27 December 2007

A Year of Blogging

Well, I’ve been blogging for a year now and after 238 posts I’ve come to a few conclusions about blogging, mine in particular. For one, I would continue blogging even if I had no readers whatsoever. I blog to keep my thoughts on those things I should. If I don’t have anything to blog about I’m not thinking about the right things. Though I would like more readers I don’t do this for fame. Notoriety is not my thing. Developing a few ‘net friendships to discuss the things of God is more my line of country. So, I’ll continue even if the few of you who read this regularly should stop – this is for my own benefit as well as, I hope, yours.
As for blogging itself, I read other blogs to learn and spark my own thinking. Long posts I just don’t have time for. I forget what they say the limit is but if it’s more than 4-5 paragraphs I won’t read it and that seems to be about the blogging standard. I really don’t want to read magazine length articles no matter how well thought out or written. I like blogs that are updated often, at least once a week if not more so I do the same. My philosophy is that the whole blog is as important as the individual article. Thus, it is rare that I don’t add a photo to each post and I rarely re-use a photo, I try to find something new each time. I try to keep it pithy and interesting both visually and in content.
So that’s it really. A year gone by and another year to start. For those of you that I’ve been getting to know, I look forward to reading more of your posts and knowing you even better, sharpening our skills together.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Prov. 27:17 ESV

Got the Post-Christmas Blues?

Jon Bloom at Desiring God has an excellent post on post-Christmas melancholy. I think many of us suffer from this but we need not to providing we keep our focus. I find for myself that it is good to keep returning to the reason that I do or enjoy anything at all which is the glory of Christ. Losing that focus sets us up for anxiety, frustration and defeat. Keeping our mind on the things that are unseen rather than seen allows us to enjoy the blessings of this life without losing sight of our true purpose. Jon’s post is worth a read and you can find it here. How was your Christmas?

26 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday #37

Wow, Christmas is over, New Years is on the way and another week is behind us. Time is so precious and fleeting so let us move to # 37.

#37 Ques. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

Ans. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

As we did last week, let us return to Thomas Vincent's exposition of the catechism:

Q. 1. How manifold are the benefits of believers at their death?A. The benefits of believers at their death are twofold — 1. In regard of their souls. 2. In regard of their bodies.
Q. 2. What is the benefit of believers at their death, in regard of their souls?A. The souls of believers at their death— 1. Are made perfect in holiness. "And to the spirits of just men made perfect."— Heb. 12:23. 2. They do immediately pass into glory. "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ."— Phil. 1:23.
Q. 3. Wherein doth consist the perfect holiness which the souls of believers shall have at their death?A. The perfect holiness of believers' souls at their death doth consist— 1. In their perfect freedom from the stain and pollution, from the being, or any inclination unto sin. "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth."— Rev. 21:27. 2. In their perfect rectitude of soul, and full conformity unto the image of Christ. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."— Eph. 4:13.
Q. 4. What is that glory which the souls of believers, at death, do immediately pass into?A. The souls of believers at death do immediately pass into— 1. A glorious place. 2. A glorious company. 3. A glorious state.
Q. 5. What is that glorious place which the souls of believers, at death, do immediately pass into?A. The glorious place which believers' souls do immediately pass into, is their Father's house in heaven, where there are mansions prepared for them by Christ. "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." — John 14:2.
Q. 6. What is the glorious company which the souls of believers do immediately pass into?A. The glorious company which the souls of believers do immediately pass into, is the company of God, and Christ in his glory, as also the company of angels, and the souls of other saints in their glory." Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight). We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." — 2 Cor. 5:6-8. "Ye are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant." — Heb. 12:23-24.
Q. 7. What is that glorious state which the souls of believers at death do immediately pass into?A. The glorious state of the souls of believers immediately after their death, is a state of blessed rest. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." — Heb. 4:9. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.." — Rev. 14:13.
Q. 8. What is the benefit of believers at their death, in regard of their bodies?A. 1. The bodies of believers at their death are still united unto Christ; for though death doth for a while separate their souls from their bodies, yet death cannot separate Christ from either. But as, when Christ died, his hypostatical or personal union still remained, his divine nature being united both to his soul in heaven and to his body in the tomb on earth, so, when believers die, their mystical union unto Christ still remaineth, and Christ is united both unto their souls with him in glory, and to their bodies, which are his members, even when they are rotting in the grave. "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ ?" — 1 Cor. 6:15. "Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."— 1 Thess. 4:14. 2. The bodies of believers do rest in their graves as in beds, until the resurrection. "He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." — Isa. 57:2.
Q. 9. What is that resurrection here spoken of?A. The resurrection here spoken of is the last and general resurrection of all the dead that have lived in all ages, from the beginning of the creation—which will be, first of the righteous, and then of the wicked—at the last day. "The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." — John 5:28, 29. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." — l Thess. 6:16.
Q. 10. How do you prove that there shall be such a general resurrection?A. It may be undeniably proved from the power of God, and the revelation of the Word. If God be of infinite power, and therefore can raise all the dead, and infinitely true, and in his Word hath revealed that he will raise all the dead, then there shall be a general resurrection. But God is infinitely powerful, and can raise all the dead, and infinitely true, and in his Word hath revealed that he will raise all the dead; therefore there shall be a general resurrection. The ground of the Sadducees' error, who denied the resurrection, was their ignorance of these two great foundations of this doctrine, namely, the power of God, and the Scriptures. "Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?" — Mark 12:24.
Q. 11. Shall the dead be raised with the same bodies which they had when alive before?A. The dead shall be raised with the same bodies. "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Job 19:26.
Q. 12. How do you prove that the dead shall be raised with the same body! A. 1. Because if the dead were not raised with the same body, it could in no proper sense be called a resurrection, but a new creation. 2. Because the first body was an instrument of righteousness or sin, and therefore shall share in the reward or punishment.
Q. 13. Will not the bodies, when they are raised, differ from what they are now! A. The bodies which shall be raised will not differ from what they are now, in regard of their substance and essence; but they will exceedingly differ in regard of their qualities.
Q. 14. Wherein do unbelievers differ from believers at their death?A. The bodies of unbelievers are at their death shut up in the prison of the grave; and the souls of unbelievers are shut down in the prison of hell, where they are filled with horror and anguish in the company of devils, and other damned spirits, and there reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which some-time were disobedient." — 1 Pet. 3:19, 20. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." — 2 Pet. 2:4.

I mentioned in my last post the purchase of The Cambuslang Revival by Arthur Fawcett. On page 71 he lists the complete list of rules set up by the session of Kilsyth in December of 1721 for the prayer societies. I found rule #7 to be most interesting and a blessing. It reads:

7. After this [reading a portion of the New Testament & a prayer], let one of the Society ask three or four questions out of Vincent's Catechism, which the Society are to be advertised of at their former Meeting to prepare to answer.

It is so good to know the we have this connection to these saints of the 18th century that have prayed and studied before us.

22 December 2007

New Books and Christmas Wishes

Just this week I received as a pseudo-Christmas gift of three books from the Banner of Truth. The Lovliness of Christ excerpts from Samuel Rutherford's Letters, Welsh Revival by Thomas Phillips, and The Cambuslang Revival by Arthur Fawcett. Obviously, by these selections one can tell that I'm very interested in the history of revival in the UK as well as in the US. Iain Murray has a few excellent books on the same subject (see sidebar) and how it relates to what is true revival and what it is not. To see how the Lord has brought about His purposes over the centuries I find truly fascinating.

I want to wish each and everyone one of you a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to reading more from all of you.

19 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Its been a busy week at the Renegade household. Full of Christmas preparations and visits from family and work has been very busy as well. We come now to q&a number 36 of the WSC.
Q. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
This is a weighty question and answer and there is much to consider in its exposition. Let’s turn to Thomas Vincent for his exposition but let’s not limit ourselves as there is much more to be said on this important q&a.

