to the Pilgrims”. The point is to “redeem the time”. We are giving meaning again to the season leading up to Thanksgiving. Reminding ourselves that our forefathers once dared to give their life for the Gospel’s sake. Reminding the Church that Thanksgiving is not about eating turkey and watching football, but is instead about a group of Christians, who after suffering terrible adversity and loss, stopped to give thanks to God after their first successful harvest.

If you are a parent it behooves you to act quickly to begin to give meaning to the times and seasons your children will celebrate. Part of Christian discipleship is to point the disciple away from the world and toward Jesus and His Church. We are trying to do that by celebrating Reformation Day, which is October 31st, marking the day in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 These to the church door in place of Halloween. There are many ways one can do this for Thanksgiving as well. William Bradford’s account of the actual events is published in a volume called Plymouth Plantation. Selective readings during family worship or just after a meal a loud, is one thing you could do. Silly as it may sound, Charles Schultz made an excellent little Peanuts short about the “Mayflower Crossing” (Youtube link) and the Pilgrims first winter. There are many other sources as well. I encourage you, as followers of Christ, to take the next few weeks and plan some strategic redemption points for yourself and your family around how you will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas a like. At Solomon’s Porch we will soon be moving on from our “Luther to the Pilgrims” emphasis into celebrating the Advent of Jesus our King. Throughout December we will be teaching on the importance of the Incarnation in Christian faith and practice, and planning some extra service and meals together. I look forward to redeeming the time with our little flock, and inviting others to come and consider Christ and enter fellowship with His people.

Soli Deo Gloria

This Week @ Solomon’s Porch

Core Building: 10-10:45 am
Worship: 11:00 am
 
Truth:  This week we will be starting the final leg of the Sermon on the Mount, looking at Matthew 7:15-20 together
 
Together:  Our Lord’s Table passage will be Exodus 20:1-18 and Hebrews 12:18-29
 
Table:  Our meal will be casseroles
 
Throne:  Hymn- Great is Thy Faithfulness
               Psalm- Psalm 5:7-10
               Song- Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent, Jesus Paid It All
 
Upcoming Events
Saturday  November 19th  Welcome to America Thanksgiving Meal
Sunday  November 20th Solomon’s Porch Thanksgiving Celebration @ the Mack’s 6:00 pm
Saturday December 3rd Solomon’s Porch Constitutional Celebration
Sunday December 4th Advent Begins
 
Finally, I encourage you to declare a Day of Fasting this week for our nation. She is deeply divided. Pray for peace, and that the Gospel will have a free course in the hearts of our earthly countrymen.

Knowing God Part 1

“Father I want to obey you, but I struggle to find the power to obey”, or some variation of this prayer, has been prayed at one time or another by every single authentic follower of Christ. Some of us have been Christians for most of our lives, yet the process of spiritual transformation remians a mystery to us. I hope the series of articles that follow will help others discover the richness of the intimate Knowledge of God, as well as how Scripture teaches us to pursue it.

 

My conversion to Christianity was sudden and miraculous. I went from smoking pot and drinking all night to reading the Scriptures and praying all night. I basically became a monk for the first year. I worked, I ate, I slept, but mostly I pursued God with everything I could muster. I changed all my playmates and all my playgrounds. I forsook the world and found in the body of Christ new friends, a new family, and a new home. But, and I hate adding this but, but, I became a jerk for Jesus. I gained more doctrinal knowledge in a short period of time than most people gain in a lifetime. I loved theology. I read good theologians and godly men. I seemed to have a gift to understand it. But I became swollen in pride, because “knowledge puffs up.” My knowledge about God had outpaced my intimate knowledge of Him as person. One evening, as I was praying a very pharisaical prayer over somebody else, God pulled back the veil of my heart and gave me just a glimpse of the pride and darkness that dwelt there. I was devastated. I could not believe I was so unlike Jesus, and that there had been so little actual transformation. But that night began the real journey for me. From that night on I rarely ever (I wish I could say never) saw myself as a man who knows, but I became one that is in pursuit of the intimate knowledge of God. For He is so boundless that after an eternity to pursue Him, there will always be more to discover, for He is infinite.

