Saturday, January 30, 2016

Judging Knot

It was a Sunday night bible study a number of years ago when I was discussing the necessity of a local church practicing church discipline. A church member raised his hand and, when acknowledged, said to me "Read Matthew 7:1!"

I was a little taken back and in the moment couldn't collect my thoughts enough to know what he was talking about. So, I turned to Matthew 7 and read the 1st verse. He wasn't finished:

"Read it again."

So, I read it again. And then he proceeded to accuse me of judging. When I asked if he was judging me for judging, he wasn't very pleased. As a side note my 3 year old son was sitting next to my wife and asked "why's that man being mean to daddy?"

It certainly was one of the more uncomfortable situations in which I've been involved in ministry. 

Fast forward to January 2015. 

On Facebook there was a professing Christian promoting the movie 50 Shades of Grey. Being a public forum in which many people I care about are friends with this person, I felt compelled to comment on why Believers ought to have nothing to do with filth like 50 Shades. 

Can you guess what the overwhelming majority of responses were?

"We can't judge!" "Jesus says in Matthew 7:1 'Judge not!'"

This is what I consider the judging knot. 

Between the idolatry of autonomy, poor hermeneutics, love of sin, and the mixing in of self righteousness, you get a knotted mess when it comes to understanding the proper application of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7:1-6. 

For these reasons, and more, I am looking forward to addressing this subject tomorrow as we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount. 

While Jesus did mean for His followers to avoid a hypercritical and hypocritical spirit of judgmentalism, He does not intend for us to never confront sin and to practice poor discernment in the church. Hopefully I'll post some more notes and the audio of the sermon next week. 

Until then let us remember a basic rule of biblical interpretation: context is king. May your Lord's Day gathering bring glory to the King and edification to your church...

UPDATE: You can listen to this sermon by clicking here: Judging Judgmentalism 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sermon Outline: Kingdom Focused Faith, Matthew 6:25-34

WARNING! - Some of this might not make sense because of various abbreviations, etc. I don't recommend everyone doing their preaching notes like this. I just copied and pasted this from word and tried to clean up a few things but basically left it as is.

If you want to actually hear the message you can click here.

Ok, you've been warned. Here are sermon notes from Matthew 6:25-34 below:


Bobby McFerrin had a little song he wrote, in which he said we might want to sing it note for note:

Don’t Worry Be Happy

It’s a catchy tune. Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

But, as catchy as it is, it lacks any gravitas. It’s got no foundation to support it. The gist is “Hey, we all have troubles sometimes, things will pass, just be happy.” Ok. So how does that work with say Job? “Hey Job, all your children are dead, your cattle are destroyed, your wife tells you curse God and die, and your friends have rejected you…but

Don’t worry be Happy!

Or hey, we get a call that a missile is on its way to Clinton right now. What should we do? Don’t Worry. Be Happy! There’s really no substance there in that command is there? At the end of the day it’s found wanting! It’s not enough to actually sustain us in times of difficulty.

But the Christian worldview offers something much better. Would you turn to Matthew 6? Jesus tells His follower to not worry. However, He argues for us in a logical way and asks us to trust His promises and the goodness of our Heavenly Father.

For the Believer to not worry isn’t baseless at all. It’s what it means to have a Kingdom Focused Faith.So, this is what we want to explore today as we digest Matthew 6:25-34

Kingdom Focused Faith                         Mt. 6:25-34                             January 24, 2016 am

Theme: A Believer’s life is characterized by lack of anxiety toward earthly needs & a pursuit of God. OR:
Saving faith spurns fretfulness & seeks the Father

SotM deal w/ not just ‘outward bx but inward thoughts/motivations/attitudes of the heart!

We have some work to do before we get into our text today b/c of one little word (LOOK W/ ME): v.25a therefore

We can’t forget the context. Essentially, Jesus has just finished telling us of:
1)Two Treasures (v.19-21)     2)Two Views (v.22-23)     3)Two Masters (v.24)

We might call the section we are in now ‘Two Dispositions’. But I want to make the point that everything lines up.

You have to place your life in one column or the other. Either you long for earthly treasure, see the world in a materialistic way, serve the god of money, and are anxious about the cares of this world


You long for heavenly treasure, see the world through Christ’s eyes, serve Jesus, and trust the Father
This isn’t the buffet line at the Chinese restaurant where you get to pick and choose. Where are you at?

So, Jesus says, since BELIEVERS store up treasure in heaven, see the world with a healthy eye, and are serving God as their master…v.25a
Now, before we get into the outline let’s just observe this text again and I want to point out to you the commands and promises contained therein. And of course we will examine them more as we move through the message: v.25-34

1.       Don’t Be Anxious (3x – 25, 31, 33)
2.       Look at the birds of the air (26)
3.       Consider the lilies of the field (v.28)
4.       Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (v.33)

These are all commands. As Believers our King has commanded these things of us. Who do we serve?

1.       Anxiety can’t add time our life (v.27)
2.       We are of more value than the animals God takes care of (v.26)
3.       God knows our needs (v.32)
4.       God will provide for our needs (v.33)

So, a cursory look at the text reveals to us that anxiety at it’s basic level is a sin because it is disobedient to God’s command and a lack of trust in God’s promises…

This word translated ‘anxiety’ is used 6x in these 10 verses! What does it mean?

to have an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune

It doesn’t mean be lazy as we’ll see. So, what then is the big deal about worry? Let’s look at 6 things:

I.                    To NOT worry is a Precept – (command) v.25

Jesus actually commands us 3x in this passage to not be anxious.
Isn’t our savior good? Doesn’t He know just what we need? It’s almost like He understands that anxiety can be a real issue for us can’t it?
Even though we have His Word, even though we have His promises, even though we have seen His faithfulness, we are still prone to the sin of fretfulness aren’t we?
We need little Lucy up here every week singing ‘Fret Not’ don’t we?
But Jesus has actually given us something better in the fact that He’s commanding His followers to not be anxious.
See, there is a direct correlation between anxiety, and faithlessness: v.30

So, Jesus commands us to not worry. Of course, He’s not asking us to be irrational is He? This isn’t some arbitrary command is it? He’s not saying “Hey, don’t eat yellow jellybeans on Tuesdays.” “Why Jesus?” “B/c I said so!”