Q. 1. How many sorts of benefits are there which do belong to those who are justified, adopted, and sanctified?A. There are three sorts of benefits which do belong unto those wbo are justified, adopted, and sanctified, namely — 1. Benefits in this life. 2. Benefits at death. 3. Benefits at the resurrection.
Q. 2. What are the benefits which belong to justified, adopted, and sanctified persons in this life?A. The benefits which belong to justified persons in this life are five. 1. Assurance of God's love. 2. Peace of conscience. 3. Joy in the Holy Ghost. 4. Increase of grace. 5. Perseverance in grace to the end. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." — Rom. 5:1, 2, 5. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." — Phil. 1:6.
Q. 3. What are the benefits that do accompany and flow from the sight and sense of justification, adoption, and sanctification?A. The benefits which do accompany and flow from the sight and sense of justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost.
Q. 4. May not unjustified and unsanctified persons attain any of these benefits?A. Unjustified persons may some of them have a presumptuous confidence of God's love, but not real assurance; they may have a carnal security, and false peace; but no true spiritual peace; they may have a carnal joy, or ungrounded spiritual joy, but no sound spiritual and heavenly joy of the Holy Ghost; these benefits are given only unto such as are truly justified, adopted, and sanctified.
Q. 5. Whence is it that all that are justified, adopted, and sanctified, do not attain these benefits?A. Because all have not a sight and sense of their justification, adoption, and sanctification, but are under doubts, and therefore fear that God doth hate them, and not love them; therefore they have troubles of conscience instead of peace, and sorrow in spirit instead of the joys of the Holy Ghost.
Q. 6. How may a child of God get a sure evidence of his justification and adoption?A. A child of God may get a sure evidence of his justification and adoption by his sanctification.
Q. 7. What is a sure evidence of sanctification?A. A sure evidence of sanctification is increase of grace.
Q. 8. What are the benefits which accompany and flow from the being of justification, adoption, and sanctification?A. The benefits which accompany and flow from the being of justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
Q. 9. Do all truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons increase in grace?A. 1. All truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons do not at all times actually increase in grace, for some of them may at some times be under declining and decays of grace. 2. They are always of a growing disposition, and desirous to grow in grace; and at some time or other they do grow, when they do not perceive themselves to grow, but fear that they do decline.
Q. 10. Do all truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons persevere in grace to the end?A. All truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons do persevere in grace to the end, and shall assuredly attain the heavenly inheritance.
Q. 11. How do you prove this?A. 1. From God's everlasting, unchangeable love, and his faithfulness in his promises of perseverance, as well as of heaven, which he hath made unto them. 2. From their union and relation to Christ, and his undertaking for them. 3. From the constant abode and indwelling of the Spirit of God in them. 4. From the nature of grace; which is an abiding seed, which can never be totally extirpated.
Q. 12. May not any believer, by falling into sin, fall from grace?A. Some believers may, through the remainder of corruption in them, and the violence of Satan's tempting of them, fall into sin foully, and so fall from some degree and measures of grace; but they will never fall totally nor finally from grace. And when we see any fall totally and finally from the profession which they formerly made, we may know they were never in that sincerity which they professed themselves to be. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." — 1 John 2:19.

17 December 2007

Christmas Reality Check

Today’s secular attacks on the Christmas season (the ACLU’s legal challenges to manger scenes on “public” property, and so on) would have been less successful had the church of the last century been more vigilant in linking Jesus’ death and resurrection with His incarnation. The problem here is not chiefly the myth and commercialization into which the season has fallen: Santa Claus and debt spending. No, the root problem is that for decades now, Christmas for the church has been all about the Babe Jesus in His incarnational humiliation and peace on earth and the human charity that such tender scenes engender. Not for a moment should we diminish those scenes, but if we propagate them apart from their redemptive-historical context, we present to the church — and the world — an emasculated, dilute Christian Faith, and it’s hard to detect any deep, weighty rationale for the incarnation. We overcome this soft-core Christmas celebration if we stress that the Faith — and the incarnation — is at its very root redemptive-historical. - Andrew Sandlin. Read the whole post here.