 

“There is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end. ‘Shoreless ocean, who can sound Thee? Thine own eternity is round Thee, Majesty divine’”

A. W. Tozer

boundlessocean

Advent of Love

Reading for the Week of December 21, 2014
Advent Theme: Love

Sunday              December 21        Luke 1:26-38
Monday             December 22        Luke 1:39-56
Tuesday             December 23        Luke 1:57-80
Wednesday        December 24        Matthew 1:18-25
Thursday           December 25        John 1:1-18
Friday               December 26        Titus 2:11-14
Saturday           December 2          Psalm 98

Christmas Eve    Luke 2:1-20

Devotional Thought from Charles Spurgeon
John 3:16, 17
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Whence came that love? Not from anything outside of God himself. God’s love springs from himself. He loves because it is his nature to do so. “God is love.” As I have said already, nothing upon the face of the earth could have merited his love, though there was much to merit his displeasure. This stream of love flows from its own secret source in the eternal Deity, and it owes nothing to any earth-born rain or rivulet; it springs from beneath the everlasting throne, and fills itself full from the springs of the infinite. God loved because he would love. When we enquire why the Lord loved this man or that, we have to come back to our Saviour’s answer to the question, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” God has such love in his nature that he must needs let it flow forth to a world perishing by its own wilful sin; and when it flowed forth it was so deep, so wide, so strong, that even inspiration could not compute its measure, and therefore the Holy Spirit gave us that great little word SO, and left us to attempt the measurement, according as we perceive more and more of love divine.

The Magnificat sung by Mary in Luke 1:46-55
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

 

Carols for this Week

Hark the Herald Angels Sing sung by Kings College Choir in Cambridge

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq83HcBEaW4Scripture

 

The First Noel sung by Kings College Choir in Cambridge

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mItWsC8RtM] Readings for the

 

Soli Deo Gloria

The Advent of Joy

Advent-Candles“The root of joy for the Christian, is the truth of joy in the Son.”

 

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one to save;  He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” (

                            ~ Zephaniah 3:17 ~  

When we think of might we think of physical strength.  It is easy to see how the Israelites missed the coming of their Savior, they were looking for the wrong kind of might. They were looking for a ruler in the might of men to come and deliver them from Roman tyrants.  God sent them a baby, born in a barn, who slept his first night in someone else’s clothes, at the bottom of an animal food trough.  He then spent the majority of His human life in quiet obscurity as a carpenters son.  Finally, when He was revealed to His people as the Son of God and King of Israel, it was not at a grand coronation in a King’s court, but in a garden outside His own tomb, before a few women who had come to visit His grave. Listen to Paul in his letter to the Romans,

“the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord”
                            ~ Romans 1:1-4 ~

This is not how we would have done it.  But it is marvelous in our eyes.  To know that now Christ Jesus is not only seated at the Father’s right hand, but that He rejoices over us.  He is not seated on the Throne with a stern look upon His face, but He is exulting over us with loud singing.  This incredible scene of love does bring a quiet over my soul.  I get quiet so I can listen to the joy of my Savior.  The root of joy for the Christian, is the truth of joy in the Son.
Soli Deo Gloria

Scripture Readings for the Week of December 14, 2014
Advent Theme: Joy

Sunday              December 14        Luke 3:7-18
Monday             December 15        Isaiah 12:1-6
Tuesday            December 16        Isaiah 52:1-12
Wednesday      December 17        Psalm 126
Thursday          December 18       Zechariah 9:9-17
Friday               December 19        Zephaniah 3:14-20
Saturday          December 20        Philippians 4:4-9

Joy to the World by George Fox University Orchestra

O Come All Ye Faithful by Kings College Choir

 

The Advent of Peace

Advent-Candles

Devotional Thought from Ezekiel 34:11-31
Peace can be an illusive thing in this life. Conflict seems to be inscribed on our DNA. In fact, the Bible says that it is.     What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?(James 4:1)” Our sin nature, what the Apostle Paul calls, “the flesh” causes conflict, quarrels, and war. It is important for us to realize however, that our primary war is not with other men. Our primary war, the one raging in all human hearts, is against God. The Apostle Paul, again, describes the human condition

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

                            ~ Romans 1:28-32 ~

Yet God, after all our actions to the contrary, says in Ezekiel 34:25 that He is going to establish with us a “covenant of peace”. God ended the conflict. God resolved His justice. God initiated an end to the war. He did not send a general to conquer and destroy us, but he sent his only begotten son to save us. God became man, the incarnation, was the end of the war. Listen closely to the angels in Luke 2, and celebrate that there is now a “covenant of peace” between God and man, made by the God-man, Immanuel, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
                                    Luke 2:8-14  

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Readings for the Week of December 7th

Sunday         December 7        Isaiah 2:1-5
Monday        December 8        Isaiah 11:1-9
Tuesday        December 9        Isaiah 54:11-17
Wednesday   December 10       Ezekiel 34:11-31
Thursday      December 11       Zechariah 8:9-17
Friday           December 12       Psalm 85
Saturday       December 13       1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