No, this isn’t like that at all. In fact, the very Author of Life asks us this question: v.27

It’s like if you were playing the game Monopoly and you are like super worried about landing on the utility spaces, and the make of the game comes and says “Hey, uh, you know this game is about more than just paying the measly amount for landing on the utility spaces right?”

Wldn’t we say that the very Author of Life knows what life is really a/b?

Christ says to us “I am the King and I am what life is about”. Too many are so worried about living that they never experience LIFE.

II.                  To Worry is Powerless – v.27

This is actually true even from a secular standpoint.

I grew up traveling the U.S. w/ my family b/c my dad was a bullfighter. I remember one time distinctly when we were in Kansas, I was probably around 8 or 9, and there was a tornado warning. We were all huddled in this gym, and I was super worried.

But I remember my dad, who wasn’t a Christian at the time, and he was like ‘Cuatro, what can you do about this? What can worrying about this tornado do? Will it make it go away?’

Well, there is truth in that. V.27

There are many lost people who show great courage in trying situations. This ought to convict us who are Believers! To worry is powerless.
What will anxiety do about the situation you are in other than simply waste your time and cause you to sin against our heavenly Father?

Stonewall Jackson Quote - “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me....That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”

III.                To NOT Worry is to trust God’s Providence – v.26-28

Now, I want to be clear about something: To NOT worry doesn’t mean we are lazy or careless does it?Two things to think about:
1. Jesus just got through telling us to ask for daily bread: v.11
So, Kingdom Faith isn’t carelessness is it?  Like “Ah, God’s in control I won’t wear my seatbelt today.”We ask for daily bread in faith that God will provide it as we need it. And think about this: We aren’t asking for tomorrow’s bread yet are we? V.34
But the point is, Jesus isn’t instructing us to have a frivolous attitude here. I mean I think a lot Christians sort of think like “Well, if it works out, it works out.”

But, I’m not sure that’s the faith discussed in the SotM. The faith in the SotM is not a passive faith but an active one. We do care that we eat! And we do care to provide for our family and to contribute to society! But we are called to trust in a God who works all things for God for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose….
2. Think about the birds – v.26 (God’s testimony in General Rev.!)
Birds aren’t lazy are they? Birds don’t sit around and think “Well, I wonder if God will feed me today?”What do they do? They go out and they search for food and they work as hard as a little bird can work.So are they working or is God providing? The answer is yes!
Now, we want to be very clear that God is their provider, but He is providing through the means of their working isn’t He?The Heavenly Father feeds the birds and the Heavenly Father clothes the flowers. He is in control of all things, and not just control of all things:
He is active in His creation working in it to bring about His good purposes. And so, to not worry is to trust God’s providence.It’s to seek Him for our needs, and to not be lazy about the work we are to do, but driving these things is a faith in His providential care.

IV.                To Worry is Pagan (v.32) We were made for God.

God has ransomed us in Christ. The greatest need you or I have is not food or clothing, it’s that we stand justly condemned before God because of our sin.

But guess what? The gospel says Christ has dealt with that need on the cross by taking God’s wrath that stood against us, on Himself.

Now, Christ is teaching us throughout the SotM that the King has come and with Him, His Kingdom. And those who are in His Kingdom live differently than those outside His Kingdom.
v.32a – The Gentiles represent those who are outside of Christ. Those who don’t trust Him. Those who haven’t come to Christ in faith.
The word ‘seek’ carries the connotation of ‘desire’. The Unbeliever’s desire is food, drink, clothing…
But aren’t these natural desires? Of course! But unbeliever’s seek after these things, their life is consumed with these things, b/c they reject the God who made them. And I believe we can extend the application further:
v.25b (Jesus’ question): Isn’t life more than food or clothing?
Ø  Did you know life is more than college as well?
Ø  Did you know life is more than a job?
Ø  Did you know life is more than power or popularity?
Ø  Did you know life is more than marriage?
Ø  Did you know life is more than children or grandchildren?
Ø  Did you know life is more than family?
Ø  Did you know life is more than retirement?
Ø  Did you know life is more than money?

It’s not that all of these desires are bad. It’s that Unbelievers make the sum of life those things and it’s that Unbelievers make these thing their chief desire

The point is like last week, as Believers we have a whole new perspective. We aren’t just living. We have life! We are living in Christ’s Kingdom, trusting His provision. This leads me to my next point:

V.                  To NOT Worry is a Priority – v.33

What is the priority of a Believer’s life? Jesus doesn’t just suggest what it ought to be, He commands what it is: v.33a first
Again, this is an active participation on our part. Believer’s actively seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Anxiety reveals our treasure. Anxiety reveals our priority. You can only be seeking one thing first. There can’t be two first things in your life.
The entire SotM is a/b the Kingdom isn’t it? We’ve entitled the whole series Kingdom Living.
Christian, I know something about you that you may not even know yourself. I know God’s will for your life! I know exactly what God wants you to do with your life!...”Well, what is it!?” -> v.33a
Seek God’s rule and reign over your life. Seek to submit yourself even further to His Lordship. Resign yourself wholly to Him in all things.
Live, and work, and play, and laugh, and weep, and eat, and drink, and be clothed in such a way that you show God’s rule over your life
 Seek God’s rule and reign over the lives of others. Ah man, pray for that! I was praying this week: God set up your Kingdom right here in Clinton! Let’s see this town and community joyfully living under God’s reign
So, that means we’ve got to talk about Jesus and His Kingdom don’t we?
That may be uncomfortable in our culture but we want to see His Kingdom expand don’t we?
v.33a – and His righteousness - This is reminiscent of 5:6
Believers are justified by faith alone. Through faith God imputes the righteousness of Christ to us. Just like He clothes the lilies of the field with beauty, for those who come to Christ in faith, He clothes them in the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
For those clothed in the righteousness of Jesus we actually seek for our ways to be righteous. IOW, we actually strive for holiness. (Heb 12:14 quote)
To worry is a wrong priority. We are to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. And what’s the promise? V.33 (God will provide what we need – maybe not always what we want, but we can trust Him right?)
I wonder what you are doing to tangible seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Right now answer that in your mind: What am I doing to seek the KofG and His righteousness?
Here’s the thing. I think a lot of us have more anxiety about the body than we do the soul.
We need to do a better job at showing people we ought to care for our souls.
I mean, if we aren’t seeking the KofG and His righteousness, how are we diff than unbelievers? And if we aren’t diff than unbelievers, why do we think we have any hope of heaven?
B/c we say prayed the sinners prayer and now we are automatically Christians? Look, if you are saved, you’re saved, but do you know one way to know that your saved? This is your priority: v.33a
U don’t just say it’s ur priority. You don’t just know it ought to be ur priority… No, it actually is your priority to seek first the KofG and His righteousness.
So, what thought have you given of your soul lately? Are you seeking the KofG and His righteousness this morning?

