Archives For Steve Meister

You can complete a form. Maybe there’s a phone number to call. Or in some cases, you might even be able to make an appointment with a real live individual. In business and government services, it’s a mark of sound practice to provide people with a means of filing complaints. But what are Christians to do with their complaints over another Christian – or even an entire church? What we find, as with most things, is the Church is called to practices quite different from that of a business or government agency.

Complaints in the Church?

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It’s that time of year when culture warriors take up arms to keep worldly and pagan ideas from encroaching on the spiritual and biblical reason for the season. So Sarah Palin fired a salvo against the “war on Christmas” by “revisionists” who’re turning it into a “winter solstice” celebration. (This is to prepare us for her new book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, ostensibly on the same theme).

But what if the pagans aren’t the “revisionists” and the late December celebrations are indeed rooted in the winter solstice? That would explain some of the odd accoutrements to celebrations of Jesus’ birth. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to make out what evergreen trees, lights, and egg-nog have to do with the little town of Bethlehem. Without being too much of a Grinch, it might be worth asking whether the real “revisionist” is actually Mrs. Palin. Though to her credit, she stands in a long, long line of revising this holiday.   Continue Reading…

November 19, 2013

Help with holiness

by Steve Meister

We must be holy, because this is the one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world [2 Cor 5:15Eph 5:25-26Titus 2:14]… Jesus is a complete Saviour. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, He does more – He breaks its power (1 Pet 1:2Rom 8:29Eph 1:42 Tim 1:9Heb 12:10).

 – J.C. Ryle, Holiness

I’ve recently preached a mini-series on holiness for our congregation (audio here). We began with Lev 10:1-11 and 1 Cor 6:9-11, and concluded with Heb 12:1-14.

After being a Christian for nearly 20 years, I can unfortunately say that personal holiness has not been a topic that’s received great emphasis in the churches and ministries with which I’ve been in fellowship. In Rediscovering Holiness, J. I. Packer points to the same reality.

Packer identifies 3 evidences that Christians today evidently do not think personal holiness is very important:   Continue Reading…

I found a recent article at Persecution Blog, Do Americans Care About Persecuted Christians? both provocative and sadly accurate:

The Church is under fire. At that sentence, half the people who started reading this article just moved on to something more interesting. However, that response is troublesome. The plight of believers gets little attention on the global stage, leaving many Christians throughout North America unaware, and therefore, indifferent to what’s going on in the body of Christ. Mention persecution, and eyes glaze over.

The post quotes extensively from Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs, who explained that the average American Christian replies to persecution with “Man, that’s too bad.” In my reading, he gives 4 reasonable explanations as to why this seems to be the case:   Continue Reading…

ram-The Gospel of Jesus Christ is inescapably bloody. Tying together all the biblical imagery of Jesus as the high priest (Heb 2:17; 4:14-15; 5:1-10; 7-9), the Lamb (John 1:29; Rev 5:12), and the One who cleanses sinners (Heb 1:3; 9:14; 1 John 1:7), is the historic reality that He poured-out His blood for His people (Matt 26:28; Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 11:25; 1 Pet 1:2; Eph 1:7). When we say that Christ died for our sins, we mean that He died a bloody death on our behalf (1 Cor 5:7).

It is not surprising that the world still finds this foolish (1 Cor 1:18), but it is a shock when professing Christians do. Many reject the Bible’s description of Jesus’ atoning work, this “bloody Gospel,” because they find it repulsive. I would suggest at least two reasons for their revulsion – one cultural, the other, spiritual.

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read-my-blogMany pastors blog and I happen to think that’s a good thing, especially since yours truly is one of that number. This is not to overlook, as Carl Trueman has put it, the madness of how many Christians use the web:

This is madness. Is this where we have come to, with our Christian use of the web? Men who make careers in part out of bashing the complacency and arrogance of those with whose theology they disagree, yet who applaud themselves on blogs and twitters they have built solely for their own deification? Young men who are so humbled by flattering references that they just have to spread the word of their contribution all over the web like some dodgy rash they picked up in the tropics?

The Rev. Dr. does have a point, doesn’t he? Much of what Christians contribute online, even from pastors, is little more than an ungodly attempt at self-deification in the pseudo-society of social media. I do hope that’s not why I blog – and if it is, the extent of my readership is a fitting parable to the futility of seeking deification in God’s world. Notwithstanding these ever-present pitfalls, I think pastors should blog today to fulfill that ancient function of pastoral ministry, writing.

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flag-bibleOne of my favorite parts of international travel is returning to the U.S. and hearing “Welcome, home” from the Customs Agent. I’ve been around enough of the world to be grateful to call the United States home – and to celebrate her birth later this week. But superseding any celebration of our nation is the worship of our God for giving us a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:28).

Before I’m an American, I’m a Christian. It only seems appropriate for the physical elements that attend our worship to reflect that. Displaying the American flag in church buildings is a passion that is quite beyond me. Only a few short weeks after I became a Christian, I noticed the American flag in our church’s worship center. Though I could not have offered a theological articulation for it at that point, my instincts told me, “That’s not right.” Beside the fact that the Church is not a branch of the American government, there are at least four reasons why churches should not display the American flag in the same room in which it gathers for corporate worship.

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“Is there anything wrong with this?” That’s the question Christians usually ask to determine whether something is acceptable. To be sure, it’s not a bad question. But there’s an equally important question that we ought to be asking: “Is there anything sanctifying in this?”

For this is the question that’s implied by Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

That first command is rendered in the NASB as “let us also lay aside every encumbrance.” And the NIV has it as “let us throw off everything that hinders.” Until recently, I had missed the significant ambiguity of that first command in this verse. That is, the all-encompassing reference of “every weight,” “every encumbrance,” or “everything that hinders.”  Continue Reading…

index_DabneyIn the mid 1800’s, Virginia and North Carolina faced an acute shortage of pastors and Bible teachers. R. L. Dabney, Presbyterian pastor and scholar, understood that they were in need of long-term solutions. So in the early months of 1851, Dabney set aside a Thursday to specially address his own congregation in Virginia. He proposed three solutions to the crisis: prayer, education, and mothers. Yep, mommies!

Sean Michael Lucas recounts Dabney’s exhortations in Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life:

‘Christian mothers can do much’ as well. Dabney urged them to ‘teach the child to look upon itself as consecrated to God… In childhood instructing him; in youth wrestling for his conversion; then toiling to pay expenses for education; then in gray hairs hearing him preach; then in heaven, beholding him receiving his crown with many jewels.’

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By the number of books you find under the subject-header “Christian Living,” we can either assume that there’s a lot to say on the topic or that Christians still have no idea what their life is really all about. This confusion is nothing new. Many Christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries thought that moving to monasteries in the desert was a step forward in the Christian life and ministry. But what would today’s evangelicals say is the the point of the Christian life?

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