TFC | April 21st, 2014

Catechism Question #17: What is Idolatry?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 17:  What is idolatry?

Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”  Romans 1:21 & 25

“O God, the light of every heart that sees thee, the life of every soul that loves thee, the strength of every mind that seeks thee, grant me ever to continue steadfast in thy holy love. Pour thyself into my heart, and let it overflow, and be so entirely filled with thy pleasures, that there may be no room left for the trifling vanities here below. I am ashamed and tired of living after the way of the world; the very sight and hearing of transitory objects is troublesome: help me, my God, against the insinuations of such, and be thou the joy of my heart: take it all to thyself, and keep thy continual residence there…that I may leave all here below, and serve, and fix, and dwell upon thee alone.”

Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.
From Pious Breathings: Being the Meditations of St Augustine, his Treatise of the Love of God, Soliloquies and Manual, translated by Geo. Stanhope (London: J. Nunn & Co., 1818), 29–31.



TFC | April 18th, 2014

The Paradox of Good Friday – TFC Epistle for April 18

The first thing I heard early this morning was a couple of fellow Boot Campers talking about having a holiday off from work at the end of the week today. “Isn’t it redundant to call Friday good?” The reply was, “definitely.”

Good Friday ImageYet today – THIS FRIDAY – is GOOD in an incredibly unique way. Christ died for us. Well how is that good? Because I need it. You need it. The sin of humanity past, present, and future needs a payment. But still, how is a death, and not just any old death, but the most cruel form of death good, even if it had some merit? Well, Jesus was the Son of God. That means His death on our behalf was more than an example. In infinite holiness, Jesus’ death satisfied God’s wrath. That’s good. And He was in control the entire time. Jesus WILLINGLY took upon our sin, bore our punishment, and entered into our death FOR US. That is unbelievably good.

Come tonight to the Good Friday movement in our Triduum Service. What a joyous, beautifully chaotic, and moving time together last night’s gathering on Maundy Thursday was. Don’t miss part two, as we begin in the darkness which covered our departure last night portraying the betrayal, arrest, and beating of Jesus for us. It gets darker tonight before it gets better. But all true. The reading of God’s Word never returns void. When truth is proclaimed, it has the power to change the world and us along with it. And tonight’s reading of the Passion narrative along with response in song is moving. And GOOD.  (7 pm in the sanctuary)

Broken together with Christ.

Pastor, TFC | April 15th, 2014

Catechism Question #16: What Is Sin?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 16:  What is Sin?

Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”  I John  3:4

“O Lord, deprive me not of thy heavenly blessings.
O Lord, deliver me from eternal torments.
O Lord, if I have sinned in mind or thought, in word or deed, forgive me.
O Lord, deliver me from…littleness of soul and stony hardness of heart.
O Lord, deliver me from every temptation.
O Lord, enlighten my heart which evil desire hath darkened.
O Lord, I, being man, have sinned: do thou, being God, in loving kindness forgive me.
O Lord, send down thy grace to help me, that I may glorify thy holy name.
O Lord Jesus Christ, enroll me thy servant in the book of life.
O Lord my God, even though I have done nothing good in thy sight, yet grant me, according to thy grace, to make a beginning of good.
O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of thy grace.
O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in thy kingdom.
O Lord, receive me in repentance.
O Lord, leave me not.
O Lord, lead me not into temptation.
O Lord, grant me thought of good.
O Lord, grant me tears, a remembrance of death, and a sense of peace.
O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins.
O Lord, grant me humility, charity, and obedience.
O Lord, grant me endurance, magnanimity, and gentleness.
O Lord, plant in me the root of all blessings, the fear of thee in my heart.
O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love thee with all my heart and soul and in all things obey thy will.
O Lord, shield me from evil men and devils and passions and all other unlawful things.
O Lord, who knowest thy creation and what thou hast willed for it; may thy will also be fulfilled in me a sinner; for thou art blessed for evermore. Amen.”

John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.

From “A Prayer by John Chrysostom: According to the Number of the Hours of the Day and Night” (notice there are 24 of them) in A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1983), 14–15.


TFC | April 11th, 2014

Epistle for May 11

This Sunday, April 13, begins Holy Week for the Christian church. It is also known as Passion Week. Not passion in the contemporary sense of hot emotion, romance, heavy breathing, or perfume. Biblically, passion is an expression of love involving deep suffering. God’s love is always sacrificial, and therefore always involves suffering. Infinite suffering and infinite love go hand in hand.

