02 January, 2015
We had a fun New Years. Mike had to work so it was just us. We had a festive supper on the china of sweet potato fries, deviled eggs, & cranberry sauce. Showers & baths followed until 8 when I lay Leora down & then the 8 o'clock goody bag was opened. I had brown lunch bags w/ every hour written on them to keep them awake. The 8'oclock bag was full of muddy buddies, the only time of the year we make/ eat them. I figured it best to get the sugar out of the way. I read a chapter out of our 2 read alouds, Winnie the Pooh & Farmer Boy, while they ate those. We then set up a campsite/ nest under the dining room table for them to sleep in. They're getting so big I don't know how long this tradition can continue, I had to put both leaves in the table. That took up the whole hour & the 9'oclock bag was opened. Miranda was feeling impressed w/ herself by this point for staying up. Mike had raided his old GI Joe stash so they each got a vintage Joe & finished watching the last 2 episodes of season 2 as Netflix was removing it on the first. They had a Joe battle & a cobra squadron lined up to watch themselves on the big screen. The 10'oclock bag was an activity to make a hat. I had cut up a malt o meal box into different crown shapes & they covered them w/ foil & glued some jewels on that I had swept up & saved. There was a strip of fabric in each bag to tie the crowns on. Victor had been wanting to watch Men in Black for New Years, & after our fussy VCR/tv decided to work he started that while the Girls watched Gruffalos Child. Theirs was only 1/2 an hour long so they finished his movie w/ him. The 11'oclock bag had a glow stick & a punch balloon. My sister & I always had fun w/ these & called them boom boom balloons when we were little.They had a lot of fun w/ those. Charlotte' glow stick split when I cracked it for her & glowing greeness sprayed everywhere. I was very tired by this point & they were all pretty impressed w/ themselves.It made the aliens more fun. MIB ended right on time. We had 5 min. to brush teeth & open the midnight bag. I got some pretty Irish coffee cups at the Dollar General on clearance for .75 & filled them w/ glitter confetti. We watched this countdown: & threw the confetti up in the air. Rapturous delight ensued as glittery messes are generally never allowed. We went to bed straightaway & had a marathon vacuuming session before Mike got home at 7:30. No one was hungry after eating Muddy Buddies all night so we just had toast & hot chocolate in our new Irish mugs for breakfast.
30 December, 2014
26 December, 2014
Church history has shown that God's covenant people have often been drawn away from the simplicity of pure gospel worship into all manner of manmade innovations. Because of man's fallen nature and proneness to sin, it was inevitable that human autonomy in worship would pervert and then force out true worship. "And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God" (Num. 15:39-40). Many argue that God's regulative principle is too strict. They argue that it confines the human spirit and stifles human creativity. They teach that it is an overreaction to the abuses of Roman Catholicism. But let us look at the logical implications of allowing anything into God's worship, as long as it is not forbidden in the Word of God. The first thing is that the simplicity and transcultural nature of pure Gospel worship are replaced by a virtually infinite variety of manmade innovations. Since God no longer draws the line for worship content and ceremony, man will draw and redraw the line as he pleases. A church that does not obey God's regulative principle finds it impossible to stop new-fangled ideas and innovations in worship. The Presbyterian and Reformed denominations which abandoned the Regulative Principle in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century prove this point. The pattern of perversion goes something like this: First, man-made hymns (not commanded) are sung along with God's inspired Psalms (commanded); then, within a generation or two, the Psalms are completely replaced by hymns and grossly paraphrased Psalms. The old fashioned hymns, after a while, are replaced by "charismatic" campfire songs. Initially, the Reformed churches would sing the Psalms without musical accompaniment, because musical instruments were used only in association with God's temple and therefore ceased as one of the aspects of the ceremonial law. Many Reformed churches abandoned a capella Psalm singing and brought in organs. Then, within a generation or two, churches were using folk guitars, orchestras and even rock groups. The innovations just described are only the tip of the iceberg. You can find the following in so-called Presbyterian and Reformed churches: celebration of holy days (Christmas, Easter, etc.), choirs, intricate liturgies, liturgical dance, rock groups, drama, rock videos, the church calendar, pictures of Christ, crosses, etc. If you give sinful man the autonomy of choosing how he will worship, the historical pattern is clear. Man will choose man-centered worship. Sinful man is drawn to entertainment (thus the popularity of the clap-your-hands, stamp-your-feet "charismatic" style worship, rock groups, drama, choirs, music soloists, pop and country singers, etc.), and sinful man is drawn to ritual and pomp (cathedrals, incense, candles, bells, holy days, popish vestments, liturgy, etc.). When will man-made innovations stop? They won't until the church obeys God's regulative principle of worship. God has given a command which man is not to ignore. "[T]he acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of
men. . .or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture." 12False worship originates in the mind of man, according to his imagination. True worship originates in the mind of God and is revealed in the Bible. "But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward" (Jer. 7:23-24). Calvin, in his commentary on Jeremiah, uses this verse to condemn all the perverse innovations of papal worship: "Moreover, if the origin of the whole Papal worship be considered, it will appear, that those who first devised so many strange superstitions, were only impelled by audacity and presumption, in order that they might trample underfoot the word of God. Hence it is, that all things are become corrupt; for they brought in all the strange figments of their own brains. And we see that the Papists at this day are so perversely fixed in their own errors, that they prefer themselves and their own trumperies to God. And the same is the case also with all heretics. What then is to be done? Obedience, as I have said, is to be held as the basis of all true religion. If, then, on the other hand, we wish to render our worship approved by God, let us learn to cast aside whatever is our own, so that his authority may prevail over all our reasons" (Emphasis added).13
24 December, 2014
