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Posts by Scott Korljan

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What's the purpose of a Benevolence offering?

Every Christian church has the God given responsibility to care for each other not only spiritually, but materially as well. Our love for one another must go beyond pious talk and prayer, and when needed must involve practical acts of care, mercy, and generosity. Any church unwilling to do this faces the warning of the Apostle John: 1 John 3:13-18: "But if anyon...

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The Art of Neighboring

I recently finished a short but helpful book entitled “The Art of Neighboring.” In this post I offer a brief summary of the major points of the book, and then a couple of personal takeaways.     Book Summary:  The main point of the book is that Christians should think of their actual, geographic neighbors, as people who are included in Jes...

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Traverse City is "Dechurched," so now what?

Last week I was made aware of the most recent Barna release of "Church Attendance Trends Across the Country." The trends reported are based on a sample size of over 76,000 telephone and online interviews done over a seven year period, ending in April 2016. Based on this sample, Barna breaks down the most churched cities, most unchurched cities, and most dechurched cities i...

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On Pastoral Robes and Supreme Court Justices

This week, at the beginning of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse gave a remarkable 10 minute address on the significance of the Supreme Court Justice robe. As I listened to him explain the meaning of the simple black robe to the Senate, I was struck by how relevant his comments are for understanding why mini...

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Which false teacher are you listening to?

A few months ago popular Christian teacher and blogger Jen Hatmaker publicly spoke out in support of same sex marriage, shocking many in the conservative Christian world of which she was presumed to be a part. In the wake of the controversy, Christianity Today published a thought-provoking article about "the bigger story" behind the Jen Hatmaker reversal, observing the out...

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Spare the Rod? Spanking in an age of child abuse

In his blog post, "Why Jesus wants you to stop spanking your kids," theologian Benjamin Corey speaks to what seems to be a growing conviction inside of evangelical Christianity: God is against spanking. What seems to have triggered his post was the arrest and subsequent suspension of NFL football player Adrian Peterson for child abuse after "spanking" his child with a tree...

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Why I baptized my children, and why I will baptize yours if you let me...

Several years ago I had the great privilege of baptizing my daughter Tenley when she was just a few months old. Before the baptism, Lindsay and I sent a letter to our family and friends, many of whom were completely unfamiliar  (and some, suspicious) with the practice of infant baptism. In light of the upcoming baptisms this weekend, I have posted the letter in its e...

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Why Church Membership? The importance of community in an individualistic and online world

Why should I join a church? Is there really a difference between joining a church and attending regularly? I can now go to church "online" and watch a famous preacher on my TV - isn't that just as good as joining a local church? In our day, where both technology, individualism, and a consumer approach to religion are rampant, these are all questions that come up and need ...

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A Great Divide: The Fundamental Difference Between the PCA and PCUSA

One of the questions that I routinely get asked as the minister of a Presbyterian Church is this: “What is the difference between your church and the Presbyterian Church down the road?” I have found that simply asserting that we are part of the PCA and the other Presbyterian Church is part of the PC(USA), only leads to “What is the difference between the ...

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What happened to the Presbyterian Church USA?

This week the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States, approved an ammendment to their constitution to redefine marriage as "a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a women, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives." The church had voted to adopt this change at last years General ...

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A Reformed Church

Redeemer is a "Reformed" church. What does that mean exactly? ...

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Christianity for Sale?

In last week’s sermon, we discussed the negative influence of consumerism when it is applied to the Christian faith. We made the point that a "consumer Christian" is not a disciple, and that Christ call to follow him is a call to be a disciple, not a consumer. Unfortunately, the consumer mentality has not just affected Christians as individuals, but as churches (and ...

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A 21st century plea for Catechizing our youth, part 1

This is the first in a series of posts about the critical importance of catechesis in the home and church today. My hope is to convince that catechism is a discipline and privilege that Christian parents should engage in and churches encourage and support. While this has always been true historically, I believe it is especially critical in light of our current cultural sit...

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How to write a worship song in five minutes (OR Why we sing hymns)

First, watch this video... This video is funny. It's also rather sad. While certainly exaggerating, it expresses quite pointedly how empty many contemporary worship songs really are. In only a few years as a minister, it has become obvious to me that many people are turned away from reformed and presbyterian churches because they find the minimal instrumentation and ...

