Sorry that I missed you all last week, with the break, but happy to be back now.

Fixer Upper Kerfuffle – I’m sorry, the hypocrisy of the cultural elites on this point would be funny if it were not so dangerous, hence why I’ve linked the Babylon Bee article. Sometimes, you really don’t have to exaggerate the situation much to come up satire….

For a more substantive discussion of the actual issues at stake, The Gospel Coalition has a good article on the topic. I confess, I don’t know how much there is to say. The cultural powers-that-be are attempting to exert their control over the public sphere, and damnation be upon anyone who dares to both be visible in culture yet dissent from the moral revolution.

Why Churches Grow

“When we asked clergy why they thought churches grew or declined, those in the shrinking churches replied decline was because of socio-economic factors, the influence of secular society. Clergy in expanding churches said growth was because of what they and their members did.” And what they preached, adds Haskell: “Ideas have consequences.”

You might have seen other studies along these lines lately, but they seem to be multiplying. The thrust, in virtually all of them, is that churches which maintain softer, more liberal doctrinal distinctives are shrinking, while doctrinally orthodox, historically Christian churches are growing. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that, if we preach the truth of scripture, the church would grow, but so much of the cultural narrative in which we find ourselves drowning suggests that we are seeing an inevitable movement away from Christianity as a society. This is partially, but not entirely true.

I believe that these studies actually suggest something else. Rather than society turning away from Christianity, society is turning away from the half-way compromise which the liberal church has made with culture. While true Christianity certainly requires that its adherents pay a price in modern society, the true church is not dying. This being said, the Lord is breaking off many of the dead branches, which is a dramatic and often destructive process when we so frequently leaned on those branches in the past.

Don’t Cancel Church on Christmas

Will your church’s ministry crumble without church one Sunday? I doubt it. But might it say something good and healthy about your convictions and priorities if you gather for corporate worship on December 25 just like you do every other Sunday?

My description here makes my stance pretty clear, so I’m not going to say too much about it, but I do think that it sends a destructive message when we cancel Sunday worship simply because it makes certain family traditions more difficult. I cannot think of anything more appropriate to do on Christmas morning than to attend the regular, ordinary Sabbath worship of the church, and even if you disagree with that sentiment, I challenge you to provide even half a reason which can biblically justify neglecting the proper coming together of God’s people on the Sabbath because we’re celebrating the birth of Christ.

Mockery and Witness

And the mocking has begun. My Facebook is filled with comments about snowflakes, hypocrites and lefties who supposedly are so evil and so despicable that they need to be ridiculed for their tears. The problem is that these snowflakes we’re mocking are my mission field.

Seriously, think about the implications of your speech. Christ absolutely denounced and condemned sinners of all stripes throughout his earthly ministry, but much of what I see said by otherwise godly men and women on Facebook these days is more appropriate to junior highers who just won a fight than Christians who are called to love their enemies. I fight the same temptation, but I would encourage you to engage with your enemies rather than mock and jeer. Engaging with others, even when you strenuously disagree, proves that you care about them; mocking them simply establishes you view them as entirely unworthy of respect and consideration. Has anyone ever been converted by mockery? Even the idea seems absurd; mockery is designed to crush, not reconcile.

Not Singing

I think that this is an entirely too charitable analysis of why many people don’t sing in our congregations. Certainly, this is true of many, but in my experience, many do not sing simply because they are too proud. The exhortation here suggests that music and our participation in it is a great aid in stirring up our hearts toward God.  Of all the parts of the service, this is the time when we, as an entire body of individuals, speak our praises to God, with joined voice and upturned hearts. Is that really worth forsaking because you don’t like your voice, or you feel foolish when you sing, or you simply don’t care? Congregational singing is more, and better than that. It is absolutely worth than every ounce of prideful self-worth you could ever possess.

Jason Waeber

Jason Waeber is an elder at Grace Bible Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH, where he worships with his wife and three children. He is also a seminary student, under care with the Great Lakes Presbytery. As GBPC is looking forward to planting a church with him in the next few years, he felt called to develop the online presence of the denomination, both for outreach and the doctrinal maturity of the denomination. The Manna and the Stone is his attempt to pursue this. Currently, Jason is serving as the general editor for the site.

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