31 January 2007

The Reluctant Puritan: Why I'm Not Wild at Heart

While I'm somewhat of an advocate of the Men in Church issue (David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going To Church - link in the sidebar) I do not like John Eldredge's book, Wild at Heart. I could not say it any better than The Reluctant Puritan so here's the link:

The Reluctant Puritan: Why I'm Not Wild at Heart

and another viewpoint from Challies


28 January 2007

The Need for Creeds and Confessions

Have you ever gone to a restaurant based on what the food critic in the local rag has printed about it? But when you got there you really didn’t have all the facts and you left unhappy. Well, you wasted a few bucks on a meal and you’ll never trust that critic again and you have a story to tell your friends.
I find it no different, only worse in severity, when a church does not adhere to and publish what it truly believes. Have you looked at the What We Believe page on many church websites? Try it sometime. I often can’t tell the difference between the Community Church, the Baptist church, the Fundy Baptist church, the non-denominational church that has Calvinist leanings and the non-denominational church that does NOT have Calvinist leanings. So, you really don’t know what they believe besides the generic What We Believe statements that many churches publish on their websites. There are a multitude of reasons for a congregation to adopt a creed and confession. Let’s read the good Dr. A.A. Hodge wrote concerning this:

Why are Creeds and Confessions necessary, and how have they been produced?

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament having been given by inspiration of God, are for man in his present state the only and the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice. This divine word, therefore, is the only standard of doctrine which has any intrinsic authority binding the consciences of men. All other standards are of value or authority only as they teach what the Scriptures teach.But it is the inalienable duty and necessity of men to arrive at the meaning of the Scriptures in the use of their natural faculties, and by the ordinary instruments of interpretation. Since all truth is self-consistent in all its parts, and since the human reason always instinctively strives to reduce all the elements of knowledge with which it grapples to logical unity and consistency, it follows that men must more or less formally construct a system of faith out of the materials presented in the Scriptures. Every student of the Bible necessarily does this in the very process of understanding and digesting its teaching, and all such students make it manifest that they have found, in one way or another, a system of faith as complete as for him has been possible, by the very language he uses in prayer, praise, and ordinary religious discourse. If men refuse the assistance afforded by the statements of doctrine slowly elaborated and defined by the church, they must severally make out their own creed by their own unaided wisdom. The real question between the church and the impugners of human creeds, is not, as the latter often pretend, between the word of God and the creed of man, but between the tried and proved faith of the collective body of God's people, and the private judgment and the unassisted wisdom of the individual objector. As it would have been anticipated, it is a matter of fact that the church has advanced very gradually in this work of accurately interpreting Scripture, and defining the great doctrines which compose the system of truths it reveals. The attention of the church has been especially directed to the study of one doctrine in one age, and of another doctrine in a subsequent age. And as she has gradually advanced in the clear discrimination of gospel truth, she has at different periods set down an accurate statement of the results of her new attainments in a creed, or Confession of Faith, for the purpose of preservation and of popular instruction, of discriminating and defending the truth from the perversion of heretics and the attacks of infidels, and of affording a common bond of faith and rule of teaching and discipline.The ancient creeds of the universal Church were formed by the first four ecumenical or general councils, except the so-called Apostle's Creed, gradually formed from the baptismal confessions in use in the different churches of the West, and the so-called Athanasian Creed, which is of private and unknown authorship. The great authoritative Confession of the Papal Church was produced by the ecumenical council held at Trent, 1545. The mass of the principal Protestant Confessions were the production of single individuals or of small circles of individuals, e. g., the Augsburg Confession and Apology, the 2d Helvetic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Old Scotch Confession, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England etc. Two, however, of the most valuable and generally received Protestant Confessions were produced by large and venerable Assemblies of learned divines, namely:the Canons of the international Synod of Dort, and the Confession and Catechisms of the national Assembly of Westminster.

Check this out:


There’s an excellent piece here by Dr. Samuel Miller.

24 January 2007

The Letters of ...

Some of the best books I’ve read are the books containing the letters of some well respected Christian from the past. You can read what the author has written but I find it insightful to get into their mind & one way to accomplish that is to read their letters. One of the best is the Letters of A.W. Pink. Pink was a kind, devoted, intelligent and thoughtful man. Another favorite is the Letters of Samuel Rutherford. Rutherford lived and ministered during a difficult point in Christian history. These books contain their thoughts and feelings, triumphs and heartaches revealed as they write to friends, colleagues, admirers and inquirers. Devotion to Christ and a heavy desire to share what God has done in and for them pushed them in their daily lives. We can learn much from what they have left us in their writings but also in their personal letters.

20 January 2007

Got Drums?