 

Carols for this week

O Little Town of Bethlehem performed by the St Louis Boys Choir

Silent Night performed by the American Boys Choir

 

 

 

The Advent of Hope

Advent-CandlesA Devotional Thought based on Isaiah 40:1-11

We are fragile beings. Jesus will say our life is like a vapor or a mist, here right now and then gone in a flash, blown away by nothing more than a gentle breeze. To a child, 70 years seems a long time. To a 70 year old person, it was just yesterday that they were a child. Life is fragile, and life is short. It is easy to lose hope and to begin to wonder, “How can I stand before God?”.  Isaiah 40 gives us a word picture to describe the especially fragile condition of our soul before God’s Holy Word, when he says,

“A voice says, Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”    
                                ~ Isaiah 40:6-8 ~

But then the prophet gets a vision of the GOOD NEWS! He is told to get up on the top of Mount of Zion (the Temple Mount) and shout and tell everyone that the Lord is coming with power and an outstretched arm. That He is bringing with Him a reward (eternal life) for His people. The Lord is coming to them, and they should be on the look out for Him. But instead of looking for a mighty military general to throw off the empires of the world, they are told to look for a shepherd. Because that’s what we need, a Great Shepherd for our souls. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:11). We have a Shepherd who has overcome sin and death, and who WILL reward His people with eternal life. A shepherd that knows their fragile human condition, because He would come and bear it. That’s the Incarnation. That’s not a maybe hope, that is a sure hope.

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
            
                                ~ Matthew 12:18-21~

Soli Deo Gloria

Devotion from Psalm 149

cross mosaicPsalm 149:1-5

[1] Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! [2] Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! [3] Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! [4] For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. [5] Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.

 

One of the reasons why I choose a solitary quiet place for prayer is, when I sing, I really don’t want any one to hear me but the Lord. It’s awful. I truly make a joyful noise, but it’s more noise than anything. I love to sing however. I especially love to sing the older hymns. As far as I’m concerned there is no better song than Nearer My God to Thee. If you don’t know it, or have never heard it, then your church is robbing you of not just of a good song, but they are disinheriting you of the rich Christian tradition that is rightfully yours . Uh, oh, I said the T word didn’t I. Tradition is not a bad word at all. Sure it can lead to some bad things. But don’t blame tradition for that, it is ungodly men in the present that disturb the church with either an unhealthy love for or hatred of what they perceive as tradition. Interesting that I would bring up tradition when the Psalm plainly says, “Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song”. It does not mean to write a new song, it means sing to God with a renewed heart. The song may be old, or new, the age of the song does not matter. It is the state of the singer that is being addressed here. The Psalmist draws our attention to why we should be singing in verse 4, “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Consider that phrase. Let it roll around in your mind for a minute. THE LORD TAKES PLEASURE IN HIS PEOPLE! God takes pleasure in you. When He thinks you, He sings over you. When you sing you are harmonizing not just with Angels in the worship of God, but there is a song of love that is being sung over you as well. So, when you go to the Lord, go with joy. When nobody is looking, dance. If you play an instrument, play a song and sing to the Lord. Let the first thought you have in the morning be, “the LORD takes pleasure in his people”. Let your last thought at night be, “he adorns the humble with salvation.”

Devotions from Psalm 1

Psalm 1
[1] Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; [2] but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. [3] He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. [4] The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. [5] Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; [6] for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

Who is the man that is blessed? The answer to that question is not the one typically given by the American Christian. The answer is not “the guy with the most stuff”, or “the guy with the most friends”. The answer is, “The man who doesn’t listen to, or surround himself with, or receive honor from the men of the world.” He has no desire for the woold pathrld’s vanity fair. He is in the world, but he is not of it. The blessed man desires above all to hear from the Lord, to be surrounded by the presence of the Lord, to be honored by the Lord. So he grows in patience and stability. He is willing to wait. He puts down deep roots next to the stream that flows from the Throne of God. He fills his mind with God’s Word. Patience has its perfect work in his life. The blessed man grows into a substantial person, one not blown about by every wind of doctrine. He bears fruit in season. When he is a young father with small children, he blossoms into a man concerned with their early needs. When his children are grown or nearly so, he becomes a mentor to young men, those without his wisdom, either those who themselves are now young fathers, or those that are young men who never had the benefit of a father. When he gets a little snow on the roof (or the roof falls out), his counsel matures even further as the many years of interaction with the holy Word and the Holy Spirit substantially change him. His words are fewer, but they are full. While the men of the world grow lighter, and more afraid of the future as their bodies weaken and their strength fades. The father in the faith grows in glory, in eternal weight, as he reflects the glory of His heavenly Father. He knows God and is known by God. He is a man with unexplainable peace. He is sure of his future with the Lord. He is occasionally afflicted with doubt, we all are from time to time. But those periods of spiritual disturbance grow shorter and shorter. He is a blessed man, and the Lord’s blessing does not end in this life. It is just a foretaste of the joy to come.

