Several people in our church family are different stages of fighting cancer. One friend had his kidney removed this week. Through it all, I've been encouraged and rebuked - rebuked because of my lack of faith in our God who cares so deeply for His children. Encouraged, not so much by the faith of these dear saints (although there's much for me to learn there as well), but by the grace of God that shines so clearly through His own in times of distress.
This week in Proverbs, I'm preaching on the beginning of chapter 30, which states that "every word of God proves true." Because He knows the weakness of our faith, God keeps reminding us of His power and goodness and faithfulness. This is both to my shame and joy; shame that I need these lessons so often. Joy, for these are the sweetest lessons to learn.
Church planting: our location committee has met a couple times already, investigating and evaluating possible worship locations. We're narrowing it down, but there's some work left to do. There's also some waiting left to do; please pray that God would open the right doors and close the wrong ones.
Our synod's coming up next week in Beaver Falls, PA. Because of our denomination's past flirtations with teetotaling and legalism in that area, and because the issue of wine in communion may come to the floor of synod again this year, I was fascinated to hear about the Southern Baptist Convention's new resolution regarding alcohol (summary: they don't like and you shouldn't either).
This isn't about our opinions or habits regarding the use of alcohol; this is about legalism supported through misreading of Scripture.Justin Taylor commented on his blog (the whole post is very good):
I'm not sure how wise it is to pass resolutions that functionally condemn the actions of Jesus (John 2; Luke 7:33-34; ) and Paul (1 Tim. 5:23). I'm also not sure it's very wise to prohibit that which God has given as a gift (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:15).
How can such a resolution be supported? By picking and plucking verses from Scripture without considering the whole. There are dire warnings in Scripture against drunkenness. But to present those apart from the rest of the Bible's teaching on alcohol (see the verses Taylor quoted) is to oppress God's people with His own Word. This is why our method of studying Scripture is as important as our belief in Scripture. For this we can't do better than to listen to our confession:
The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. (Westminster Confession, 1.9)
This reminds me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with another church planter. He was speaking of his method of preaching and commented that he "only tells the people what the verse says, without bringing in other parts of Scripture all the time." Perhaps to some this sounds noble, but it is a sure path to oppressing God's people with His own Word. This method of preaching effectively denies the unity of Scripture and the rule that Scripture is its own best interpreter. Couple this with preachers who don't preach systematically through the Bible, and you've got a wizard behind the curtain, pulling the strings to make the Bible says whatever he wants it to.
After gently chastising those of you who hadn't sought out the Derek Trucks Band, a fairly random phone call resulted in a friend's invitation to see the Allman Brothers Tuesday night; the opening act was none other than DTB themselves (Derek is the relatively new guitarist for the Allman Brothers, as well as Eric Clapton's band's new guitarist). My (new best) friend upgraded us to six rows back in the middle. Derek Trucks was the highlight of the night; it was the best guitar I've ever seen live. Even among the seasoned the Allman Brothers, his playing just made everybody else look like they were still taking lessons.
If you'd like to hear some of it, here's a bunch of DTB concerts you can download, all legal and approved by the FDA. So far I've listened to the concerts from the Wanee Festival and the House of Blues. That site itself is pretty cool, too; lots of concerts and other things archived by people who like doing that kind of thing.
Tomorrow is the last day for our garage sale. It sounds like some of the men will be manning the tables whilst the women throw a baby shower. Come on by, we'll give you a good deal.