31 December 2008

Whitefield's Journaling Suggestions

Recently I've taken to keeping a journal. I find it a good way to sort out my thoughts and bring some rough ideas into focus, especially in those areas that make life difficult. Journaling is recommended by Donald Whitney in his Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Whitney points out that George Whitefield had a list of criteria that he referred to each night for an evaluation of his experiences and actions each day (page 204). So long as we don't get morbidly introspective, using Whitefield's list could be invaluable. His list is as follows:

Have I,
1. Been fervent in prayer?
2. Used stated hours of prayer?
3. Used ejaculatory prayer each hour?
4. After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God's glory?
5. After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?
6. Planned business for the day?
7. Been simple and recollected in everything?
8. Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what I could?
9. Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
10. Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?
11. Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep?
12. Taken time for giving thanks according to (William) Law's rules?
13. Been diligent in studies?
14. Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
15. Confessed all sins?

Certainly good things to consider each day as we end this year and start another in God's good and wise Providence.

30 December 2008

Trueman Book Recommendations

Anyone who has read this blog before has likely picked up on the fact that I truly enjoy the work of Carl Trueman. He's a compelling lecturer and author in my opinion and as such I was happy to come across some book recommendations he made during his Nine Marks interview with Mark Dever. Really good stuff and I look forward into digging into some of these that I don't have & for those I have, reacquainting myself with the theological meat found within their pages.

The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch
The European Reformations by Carter Lindberg
Here I Stand - A Life Of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton
Martin Luther: A Life (Penguin Lives) by Martin Marty
Anything by John Owen
Body of Divinity, Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall
Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State by Thomas Boston
The Bruised Reed And Smoking Flax (1878) by Richard Sibbes
The Pilgrim's Progress (Hendrickson Christian Classics) by John Bunyan
The Holy War by John Bunyan
Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
Anything by Don Carson particularly Letters Along the Way, The Cross and the Christian Ministry
Non-Christian:
Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life (Lives of the Left) by E. J. Hobsbawm
Cultural Imperialism by Edward Said

26 December 2008

On the Discipline of Worshiping God

The spiritual discipline of publicly and privately worshiping God is one of the means He has given us to receive the grace to grow in Christlikeness. As we grow stronger in the worship of God, we grow stronger in the likeness of Christ. Perhaps President Calvin Coolidge said much more than he realized when he asserted, "It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow." - from The Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney, page 91.

25 December 2008

Advent Devotions Christmas Day

Thursday, December 25th
Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12 - The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2:1-20
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Matthew 2:1-12
1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Taken from Covenant, Winter 2008

24 December 2008

Advent Devotions Wednesday, Dec. 24th

Wednesday, December 24th
John 1:1-14 - Word Made Flesh

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Taken From Covenant, Winter 2008

23 December 2008

Advent Devotions Tuesday, Dec. 23rd

Tuesday, December 23rd
Matthew 1:18-25 - Savior from Sin

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

22 December 2008

Advent Devotions Monday, Dec. 22nd

Advent Devotions Monday, Dec. 22nd
Luke 1:39-80 - The Tender Mercy of God

39And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. 56And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
57Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 59And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 65And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
67And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

21 December 2008

Advent Devotions Sunday Dec. 21st

Sunday Dec. 21st
Luke 1:5-38 - Son of the Most High

5There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 8And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. 20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
From Covenant, Winter 2008

20 December 2008

Reading Calvin?

The guys over at the Ref 21 blog are promoting the reading of Calvin through 2009. Not a bad idea, eh? Take look here for the info. Lig Duncan lists 10 reasons to read Calvin (wow, do we really need 10?). Here's his top 6:

1. Because it the most important book written in the last 500 years.
2. Because it is foundational for every Reformed systematic theology ever since.
3. Because Calvin was the best exegete in the history of Christianity.
4. Because Calvin is one of the five greatest theologians in Christian history.
5. Because he wrote it as a "sum of piety" not as an arid, speculative dogmatic treatise.
6. Because it gave J.I. Packer the idea for "Knowing God."

Advent Devotions Dec. 21st through Dec. 25th

Sunday, December 21st
Luke 1:5-38 - Son of the Most High

Monday, December 22nd
Luke 1:39-80 - The Tender Mercy of God

Tuesday, December 23rd
Matthew 1:18-25 - Savior from Sin

Wednesday, December 24th
John 1:1-14 - Word Made Flesh

Thursday, December 25th
Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12 - The Birth of Jesus


From Covenant, Winter 2008

The Latest Issue of Themelios

The latest issue of Themelios is available. Looks to be another good read published by the boys at The Gospel Coalition. Don't miss it.

19 December 2008

Moving On...

Some things are just plain difficult to do. Know what I mean? Leaving a church is one of those things. It has come time for us to leave the church we’ve been attending but I leave with a glad and grateful heart. We are returning to a church we attended some years ago but I wish to focus at this moment not on where we’re headed but what we’re leaving behind. The Pastor and congregation of Sovereign Grace Church Cleveland are some of the most wonderful gracious folks I’ve ever met. In a difficult time in my life they were there for me and were a great encouragement. The Pastor (I hope I’m not embarrassing him) was a great help to me and a wonderful preacher. So why leave? For purely doctrinal reasons only. I am not a Baptist and I’m not Charismatic (not even a tiny bit). I lean always to the Regulative Principle and desire a more formal style of worship. So, we leave but we leave taking with us good memories and retaining a good relationship with those we leave behind. Thanks SG Cleveland for all you’ve done.