Advice of Reading

I have found Richard Baxter's Advice On Reading useful in the past. Time is precious and we need to ask ourselves some questions on the value of what we're reading. Here goes:
While reading ask oneself:
1. Could I spend this time no better?
2. Are there better books that would edify me more?
3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?
4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

16 December 2007

Transcendent or Immanent

What shall we say, is God transcendent or immanent? It is a very interesting question in the realm of worship. How do we see God and in light of this how do we then worship Him? There are numerous verses that support the facts that God is both transcendent and immanent. For example, Heb 12:28 & Is. 6:5 display his immanence. The Psalms are full of passages that demonstrate his transcendence. Conversely we read of His immanence, too, in passages such as John 15:15. Matt. 6:9 & Heb 2:11-12.
John Frame offers us his view, with which I agree, in his book Contemporary Worship Music. On page 14 we read, A biblically balanced view of worship must take into account both God's transcendence and his immanence, his exaltation and his nearness, his majestic holiness and his unmeasurable love. This balance is not always easy to maintain. Churches that focus on divine transcendence are in danger of making God appear distant, aloof, unfriendly, unloving, devoid of grace. Churches that focus on God's immanence sometimes lose sight of his majesty and purity, his hatred of sin, and the consequent seriousness of any divine-human encounter. To maintain this balance, we must go back again and again to the Scriptures themselves so that we may please God in worship rather than merely acting on our own intuitions.

An excellent point, indeed. I have been in churches that have emphasized one or the other and left knowing something was missing. Granted, we are imperfect and this is a tough challenge to meet but where does your church fall? Does the pendulum swing wildly to one side or the other or does it rest somewhere in the middle. May God grant us the grace to see how we should correctly worship Him.

Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1:46-55

12 December 2007

A Little Mid-Week Humor

The Bear and the Atheist
An atheist was walking through the woods.
'What majestic trees'!
'What powerful rivers'!
'What beautiful animals'!
He said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him

He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out, 'Oh my God!'

Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. 'You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident.' 'Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer'? The atheist looked directly into the light, 'It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian'?

'Very Well,' said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke:

"Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from the bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen!"

11 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Moving on, we come to q&a #35:
Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and mare to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

From Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity we read:
How may sanctification be attained?
(1) Be conversant in the word of God. 'Sanctify them through thy truth' (John 17:17). The word is both a glass to show us the spots of our soul, and a laver to wash them away. The word has a transforming virtue in it; it irradiates the mind, and consecrates the heart.
(2) Get faith in Christ's blood. 'Having purified their hearts by faith' (Acts 15:9). She in the gospel who touched the hem of Christ's garment was healed. A touch of faith purifies. Nothing can have a greater force upon the heart, to sanctify it, than faith. If I believe Christ and his merits are mine, how can I sin against him? Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does, it removes mountains, the mountains of pride, lust, envy. Faith and the love of sin are inconsistent.
(3) Breathe after the Spirit. It is called 'the sanctification of the Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13). The Spirit sanctifies the heart, as lightning purifies the air, and as fire refines metals. Omne agens generat sibi simile. [The Spirit at work generates its own likeness everywhere.] The Spirit stamps the impression of its own sanctity upon the heart, as the seal prints its likeness upon the wax. The Spirit of God in a man perfumes him with holiness, and makes his heart a map of heaven.
(4) Associate with sanctified persons. They may, by their counsel, prayers, and holy example, be a means to make you holy. As the communion of saints is in our creed, so it should be in our company. 'He that walketh with the wise shall be wise' (Prov. 13:20). Association begets assimilation.
(5) Pray for sanctification. Job propounds a question. 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean' (Job 14:4). God can do it. Out of an unholy heart he can produce grace. Oh! make David's prayer your own, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God' (Ps. 51:10). Lay thy heart before the Lord, and say, Lord, my unsanctified heart pollutes all it touches. I am not fit to live with such a heart, for I cannot honour thee; nor die with such a heart, for I cannot see thee. Oh create in me a new heart! Lord, consecrate my heart, and make it thy temple, and thy praises shall be sung there for ever.

Use three: Has God brought a clean thing out of an unclean? has he sanctified you? Wear this jewel of sanctification with thankfulness. 'Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet for the inheritance' (Col. 1:12). Christian, thou couldst defile thyself, but not sanctify thyself; but God has done it, he has not only chained up sin, but changed thy nature, and made thee as a king's daughter, all glorious within. He has put upon thee the breastplate of holiness, which, though it may be shot at, can never be shot through. Are there any here that are sanctified? God has done more for you than millions, who may be illumined, but are not sanctified. He has done more for you than if he had made you the sons of princes, and caused you to ride upon the high places of the earth. Are you sanctified? Heaven is begun in you; for happiness is nothing but the quintessence of holiness. Oh, how thankful should you be to God! Do as that blind man in the gospel did after he had received his sight, who 'followed Christ, glorifying God' (Luke 18:43). Make heaven ring with God's praises.