VI.                To Worry is to distrust God’s Promisesv.34
Do you believe this? Do you believe all the promises we’ve discussed today?
Anxiety is the antithesis of faith. To worry is to distrust these promises we’ve discussed today.
“No, no, I do believe these promises, I just get worried sometimes.”
Let me push back on that. When we find ourselves in this state of sinful anxiety, we are by definition NOT trusting God’s good promises!
Jesus promises trouble doesn’t He? V.34
There is going to be trouble. There is going to be tough situations. But as Believers, Jesus calls us to have Kingdom Faith.
Ø  Faith that if our Heavenly Father has provided our greatest need in Christ with the forgiveness of sins that He is willing and able to provide for these other needs
Ø  Faith that our Heavenly Father cares for us and that our lives actually have meaning and value in His Kingdom
Ø  Faith that our priority really should be seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
Let me also make a plug here for the reason we must be in the word daily. In Scripture is where our doubting hearts are constantly reminded of God’s goodness and His gospel promises for us!
You can say all you want, but if you are not in the Bible daily, you heart is being primed to distrust God all the more…

Let me conclude in this way:
Don’t waste your life on just living. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Kingdom Living is not just to live here like the world does and then die and go to heaven. Kingdom Living is seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!
Let’s do this corporately (discuss)

Top Ten Reasons Why People Don't Go to Church

First off, we are probably fighting a losing battle with language here, but technically we don't 'go' to church.  We gather with the church and we assemble with the church, but it's not precise to say we go to church in the sense of the 'church'being made the bricks, carpet, and pews. The church regularly gathers on the Lord's Day. It may be in a home, a shop, a traditional building, or underground secret place. Wherever the church may be gathering, we aren't going to it, as much as we are gathering with it. It is important to keep in mind that we do go to the the assembly. It's not 'church' that you have out on the lake just because you say "hey I am the church!" 

I do think this is vital in understanding why people don't gather with the church. And in fact, I'm not going to follow through with my title. I'm not going to give 'ten reasons' why people don't gather with the church. Instead, I'm just going to give the reason why people don't gather with the church. This theological truth is so mind blowing, you may need to brace yourself.

Are you ready?

The number one reason people don't gather regularly with the church:

1. They don't want to

The church is Christ's bride. He sought her. He bought her. He owns her, and He loves her with an eternal love. The church is comprised of those who by grace have turned from their sin and trusted Christ for their salvation. They have been clothed in His righteousness. And because of this grace upon them they love Christ.

This is very simple to understand, but so hard for us to accept sometimes because of those we know who don't assemble regularly with the church: Those who love Christ love to gather with His church. Those who love Christ are part of the church. Those who don't love Christ, do not love to gather with His church. Those who do not assemble regularly don't love Christ (although many who don't love Christ may gather, and even serve in church leadership, it's not because they love Christ. Rather they feel they 'have' to, or they enjoy the popularity, or they love a false idea of God, or there are various other reasons...).

1 John 3:14 says We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

We often think of love as simply a feeling. Now, love does involve feeling, but it's deeper than that. It's more than just 'I hope nothing bad happens to them' or 'I hope something good does happen to them.' Rather, it's actually taking an active part in seeking the good of another.

Can lost people love? Of course! Even a ravenous wolf loves her cubs. But that's the issue. A lost person loves himself and his own. He has no true desire to love those not like him.

So, with a good desire I believe, many people have thought 'how can we get 'unchurched' people in church?' (Something I've blogged about recently HERE).

But see, lost people don't want to come to church. Not for the right reason anyway. Not because they  love Christ and love the brothers. They aren't 'coming to church' because they don't want to. And no amount of lights, smoke, lattes, cowboy hats, guitar solos, or chainsaw juggling will get them to gather with the church for the right reasons. (Again, I'm not saying that every person who does attend regularly is saved. It's obvious this is not true from the New Testament and from what we see in our current predicament in the Bible Belt.)

Oh, but if we do those things lost people will come and hear the gospel!

What gives you the right to make the local church gathering into an evangelistic event? What gives you the right to offer strange fire so that 'lost people' can be 'won' to Christ?

See, there is a better way.

What if we gave our entire church service over to pleasing God first? What if we made the church attractional to the church, meaning we set Christ as preeminent over every aspect of the service? What if we intentionally did not care if 'church' was boring to lost people since we know they don't love Christ nor the brethren?

And then, what if instead of making our 'church service' an evangelistic event, we actually went out and evangelized?

When we make our churches 'attractional' to the lost, it actually hurts everybody. It hurts the church because she is not being fed properly. It hurts the lost because it creates false conversions. Finally, it hurts those who may actually be genuinely converted since they are starting out with a wrong mindset of God's church.

Spurgeon puts it this way:

To introduce unconverted persons to the church, is to weaken and degrade it; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss.

There's not 10 reasons why people don't gather with the church.  There's only one.  They don't want to. But God's grace through the power of the gospel can change that. Go tell somebody today.

Semper Reformanda

Clothed in His Righteousness

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? - Matthew 6:30

You're not good.

Well, that's as long as you fall anywhere in the 'none' or 'not one' category of Romans 3:10 where Paul tells us None is righteous, no, not one. If somehow 'none' means everyone but you, and 'not one' means not anyone except you, then feel free to stop reading now. Of course, if language means anything you see that we all fall in this category.

