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Entries in TableTalk (2)


The Gospel in a Hostile Culture

Dave Furman wrote an excellent article for the July issue of TableTalk. Furman is senior pastor at Redeemer Church in Dubai, UAE. He would know what what it means to preach the gospel in a hostile culture.

I found his discussion instructive for the hostile culture we live in here in North America. It is not even close to being as hostile as Dubai's culture, or many other places for that matter. But the exhortation he gives is still useful, for there are people who profess Christ who are just a wee bit hostile to hard truths, and want to connect with the culture by avoiding that which may "offend" others.

I like what Furman said here:

We must preach theologically rich doctrine, allowing the meaning of the text to be the meaning of our sermons. The cultural context we minister in must not shape the doctrine we preach; rather, our doctrine must inform and shape the culture. Expositional preaching that makes the point of the passage the point of the sermon serves the church best. Even in the most hostile cultures, we want to be sure to preach through the different genres of Scripture, demonstrating that God's authority over their lives comes from God's Word, and not the teacher of God's Word. Expositional preaching allows people to hear the whole counsel of God, and it is an avenue for teaching them to study the Bible for themselves.

When we preach theologically rich doctrine in the power of the Holy Spirit, we guard the gospel and God receives all the glory for saving sinners.

As a dear friend often says, yes and amen.

Read the whole article here.


Therapeutic Praise

That is the name of a very good article by David Murray in the January edition of TableTalk.

Murray talks about how he sees a revival in the Psalms because of their therapeutic value.  He opens with the comment:

In a day of so many disordered emotions, worshippers are discovering how the Psalms minister so powerfully to their emotional lives.

He describes five ways they do this: 

  1. They balance divine revelation and human emotion. 
  2. They express a full range of human emotions.
  3. They paint a realistic picture of Christian emotions.
  4. They are a welcome outlet for painful emotions.
  5. They call us to sympathetic emotion. 

I am an emotional person, and it is always a struggle for me to keep mine in check, because they are always quite close to the surface.  While I know that emotions are not sin in themselves, I know that the improper handling of them does lead to sin.  Finding a way to express the whole range of emotional life is beneficial, and where better than the Psalms?  Certainly, there are any number of well-meaning authors out there who try to teach us how to cope with emotions, but I think the Scriptures are naturally a better place to begin.

I like what Murray says here:

The Psalms open the pressure valves of our hearts and direct us in how to articulate our most painful emotions.  We don't need to bottle them up or deny them.  Instead, God has inspired songs by which we can admit them and let them out.  As someone said, "What a relief!  I can sing what's really on my mind and heart, and God provides me with words to rightly expres these emotions.  The Psalms reach into ind these emotions and then reach upward to God with them."

Murray then reminds us that the Psalms don't allow us to "wallow," which is where the crucial moment comes. I love music, and I love songs that sing about a reality I am in, but I want a resolution at the end.  What is the point of singing about my pain if I can't sing later about its resolution through God's presence in my life?  

I liked the last line of this article:  "The Psalms turn me inside out."

If you don't already read Dr. Murray's blog, I encourage you to do so.  You can find it here