Christ’s prayer is, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” The more truth you believe, the more sanctified you will be. The operation of truth upon the mind is to separate a man from the world unto the service of God. Just in proportion as truth is given up, worldliness and frivolity are sure to prevail. - C.H. Spurgeon

09 December 2007

This is Truly Good to Hear

A conservative diocese in California has split with the Episcopal Church over the issue of homosexuality. Read a brief article here in USA Today. From the Diocese of San Joaquin website we read, Delegates and clergy attending the 48th Annual Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin voted overwhelmingly in favor of amendments to the diocesan constitution, which removed references to The Episcopal Church, expressed the intention to maintain fellowship with the greater Anglican Communion accepted the invitation to become a diocesan member of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The vote reaffirmed a first vote at the December 2, 2006 convention in which a more than two-thirds majority voted in favor of the constitutional amendments. And from the Bishop of the Diocese's address yesterday, For twenty years and more we have watched The Episcopal Church lose its way: straying, at first, from Scripture... to the point of dismissing the Word of God, in some instances, as mere historical documents – of value, perhaps in bygone eras – but no longer applicable to us, to appropriating powers to itself through the General Convention it had never had and, finally, on to unilateral decisions about theology, sexuality, and ordination potentially cutting itself off from the Anglican Communion. J. I. Packer, the eminent British Theologian now living in Canada, puts this in clear perspective when he says: “Liberal theology as such knows nothing about a God who uses written language to tell us things, or about the reality of sin in the human system, which makes redemption necessary and new birth urgent. Liberal theology posits, rather, a natural religiosity in man (reverence, that is, for a higher power) and a natural capacity for goodwill towards others, and sees Christianity as a force for cherishing and developing these qualities. They are fanned into flame and kept burning in the church, which in each generation must articulate itself by concessive dialogue with the culture pressures, processes and prejudices that surround it. In other words, the church must ever play catch-up to the culture, taking on board whatever is the “in thing” at the moment; otherwise, so it is thought, Christianity will lose all relevance to life. The church will inevitably leave the Bible behind at point after point, but since on this view the Bible is the word of fallible men rather than of the infallible God, leaving it behind is no great loss.” He goes on to say, In the end, it is all about freedom. It is about freedom to remain who we are in Christ. It is freedom to honor the authority of Scripture and to keep the Lectionary we now have. It is freedom to worship with the Prayer Book we know and freedom from innovations and services that are contrary to the Word of God. It is freedom to hold and practice the faith that the Episcopal Church received as a precious gift... A ‘NO’ vote would place us under the authority of those who admit they do not know where they are going and who tell us all relates “to our understanding and embrace of God’s Kingdom and the Salvation we are offered in Jesus Christ– or to our lack of such understanding and engagement.”
This is the time to know who we are in Christ, where we are headed, and to heed the words of Jesus: “Go ye...”
Praise God for their dedication and decisive actions yesterday.

07 December 2007

A Resolution on the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

The resolutions of Jonathan Edwards can be quite overwhelming. Seventy prescriptions is quite a bit to try to keep up with and or emulate in our own lives. My thought is to look at 5 per week (or month or....) and pick one to make a resolution in our own lives. So, let's begin. Here is the first five:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Lately, and rightfully so I think, I've been giving thought to making the most of every moment. Even during times of relaxation and rest I endeavor to make use of that time in the most profitable manner.

Read all of the resolutions here.

06 December 2007

Trans - Siberian Orchestra

Aint seen 'em yet? Here they are...

Need New Christmas Music?

Looking for some new Christmas music? Give Reliant K's Let It Snow, Let It Reindeer a try. It is serious, funny, warm and touching and totally worth the $8.99 download cost from Amazon. Their version of the Twelve Days of Christmas is worth the price alone. Its simply hysterical.

05 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Another week has past and its time to move on to q&a #34.