Application

1.    Seek the honor that comes from the Father alone. Abandon all attempts to impress or to find validation from the men on the world.

2.    Put down deep roots into the waters of God. Spend daily time with Him in His Word. Let your mind be filled with the Truth of God.

3.    Don’t look for instant gratification. You will bear fruit in season. Let patience have its perfect work in you. Much of the spiritual life happens by increments. You are a tree, not a weed.

4.    Surround yourself with other men who desire to be “blessed” men as well

Solomon’s Porch Devotional for the Week

Preparing Our Hearts cross mosaic

Psalm 51:3-12
[3] For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.  [5] Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.  [6] Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.  [7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  [8] Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  [9] Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.  [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  [11] Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  [12] Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

1. Perhaps there is some sin that lies heavy upon your heart.  Take a moment and consider the fitness of your soul

2. Ask the Lord to teach you the deeper wisdom of His way and to grant you a willing spirit,  not just to walk in His way but to forsake your own completely

3. Perhaps you feel that your heart needs to be created anew, that your spirit has become crooked, and you are lacking in peace and joy.  Confess your sins then AND RECEIVE the promise of forgiveness in Christ.  Sometimes we only give our sins to the Lord but refuse to or forget to receive forgiveness.  Hear the words of Jesus spoken to the paralyzed man, “Son (or daughter), your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

Songs for the Week open hymnal

I am so thankful that Ms. Christy Hunt has agreed to begin to lead our singing each week.  Her first week leading us was wonderful, and I look forward to all of us learning some new and old songs together.

Holy Holy Holy by the Kings College Choir

God Be Merciful To Me by Indelible Grace

Brokenness Aside by All Sons and Daughters

Abide With Me by Indelible Grace

 

Scripture Readings open bible

Acts 2:14a; 22-32

Psalm 16

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

 

Sermon Synopsis

Last night we continued our Sermon Series through “The Lord’s Prayer”, focusing for the second week in a row on “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.  Last week we spent some time looking at the conscience, an under taught on topic in the Church.  We looked at the role of the conscience especially in regards to it needing to be purged from “dead works to serve the Living God”.  We cannot approach God in our own righteousness, whatever we dream that may be.  Whether ceremony, service, or charity, none of these can erase the blot of sin upon our soul.  “Nothing in our hands may we bring, only to the cross may we cling.”  Once purged from these “dead works” by the saving work of Christ however, we stand before the Lord in a New Covenant, never needing cleansing again.pulpit

But then, we find that there is still corruption in us, and that we need to further seek the forgiveness and mercy of God.  It is important for us that all our dealings are built upon the grace of God.  Therefore Jesus has us begin praying not, “Lord forgive me”, but rather, “Our Father”.  It is four petitions into The Lord’s Prayer before we are told to seek forgiveness from God.  John 13:1-11 was the text we ended with last night, and in it we find Jesus telling Peter that he only needed his feet cleansed not his whole body.  This is analogous to us.  Christ has made us clean.  It is only our feet that need cleansing, and this is the type of cleansing that we seek from God now that in Christ we may call Him, “Our Father in Heaven”.

 

Children’s Catechism Questions catechism

86.    What does the fourth commandment teach us?
A.    To keep the Sabbath holy

87.    What day of the week is the Christian Sabbath?
A.    The first day of the week, called the Lord’s Day.

88.    Why is it called the Lord’s Day?
A.    Because on that day Christ rose from the dead.

89.    How should the Sabbath be spent?
A.    In prayer and praise, in hearing and reading God’s Word, and in doing good to our fellow  men.

90.    What is the Fifth Commandment?
A.    The Fifth Commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days maybe long in the land that the Lord thy God has given thee

upcoming events

05.03.14 Hickory Hollow Farmers Market from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm located @ 5434 Bell Forge Ln East (next to the Antioch Post Office)

05.04.14 Our inaugural weekly meal is coming up next week.  I am excited about this addition to our worship gathering.  This weeks meal theme is italian food.  If you need more info about what to bring email Melissa Mundy at junglegirl94@juno.com.

05.24.14 We are in the process of planning a cookout and game night as well so stay tuned

Mission

Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Downtown