I continue to be facinated by the tattoo culture. And the more I hear about people and their tattoos, the more I find it to be a religious act.
Today a friend posted on their fb page a pic of their new tattoo. They captioned it by saying, "This is fear, pain, self-doubt, and frustration. This is challenge, openness, vulnerability, and growth. This is support, encouragement, connection, and respect. This is passion, determination, desire, and perseverance. This is grit, confidence, strength, and courage." It was the language of religion.
In my mind there is a parallel from the world of tattoos and the rite of baptism. Baptism is a reminder, a mark for encouragement, a testimony to a struggle, perseverance, and strength. It witnesses to vulnerability and growth.
When God puts his mark on it signifies much of what is expressed in the modern tattoo. However, it is an invisible sign. One that still very much testifies to the invisible God and the life/relationship we have in Him.
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Thanks to a wedding I attended this past weekend I had a glimpse into what a Reformed church in Ashland could look like. Almost 500 people attended the wedding. Most of the families who were present were theologically reformed.*
I could not help but be amazed. What a joy it was to sit and sing praise to God with so many who had a similar doctrinal mindset. It was held in the University chapel, and the thought that we almost filled that rather large venue was awesome.
It struck me that if they were all to band together in humble love, such a church would have a incredible impact on the rest of the community. Specifically I think of the ability to fund outreach events, diaconal ministries, and missions. It could staff multiple full time ministers for the purpose of discipleship, schooling, and evangelism. It could host seminars and conferences. It would certainly have more sway over other churches in the area. I would not doubt that it would also greatly influence public policy and shape the whole political contour of the city.
The encouragement that I received by means of this wedding is tremendous. It gives me good hopes for the work ahead at Hopewell Church and what it can be.
*This of course is only counting the Reformed people who are associated with the wedding party. It obviously does not include those who are outside the bride or groom's circle of friends. To be sure, I know of still others who profess to be Reformed in the area and would have filled a few more pews.
King Alfred the Great - Recently read this short work on King Alfred the Great, which details the life of a godly leader. His administration is essentially the foundation for common law, which is built on the Mosaic code. The work expresses how society at large profited--stealing and general evil was diminished throughout the land. His character is highlighted, especially his diligence to study and develop personal piety.
The Christian Ministry, by Charles Bridges - I have begun to read this book. I have desired some personal encouragement in regards to the work of the ministry. This quote stands out not only as profound:
“The Ministration of the Church, as Calvin observes, is ‘not an easy and indulgent exercise, but a hard and severe warfare, where Satan is exerting all his power against us, and moving every stone for our disturbance.’”
Josh Harris Ted Talk, Strong Enough to be Wrong - That was the first time she had ever heard a religious leader admit he was wrong.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.