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

John Flavel enlightens us:

Q. 1. How many sorts of sons are there? A. There is one by generation, and another by adoption; John 1:12-13. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Q. 2. What moves God to adopt any man? A. Nothing but his free love; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father bath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.
Q. 3. Is this privilege common to all men? A. No; it is peculiar to them that receive him; John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.
Q. 4. What is the first property of adoption? A. It is a costly relation; Galatians 4:4. When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Q. 5. What is the second property of adoption? A. It is an high and honourable relation; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.
Q. 6. What is the third property of adoption? A. It is a free relation on God’s part; Ephesians 1:4-5. According as he bath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having pre~ destinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. And it makes us free; John 8:36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Q. 7. What is the fourth property of adoption? A. It is a permanent relation; John 8:35. The Son abideth in the house for ever.
Q. 8. What is the first privilege of the adoption? A. They have an interest in God, as children in a father; 2 Corinthians 6:18. And I will he a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Q. 9. What is the second privilege? A. Being God’s sons, they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; Romans 8:17. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
Q. 10. What was the third privilege? A. Seasonable and sanctified afflictions; Hebrews 12:6. He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Q. 11. What is the fourth privilege? A. The attendance and ministry of angels; Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Q. 12. What is the fifth privilege? A. The assistance of the Spirit in prayer; Romans 8:15. For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. And God’s audience of their prayers; 1 John 5:14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, That if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.
Q. 13. What use should we make of this? A. It teacheth us to carry ourselves as children to our heavenly Father. First, In our imitation of him; Ephesians 5:1. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. Secondly, In our submission to him; Hebrews 12:9. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? Thirdly, In our dependence on him; Matthew 5:32. For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.

In a sermon delivered on Dec. 20, 1868 C.H. Spurgeon offered the following: Meditate upon a second blessing of the covenant of grace, namely, that of adoption. It is plainly revealed to us, that as many as have believed in Christ Jesus unto the salvation of their souls, are the sons of God...There is an inner richness in adoption, for, "if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Well does the apostle remind us that if children, then heirs, for we are thus assured of our blessed heritage. "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Here are royal dainties of which the Word has said most truly, "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house."

You can also find an uplifting sermon by C.H. Spurgeon on Adoption here.

04 December 2007

Christmas Observance

Tim over at the Conventicle has some good thoughts on Christmas observance and I agree with him. From his intro he writes: In 1676 an anonymous tract was published entitled, The Holy time of Christmas defended against non-conformists and all other of its prophaners and opposers. These prophaners and opposers were our dear friends, the puritans. The opening lines of this book kind of tell it all:Unhappy times in which we live! That we should all believe that sixteen hundred years ago, a certain man, who was also God, called Jesus, was born in a stable for the Salvation of mankind; and yet that there should be certain amongst us, who should count it a piece of Religion not to keep Holy the Day on which our said Great Redeemer was born. O unhappy times! O cross Manners of mis-instructed Zealots!’ The work has all of the balance and nuance normally associated with anonymity. However, reading this made me take a moment to think about Christmas ‘the day’ and Christmas ‘the doctrine’. I wondered if the puritan rejection of the day might give us pause to examine our own reception of the doctrine.

Give it a read here and let me know what you think. Like, Tim, I love this time of year. Its a great time of family, friends and most of all, remembering the Incarnation.

02 December 2007

Psalm 122

As we head off for worship services this morning, whether to a big cathedral as pictured, to someone's living room, or to some place in between, let us consider Psalm 122.
Psalm 122
Let Us Go to the House of the LORD
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
2Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3Jerusalem— built as a city that is bound firmly together,
4to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD,as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you!
7Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!"
8For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, "Peace be within you!"
9For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

01 December 2007

The Supremecy of Christ

This is definitely worth a few minutes of your time...

What Was I Thinking?

In my quest to sample (& hopefully enjoy all of the Christmas Ales that are out there) I gave Rogue Ales' Santa's Private Reserve a tasting. To say the least it was disappointing. It left the most awful finish from a beer I've had it quite some time. To be fair its description states it has a hoppy, sprucey finish and I don't care for hoppy beers (my wife warned me I wouldn't like it - I hate when she's right about beer). Perhaps if your liking leans towards beers with a bitter hoppy flavor you'll enjoy this one. I did not.
On another sour note for beer its come to my attention that Sierra Nevada is a supporter of their local Planned Parenthood clinic. Their Christmas Ale is one I will not be imbibing this season or ever. Read more about this at the Better Drinking blog.