Our Shared Liturgy: A Culture of Christ For All The Ages

(Theology/Insight)

You are what you love, love is a habit, discipleship is a rehabituation of your loves” – James K. A. Smith

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit

Doth My Heart Love Till Now

Hours tick by regardless of decisions made, actions taken, beliefs followed, or the time we commiserate with people. Some are time wasters, others efficient with their time. Weeks spent in the gym, years at work, and decades dedicated toward leisure. Temples built out of food, mammon, sex, guns, sports, or fishing. Rock etched by the blood of tears. Iron and Steel molted under intense heat. Days turn to months until moments become that last breath. Where one sits at the dinner table established a routine of rituals and processions. Altars surround our lives. But at what altar do you kneel? What does your heart speaketh in that final hour?

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. – Psalm 15:2

St. Augustine of Hippo once replied of Psalms 15:2 saying:

[I]t is possible that a man may speak with his mouth a truth which profiteth him nothing, if he hold it not in his heart, that is, if what he speaketh, himself believe not; as the heretics…

Faith requires a pure sincerity that may fade at periods of life but never will it burnout. Should that sacred fire not exist, yet a person continues forward into the Holy of Holies, a profane fire will be lite becoming a mere intellectual exercise; vain attempts of ritual without purpose or meaning. And should thou not be careful, one runs risk of Nadab and Abihu:

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-2).

Not to suggest that God will bring fire down as He did to Nadab and Abihu; rather we must layout the concern that tainting holy ground has serious consequences for the Christian faith and the Universal Church i.e. of whom Christ is the Head. Worship matters and where the heart settles daily determines a proclivity that has eternal consequences.

Augustine, a great father of the faith, understood Sacred Scripture in its clarity of the human heart before an Absolute Sovereign God. Numerous times in the Old and New Testaments, the scriptures warn us that the human heart is misleading:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. – Proverbs 4:23

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. – Romans 13:14

Christ, Family, & Community

For us to properly settled our minds on that which is true and good, Christ must do a divine work within us. Per salvation a work is begun in us as we seek to partake in a body, the local church. Salvation is not the end game for a true believer rather it is the beginning of a life devoted to the Lord and His Kingdom.

Kingdom building requires us to gather and worship, to be discipled and to learn, to go share the Gospel and help all in need. Christ, our bridegroom, betroths us, the body, His bride. Yet while are indeed His, Christ bestows us leaders: Pastors/Priests/Elders, Deacons, and Bishops to pasture the flock through and through. Along with other believers we are to admonish one another in the ways of the Word.

Lastly, the Church is to be the center of community; a symbol of refuge for the broken and downtrodden; and a place of growth and real prosperity for believers. Once a person is saved, Christians must build outwardly from their homes, workplaces, and events. Yes, we gather every Sunday to celebrate the Living Word and the Living God our Savior, but each day must be a day set aside for God and for others. We must not be like the pharisaical. Should a brother or sister be in need, even on a Sunday, we must rush to them. Sharing the Gospel is the essential element but it carries with it great responsibilities as it reads in Matthew 5:3–12:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Our calling is strong and everlasting in nature. There is no separation between believer and the Word; we do not adopt the Platonic or Aristotelian over that of scripture—never. Only the God of the New and Old Testament—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Our sacred liturgy is binding to reality. When and where we gather, so the immanence of God shall be. No, that does not dissolve the sacredness of the cathedral or the holy day. What the immanence of God reminds us is that His will be done. He is not to be forgotten nor can He be defeated. God reigns forever and ever. That sacred liturgy then is the center piece of our Body and the Throne of our lives, Jesus Christ.

Immanence of God - Servants of Grace

So when we gather at the dinner table or the Lords Table we must be sure to layout the real purpose of our joy and hope; our reason for living and being; the meaning of life and purpose.

Christ is the King! O Friends Rejoice 

1. Christ is the King! O friends, rejoice;
brothers and sisters, with one voice
let the world know he is your choice.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

2. Oh magnify the Lord, and raise
anthems of joy and holy praise
for Christ’s brave saints of ancient days.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

3. They with a faith forever new
followed the King, and round him drew
thousands of faithful servants true.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

4. O Christian women, Christian men,
all the world over, seek again
the way disciples followed then.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

5. Christ through all ages is the same:
place the same hope in his great name,
with the same faith his word proclaim.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

6. Let love’s unconquerable might
your scattered companies unite
in service to the Lord of light.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

7. So shall God’s will on earth be done,
new lamps be lit, new tasks begun,
and the whole church at last be one.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

Renewing Our Mind: Part 2

(Christ Is King)

Alas I cannot speak of transformation without the renewing of our minds nor can I speak of the renewing of the mind without transformation for central to the proposition of transformation is Christ. He is the key ingredient. Additionally, if your mind has been renewed, then you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. Your mind has been reformed to be on the thoughts of God and not of man. What I am saying is that born-again Christians have an acceptance of and are obedient to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I am going to explain what every person needs and must do to be transformed and also provide a measure by which whether their minds are truly renewed. 