All worldviews have to answer these questions*:

  1. Why is there something other than nothing?
  2. What is wrong with the world?
  3. How can it be fixed?
  4. Where is the world headed? 

In a quick summary the Christian teaching is this: Our Triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. He made man in His own image. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, willfully rejected God and as the representatives of all mankind plunged themselves and their posterity into guilt and under God's wrath.

You're guilty before God because Adam represented you (sort of like how a whole team is penalized for one person's personal foul).  And you're not a good person because you love to be the god of your own life rather than worshiping the God who made you. You're a sinner by nature and by choice.

But now we are back to Matthew 6:30: But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

I'm not attempting to allegorize this text, but to let is serve as an illustration for us. The God who made the world and everything in it, who clothes the flowers in all of their beautiful splendor, has something even better to clothe us in, if we come to Christ in faith.

Jesus, who wasn't guilty of Adam's sin like everyone else, is the exception (the only exception) of Romans 3:10. He is the spotless Lamb. The 2nd Person of the Trinity who lived righteously as the God-Man on the earth before the Father. He then died on the cross for our sin. In a sense, He became us as our sin was laid upon Him (- our being those who will come to Him in faith).

See, you, the not good one, the unrighteous one, the one who stands guilty and condemned before God can actually be counted as good and righteous. Not because deep down inside you have something intrinsically good or righteous but because the righteousness of another is offered to you. And how do you get this righteousness?

By doing something righteous? If so, you're out, since you don't have the capacity to do anything righteous in and of yourself since you are in the category of "none is righteous, no not one." You can't receive righteousness by doing anything righteous. Baptism, the Lord's Supper, gathering with the church, reading your bible, praying, giving money, trying to be a good person....None of these things will get you the righteousness you need because not one of your acts in doing any of these things is righteous.

But, the offer still stands. You can receive this righteousness, but it is offered in the only way we can receive it: by faith alone. We must spurn trust in any of our deeds to merit God's favor upon us and we must go to Christ alone. Go to Him! Run to Him! Leave behind any thought of you earning God's favor with your life and flee to the finished work of Christ alone. Close with Christ today!

Wait. It's got to be more complicated than that! For all my sin and shame and rebellion, there's not anything for me to make up or fix? This is the glorious news of the gospel: Christ has taken care of that for us through His cross and resurrection. If you will come to Christ in faith today, God will clothe you in Christ's righteousness. Before God you will be legally declared as though you had always obeyed every Law of God, perfectly, even with the perfect motivation. Not because you have actually obeyed (in fact, you've failed miserably), but because Christ has obeyed in your stead, and just like you're declared guilty because of you're first representative Adam, you can be declared righteous because of your second representative, Christ.

You're not good. But Christ is! And by faith, you can have His goodness today. By faith God can and will clothe you in the righteousness of His Son**. What prevents you today? Jesus says all those who come to Him, He will never cast out. What an offer! If you wait until your life is worthy of coming to Christ, you will never come, because the essence of the gospel of grace is that we are not worthy, nor will we ever be worthy. But He gives more grace. Come to Christ this day and rest your weary and sin sick soul in the life giving wounds of our Savior. Be clothed in His righteousness by faith.

*Thanks Dr. Mohler and the Briefing for such clarity on these questions!

** The technical term we use is imputation. Adam's guilt was imputed to us, our sin is imputed to Christ on the cross, and His righteousness is imputed to us by faith

Friday, January 22, 2016

Church for the Unchurched

I am not m even 100% sure what my title means exactly. But this is a phrase I hear a lot in Baptist circles today. We need to plant a church for the unchurched! Or all churches must be a church for the unchurched!

What does this even mean?

 It sounds like saying "We need a baseball team for non-baseball players!" Or "We need a Chinese restaurant for people who hate Chinese food!" 

First of all, in the entire New Testament there is not the phrase "church for" anybody. There is the "church of God" the "churches of Galatia" the "church of the Laodiceans" etc. 

What is a church for the unchurched? 

What is meant by unchurched?

Do we mean a church of the unchurched? That doesn't seem like something that jives with Scripture. 

Here's the only thing I see that "unchurched" can possibly mean: not regularly gathering with a local church. If it means something other than that, well I don't understand language!

So if someone is not regularly gathering with a local church what does that mean? Here are two options:

1. They are lost. They are in rebellion against God. They need the gospel. They need someone to go to them and share the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. 

2. They are saved but living in sin (not gathering with a church is sin - Heb 10:24-25, 1 Jn 3:14, etc). They need the gospel. Specifically, they need church discipline. They need confronted with their sin and called to repentance. If they refuse to repent we are to assume they are in category 1 (see above). 

And yet, a big drive behind our current affinity based church planting craze is that we need 'church for the unchurched.' We need churches to consist of lost people? That isn't even possible (well, yes it is 'possible' but it isn't a church). Or does it mean we need churches made up of unrepentant people who've skipped out on regularly attending a church? That doesn't make sense either! 

Do we mean we need to create church meetings that are just inviting and comfortable to lost people or unrepentant church members not attending their church? If by inviting we mean friendly, that's fine. But if it means we need to create church services for lost/unrepentant people, well that's not a church gathering!

As I have discussed this affinity based stuff with people over the years, I really am convinced that many well meaning people think the main, regular gathering of the church should be focused on reaching lost people. You will not find that anywhere in the New Testament. We don't need a church for the unchurched. We need a church for the churched! Or how about I just say the biblical term: we need churches.

Wait. You don't care about lost people!? Don't you want to see people saved!? Absolutely! But this isn't the purpose of the regular gathering of Believers. Sure, a lost person may wander in, and if so I hope they hear the gospel and repent and believe! But our regular gatherings are for Believers (see 1 Cor. 14:26). Churches in the New Testament weren't set up to attract unbelievers to their gatherings. 

A church is not required to gather in a building to be a church. She may meet in a home/homes or even a shop. But do we think this warrants turning the church gathering into a circus, rodeo, or rock concert? Do we think this warrants intentionally not gathering on Sundays because that's a good day to hunt? If so, we've missed the purpose of the local church gathering in the New Testament. 

