Indeed, now that Christ has taken upon Himself the curse of the law for us, the great dread of the commandments has been removed. We are now entirely free to obey out of love and delight, rather than out of fearing the consequences. We no longer look at the commandments as if they were an impossibly steep mountain to climb; instead, we now see them as the loving rules of our Father.
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
Psalm 119:47 ESV
As is common to stanza waw, this verse is a continuation of the previous verse, in which the psalmist declared that he would speak of the testimonies of God before kings without shame. Of course, that verse too was rooted particularly in verses 44–45, where he declared his resolve to keep God’s commands. Now the psalmist unveils why he will devote his life to keeping God’s commandments and unashamedly speak God’s Word before kings: for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
Delight is nothing new to this psalm, for the psalmist has already expressed his delight in the testimonies of God and in the path of God’s commandments, and the writer still has more to say on the topic! The theme of delight is recurrent in Psalm 119 for good reason.
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By Brad Isbell — 5 months ago
These numbers suggest that the “no” votes on the highly-contested, SSA-related overtures were disproportionately those of teaching elders. Of course, the reverse can also be assumed, that a disproportionate number of the “yes” voters were ruling elders…. Does this suggest a disconnect between pew and pulpit (RE/TE)? Or is it a metro/blue suburbs vs. rural/red suburbs disconnect? Or southeastern vs. the rest of the country (assuming more REs attend from the southeast)? There are likely many theories, no one of which explains all.
The recorded “no” votes on the controversial overtures 23 and 37 from the last Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly (PCAGA) are now available in the just-released minutes of the 2021 summer assembly. Recording of votes is optional and generally indicates strong feelings or convictions on a given issue or measure. One conclusion that might be drawn from these numbers is that teaching elders (TEs) in the PCA are far more likely to have strong feelings about these overtures than are ruling elders (REs).
Overture 23 had 1855 votes cast. It passed 1438-417 (71% for, 29% against). 137 “no” voters recorded their votes (33% of those against). Of that 137 only 18 (13%) were ruling elders. Ruling elders made up 25% of all commissioners (616 out of 2115 total elders).
Overture 37 had 1826 votes cast. It passed 1209-617 (66% for, 34% against). 177 “no” voters recorded their votes (29% of those against). Of that 177 only 18 (10%) were ruling elders. Again, ruling elders made up 25% of all commissioners.
These numbers suggest that the “no” votes on the highly-contested, SSA-related overtures were disproportionately those of teaching elders. Of course, the reverse can also be assumed, that a disproportionate number of the “yes” voters were ruling elders.
This is speculative, but if the recorded TE:RE “no” vote proportions are an accurate representation of all “no” voters it might be reasonable to suggest that approximately 55 ruling elders voted against overture 23 out of 616 in attendance. For overture 37 the number of total ruling elder “no” votes might have been around 62 out of 616 in attendance.
Does this suggest a disconnect between pew and pulpit (RE/TE)? Or is it a metro/blue suburbs vs. rural/red suburbs disconnect? Or southeastern vs. the rest of the country (assuming more REs attend from the southeast)? There are likely many theories, no one of which explains all.
The recorded “no” votes can be found on pages 89-99 of the 2021 GA minutes.
Brad Isbell is a Ruling Elder in Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. This article is used with permission.
By Dan Hart — 6 months ago
God created us as embodied beings comprised of both bodies and souls, nourishing our physical hunger through eating naturally nourishes our minds and hearts. As we engage in rich conversation, we draw closer and grow in intimacy with each other. Our souls are in turn nourished by this communion we achieve with others during the meal. Since our minds, bodies, and souls are in union with each other, when one is nourished, they are all nourished. It is in this act of dining that we can harness the true communal potential of shared meals that our Creator intended them to be.
In 2019, a disheartening survey was released on the eating habits of Americans. It found that only 48 percent of respondents eat at the dining room table, with 47 percent saying they eat on the couch or in their bedrooms instead. Tellingly, 72 percent of respondents also said that they grew up eating in the dining room. This is the latest illustration of a trend that has been happening for quite some time in America. Families and households are putting less of an emphasis on one of the most fundamental pillars of family and communal life—a shared meal.
Social science bears out the central importance that family dinner has on positive outcomes for children, including lower rates of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, obesity, and eating disorders as well as higher grade-point average, self-esteem, and vocabulary. But the benefits of family meals—or any shared meal—go much deeper than what social science can prove. Dining together fills an innate need that all human beings crave: the desire for true communion and fellowship with our Creator and with one another.
The Centrality of the Meal in Scripture
Scripture tells us a great deal about just how fundamental meals are to human flourishing. Moreover, the Bible contains many examples of how the provision of food often served as a means for teaching important spiritual truths. For example, in the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites manna in the desert. Despite their disobedience (which resulted in the people having to wander in the desert for 40 years), He fed them, teaching them to depend and rely on Him for their daily sustenance (Exodus 16). Similarly, throughout the gospels, Jesus chooses a shared meal as the context not only for building relationships but for enacting His salvific plan.