The Transformational Process 

For there to be a beginning of the renewing of the mind, there must be the beginning of the renewing of the heart. Because “there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) all individuals must both repent i.e. confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and turn away from sin (Acts 3:19) by turning toward Jesus Christ for as it says in Romans 8:9-11:

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Now it is vital for our souls that we hammer out the understanding of Faith and Repentance as they are coequal and cannot be separated from another. 

Christ Is King 

We can never understand the God of heaven unless we come to know him through his earthly Son” (Batson, 22, Jesus is Lord). In the eternal perspective of things we cannot afford to take salvation lightly. Faith in Christ means understanding, respecting, and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord or Kurios as it is in the Greek. Kurios often translates as master, but in the context of Christ it is understood that He is the Supreme Authority because as all the gospel’s tell us and has been prophesied since the fall of Adam (Genesis 3:14-15) that a Savior would come, fulfill the law, die for the sins of the world, and physically come back from the dead on the third day. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is our Lord; our King who is without sin, and who conquered death. So often we make the death and resurrection of Christ about us, after all, John 3:16 states:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

But understanding the world did not love God, but rather the world chooses to live in sin. We know this to be true from the Old and New Testaments but consider 1 John 4:10 which states:

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

God, by his mercy and grace, chose to love us; His creation. Thankfully, God is a God of promises who keeps His covenants with His people as we see throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. From Genesis to Revelations we witness the Gospel; the promise and fulfillment of the Good News of Christ our Lord. Nevertheless, this really is not about us, but about His unwillingness to allow sin to pervade over His creation. Take to heart Romans 3:9-18 which again shows man’s choice to follow sin:

What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.  

Humanity worships the Self rather than Yahweh. Thankfully the Gospel is not about us, but rather it about God’s eternal power, truth, justice, mercy, and grace that overcomes death in every way. To finish out here, the Lordship of Christ means putting him above everything else. Your family, friends, houses, cars, jewelry, favorite foods mean nothing in comparison to God. Our so called “righteousness” are but filthy rags before the King of Kings (Isaiah 64:6) or as King Solomon exclaimed when looking over his works saying it was “all vanity” before God (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11). It is that understanding of who Christ is that leads us to the coequal step in salvation: Repentance. 

All Must Repent

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) said Christ as he began to preach in Galilee. If true faith is upon a believer, repentance is waiting to bring godly sorrow. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11:

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.  

Worldly sorrow is when we feel bad because we got caught. Worldly sorrow is feeling sad and maybe even stop watching porn or getting drunk for a little while, but eventually falling back into it without consideration of the eternal perspective. Worldly sorrow is even when you kick a particular sin out of your life for good because you were just sick with the way it made you feel. This form of sorrow is temporal. 

Godly sorrow is the understanding that we are at enmity with God because of sin and implore for forgiveness from Adonai. Godly sorrow carries a thick air of esteem and contemplation of who we are before the Holy of Holy’s as sinful fools that attempt to taint His purity. The Puritan minister Thomas Watson would write that “Godly sorrow is abiding” (Watson, 25, The Doctrine of Repentance) explaining:  

It is not a few tears shed in a passion that will serve the turn. Some will fall a-weeping at a sermon, but it is like an April shower, soon over, or like a vein opened and presently stopped again. True sorrow must be habitual (Watson, 25, The Doctrine of Repentance). 

In the eternal perspective, godly sorrow is commanding the responses of our mind. In the temporal perspective, worldly sorrow drives the reactions of our heart. Heed my words then and repent with a godly sorrow for Christ is Lord and Christ must be addressed with deference. In doing so, we are then beginning the renewing of our minds through a process unlike any other.  

Trial by Fire: The Measuring Stick of a Renewed Mind 

Christ both justifies and sanctifies believers. In the First Letter to the Corinthians 6: 9-11 Paul explains this point clearly: 

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Quoting from the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM), here are a set of definitions of what it means to be justified and sanctified in Christ: 

Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to the sinner, so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law. Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ. Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process (Slick, CARM, Justification and Sanctification: What is the difference?). 