The Christian Science Monitor published an article on church attendance based on a study by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research. As one that spends some time reading this kind of stuff I find it very interesting. As churches & denominations have been losing members for the last 4 decades I think some of them should take notice.
I am thoroughly Reformed, adhere to the Westminster Confession and catechisms and find some of the best reading out there is by the Puritans. But, we cannot live in the past, we must move forward. I do believe it possible to incorporate Reformation theology within the modern church. One that sings modern praise and worship songs, for example. I would also agree with David Murrow, author of "Why Men Hate Going to Church." Its time the church place some focus on male attendance and do what it can for men, not to the neglect of women, but as God's appointed leaders in church and home. So, I find these studies proving some valid points and the church should sit up and take notice.

So, what did this study find in particular?

Growth is most likely when:

  • The church is multiracial

  • Joyful worship

  • Male attendance is 60% or better

  • Drums or percussion is used in worship

  • Conservative theology

  • Willingness to change

To me, this is not all that surprising, interesting, but not surprising. There are some things that are unchangeable - we know that. But a thorough examination of worship style and focus which can be changed is required now.

Read more about the survey here:


and here:


15 January 2007

It's Time to Move Ahead

Last year all the major Scottish military regiments were incorporated into one unit. As you can imagine there was an emotional public out cry as hundreds of years of history came to an end. To some degree I shared the pain as I always do when something of longevity comes to a close. Yet, it reminded me of some good Believers I know – trapped in another time because of their church affiliation or because of a personal fondness for some period in history. They’re trapped by their church which has not changed a thing for years or even decades. They’re still lumbered with hymns written 100 years ago & wearing clothes and haircuts that are out of style. They’re so entrenched they think anything else is bordering blasphemy. Or there are the other good folks that wish they’d been born in 19th century England when Spurgeon was preaching or wish they’d been around in Puritan times. I share their fondness for Spurgeon and many of the Puritans. We’re all indebted to them whether we realize it or not. I sometimes romanticize about those days as well yet I realize that I am alive today in God’s good Providence. Alive and enjoying many more years of understanding of God’s Word and the application of it because of all the authors over all the centuries that have put pen to paper to share what they have learned. Why would I ever wish to be alive at any other time? Not to mention all the advancements in every other sphere of life that we enjoy today, i.e., medicine, travel, communications, internet, etc., etc., etc. We’re truly blessed to be alive today and serving a merciful God.
At the farewll ceremony for the Royal Scots regiment Lt. General Sir Robert Richardson, former Colonel of the Royal Scots stated, "Treasure the past, draw strength from it, but do not live in it." I echo these sentiments. Let's stop living in the past and start living today.

13 January 2007

10 Reasons Why...

I wouldn't normally do this but this was too good to pass up. This was from the JollyBlogger:

1. Calvinists tend to wear wool and cotton. Dispensationalists tend to wear lime-green polyester leisure suits.
2. John Calvin was French...being French is very chic.
3. Calvin sounds like Calvin Klein...and his clothes are very chic.
4. Calvinists can drink.
5. Calvinists can smoke.
6. Dispensationalists are into prophecy conferences where they talk about Star-Trek eschatology and the mark of the Beast. Calvinists have conferences on "life and culture", art, social justice, and other high- brow things like that. Afterwards, we go to the local pub and talk about philosophy over a pint of Bass ale.
7. Calvinists have close ties with Scotland and Scotland is very cool: you know --Sean Connery, the movie Highlander, Bagpipes, the Loch Ness Monster, Glenlivet 18 year old Scotch, the movie Train Spotting, Brave Heart, etc.
8. Calvinists think we are smarter than anybody else.
9. It is more socially acceptable to say, "I go to Grace Presbyterian Church" than to say, "I go to Washed In The Blood Worship Center", "I go to Sonlife Charismatic Believers Assembly", or to say "I go to Boston Berean Bible Believing Baptist Bethel", or to say "I go to the Latter-Day- Rain Deliverance Tabernacle Prophecy Center, Inc.", or to say "I go to the Philadelphia Church of the Majority Text", or to say "I go to the Lithuanian Apostolic Orthodox Autocephalic Church of the Baltic union of 1838".
10. Ultimately, I am a Calvinist because I had no choice in the matter.

Why Premillennialist, Pretribulationist, Revivalist, Independent Baptists are way cooler than...the rest of you:
10) nifty charts
9) how long can *you* keep up "Have Thine Own Way, Lord"?
8) our pastors wore retro before retro was cool, and now that it's cool they're still not cool, which makes us *way* less worldly than you compromisers.
7) revival preachers: more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
6) we shred our rock tapes when we get "convicted" as teens, then grow up and buy the CDs, which helps the economy.
5) Arminius in the pulpit, Calvin in the classroom--it's like beer with Coke, if we drank beer, which we don't.
4) Jesus would have *loved* Welch's if He'd ever tasted it.
3) the King James Version was good enough for John the Baptist--who needs the ESV?
2) we know "as the deer panteth for the waters, so my soul longeth after Thee" can't be followed with "You alone are my heart's desire"; it should be "Thou alone art my heart's desire," but if you do that--why not just sing a hymn?
1) No third verses. Ever.

