Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Open Letter to the Coeur d'Alene City Council

The Honorable Sandi Bloem, Mayor of Coeur d’Alene
Members of the City Council
Coeur d'Alene City Hall
710 E. Mullan Avenue
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

May 30, 2013

Dear Mayor Bloem and Members of the City Council,

It has come to my attention that the City Council will be given an opportunity to vote on the anti-discrimination ordinance. This ordinance is designed to protect the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered community at the expense of other community members.

I love our community and do not see a need for this ordinance especially as it sanctions behavior which is immoral, unnatural, and destructive. As a local pastor it is my obligation to speak first and foremost as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ who simultaneously expresses his love for those ensnared in sexual sin and his abhorrence of such sin. He warns us that from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins… All these evil things come from within and defile a man (Mk 7:21-23). Jesus’ term “sexual sins” encompasses the very actions this legislation is written to protect. Such legislation would require Christian businessmen and property owners to endorse behavior that is evil.

I would remind you that as those entrusted with the responsibility to rule, you have been given this responsibility under God. His law is superior to any civic law and forms the basis for civic laws. Central to his law is the protection of human sexuality from abuse and degradation. Even as you would oppose someone endeavoring to paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa, so you are called at this time to oppose those who want to pervert God’s gift of sexuality.

I would urge you, in the Name of God, to vote NO on this legislation. Voting NO would uphold the sanctity of God’s law, be in keeping with Idaho State Law, and preserve the rights of all people living here in our beautiful city. 


Stuart W. Bryan

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday - God Saves Sinners

2 Thessalonians 2:13–15 (NKJV)
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday the Church has set aside to remind the people of God that the God we worship is Triune – three Persons in one God. Later in worship we will recite the Athanasian Creed, one creedal attempt to give expression to the Scriptural teaching on the Trinity.

For the moment, I would like you to consider why the doctrine of the Trinity is important and would like to answer that question by reference to Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: for Paul’s words highlight that our salvation, our deliverance from sin and death, is wholly and completely in the hands of God. Notice his words to the Thessalonians: God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father chose us, the Spirit sets us apart, the Son is the One into whose image we are transformed by the Spirit because He is the One who gave His life in our place. Salvation is wholly and completely in the hands of God.

J.I. Packer explains the significance of Paul’s words this way. He writes, “For [in Scripture] there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology [salvation]: the point that God saves sinners.

·      God - the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing.
·      Saves - does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.
·      Sinners - men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot.

God saves sinners and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour… sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but…salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen.”

One value of observing Trinity Sunday is that it reminds us of this very fact – that all we were, all we are, and all we yet will be – comes as a result of God’s grace and mercy toward us. So let us confess that we have often failed to praise the Lord for saving us from our sin and helplessness.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost Sunday Liturgy

One of the ancient associations of Pentecost is with the giving of God’s Law on Mt. Sinai. While the feast of Passover was associated with the deliverance from Egypt, Pentecost 50 days later came to be associated with the giving of the Law. It is important as we approach Pentecost and celebrate the giving of the Spirit, that we not drive a wedge between God’s Law and His Spirit – for it was the very Spirit who was poured out upon our fathers on Pentecost that had given Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai. So this morning we open our celebration of Pentecost with a responsive reading of God’s law – I will be reading each of the Ten Commandments and you will respond with passages from the New Testament that parallel these commandments.

Responsive Reading of the Law of God (Exodus 20:1-17)
Minister: Then God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

People: For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. (1 Corinthians 8:6)

M: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

P: Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

M: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

P: “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.’” (Matthew 6:9)

M: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

P: And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

M: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

P: Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

M: “You shall not murder.”

P: Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:8, 9)

M: “You shall not commit adultery.”

P: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)

M: “You shall not steal.”

P: Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)

M: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

P: Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25)

M: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

P: Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Ephesians 5:3)

All: Amen!

Reminded of God’s law, let us kneel together and confess that we often fail to implement it in our lives.

M:     Almighty God, we confess our divided loyalties
and that we have worshiped other gods;
P:      Lord, have mercy!

M:     We have made gods in our own likeness
and are enslaved by self-centredness;
P:      Lord, have mercy!

M:     We have used your Name trivially
and claimed you for our prejudices;
P:      Lord, have mercy!

M:     We have neglected the Lord’s Day,
and been obsessed with busyness;
P:      Lord, have mercy!

M:     We have ignored and despised authorities,
and over-indulged the new generation;
P:      Lord, have mercy!

M:     We have glorified armaments and war
and have cursed others made in your image;
P:      Good Lord, deliver us!

M:     We have distorted love and marriage
and twisted your gift of sexuality;
P:      Good Lord, deliver us!

M:     We have exploited the poor and needy,
and cunningly stolen by force of law;
P:      Good Lord, deliver us!

M:     We have twisted the truth in word and deed
and violated our oaths and pledges;
P:      Good Lord, deliver us!

M:     We have preached greed as a virtue
and have coveted our neighbours’ possessions;
P:      Good Lord, deliver us!

M:     Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
P:      Forgive us and deliver us by your grace.
All:    Amen.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Ascended Lord and His Mother

John 2:5 (NKJV)
His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Today is Ascension Sunday. While Ascension Day was actually last Thursday, 40 days from the celebration of Easter, in our congregation we have yet to celebrate on Thursday and delay our celebration until today. On Ascension Sunday we remember the momentous event in the life of our Lord when he ascended up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of the Father, as the exalted Ruler over all creation. On Easter Sunday Jesus was crowned King of All; on Ascension Sunday he entered into his rule. And the fruit of his reign was shortly seen – for next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate that the ascended Christ poured out His Spirit to empower the Church for witness.

Providentially today is also Mothers’ Day and so I though it would be fitting to remember that our Lord Jesus, the very one who is seated at the right hand of the Father, the ruler over all the Kings of the earth, had a mother and honored his mother.

One of the greatest tests of Jesus’ honor for his mother came at the very beginning of his earthly ministry, at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. We can imagine the temptation that Jesus faced when Mary urged him to assist the bridegroom in supplying wine for his wedding guests. We know that her request was presumptuous – for Jesus felt compelled to correct her. And yet; and yet, Mary is confident that her son will honor her request and so she speaks the words in our text today, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Mary knew the character of her son and knew that he would do this for her. And Jesus doesn’t disappoint. He turns the water into wine and so begins his public ministry.

There is an important lesson here for children, especially sons, and that principle is this – even when Jesus’ mother asked something that was inappropriate given the circumstances, Jesus honored her and did what she requested. And if our Lord Jesus, He who is the exalted Lord of all, honored his mother by granting her request even when it was untimely, then how much more ought we children to honor our mothers when they make requests of us? In so far as we are able, let us fulfill the requests of our mothers – for Jesus has gone before us.

Too often, however, we are too full of ourselves to sacrifice and die to our own desires on behalf of our mothers. We think of what our mothers are to do for us rather than what we are to do for them. And certainly in this we mimic much of our broader culture. Motherhood, despite the tradition of Mother’s Day, has fallen on hard times. Mothers are despised and neglected, often disrespected. But God calls us to something different.

So today let us confess to God that we have not treasured motherhood and our own mother as we ought. Let us kneel as we confess our sin to the Lord.