What is the church to do? A church should gather for worship, ordinances, edification, the Word, discipline, discipleship, giving, fellowship, prayer, etc. And then, she should scatter to proclaim the gospel to the lost. 

If any unbeliever is in your regular gathering, he ought to feel conviction and be called to account (1 Cor 14:24-25). 

What biblical basis is there for setting up the main gathering of a local church to be tailored for lost people or unrepentant church members? Beloved, there is no basis for this. We must quit any such practices in repentance. 

Back to the baseball analogy. It's like we see tons of people who don't like baseball, so we'll change it up! Replace a bat with a hoop. Get a bigger ball. Play on a court not a diamond. Doesn't look like you're playing baseball anymore. 

We do need to honestly asses our current situation and seek to align what we do with Scripture. I am in no way giving the established church a pass. In fact, I'm saying that's where reformation, revival, revitalization or whatever word you want to use needs to happen. 

Perhaps I'm fighting a losing battle with this but my hope is the people of our denomination will consider these truths and adjust our church planting, and established church, practices accordingly. 

Or you can watch this "funny" YouTube video (which would be a lot funnier if it didn't hit so close to home!)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

10 Reasons to Reconsider the 'Affinity Based' Model of Church Planting

I think we need to have a conversation as Southern Baptists. And I want you to know it's because I love church planters, lost people, the local church, and God's glory that I write this. 

What possible other motivation might I have? I don't consider myself old enough yet to simply be a stick in the mud for the sake of being a stick in the mud! So, I humbly ask that you hear my heart on this. 

Let me preface this with a few things:

First of all, I want to state that my goal in using this medium to address this issue is not to squabble or fight but hopefully bring awareness to a real issue we are facing as Southern Baptists, and particularly Arkansas Baptists. I don't want to beat each other up but to really consider these things based on God's Book for Churches and Church Planting, written by about 40 different authors with One overarching Author breathing out His Holy words.

Secondly, (to reiterate) I am not against church planting, nor am I against seeing people come to Christ! I just think that while a 'brick' may work as a hammer, there's actually something that works much better than a brick - a hammer (hopefully you catch the analogy)! In that sense, in a funny sort of twist, I may actually be the biggest pragmatist I know (not really, but see the point here)! See, I do actually want to do what works. But I believe that a biblically faithful local church is what works.

Thirdly, I am encouraged by men in our state and country with a burden for the lost. While I appreciate their zeal, I cannot condone their methods. I will also add here that their methods actually run counter to their zeal. Unbiblical methods don't help us reach people but rather create false converts and stifle maturity. 

Fourthly, in relation to what I just said,  I often hear the question "yeah, but if just one soul comes to Christ, isn't it worth it?" No it's not. We can think of countless testimonies from which people were rescued from sin once they had reached rock bottom (whether it was rock bottom in a life of fornication, drinking, drugs, etc). Who is going to say we ought to now promote these means so that "one more person" will get saved!? Furthermore, don't we believe more people will come to Christ when we use the proper means? I mean I think there were genuine conversions in the 2nd Great Awakening, despite the absurdity of various Finneyisms - but this doesn't mean people were saved because of these absurdities but in spite of them. Whether or not a person 'gets saved' is never a proper barometer for judging whether or not a particular method 'works'. It's heartbreaking to continue to see posts where '20 kids came forward and got saved' when recent history in our convention has shown that the majority of those same 20 kids aren't truly converted. 

Finally, a word on tone. I've had faithful friends tell me not to write because your time can't be judged. I understand that counsel but I am also convinced we must talke about these issues if we hope to ever change. 

Ok, here we go, here's 10 reasons to reconsider the 'Affinity Based' Model of church planting. This is by no means an exhaustive list and there is much more that could be said about each point:

1. It's contrary to Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 1:13, and John 13:35 (and like passages) -

Why would we aspire to plant churches that intentionally separated people? The gospel unites Believers and this is a testimony to a lost and dying world. No one cares if Jews and Gentiles gather separately, but they start scratching heads when they are united.

It has been asked, "What is the difference between 'affinity' and 'culture'?" I'm not sure where you want to draw the line, but I am sure of this: planting 'sub-culture' churches is not a New Testament strategy.

What kind of love is it to just be around people like me? Even a ravenous wolf loves her cubs. There is nothing supernatural about that.

2. It misunderstands the purpose of the church as an evangelistic gathering - (see for example Heb. 10:24-25)

We think "church" is where people come to get saved. Can people get saved during a church service? Of course! But is this the purpose of the local church's weekly gathering? Absolutely not. You won't find that anywhere in the New Testament. It's strange to even consider how we came to assume this.

So, the idea is "we need to create a church for the 'unchurched'." Well, there's a reason men are 'unchurched' (not a biblical category btw) - they are lost.  How can we read the New Testament and come away with the idea that we need to plant churches that people will come to and get saved? Not one church in the New Testament was planted that way. Instead, the gospel was preached, people were saved, and a church was planted (no adjective before the church either). We don't "come to church". We are the church that goes to people (Mt 28:18-20 That's the great commission - GO! Not "ya'll come!")

3. It perpetuates the problem we already have in many churches -

The argument has been made that "most churches are already affinity based!" Most churches in Arkansas are the "white middle class" affinity. No argument there. Don't we all agree that's a problem?

You really need to ask yourself that question. Is it a problem that many Arkansas Baptist churches only reflect the white middle class? I say yes since Arkansas is represented by more people than just that. 

But how can we say that the way to fix this problem is just to create more churches with the same problem? This only perpetuates disunity and the consumer driven mindset held by many church members.

4. It neglects the solution we need in many churches - (Revelation 3:3)

The solution we need in many churches is reformation and revival. But when we don't confront these issues and instead say "Well, we need to create different churches! That will be the solution to this!", we don't really fix anything.  It's uncomfortable telling the people of a particular local church their issue is that they need to repent. Parachurch leaders have no issue telling churches they need to give more to the cooperative program, but when it comes to telling a church they need to repent the "We can't do that because the local church is autonomous" card is played. Shame, shame.