11 January 2007

Real Men Wear Kilts

Having Scottish ancestry is great. There’s lots of cool things about being Scottish, like wearing a kilt, Scotch (or to be more specific – drinking Scotch), the Loch Ness Monster, the movie Braveheart, Scottish music both old and new, McEwan’s Ale, and of course, bagpipes. Every year my wife and I attend the Ohio Scottish Games. It gives me an opportunity to totally absorb myself in Scottish culture for a day. Pipe bands, Scottish country dancing, the Highland Fling, fish and chips – it’s all there to be enjoyed and I do enjoy myself! But having this Scottish connection often goes deeper for me. Having ties to the great Scottish preachers, the Scottish Puritans means so much more. Many of the names we surely know and have read at least something by them at one time or another in our lives: Andrew Gray, Ralph Erskine, Ebeneezer Erskine, Thomas Boston, Thomas Chalmers, William Guthrie, Thomas Guthrie, Horatius Bonar, Andrew Bonar, Hugh Binning, Andrew Melville, John Knox and Samuel Rutherford to name a few. How blessed we are to have these men in our Christian heritage and to still be afforded the opportunity to read much of what they penned. A great site with links to the works of many of the Scottish preachers can be found here: http://www.newble.co.uk/hall/hallofame.html. Sadly, Scotland’s spiritual condition is not what it once was, but the truth continues to be taught by the likes the Rev. James Frew at the Kiltearn Church in Evanton (http://kiltearnfreechurch.co.uk/index.html) and the Rev. Harry Woods at the Beauly Free Church of Scotland (http://beaulyfreechurch.co.uk/). For me there is nothing better than sipping a McEwan’s Ale and reading the works of these fine men that have gone before us.

07 January 2007

Trusting Providence

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev. 21:4

It’s been a tough week. A good friend’s sister died of cancer, another good friend’s mother had cancer surgery, my counterpart’s wife in Texas had cancer surgery and a co-worker that I’ve known the last sixteen years had a heart attack. As believers we’re often reminded of the brevity of life but this week it really hit home. Of course, this prompted numerous conversations on the Providence of God at the funeral home today. What a blessing to have gone to a funeral surrounded by likeminded, Reformed saints. As we lamented the loss of my friend’s sister, we also rejoiced in the fact that God is good and through a series of events, God ordained of course, she became a believer in the last year of her short life. As we examine our lives it is often very easy to recognize the work of Providence. In my life I’ve seen God work His Providence in marvelous ways. Situations that at one time were difficult to endure later became the seeds of happiness. When pondering Providence I often pull from my bookshelf what is probably my most favorite book, The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel (its one of the Puritan Paperbacks published by Banner of Truth Trust.) On pages 126 – 128 we find the following, “Consult the various Providences of your life in this point, and I doubt not but you will find the truth of these promises as often confirmed as you have been in trouble. Ask your own hearts, where or when was it that God forsook you, and left you to sink and perish under your burdens?...You read that the Word of God is the only support and relief to a gracious soul in the dark day of affliction (Psalm 119:50, 92: 2 Sam. 23:5), and that for this purpose it was written (Rom 15:4). No rules of moral prudence, no natural remedies can perform for us that which the Word can do…The written Word tells us that the best way to gain inward peace and tranquility of mind under puzzling and disturbing troubles is to commit ourselves and our case to the Lord (Psalm 37:5-7: Prov. 16:3).” And so I take a few moments to contemplate what we find in Psalm 77, “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.” I contemplate and remember that I am blessed.

02 January 2007

Happy New Year (again)

What is it about the New Year that makes people want to make resolutions? I, for one, dislike resolutions. I can’t keep them. Maybe something is wrong with the resolutions I’ve made. Maybe it’s just me. I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t like New Year’s resolutions. If something requires change in one’s life it ought to start immediately and not wait for a particular day of the year to start working on the change. Regardless, one thing I have noticed is that change comes through hard work. I somehow have been quoted on numerous “quote” websites for the little phrase, “No sweat, No sanctification.” I truly believe this. I’ve never received a holy zap that changed some area of my life for the better. I have, however, worked in certain areas of my life and with the Holy Spirit have achieved change, at least to some degree, that honors our Lord. So, rather than looking forward, let’s look to the past this year. Here a just a few questions that can be asked: Have I studied more? Read more? Have I reached out in love more? Have I prayed regularly? Memorized more? Applied what I’ve learned? Written more? Bottom line, has my sanctification increased? As this year rolls along the hope is to be focusing less on the meaningless and more on the meaningful.