The Joy of Being Reformed (1): The Belgic Confession of Faith

Are you Reformed? Am I? How would we go about answering that question? And if you were looking for a church home, and you visited a church that claimed to be Reformed, what might you expect them to teach and practice? Before we could say, “I’m Reformed” or “I’m not Reformed” or “I go to a Reformed church,” we’d need to know what it means to be historically Reformed. We’d need an honest and historically accurate definition of Reformed, right? And this isn’t very easy to...

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Strengthened by the Supper (7): The Lord’s Supper Strengthens You to Truly Love  

Let’s say it’s a beautiful day outside and you’re taking a stroll in the park. You study your shadow, and you notice just how much it looks like you. It’s an image of you. It’s connected to you. You start to run, and it follows you. It does what you do. Your shadow is affixed to you. Your shadow cannot be detached from you . . . unless you’re Peter Pan. Keith Mathison uses this helpful illustration in his little book titled The Lord’s Supper to explain the spiritual presence of...

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I Belong (14): The Fruit of the Gospel in Your Life

We’ve been working our way through Article 29 of the Belgic Confession which gives much encouragement about local churches and our membership in them. Article 29 gives the three marks of the true church—the pure preaching of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and church discipline—and the says: In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be...

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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 (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 (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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