Look, I am 100% on board saying that we are not being as effective as we need to be, but the problem isn't that we aren't being innovative enough. The problem is we need a heart check and to repent. If a cowboy, or biker, or tattooed person, or clown, or outdoorsman doesn't feel welcomed in my church then the solution isn't to plant a church for them but for our local church to do a heart check and change.

5. It is potentially comforting people on their way to hell - (Hebrews 3:12-14)

Now, let me follow up the last point with this: The reason a cowboy, biker, tattooed person, clown, outdoorsman, or any person may feel uncomfortable or unwelcomed in my church could be because they hate Jesus. Gathering on Sunday is too troublesome, or singing gospel rich tunes is too boring because they don't love God. So, then we plant churches that will accommodate these desires. Then, there are people, who because of Bible Belt culture, feel a burden to go to church to assuage their guilt. Now they are able to go to a church that is tailor made for them when in reality it is a possibility they never have repented and believed the gospel and now they will have a way to keep their guilty conscience at bay. 

Let me stress very strongly here that the solution we need in many churches is a 'recovery' of the gospel and its effects on our lives. So many Southern Baptists are (rightly) against the Liberal mentality of "if we can just fix this or that outward problem the world will be better"! So, the idea is if we can just take away guns or redistribute wealth or give everybody a free education, we can make the world a better place. We know that's not true! People don't need their actions changed but their hearts. And yet, we think when it comes to church planting that what people need is just outward change. We got to change the 'atmosphere'. We need deer heads, horses, or lattes! That'll fix the issue! No. People need the gospel. They need God's saving grace to regenerate their dead heart. Furthermore, by planting 'come join people already like you' churches, we take away a serious effect that the Gospel has on us, namely horizontal reconciliation. Read Genesis 11 and Acts 2 and see God separating the nations and then through the gospel reconciling them.

6. It teaches us that we don't have to deny ourselves - (see Philippians 2:1-11)

If the church doesn't fit my tastes all I need to do is pack up and head to a different one. I don't have to consider others as more significant. Instead, I can keep looking out for number one and find an affinity that best suits me and my family.

7. There are some churches that actually run contrary to the BFM (2000) -

I didn't even know this was a possibility! Call me naive but I thought for a church to receive Cooperative Program dollars it had to align fully with our doctrinal statement. So, we are actually planting churches were people don't meet on the Lord's Day in the name of hunting and family time. Whose day is it again?

A church planter just the other night (4/20/16) jokes about how they didn't meet on Sundays because they like to hunt. Again, I'm just going by what oit confession of faith says. 

So, what I want to know is, which points of the BFM are binding and which aren't? We are saying "It doesn't matter what the BFM says on the Lord's Day". Fine. Does it matter what it says in other areas or not? And if not, why do we even have the thing?

8. It denies the sufficiency of Scripture - 

In the name of "winning people to Jesus" it denies a lot of what the New Testament teaches us about the nature, purpose, and function of the local church. Again, the New Testament doesn't speak of churches that set out to attract unbelievers to their services. So, if we are creating a particular style of service in the name of reaching the lost, we are doing church all wrong. Do we get to define what the local church is and does based on contemporary concerns, or does Scripture?

9. It neglects several ministries that the local church ought to be doing -

If a local church is not feeding the hungry in Her community, the answer is not to plant a Hunger Church. The church ought to work on ministering to those in need.

Similarly, if there truly is a sub culture of cowboys or if there is a community of Hispanics, African Americans, or other ethnicity, the answer is not to plant churches "for those people" but to intentionally minister to the cultures around them. To just go plant an affinity church lets the local church off the hook of what she should be doing.

10. It misuses Cooperative Program dollars - 

As long as we continue to pour money into these things, we miss areas that money could be used more biblically and effectively. What if, when approached by a man who wanted to plant an affinity church, State Conventions sat down with the man and the pastor of a local church in the man’s desired area to plant and encouraged them, trained them, equipped them to partner together to create a ministry to reach the affinity that the planter feels lead to reach under the authority and leadership of a local church. Hey, what if the ABSC actually paid for a staff person for a local church! (If approved by the church of course). What if money was used on strengthening existing churches (who desired to be faithful and biblical)?

I am not against evangelistic ministries within the local church focusing on reaching youth, or strippers, or addicts, or cowboys, or Native Americans. In fact we can and must increase these evangelistic efforts in areas of the state where there are these specific needs. But, we have no biblical warrant to tailor make a new church just for these sub groups.

11. BONUS: Numbers lie - 

A biblically faithful church may appear to 'win' less people to the Lord, but you can be assured that a church faithful to Her King in all ways is going to be more effective than one who is not. We should all be concerned about numbers but numbers should not be our chief concern. Our greatest concern is gospel fidelity. As a good friend of mine has said "the true conversion rate may never surpass the false conversion rate so if the opponents are just counting decisions they are never going to see that this is actually more effective in fulfilling the great commission." The point of course is that if all we look at is 'numbers' we would be forced to conclude that what we need is more Joel Osteen churches. And surely no faithful Southern Baptist would approve of that.

One other thing about numbers is that you will see in a decade or two this falling by the wayside and something other taking its place. My proof of that is we see this right now. "Contemporary" churches aren't enough anymore are they? Affinity churches are taking the place of the 'contemporary' movement. And in a few decades something 'new and innovative' will take the place of affinity planting. How long will we be picking up the pieces of the harm caused by this sort of mentality? Finneyism "worked" 200 years ago and we are still dealing with the negative effects. Brothers, let's scrap this and get back to planting and revitalizing gospel churches.

So, I really think we need to keep this conversation going.  I think we've bought into this affinity methodology under the guise of "it works!" But, is it really worth it based on the above objections? I maintain that if God can save people with unbiblical means, He can save even more when we seek to be wholly faithful.

Let me also suggest two books and a blog that I've found helpful on this issue. I'm thankful for men more mature than me that are thinking through these issues:

1. Prodigal Church by Jared Wilson

2. The Compelling Community by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop

3. Slick Card-itus by Jim Elliff

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Saving Faith Obeys

Do you have to obey God in order to receive eternal life?