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What should I do Sunday afternoon, part 2

What should we do Sunday afternoon? In the first post on this topic, we finished by suggesting that to answer this question we must consider the purpose of the Lord's Day. As we consider what Sunday is for, it will help us determine what we should do. Purpose # 1: Sunday is intended to bring us refreshment, both physically and spiritually. This aspect of refreshment is a...

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What should I do on Sunday afternoon?

What should I do on Sunday afternoon? I acknowledge that even asking this question identifies me as one of those weird Christians who still believes that Sunday is a special day. I admit it is true. I still believe that the 4th commandment applies, that Sunday is the Lord's Day, and thus it is to be different from the other days of our week. This is the position of our de...

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Dear Christian, Are You Ready to be 'Weird?'

I was confronted with an unsettling truth recently while reading a book by an English Christian by the name of Francis Spufford. In the preface to his book, Unapologetic: How Despite Everything Christianity still makes Surprising Emotional Sense, he describes what it is like to be a Christian in England in the 21st century: My daughter just turned six. some time over th...

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Why So much Singing in a Worship Service?

Unless you are one of the gifted few among us, chances are you don’t do much out-loud singing during your week (not counting the car and shower). For many of us, the very idea of publicly singing with around others can be intimidating. For others, particularly men, singing in church is something we “tolerate” as a necessary inconvenience in order to get t...

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Why Have a Benediction?

Why Have a Benediction? Every week at Redeemer we end the service with what is called the benediction. The word benediction literally means ‘good speaking,’ and refers to God’s pronouncement of blessing upon his people. The minister, acting as God’s representative, lifts his hands and announces the Lord’s final blessing on His people as they ...

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Why Recite a Creed Every Week?

Every week, before we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we recite together one of the ancient Creeds of the Christian Church. Most of the time we use the Apostles Creed, but we also use the Nicene Creed and occasionally parts of the Heidelberg Catechism. Why do we do this? First, reciting a Creed names and gives substance to the God we worship. In a pluralistic society ...

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Why do we have the Lord's Supper every week?

Every Christian church has been given the privilege of partaking of the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. Jesus made it clear, when he instituted the Supper, that it was a meal that should be continually observed by his disciples until he comes again. The bread represents his body broken for us, the wine his blood shed for us. The meal as a whole gives us a wonderful...

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Why do we have sermons? (And why are they So Long?)

There is more time devoted in our worship service to preaching than to any other single element. This is intentional, and reflects our understanding of just how important preaching is for establishing and strengthening our life of faith. Preaching was central in the ministry of Jesus, the ministry of his Apostles, and is to have a central place in the church. As Paul solem...

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Why Take an Offering in the Worship Service?

It is no longer a given in evangelical churches that an offering will be taken during a worship service. As an alternative, many churches now set up permanent “drop -boxes” in the back of the church which allow for donations to be made at any time. Others, aided by advances in technology, have moved to online giving through sites like Paypal or by setting up au...

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Why Pray?

From start to finish, prayer is a significant part of the Sunday worship service at Redeemer. We have the opening prayer of invocation, a corporate prayer of confession, prayers of intercession, a prayer before and after communion, and a weekly recital of the Lord’s Prayer. There are many reasons why we give prayer such a prominent place in the worship service. Pray...

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Why A Declaration of Forgiveness?

Every week at Redeemer the minister declares God’s forgiveness to the congregation. Formally known as the “absolution,” this is a public declaration of God’s certain forgiveness and favor toward those who truly repent and admit their need of Christ. The minister does not have any inherent power to forgive sins in his person, of course, but he makes ...

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Why have a Confession of Sin in the Worship Service?

Every week the congregation of Redeemer church corporately confesses our sins before God and seeks his mercy and forgiveness. This week for example, we will ask God in our prayer of confession that he would “Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord. For your name&rsquo...

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How should a worship service begin? Part 2

In the last post, we explained what a call to worship is, and why we begin our worship service this way. This week, we will consider what immediately follows the call to worship in our service: The Invocation and God's Greeting.  What is an Invocation? What is God's Greeting? An invocation is our response to God's call to worship. It is a prayer which invokes God, w...

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How should a Worship Service Begin? Does it really matter?

Every Church has to begin the corporate Sunday worship service in some way. Some churches simply start worship by playing a song, others begin with a welcome, greeting, and prayer, and the list goes on. At Redeemer, we have chosen to begin service with a formal Call to Worship. The pastor, speaking on God’s behalf, calls the congregation to worship by reading a passa...

