I Belong (12): True & Good Churches Give Us the Sacraments because We Need Them

Months ago, I got reclaimed white oak wood from Creekside Lumber in the small town of Ephrata, PA. I’ve been making a three-foot by 12-foot tabletop, and it’s turning out beautifully. To fill in the knots, deep grooves, and holes, I used a two-part epoxy resin. In order for the epoxy to be effective, to get hard and clear within the open spaces, you need both the base resin and the curing agent. You mix the two substances together and you get a hard and clear epoxy filler. If you simply...

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I Belong (11): Where Have All the Preachers Gone?

In March of 1997 during my senior year of high school, Paula Cole released her song “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” which became her only top-ten hit. It’s a sad song of a failed relationship and an unfulfilled dream of western-style romance. The song repeats the fretful question, “Where have all the cowboys gone?” If the church in the US was to write a sad song about lost love today, perhaps it would be titled “Where have all the preachers gone?” Much preaching in the US is...

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I Belong (10): We’re Not Talking Hypocrites in Church, We’re Talking True vs. False Church

What do Ferdinand Demara, the church, and Belgic Confession Article 29 have in common? I’ll try to explain. Have you heard the name, Ferdinand Demara? He was perhaps the greatest imposter ever. He dropped out of high school, ran away, and became a monk. He went AWOL from the Army and Navy. As an imposter, he was a college instructor, prison warden, law student, and more. This part is really amazing. Demara stole a doctor’s credentials and posed as a Royal Canadian Navy surgeon. On one...

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I Belong (9): True Churches Are Shaped by Scripture Not Trends

It’s been a while since I released a regular episode. I’ve struggled to devote the time. I don’t want the podcast to distract from my calling as a pastor. The show contributes a bit to our congregational life at Jerusalem Church, however, the podcast can be distracting for me, and I’d rather be a faithful shepherd to my congregation than a successful podcaster. Pray that I would repent of any lust for approval or renown and be strengthened by the Spirit to give Jerusalem Church my...

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I Belong (8): The Necessity & Blessing of Local Church Membership (Part 3)

How about we quickly pick up where we left off last time. Last week, we unpacked the first part of Article 28 of the Belgic Confession with points 1-10. Today we’ll continue with points 11-20. And as a reminder, these points help clarify for us what true faith and unbelief look like practically in everyday life. These points help us know what to repent from and how to obey Christ by faith. We are inclined to withdraw from the church, so we need God’s grace to help us repent, believe, and...

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I Belong (7): The Necessity & Blessing of Local Church Membership (Part 2)

Your church is God’s gracious gift to you. It’s flawed, but hopefully, it bears the marks of a true church, and you’re grateful for it (BC Article 29). Why don’t you thank the Lord for your church right now?   Last time I read Article 28 of the Belgic Confession. You can find the Belgic Confession at threeforms.org. Article 28 explains the necessity and blessing of belonging to a local church. I’d like to unpack the article in an affirmations and denials type of format. I’ll...

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I Belong (6): The Necessity & Blessing of Local Church Membership (Part 1)

Perhaps unlike any time in history, many professing Christians today are entirely comfortable attending a local church perpetually without ever intending to belong to that body of believers. To be clear, I’m not talking about that period of time when people look for a law and gospel church, a period of time that should be as short as is prudent and should conclude with membership. I’m talking about perpetual dating without the intent to marry. I’m talking about people who attend a church...

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I Belong (5): Comfort in the Visible Church

Church. Think about that word. Church. What is it? What does it mean? Does it refer to a building where people meet to worship God? Does it signify the public worship of God? Does it mean the one organized and global body of believers prior to the Reformation? Does it represent the elders or leadership of a particular body of believers? Is it a verb describing the process of teaching and discipling unbelievers? I think it’s safe to say the word church means different things in different...

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I Belong (4): The Beauty of the Church’s Ethnic Diversity

I absolutely love ethnic food. I love Ethiopian, Mexican, Thai, Trinidadian, Chinese, Greek, Italian; oh my, there are so many excellent spices and tastes from around the world and so little time . . . and money. American food tends to be bland, but thankfully, as the melting pot of the world, many countries are represented in the US which makes choosing a restaurant much more interesting.   What if food all tasted the same? Imagine everything tasting like white rice. I adore white...

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I Belong (3): Belonging to One Another

Think about your body – bones and muscles, brain and spinal cord, heart and arteries, white blood cells and lymph nodes, and all the rest. Your body was fearfully and wonderfully made, and each part contributes to your well-being (Ps. 139:14). Think about your right big toe. Not the most glamorous part of your body, but it’s great. Your big toe bears much weight and helps maintain your balance. Walking, gymnastics, and skateboarding are thrilling in part because of big toes...

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