And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him... - Hebrews 5:9

The truth is the only way one can find peace with God is by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9). However, faithful Christians have always proclaimed that while it is faith alone that saves, saving faith is never alone (see Eph 2:10). In other words, one evidence of saving faith is that a person is obedient to Christ. 

Now, perhaps someone will look at Hebrews 5:9 and simply say that all one needs to do to be obedient to Christ is to 'believe' Him. So, to 'obey' is to have faith. It's not that I disagree with this, but I would emphasize that the obedience mentioned here is more than just to believe. In context, the author of Hebrews mentions the Son's obedience to the Father (5:8) and so we can safely assume that in v.9 our obedience ought to imitate that of Christ's. 

Let's be very clear here- we ARE NOT saved by our 'works'. If you hear the gospel and respond by saying "yeah I'll try harder to be a better person," you have missed the point. We are saved by Christ's work on our behalf. There is nothing left to 'do' to earn God's love or favor. We must run to Jesus in faith resting in His propitiatory work on our behalf. 

However, we have erred greatly in the Bible Belt by preaching an assurance of salvation based on what someone did in the past. Commonly it goes like this:

"I'm really struggling with assurance of salvation."

"Well, did you ask Jesus in your heart?"


"Did you mean it?"


"Well, you're saved! It's just the devil trying to mess you up."

But what does our text say? Does it say Jesus is the source of eternal life to those who asked Him in their heart? Or those who obey Him?

Part of what it means to be a Believer is that we desire to have every ounce of our life joyfully submitted to Christ's sovereign reign. 

What does this look like? Just a few examples:

A life that knows, believes, loves, and shares the gospel

A life that desires to read, know, and apply Scripture

A life that loves the local church

A life that hates sin and desires to be free from its power and presence 

A life that is generous

A life that shows mercy, kindness, and compassion 

A life in awe of God's holiness and that delights in worshiping Him

Again, this doesn't mean we hope in our works. That God will find our works good enough so we can get into heaven. No beloved, we must rest in Christ's finished work on our behalf. But a faith that rests in Christ, is a faith that lives. And a faith that lives is a faith that obeys. 

Based on Hebrews 5:9, a person that is not walking in obedience has no right to claim Jesus as the source of his or her eternal salvation. (There are so many applications for the local church in this but I'll levee that for another blog sometime!) 

Grace and peace. 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Does Money Own You?

It is both amazing and alarming at the ease in which the love of money can creep into our hearts.

Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." - Matthew 6:24

It's not that you shouldn't simultaneously serve God and money. It's that you cannot simultaneously serve God and money. Serving money means that we see created things as better than the Creator of things. It means we see the cheap promises of satisfaction right now as greater than the gospel promises of Jesus even though many of those come later...

Have you considered how infatuated we are with material things in our culture? How even a lot of professing Christians and churches are caught up in it? Is it possible that instead of you owning money and material possessions, that they actually own you? Consider the following and take serious inventory of your heart: 

  1. If you are unable to make responsible financial decisions because you’ve got to have this toy or that toy, money owns you

  2. If ‘responsible financial decisions’ are determined by worldly financial sense with no grounding in or wisdom from Scripture, money owns you

  3. If you are unable to be generous because you’ve got to pay off this debt or that debt, money owns you

  4. If you are unable to give toward the Kingdom today, because you’re worried about whether God can take care of you tomorrow, money owns you

  5. If you daydream about what you can do with a 1.5 billion dollar Lottery ticket payout, money owns you

  6. If you are envious of what others can do with their money that you can’t, money owns you

  7. If you relish the euphoria brought about by purchasing a new car, or clothes, or electronics, or whatever, money owns you

  8. If you can’t tip because the waitress wasn’t up to your standards today at lunch, money owns you

  9. If you like the feeling you get by people knowing you’ve got money, whether it’s a stock broker, or your insurance agent, or the president of the bank, money owns you

  10. If you think, “I’d be a better person, or a better Christian, or have a better life - if I just had some more money”, money owns you

  11. If you try and manipulate God for financial blessings, money owns you

  12. If you think God’s love for you is manifested in financial prosperity, money owns you

  13. If you think the gospel is just about getting to heaven, but doesn’t change the way you actually use your money now, money owns you

  14. If you have no real desire to be generous because you worked hard for the money you have, money owns you

  15. If you’re a senseless spender, money owns you

  16. If you’re a Scrooge-esque saver, money owns you

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Eye of Mercy

A 75 year old woman stopped to pick me up today. I didn’t ask for her driver’s license or anything, so it’s just a guess. Maybe she was only 73.5.

In an effort to get a little more exercise in my daily routine I have been walking more around town as of late. Today, I was walking from my home to my study at our church building, only about ¼ of a mile away.

I can count on one hand the times people have stopped to give me a ride since I’ve been walking to the church building (almost a year and a half now). I remember one time our current Mayor stopped and was very friendly. A few others have stopped here or there to ask if I needed a ride.

This isn’t really about people giving me a ride because I don’t need a ride. I want to walk. Look, I’m 5’11” and about 250 pounds. I’ve got a beard that may either come across as intimidating or just makes me look like a vagabond (I’ve actually been told the latter). All that to say, I don’t really expect anyone to look at me and think “Maybe it’d be a good idea to stop and give this red-bearded stranger a ride.”

But then you have this lady. Two and half times my age and probably weighing in at 130 pounds less than I do. If I were to be someone wanting to overpower her and take her purse, or car, well, I’m not really trying to brag on my physical prowess, but it wouldn’t be a contest. And then she stopped. Right there on the main highway and she began to clear out her front seat so that there would be room for me to sit.

I don’t know why, perhaps it’s because of the passage I’m working through for this week’s sermon, but her act really moved my heart today. Of course, I told her I was just walking down the road a little further and didn’t need a ride. I thanked her, and she drove on, probably to never really think about the encounter ever again. Little did she know that her act would make it into a blog post, a sermon illustration, and my heart!

About that passage I’m working on…Here’s what Jesus says in Matthew 6:22-23:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

This is actually one of the more difficult passages I think in the Sermon on the Mount, and something I’m still working through on what Jesus actually means. But, these verses are jammed between two other passages that deal with material possessions. So, while I’m sure there’s some application about us not looking at pornography or other wickedness, I can’t help but feel rather strongly that perhaps the main application here is to be wary of our lust for wealth and possessions.