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Why have a Prelude before Worship? (OR: How to NOT profit from church this Sunday)

This week we begin a summer blog series explaining each element of our worship service at Redeemer. We begin by thinking about the prelude. The prelude, coming directly before the start of the worship service, is a short period of time (only 30-60 seconds) which provides an opportunity for us to quiet our hearts and prepare our minds for worship.  Why have a Prelude?...

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The Importance of Corporate Worship

We live in a day in which the importance of the weekly worship service for Christian growth and discipleship is being undermined. There are many reasons for this. Certainly the individualism of our culture which has led to a "me and Jesus" approach to our Christianity is a big factor. After all, why do I need to go to church when I can have a personal experience with Jesus...

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Spectators or Participants? (OR Why we sing Hymns, part 2)

This is the second post on the philosophy of worship music at Redeemer Church. In the first post, I reflected on the importance of content. A song that has no biblical content, a song in which Jesus' name can be replaced with "Baby" and still make sense, is not one that we should be singing in the public worship service of the church.  In this post, I want to address...

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I'm a Protestant. What should I think about lent?

Last week began the liturgical season of the church year known as Lent. Lent is the 40 day period beginning Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, the season of lent focuses on repentance, prayer, and good works, in preparation for the celebration of Easter (much like the season of Advent is meant to prepare us for the joy of Christmas morning). The ashe...

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Should we trust 'Scientific' Prayer Studies?

In this past week's sermon, I mentioned a 2006 study published by the American Heart Journal on the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer. The study consisted of evaluatiing what effect, if any, intercessory prayer had on producing an uncomplicated recovery for cardiac bypass patients. The conclusion of the study was that there was no correlation at all between the nu...

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A Prayer for the Year's End

I came across the following prayer in The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. What I find refreshing about it is its realness. We live in a world of superficial spirituality where we like to only talk about things that are "positive and encouraging." This prayer at year's end recognizes that "positive and encouraging" does not always des...

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The Sin of King Jeroboam

King Jereboam was a wicked king. So wicked was he in God's eyes, in fact, that his sin is repeatedly referenced throughout the entire book of Kings, and he is viewed as setting the example for all of the sinful kings who followed him. When Baasha became king in Israel, for example, the narrator informs us that “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked...

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Defending God's Unconditional Election

I recently came across a blog written against the doctrine of God's unconditional election. The author, a Christian blogger and speaker, set forth what he believes are five logical implications of this doctrine which he finds repulsive and inconsistent with Scripture. Interestingly, he himself is responding to a post by John Piper which set forth five reasons to embrace un...

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The Parent as Youth Pastor

“Doing youth ministry without parents is like driving a car without the engine.” - Mark Devries [1] It’s no secret anymore, youth ministry is in a state of crisis. Polls of recent years report over and over the dire percentages of youth who leave the church after high school. Whatever the exact percentage actually is, what seems clear enough is that more...

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The Crook in the Lot

Thomas Boston's pastoral reflections on facing suffering offer a challenging word to American Christians: Submit. ...

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The 7 A's of Confession

"I'm sorry I spoke the way I did, but you know I was really tired..." "I'm sorry if  I offended you by what I did..." "Maybe I could have tried harder.." "I guess I was wrong when I said those things about you..." "Let's just forget the past..." What do all of the above have in common? They are examples of apologies to others that fall short of what God calls us ...

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"I believe in the holy catholic church?" What is the Apostles Creed referring to?

At our church we recite the "Apostles Creed" together nearly every week. Nearly every week, then, we all repeat the phrase "I believe in the holy catholic church." For many christians, this assertion is problematic, because it could be understood as an endorsement of the Roman Catholic church. Is this what the Creed is referring to? What exactly are we confessing when we a...

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Do our good works really please God?

The book of James often leaves us in a place of cognitive dissonance.  We know from Scripture (and experience) that all of us continue to sin, even as believers (1 John 1:8-9). We know that even our "good works," if examined closely, are mixed with unbelief and impurity. We know that, because of the indwelling sin that remains in us (Gal 5; Rom 7), we are unable to p...

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Need Wisdom? Ask God, Then Ask Others

James tells us that God promises to give us the wisdom that we need for our lives. But how does he give it to us?...

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The Christian and the 4th Commandment

Last week I read about a recently ordained PCA minister who took an exception to the Westminster Confession's articulation of Sunday as the "Christian Sabbath." It's not suprising to hear of a minister taking exception to the Confession's teaching regarding the restrictions that apply to the Sabbath. Over the years I have heard many ministers express their concerns that th...

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