Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


An Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council on the Coeur d’Alene Mask Mandate

November 11, 2020 in Authority, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Politics, Thankfulness

November 11, 2020

Dear Mayor & City Council Members,

I want you to know that I have been praying for you all. I know that being elected to serve our city at such a time as this is not what you had envisioned when you stood for election. The spread of the coronavirus has challenged us all. So know that there are many who are praying for you.

Since your decision to implement a mask mandate for the city of Coeur d’Alene, our surrounding cities have refused to do so. It is my understanding that the Post Falls City Council decided to mandate masks for those on city property but not to mandate masks generally. Given this, I want to urge you to rewrite your mask mandate to follow that pattern. Why?

First, it would enable you to continue to educate the community about masks. I understand that a majority of you believe masks are effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. While I would question that conclusion (and have included a couple links below for your information), if you pass a mandate for city property then you would still be able to accomplish this objective and endeavor to persuade the community of their effectiveness. You would still be on record upholding the value of masks for our community.

Second, it would free you from the need to mobilize the police force to cite those not wearing masks. I read in the paper this week that four individuals have been cited and are now at risk of being prosecuted by the city. Is this really how you want to use our police force? Aside from the questionable use of their limited resources, do you really want our officers to hold a gun to the head of our citizens and force them to wear masks? For this is what mobilizing the police force means. When you pass a mandate, you are authorizing men with guns to impose your will on others.

Finally, it would increase the esteem for your lawful authority. As a pastor I want to encourage members of our community to show due honor and respect to those whom we have elected as public servants. But when you pass mandates of this sort that are questionable in their value, dubious in their constitutionality, and widely disregarded by the populace, I cannot do that which I would. This mandate is simply fostering contempt for your authority among our citizens.

Again, thank you for your service. I pray that you may reconsider your mandate and rewrite it to reflect that found in our surrounding cities.

Sincerely,

Pastor Stuart W. Bryan

Links on Policy and Masks:

https://gbdeclaration.org/

https://themodelhealthshow.com/maskfacts/

Click here for a pdf version of this letter.

Tree-Like Growth

October 25, 2020 in Bible - NT - Luke, Church Calendar, Creeds, Ecclesiology, Liturgy, Lord's Day, Meditations, Tradition, Worship

Luke 13:18–19 (NKJV)

18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”

Routinely at this time of year, I have invited us to consider the nature of Christ’s work in our lives. As Americans, we tend to have a love affair with that which is spontaneous or new or different. As American Christians, therefore, we tend to grow tired of what we call the “same old thing” and hanker for some new fad to bring life back into our Christian walk.

But what Jesus articulates for us in His parables of the kingdom is that the way the Holy Spirit works both in our individual lives and in the life of His Church is better pictured by the growth of a tree than the lighting of a sparkler. Sparklers, of course, are fun and exciting – they burn bright and shed their fire on all around them. But sparklers soon burn out while trees, planted and taking root, slowly grow over time; growing almost imperceptibly, soaking up the nutrients in the soil and increasingly displaying the glory of their Creator.

This steady, slow, natural growth is the way Christ typically works in the lives of His disciples. Normal Christian growth involves long periods of steady plodding – plodding that brings prosperity but plodding nonetheless. Typically God works in our lives through steady plodding, slow growth, gradual transformation – through what theologians have called the ordinary means of grace: reading and hearing the Word of God and participation in and meditation upon the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Steady plodding. Few sprints; mainly marathons. A long obedience in the same direction.

You may not know, but the last six months in the Church Year – roughly June through November – are called “ordinary time.” There are no special feasts and celebrations; just the regular time of the Spirit’s work in the Church. After the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost, the Spirit began working in the Church, gradually transforming the people of God into the image of Christ. Hence the color of this period is green, a color of growth. Tree-like growth.

In several weeks we’ll be introducing some liturgical changes: entering a new church year when Advent arrives. We will have a different Call to Worship, a different Confession, a different Creed. Before we change, I wanted to draw to your attention the fact that for the last six months we have not changed these things.

Why have we done this? There’s no biblical requirement that we do so. We could have changed them weekly, monthly, or periodically. God has left such decisions to the wisdom of church officers. And for six months we’ve chosen to use the same ones. Perhaps you noticed; perhaps you’ve wondered if this is ever going to change. And perhaps you’ve thought the same thing about periods in your own life and spiritual development. And the message of Jesus is that He is at work growing His kingdom and even growing you – so trust Him and keep plodding.

Reminded that Jesus’ work in our lives is often gradual, like the growth of a tree, we are alerted that often our hankering for something spontaneous or new or different is not an impulse of our Christian faith but our Americanness. And this reminds us that we need to confess our fickleness to the Lord and ask Him to enable us to practice a long obedience in the same direction. So let us kneel as we confess our sins together. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession that is found in your bulletin.