How does this connect to what happened to me today? A woman, who saw a traveler (I wear a backpack with my books and things in it) walking down a busy highway stopped to give him a ride. Not thinking of her time, her gas, and not to overstretch this, but not even thinking of her life. She saw someone in need, and stopped. She had several excuses not to stop (some pretty legitimate ones I think) but she stopped anyway.

Look, I don’t even know if this lady was a Christian, but I think that her action may help illustrate part of the application of this text. Let our eyes be fixed upon our Master (see v.24) and His Kingdom. When our eye is healthy we will be less desirous of asking those self “preservatory” type questions. Questions that enter our hearts like ‘What is this going to cost me?’, ‘How does this fit in with my agenda?’, and ‘Why can’t somebody else deal with this’?

Again, this isn’t a plea to go pick up hitchhikers. It’s a plea to have an eye of mercy. An eye focused on Christ is an eye that will seek opportunity to show compassion. When our eye is fixed upon Powerball winnings, and daydreaming about what we could do with more money…Or when our eyes feast upon the affluence in our society…Or when our eyes hunger for what our neighbors and coworkers have that we don’t have…When our eyes wander toward these things, our hearts follow. If this isn’t dealt with the result is a severe lack of generosity.

I know, I know. You have excuses on why you’re not more generous than you are. But, my simple desire for you this day is to set your eyes upon the Generous One. The One who gave us the unspeakable gift. Run with endurance the race that is set before you, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

Consider that if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, and if the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

It’s risky to stop the car for someone you don’t know on the road of life. But I’m comfortable saying that those with their eyes on Jesus are risk takers.

Trust Him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In Love with Jesus but Ashamed of His Words

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." - Mark 8:38

If you think about it, Jesus is a pretty popular figure. The Muslims like him, as well as the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons. His name is used quite a bit in various movies and the occasional country song while he is still making appearances in cartoons like Family Guy. He was in a lot of people's yards just last month, and hey, even Oprah Winfrey has poured forth her accolades.

Of course, any discerning reader will quickly see that there's a big problem with the above Jesus(es). And that is, how can the Jesus of Oprah, Peter Griffin, and Joseph Smith possibly be the same person? 

And then, we haven't even gotten to the Christian Jesus yet. The actual Jesus. The only Jesus. But I've got to start with the above illustration to establish my premise that the minds of men are capable of creating a false Jesus. And if pitiful cults and popular culture are able to invent their own version of Jesus, it doesn't seem too implausible that those sitting in the pews of what we consider orthodox churches can do the same thing, does it? 

The reality is, particularly in the Bible Belt, everybody loves Jesus. In fact, I'm not sure that I can think of more than 1-2 people (if that) I've ever encountered who openly admit that they hate Him. And yet, did we catch what Jesus said in the above text?  

...whoever is ashamed of me and of my words

Jesus doesn't let us choose here. He and His words are a take it or leave it package. We can't be unashamed of Jesus and ashamed of His words (or the other way around). To put it very plainly, if you are ashamed of Jesus' words, well you may love Jesus, but it's absolutely not the Jesus of Scripture (who, remember, is the only Jesus who matters).  Let me go ahead and drop another bombshell here: the words of Jesus aren't just those red ones you find in the gospel accounts. The words of Jesus begin in Genesis 1:1 and end in Revelation 22:21, and encompass every jot and tittle in between (we'll just have to leave it at that since this concept in itself is enough for a whole separate post). Here's about as simple as I can put it:

You can't love the Jesus of the Bible without loving the Bible of Jesus. 

To be ashamed of the words of Jesus is to be ashamed of Jesus. Here's a few ways to be ashamed of Jesus' words (NOT what we want to do btw):

1. Love what He hates -

To redefine sin or diminish it or excuse it is to be ashamed of the words of Jesus 

2. Hate what He loves -

To disdain righteousness, holiness, His church, etc is to be ashamed of the words of Jesus. 

3. Willfully neglect time in Scripture - 

None of us spend as much time in the Bible as we should. We all need to grow in this. But to fill our time with other things and to not include Scripture day after day, week after week, year after year, is to be ashamed of the words of Jesus. (Essentially, to neglect time in the Bible is to say Scripture is unnecessary - the height of folly and arrogance)

4. Dismiss parts of Scripture -

So you think "Hey I love the words of Jesus!" but then you dismiss the Epistles, or the Pentateuch, or any portion of Scripture that you consider "not nice" or "too judgmental." To do this is to be ashamed of the words of Jesus. 

5. Live as though the Bible is not authoritative -

Many professing Christians I know say the Bible bears highest authority but when it comes to practical living they let their own standards, or cultural pressure have the final say. Jesus didn't run a vote on what we thought about His words. This isn't a democracy. It's a Monarchy. To disobey the words of Jesus is to be ashamed of them. 

6. Live as though the Bible is not sufficient - 

Scripture is sufficient for us knowing God and His will. To live as though you need extra revelations of God or to trust in your experiences over and against Scripture is to be ashamed of the words of Jesus. 

I'm sure as you go through that list you see at least an area or two that you need to seriously think about. Is the Jesus you love the Jesus of Scripture? If so, you will not be ashamed of His words. Why? Because if we are ashamed of His words, we can be sure that He will be ashamed of us in His coming Kingdom no matter how many times we've sung Oh How I Love Jesus on Sunday mornings. 

Ultimately then, the most important thing isn't what we think of Jesus, but what He thinks of us. We can think we have love for Jesus that's as pure as the freshly fallen snow, but if we are ashamed of Scripture (see the enumerated points above!) it's not the Jesus of the Bible that we love. It's a figment of our own imagination, and that Jesus can't save. 

Let me close with one final application. I think one thing that keeps so many from seeing these truths is neglect of the Bible. So many rest their head on a pillow each night with a false peace in their hearts simply because they won't open God's Book and read it. Because when we read the Word, we find that it actually reads us! Therefore, my final application can be summarized in this: get in the Book. 

Open my eyes that I might behold wondrous things out of your Law