The Christian worship gathering is a beautiful mixture of whole-hearted devotion, submission, participation, service, and remembrance – yet 100% experience. The gatherings of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morning, are intended to bring to our present experience the reality of the new life God graciously gives through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are invited to consider the fickle and misguided nature of our faith as the disciples process with Jesus into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), share in the hope of the disciples as they gathered for a final meal with Jesus, and received the example and command of humble sacrificial love (Maundy Thursday),  mourn the depths of our sin and marvel at the healing Jesus’ wounds provide through His incomprehensible willing submission to the most horrific betrayal, arrest, crucifixion and death (Good Friday), and celebrate the glorious reality of His resurrection (Easter)! I invite you to each of our services this coming week and experience in a new way the fullness of life in Christ, “having been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Rom. 6:5)

The services include a variety of music, physical movement, and participatory experiences – perfect for great conversation with children. And since they clearly follow the climax of Jesus’ earthly ministry and present the foundation of the good news of salvation in Him, they are perfect to invite family and friends along. You can pick up church business cards (with map and contact information) and helpful postcards with service times and a brief explanation of Holy week to use along with a personal invitation.  Also, please be mindful of the presence of guests and welcome them with warm hospitality.

Website PicMaundy Thursday
What was it like for the Jesus’ disciples to share the intimacy of table fellowship with Him, listening to His instruction and watching His powerful expression of God’s sacrificial love? This is why we gather as a church on Maundy Thursday. This year, our time together will be different than in years past, and more reflective of the experience the disciples had during that evening and final meal. Instead of a separate meal and service afterwards, our supper will be the beginning of our Maundy Thursday gathering, starting at 6:00 pm. We’ll eat together (baked potatoes with toppings and salad, no charge), and enjoy table fellowship. We’ll continue by worshiping in song and God’s Word, and like the disciples on that evening, we’ll have an opportunity for foot washing by our elders (or families may wash one another’s feet). Our gathering will then move to the Sanctuary to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and witness the stripping of the sanctuary, preparing to continue the Triduum on Good Friday.

Good Friday
On Good Friday the somberness of our Lord’s death is recalled. We remember the scandalous beating, mocking, and crucifixion of God’s incarnate Son.
Easter Sunday
But death is defeated in Christ’s resurrection! The somber mourning of death, including honest reflection on our own mortal weakness, is overcome by joyful celebration of resurrection life on Easter Sunday. The ancient Easter greeting proclaims the truth:  “He is Risen, He is risen indeed!”

Sharing the death and resurrection life of Jesus together,

Pastor, TFC | April 9th, 2014

Catechism Question #15: Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 15:  Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?

That we may know the holy nature and will of God, and the sinful nature and disobedience of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior. The law also teaches and exhorts us to live a life worthy of our Savior.

“No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”  Romans 3:20

“The Lord reveal himself more and more unto us in the face of his Son, Jesus Christ, and magnify the power of his grace…and of his tender mercy encourage us; and persuade us, that since he hath taken us into the covenant of grace, he will not cast us off for those corruptions, which as they grieve his Spirit, so they make us vile in our own eyes: and…the Lord add this to the rest of his mercies…to let the prevailing power of his Spirit in us, be an evidence of the truth of grace begun, and a pledge of final victory, at that time when he will be all in all, in all his, for all eternity. Amen!”

Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as “the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes.” Preacher at Gray’s Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax (from which this prayer is taken).  From “The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax” in The Works of the Reverend Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (Aberdeen: Chalmers, 1809), 80.


TFC Office | March 30th, 2014

Catechism Question #14: Did God create us unable to keep His law?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 14:  Did God create us unable to keep His law?