Time for a Jehu

October 23, 2020 in Homosexuality, Israel, Judgment, King Jesus, Politics, Sexuality

No doubt you have heard more than enough political commentary in the past few weeks. Yet several times folks have asked me for whom I plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I made quite public in 2016 my refusal to vote for either of the major candidates. I did not consider either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton worthy my vote and I do not regret my decision; nor would I have regretted it had my decision been more consequential and Clinton been elected President. I was and am at peace with the decision I made in 2016. It was not the first time, and it may not be the last time, that I voted for a third party candidate. Yet this year I plan to vote quite happily for President Trump. Why the change?

It is not because I think that President Trump’s character has fundamentally changed – though I regularly pray that God matures him and recognize that the media reports about him (from which our opinions of his character are often formed) are far from reliable. Nevertheless, his tweets are at times embarrassing. His past history of womanizing and breaking his marriage covenants remains. And his boasting and bluster and apparent pride are disturbing. So why vote for the man? There are several reasons.

First and foremost, I have four years of experience on which to evaluate what President Trump will do the next four years. In 2016 I had no confidence that President Trump would pursue any of the conservative policies that he was publicly advocating. Yet here we are several years later, and Trump has followed through with his promises. Working with the Senate, he has appointed hundreds of originalist judges to federal courts including (hopefully) three to the Supreme Court. Working with Congress, he has lowered taxes, reduced regulations on businesses, and negotiated new trade deals that have returned manufacturing jobs to America. As head of the executive branch of government, he has promoted increasing freedom in education, protected religious freedom from the LGBTQ+ revolutionaries, achieved historic peace agreements in the Middle East, pulled the United States out of incessant wars overseas, stood up to China’s communist and godless regime, compelled other countries to contribute to NATO’s expenses, calmed the threat of North Korea, and stifled the flood of illegal immigrants. I could go on. His fulfillment of many of the promises he made has convinced me to support him in this election.

Second, President Trump has been the most pro-life President in history. He is the first President in history to speak at the annual March for Life. His speeches have consistently recognized that the unborn bear the image of God and so are worthy of protection. He has regularly criticized the Democrats for their barbaric commitment to late term abortion. Contrast this with the godless pursuit of the Democrats. Consider that Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential running mate, willfully chose as the Attorney General of the State of California to ignore the immoral and criminal behavior of Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of little babies and instead chose to prosecute the heroic journalist who exposed their butchery. I can understand and sympathize with fellow Christians who vote third party. I do not agree with them in this election, but at least I can understand. But any professing Christian who votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is at best utterly confused but more likely on the road to utter apostasy.

Third, President Trump respects the Judeo-Christian and Constitutional heritage upon which our republic was built. He has surrounded himself with advisors, including a Vice President, who openly and publicly claim the name of Christ and live in a way consistent with that claim. He has stated that our rights come from our Creator and that it is the role of government to preserve and protect those rights, not to grant them. He has endeavored to appoint judges who respect the rule of law and understand their limited role in our constitutional republic. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, he has basically followed the principle of federalism, permitting the states to govern themselves and refusing to use the power of the federal government to intrude into affairs which rightly belong to the states. The Democratic party has no such commitments. Joe Biden has signaled a willingness to pack the Supreme Court, has promised to increase taxes, has promoted yet more socialist health care (even going so far as to call it Biden-care already!), and has indicated his willingness to try and implement a national policy on lockdowns, masks, climate change, etc. He will expand the power of a federal government that is already bloated beyond the recognition of our Founding Fathers.

Fourth, President Trump has made all the right enemies. He has unmasked the radical leftist bias of the mainstream media. He has enraged the sexual revolutionaries. He has been willing to critique identity politics and has highlighted its Marxist roots. He regularly warns against the dangers of socialism and praises the blessings of the free market. Though I myself am frustrated with President Trump’s willingness to sign trillion-dollar spending packages, his critique of the socialist trajectory of the Democratic party is heartening. With a Biden presidency, we would get none of this. He will embrace the sexual revolutionaries, abet the socialist “Green New Deal”, enable Marxist ideology in the form of Black Lives Matter and other movements, and fundamentally reshape the nature of our federal system.

I could go on, but these are some of the major reasons I will be happily voting for President Trump. In my own mind, I have regularly likened President Trump to Jehu in the Old Testament. Jehu wasn’t a particularly righteous man. Yet God anointed him to clean house and to purify many of Ahab’s abuses. It is my hope and prayer that God will be more merciful to us through Trump than he was to Israel through Jehu. But at this time in history only a Jehu can do what needs to be done.