His desire for forming intimate bonds over a shared meal is shown through His dinner with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi (Luke 5:29-32), eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50), dining at the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:25-42), and staying at the home of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Strikingly, Jesus also emphasizes communal dining with His disciples in His resurrected body. He sups with two disciples that He meets on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), with His disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 14:35-48), and again with His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius, sharing a miraculous catch of fish and bread over a charcoal fire (John 21:1-14).
Indeed, Christ’s plan of salvation is miraculously revealed multiple times in the context of a shared meal. It is at a wedding feast at Cana that Jesus performs His first miracle of turning water into wine, ushering in His public ministry (John 2:1-11). After feeding the souls of 5,000 men (besides women and children, which means the total number may have been as much as 15,000) by teaching them about the kingdom of God, He orchestrates a miraculous, spontaneous dinner for everybody when He multiplies a few loaves and fish to feed the entire throng, so much so that there are 12 wicker baskets left over after everyone has eaten their fill (Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-36). At the Last Supper, Christ reveals a fundamental aspect of His sacrificial mission through sharing bread and wine with His disciples (Luke 22:14-23).
It’s clear that Christ placed great emphasis on the importance of the meal as a conduit for revealing the depth of His love for His flock. But a natural question arises here—why did Christ do this? What is the true nature and potential of a shared meal?
“From Eating to Dining”
Judging by the survey referenced earlier, for the most part, eating has become a pretty mundane and isolated exercise for many Americans. At the same time, the popularity of cooking shows and eating out prove that even the fragmented nature of everyday life in our culture has not fully tamped down the pleasures of a good meal.
By Le Ann Trees — 9 months ago
Sexual chemistry is extremely powerful, with effects that have been compared to that of taking highly addictive drugs such as cocaine. It is nothing to be dealt with lightly, as can be seen from the havoc and wrecked lives left in its wake.
Most Christians enter into marriage thinking neither spouse will have an extramarital affair, but it does happen, as we sadly know. Here is some practical advice for protecting and strengthening your marriage.
Countless affairs are ignited by “chemistry.”
Extramarital affairs can start because of sexual chemistry—and Christians should never underestimate the power of this kind of chemistry. We hear stories of pastors having affairs, and we wonder how that could happen. Of course he knew better—he is a pastor! What a hypocrite! Well, most of the time, it’s likely that sexual chemistry ignited the fuse.
It is helpful to recognize the role hormones play when it comes to the feelings of sexual attraction humans experience. According to the research institute ASDN (Atomic Scale Design Network),
First attraction, first “sparks” in the air followed by falling in love are caused by combination of three neurochemicals: phenylethylamine, norepinephrine and dopamine. Later stages of long relationships are guided by another two: oxytocin and serotonin…Phenylethylamine (PEA), acts as a releasing agent of norepinephrine and dopamine. The first attraction causes us to produce more PEA, which results in those dizzying feelings associated with romantic love. Large quantities of PEA increase both physical and emotional energy and at the same time release more dopamine.
Be acutely aware of the difference between feelings of friendship and sexual chemistry.
To be clear, this kind of chemistry is not a deep, abiding feeling of friendship for someone of the opposite sex. According to psychologist Dario Nardi in his article “PEA—The Hormone of Love,” the hormones involved in feelings of sexual attraction result in infatuation and produce sensations that include giddiness, “butterflies” in the stomach, sleeplessness, and a narrow focus on a particular person.
“Chemistry” can ignite suddenly and unexpectedly. What was once a nice friendship can become sexually charged in an instant.
Sexual chemistry can be even more powerful when the illicit relationship has appealing aspects that are missing in your marriage, because you may be starved for them and not even realize it. Yet, as Nardi explains, the effects of hormones such as phenylethylamine (PEA), norepinephrine, and dopamine don’t last forever:
For better or worse, after a certain period of eighteen months to four years the body builds up a tolerance to the effects of PEA and related hormones.
Even though the feelings of attraction that are produced by hormones such as PEA are likely to diminish over time, the destructive effects of an affair remain. Sometimes a marriage can still be saved at that point—but not always.
This reduction in certain hormones may also be a significant reason why married couples tend to struggle with feeling as romantic with each other as they did when they were dating. It’s good to be aware of this, so you don’t think there is something wrong because these feelings have diminished.
Flee from inappropriate sexual chemistry.
You should never play with fire and sexual chemistry is no different in that aspect, as both can produce disastrous results. If you find you have sexual chemistry with someone who is not your spouse—or the person is married and you are single—the best thing you can do is stay away from that person as much as possible. We find a good example of this in the Bible where Joseph had to repeatedly refuse the advances of Potiphar’s wife and eventually had to flee from her presence to avoid committing sexual sin (Gen. 39).