The idea that only what God commands in His word is permitted in worship is taught throughout the Bible. There is king Saul who offered sacrifice before the Lord without divine authorization. God commanded the priests, not kings, to offer burnt offerings. The kingship was taken from Saul and his family forever (1 Sam. 13:8-14). Consider king Jeroboam who ordained his own feast day, his own holy places and his own offerings "in the month which he had devised of his own heart" (1 Ki. 12:32-33). King Jeroboam was a pragmatist. He did not see any need to follow the express commands of God in worship. And his unauthorized, autonomous worship, and the idolatry associated with it, is presented in the book of Kings as the very paradigm of false worship. If it is wicked for Jeroboam, a king, to make up his own feast day (holy day), then certainly it is wicked for popes, bishops and the people to set up Christmas, Good Friday, and so on. Paul, in his epistle to the Colossians, concurs with the Old Testament's teaching on worship. Paul condemns those who seek to impose Judaical food laws and holy days upon the church (Col. 2:16). Because the ceremonials laws were "shadows" that pointed to the "substance"--Jesus Christ--they are done away with. They are no longer authorized and therefore are forbidden. Paul's warning regarding human philosophy is the backdrop of his condemnation of false worship and man-made laws (legalism): "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8). Paul condemns manmade doctrines and commandments: "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh" (Col. 2:20-23). Paul says that adding to God's Word is a mere vain display of "will worship and humility." It is "will-worship" religion instead of worship-according-to-God's-will religion. Manmade laws take away the liberty we have in Christ. God's moral law is perfect; it does not need additions. Manmade rules and regulations are "not in any honour" to the believer. God has given His church a Psalm book and a holy day (the Lord's day). Can man improve upon the worship and service that God has instituted? Of course not. It is the height of arrogance and stupidity to think that sinful men can improve upon God's ordinances. "It is provoking God, because it reflects much upon His honor, as if He were not wise enough to appoint the manner of His own worship. He hates all strange fire to be offered in His temple (Lev. 10:11). A ceremony may in time lead to a crucifix. Those who contend for the cross in baptism, why not have the oil, salt and cream as
22 December, 2014
"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (Matt. 15:1-3). The Pharisees were the respected religious leaders of the Jewish people. They believed that they had the liberty to add to the commandments of God. The law of God did contain various ceremonial washings to signify the unclean becoming clean. The Pharisees simply added other washings to emphasize and "perfect" the law of Moses. There is no express commandment forbidding these ceremonial additions, except the regulative principle (e.g., Deut. 4:2; 12:31). These additions have no warrant from the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the champion of the regulative principle. He strongly rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for adding to God's law. What happens when sinful men add rules and regulations to God's law? Eventually man-made tradition replaces or sets aside God's law. "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition" (Matt. 15:6). The ancient Christian church added its own rules and ceremonies to the worship of God and degenerated into the pagan and idolatrous Roman Catholic Church. If we do not draw the line regarding worship where God draws the line, then, as history proves, the church will eventually degenerate into little better than a bizarre pagan cult. Christ's rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees applies today to practically every (so called) branch of the Christian church. "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8-9).
19 December, 2014
"And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart" (Jer. 7:31; see also, Jer. 19:5). The Lord condemns the children of Judah's idolatry and pagan worship with the statement, "which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart." Idolatry, murder and child sacrifice are explicitly condemned in the law and the prophets. Yet, Jeremiah cuts to the essence of idolatrous worship. Judah was worshipping in a manner that did not originate from God's heart. Judah's worship was not founded upon God's command. Rather than worshipping God according to His command, they "walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward" (Jer. 7:24). If the people of Judah had consulted the Word of God and obeyed it, they would have been spared God's fury. "We have to do with a God who is very jealous; who will be worshipped as He wills, or not at all. Nor can we complain. If God be such a Being as we are taught in the Holy Scripture, it must be His inalienable right to determine and prescribe how He will be
17 December, 2014
"And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the
ark. . . .And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God" (2 Sam. 6:3-7). David and the men involved in moving the ark were, without question, sincere in their desire to please God by moving the ark to Jerusalem. Yet, the result of this sincere effort was the judgment of God. Uzzah put out his hand to protect the ark from falling, because he loved God and cared about God's ark. Yet, despite all the sincerity and good intentions, God's anger was aroused, and He killed Uzzah. Why? Because the whole affair was highly offensive to God. Uzzah's touching of the ark was the capstone of the day's offenses. Those who object to the regulative principle make much of the fact that Uzzah was killed for something clearly forbidden in God's law (i.e., touching the ark). Yes, it is true that Uzzah died violating an explicit prohibition of the law (Num. 4:15). But, king David's analysis of what went wrong that day includes everyone involved, not just Uzzah. "For because ye [the Levites] did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order. So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves [i.e., poles] thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the Lord" (1 Chron. 15:13-15). When God gives a command that the Levites are to carry the ark with poles (Num. 4:6,15), it is not necessary for God to forbid men of Judah from using an ox cart. King David and his men should have consulted the law of Moses and obeyed it. Instead, they acted pragmatically. They imitated the Philistines, who used a new cart when they sent the ark back to Bethshemesh. When it comes to the worship of God, we are not permitted to improvise, even if our intentions are good. Sincerity is important, but sincerity must be in accord with divine revelation. Even in religious matters that may seem small or trivial to us, God commands that we act in accordance with His revealed will and not innovate according to our will. "The great lesson for all time is to beware of following our own devices in the worship of God when we have clear instructions in His word how we are to worship Him." 9