No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are all born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature and unable to keep God’s law.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”  Romans 5:12

“OUR Father, when we read Thy description of human nature we are sure it is true, for Thou hast seen man ever since his fall, and Thou hast been grieved at heart concerning him…. It has become a wonder to us that Thou shouldst look upon man at all; the most hateful object in creation must be a man, because he slew Thy Son, because he has multiplied rebellions against a just and holy law. And yet truly there is no sight that gives Thee more pleasure than man, for Jesus was a man; and the brightness of His glory covers all our shame; and the pureness and perfectness of His obedience shine like the sun in the midst of the thick darkness. For His sake Thou art well pleased, and Thou dost dwell with us…. And now, Lord, during the few days that remain to us here below, be it all our business to cry, “Behold the Lamb!” Oh! teach our hearts to be always conscious of Thy love; and then our lips, that they may set out as best they can by Thy divine help the matchless story of the Cross…. Lord, forgive us our sins; Lord, sanctify our persons; Lord, guide us in difficulty; Lord, supply our needs. The Lord teach us; the Lord perfect us; the Lord comfort us; the Lord make us meet for the appearing of His Son from heaven!”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London’s New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.
From “Prayer VII: Let All the People Praise Thee” in Prayers from Metropolitan Pulpit: C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers (New York, Revell, 1906), 43–47.
TFC Office | March 23rd, 2014

Catechism Question #13: Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 13:  Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?

Since the fall, no mere human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly, but consistently breaks it in thought, word, and deed.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  Romans 3:10-12

“O thou whose name is Emmanuel, our Lord and Sovereign: grace is poured into thy lips, and to thee belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against thee. We, who are no more worthy to be called thy servants, beseech thee to do away our transgressions. We confess that thou mightest cast us away for them, but do it not for thy name’s sake. Our wisdom is gone, our power is gone, nor have we what we may call our own but sin, shame, and confusion of face for sin. Take pity upon us, 0 Lord, take pity upon us.”

John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.
From The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, by Dorothy M. Stewart (Louisville: John Knox, 2002), 49
TFC | March 21st, 2014

Epistle for March 21, 2014

Many of you might have already heard the news that Wayne Harman, a founding member and long-time elder at TFC, was called into Christ’s presence yesterday morning to await with us the final and glorious resurrection we will share with Wayne in Jesus Christ. Please pray for the family and our church family as they grieve this loss. Family visitation will be Sunday, March 23, from 3-5 pm at Sparkman Hillcrest on Northwest Highway.  The funeral service will be Monday, March 24, at 2 pm at Sparkman Hillcrest as well.

I want to remind you of an upcoming conference, put together by Dallas Theological Seminary with Dr. Darrell Bock and his work with the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement.

The Table Image

“Your Work: More Than a Paycheck.”
This is an incredibly important and practical topic for anyone who works – i.e. everyone. No matter what industry, vocation, or position, in God’s sovereignty, and by His creative provision we are called and equipped to work for His glory. Do you? How can you do so even more?  Here is a link to more info and registration.

We are planning a men’s activity the Saturday night following the conference for ongoing discussion and fellowship.  Stay tuned for more information.



Dr. Bock on FOX:
Finally, here’s a link to a recent interview Darrell had on Fox news about the importance of the resurrection. Pray for Darrell’s ministry. It is great to have someone with his skill and insight engaging the culture in these ways. But such gracious interaction is not limited to the scholars. This is a great example of the kinds of faith conversations we can have with co-workers, friends, and family members as well.

Keith Hileman

TFC Office | March 16th, 2014

Catechism Question #12: What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 12:  What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?

Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak the truth in love. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given them or us.

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”  James 2:8

“Almighty God, who art the Father of lights and who has promised by thy dear Son that all who do thy will shall know thy doctrine: give me grace so to live that by daily obedience I daily increase in faith and in understanding of thy Holy Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children’s literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.
From a letter to Mrs Sonia Graham who had asked Lewis for a prayer, written from Magdalen College, 18 March 1952, in Letters of C. S. Lewis , edited by W. H. Lewis (Orlando: Harcourt, 1966), 419.
TFC Office | March 9th, 2014

Catechism Question #11: What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?

PART 1: God, creation and fall, law.

Question 11:  What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandment?

Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.

“The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Romans 13:9

“O Most merciful God and Father, who dost vouchsafe to build Thy spiritual temple among us, not with wood and stone, but with the edifying of the Holy Ghost, who abideth in those that believe, grant, we heartily beseech Thee, that we may not be left, under the power of any temptation, to defile that temple by our sins, but yielding ourselves to God as dear children, may continually glorify Thee by holy obedience, till we come to behold as with open face Thy glory, which we now only see reflected in Thy word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.
From “A Prayer of John Calvin” in General Liturgy and Book of Common Prayer, prepared by Samuel Miles Hopkins (New York: Barnes, 1883), 47.

This Week at Trinity Fellowship Church

Behold & Believe - John 6

April 27, 2014