Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“What Is Your Church All About?”
One of the most consistent remnantal evangelical leaders in the PCUSA, Jerry Kirk was pastor of Cincinnati’s College Hill Presbyterian Church and founder of the National Coalition Against Pornography and Religious Alliance Against Pornography.
Like anyone trying to make America Godly again, he was against things that insulted God’s holiness and injured God’s people.
I will never forget Jerry recalling how he was called into the holy crusade against pornography.
Seeing how pornography was destroying lives, marriages, families, and corrupting the beauty of Biblical sexuality, Jerry went to a hillside near the church and cried out, “Oh God, why don’t you do something?”
Distinctly and compellingly, he heard God reply, “Jerry, why don’t you do something?”
Christianity is all about incarnation.
God enfleshed Himself in Jesus and we enflesh our faith by saying the things that Jesus would say and doing the things that Jesus would do.
When Jerry was asked what churches should be all about, he’d reply, “Churches are called to say and do everything that God has revealed they should say and do as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.”
Going back to the clear explanation of Martin Luther so long ago in Worms, Germany when he ignited the Reformation by saying he stood with God and Christianity as ordered by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense guided by the Holy Spirit that never contradicts Jesus and Holy Scripture, enfleshing faith isn’t complicated as explained in the Ten Commandments, red letters, and supporting contextual Biblical revelations.
I like how Eugene Peterson put it: “When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly. When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can’t imagine that people went to the library to figure it out.”
Indeed, when Jesus closed that great sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7, it doesn’t say anyone was confused about what He said. No, they were chastened by Who He is: “When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because He was teaching them like one who had authority.”
While I may be wrong, I’ve always suspected churches that are so sincerely wrong about Christology and Biblical ethics just don’t want to trust God’s Word as exemplified in Jesus, explained in Holy Scripture, and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
They are the churches poisoned by pulpiteers and pewsitters who say, in effect, as they contradict Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense with shamelessly selfish audacity, “We know that’s what Jesus and the Bible say, but we think…”
If Jesus by the book is our sovereign authority on all matters of enfleshed faith, we trust Him at His Word and prayerfully try to obey Him at His Word.
Praising God for who He is and what He has done for us and our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus is authentic when it moves from the sanctuary into the streets no matter who, what, where, when, or why.
Faithful churches are all about praise confirmed by performance.
Deeds confirm creeds.
Behavior is the best barometer of belief.
That’s not works righteousness or some deluded sense of working our way into a right relationship with God.
There are signs of salvation that Calvin and other Biblical Christians conclude are more than hints of having a right relationship with God.
Most commentators on Psalm 30 think it was written by David to be used at the dedication of the Temple.
It’s about God’s people gathering in a place of praise; honoring God as Sovereign, Source, Starter, Savior, and Sustainer.
It begins with a shout of praise for God’s help, healing, and deliverance from anyone or anything that threatens existential and eternal health and welfare: “I will exalt You, Lord, because You have lifted me up and have not allowed my enemies to triumph over me…I cried for help, and You healed me…You brought my soul up from the grave.”
The psalm concludes with a promise to praise God from whom all blessings flow with regularity throughout life: “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!”
I really like Peterson’s paraphrase: “I give You all the credit, God. You got me out of that mess…I yelled for help and You put me together…You pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down and out…I’m about to burst with song. I can’t keep quiet about You. God, my God, I can’t thank You enough.”
Simply, Psalm 30 in concurrence with the entire Bible says true believers are all about praise that isn’t confined to sanctuaries.
Pero praise begins in the sanctuary; which is why the basic requirement of membership in churches is worship attendance.
People who don’t worship cannot be trusted to trust God at His Word because trusting God at His Word begins in worship.
When someone has something better to do than worship God, that means they’re not convinced God is worthy of worship; and if God is not worthy of worship, then God can’t be God to that person because true believers know God is worshipped because God is God.
That is the most basic fact of faith.
We worship God because God is to be worshipped.
When we worship God, we are declaring He is God to us.
When not, not.
Again, Peterson: “Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing…Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshipped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith.”
Let me put it another way.
When Chuck, Jeff, Ken, and I spent a week with Jan and Eugene at Flathead Lake in Lakeside, Montana back in October 2011, he said something that changed my whole way of looking at churches, pulpiteers, and pewsitters: “Churches don’t need motivational speakers because you don’t have to motivate Christians. Motivational speaking is often a sly way of manipulating people. You don’t have to motivate Christians. Christians are motivated by their relationship with the Lord.”
It reminded me of legendary football coach Lou Holtz who said this when asked how he motivated his teams at Notre Dame: “I recruit motivated players.”
You don’t have to motivate Christians to worship.
You don’t have to motivate Christians to pray and try to love Jesus by loving like Jesus with His red letters as the guide.
You don’t have to motivate Christians to be Christians.
They’re already motivated because they worship God and want to work and witness in His name.
The Church is all about Him while churches are all about themselves.
That’s why the Church lives forever with Jesus and churches die.
It all begins, continues, and never ends in worship.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!