The renewing of our mind is a sanctification process, one that will continue until we pass-on, and it is what I call a Trial by Fire process as described in 1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Walking with Christ will not be easy as there will always be temptations in our lives. Sin waits on every corner. As sons and daughters in Christ we must always remember that we are not at war with our own, but rather at war with the unseen; principalities and darkness above; spiritual forces that our beyond our own fleshly capacity (Ephesians 6:10-12). Paul alerts believers to put on the armor of God in our daily walk with Him which means at all times the Armor of God ought to be equipped so that we can fully honor Him and remain faithful servants to Him in our walk for Him (Ephesians 6:13-20). The description of the armor is as follows (I am paraphrasing some): belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel and the peace that comes from it, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (word of God). But there is more, believers are also called to pray always and always in the Spirit and be ever watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. This ultimately ties into the final part of this verse. 

Next Part 3: Trial By Fire

Clausis Oculis, Caelo Late Patente

(Christ Is King)

By: Edward Kyle Richey

This is the reading of the LORD,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3: 5-8).

Worldly wiseman, from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, informs the Christian that he need no longer burden himself with that “book” (the Bible) for he has a much more appropriate way to remove that pesky burden off of Christian’s back, “Why, in yonder village (the village is named Morality), there dwells a gentleman whose name is Legality, a very wise man, and a man of very good name, that has skill to help men off with such burdens as thine is from their shoulders;.” Indeed, there is mighty good to be found in the village of morality from whom Mr. Legality lives. Should any man or woman who praises virtue as a pillar to be built upon the foundations of eternality ought to admit, yes, there is goodness in work. Who are we without work? A dead faith according to St. James (James 2:17).

Neither the righteous seeking Christian or the virtuous practicing Pagan would argue against the value of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the homeless, or assisting the poor. Though today there are those who find that even the value of life, that of the person, is a deficit when compared to animals, plants, and other life outside of the human-being. Those blind and broken souls deny the Imago Dei. Absent from all three of these views, however different, are the wisdom of trust established in Proverbs. Doing good is never enough. Faith in the one true God can only save, heal, and progress the good man or the good woman.

We are called to not lean on our own understanding. That phrase to lean is sha`an in the Hebrew שָׁעַן which carried over into the English as a forewarning to not rest fully, to not support, to not rely on ourselves, but rather put all of our understanding, to invest all of our trust, in God.

It cannot mean we are never to rely on our understanding in the sense that I must doubt all that I think and do; that is an absolutist attitude of skepticism which the Scriptures are not advocating. If they were, we could not even rely on our own understanding of what the Bible is telling us. That would be foolish, rather the Proverbs are instructing us, as that is the literal meaning of Proverbs i.e. instruction. Solomon through the Wisdom of God is instructing believers to put their full and final faith in God, and for Christians’ in Christ the King, and never themselves.

Our world dictates to trust the Self, to value billionaires such as Warren Buffet or famous actors or a political leader. Trust thyself is the motto. Yes, there is plenty we can learn from such rich and powerful men like Buffett. Let there never be any doubt that Buffett knows how to invest money. But money and power will only last as long as the body is alive. Then shall all fade away from thy hands. No more, we are naked again, yet alive regardless of whether one believes in the Almighty or not. At that moment, their wisdom will be put to the test. God shall judge. And judge us all He shall.

Turning to the Lord requires a holy acknowledgement that only can be ignited by God in the midst of our pitch black, darkness of the night soul searching. Fumbling and bumbling we shall walk, but walk we must toward the light. Running from evil and calling out to the Lord are means to an eternal end, a life that is His alone. Once one is captured by the grace of Christ they are tied to the bosom of the Church by which Christ is King. Headship over heaven and earth; dominion over all that is and was and shall ever be. That is the wisdom that covers the believer. Do not fear the world, fear the Lord.

Like Noah, take cover in the Ark; let God seal the doors from the crashing waves in the rising floods. End will always be near whether it comes from war, famine, accident, or natural causes. Until the moment your eyes are shut once again, it is better to build a life that seeks the goodness of God than empires of gold, iron, and feast for they shall rot or rust. The world may be decadent today. But tomorrow is never guaranteed let alone a better tomorrow can always turn to worse. Only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are eternal and always good.

Seek Him, Seek Christ Alone.

CHRIST IS KING: Our Liturgical December Issue

Welcome, this month will be radically different because of a radical event that started two-thousand years ago through the sacred birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. For our December Issue (2020) you can expect updates of prayers, chants, psalms, scripture readings, articles, podcasts, and more all December with a focus on Christ. You can see the link here: Christ Is King or look for it in the top of our menu screen.