13 December 2008

R.C. Sproul on Santa Claus

Doesn't Santa Claus paganize or at least trivialize Christmas? He's a myth, and his very mythology casts a shadow over the sober historical reality of Jesus. Not at all. Myths are not necessarily bad or harmful. Every society creates myths. They are a peculiar art form invented usually to convey a message that is deemed important by the people. When a myth is passed off as real history, that is fraud. But when it serves a different purpose it can be healthy and virtuous. Kris Kringle is a mythical hero, not a villain. He is pure fiction -- but a fiction used to illustrate a glorious truth.
And...
What about the historical origins of Christmas as a substitute for a pagan festival? I can only say, good for the early Christians who had the wisdom to flee from Mithras and direct their zeal to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Who associates Christmas today with Mithras? No one calls it "Mithrasmas."

Read the entire excellent article here.

(HT:BTW)

Advent Devotions Dec. 14th through Dec. 20th

Sunday, December 14th
Isaiah 49:1-7; 50:4-11 - Servant of Kings, Sustainer of the Weary

Monday, December 15th
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 - Suffering Servant and Lamb of God

Tuesday, December 16th
Jeremiah 23:1-6; 33: 14-19 - Righteous Branch

Wednesday, December 17th
Ezekiel 34:1-31 - The Good Shepherd

Thursday, December 18th
Daniel 7:9-14 and Micah 5:2-5a - The Son of Man and Ruler of Bethlehem

Friday, December 19th
Zechariah -:9-10; 12:10-13:1 - King on a Donkey and Pierced Firstborn

Saturday, December 20th
Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6 - Covenant Messenger and Sun of Righteousness

From Covenant, Winter 2008

Image credit

10 December 2008

Valuable Use of Time?

C.J. Mahaney took some time to quote R.C. Sproul recently on time management and a couple of points really caught my attention. Point #4 was, ...use your leisure time for pursuits that are life enriching. Leisure time is often spent on avocations. Reading is a valuable use of time. It enriches life to read outside of your major field or area of expertise. Augustine once advised believers to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching include the arts. I like to study the piano and I dabble in painting. No one will ever mistake me for a serious musician or an accomplished artist. But these avocations open up the world of beauty to me that enhances my view of God and His manifold perfections. I also enjoy working cross-word puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and to expand my vista of verbal expression. This is the manner in which I have been pursuing my leisure activities (I'm delighted R.C. approves). I spend time reading and try to spend it by reading several areas of study and not limiting myself to just one subject or area. And, if you play guitar like me you know it is great for private worship and opening the my mind to another area of life that can be enjoyed.

Point 6 was just insightful, ...use drive-time for learning. Driving a car is another mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of audio tape can be put to great use during these times. I can listen to lectures and instructional tapes while driving, thereby redeeming the time. I drive quite a distance to work and always felt that it was such a waste of time. Over the last 2-3 years I've spent listening to sermons and lectures and indeed, the Bible. This is a fantastic means of making good use of drive time. Can't afford to download the whole Bible right now? You can download just the Psalms and Proverbs for only 5 bucks from Crossway. Read the whole post here and see where else, like me, you can make better use of the short time that God has given us.

06 December 2008

More Books and Reading

Any blog on reading always catches my eye and I'm uncontrollably drawn to it. Justin's Buzzard Blog has a post on 20 books that should be read in your twenties. My twenties are just a memory now (distant memory, that is) but I was happy to see that have read and actually have in my library six of the twenty and have my sites on a few more on the list. Check it out here even if you are a few days, years or decades (like me) past your twenties.

And on the subject of books, Stephen Nichols, author of Getting the Blues, reviews Johnny Cash and the Great American Contradiction: Christianity and the Battle for the Soul of a Nation by Rodney Clapp. Its an interesting review and the book is now on my Amazon wish list (should any of my family of close friends be reading this).

Psalm 92

Its a cold frosty morning here & mornings are a good time to reflect and give thanks to our gracious Lord. Mornings, thankfulness, music and singing always make me think of the first few verses of Psalm 92. One of my goals is to spend more to time in meditation & so to meet that goal Psalm 92:1-4 will be my meditation for the weekend.

Psalm 92:1-4
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

Advent Devotions Sunday Dec. 7 thru Saturday Dec. 13

Sunday, December 7
Psalm 16 & Job 19:23-27 - Holy One and Resurrected Redeemer
Monday, December 8
Psalm 22 - The One Forsaken By God
Tuesday, December 9
Psalm 72 - Royal son, Deliverer of the Afflicted
Wednesday, December 10
Psalm 110 - Preist and Lord at God's Right Hand
Thursday, December 11
Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7 - Immanuel, Might God and Prince of Peace
Friday, December 12
Isaiah 11:1-10 - The Branch from Jesse's Root
Saturday, December 13
Isaiah 42:1-10 - Covenant and Light of the Nations
Taken from Covenant, Winter 2008

29 November 2008

Advent Devotions Nov. 30 thru Dec. 6

Sunday, November 30
Genesis 3:1-20 - Seed of Love
Monday, December 1
Genesis 22:1-18 - Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice
Tuesday, December 2
Genesis 48:15-16; 48:8-10 - Lion of Judah
Wednesday, December 3
Numbers 23:18-24; 24:3-9, 15-19 - Star of Jacob
Thursday, December 4
Deuteronomy 18:14-22 - A Prophet Like Moses
Friday, December 5
2 Samuel 17:1-17 - Son of David
Saturday, December 6
Psalm 2:1-12 - Messiah: Son of God & King

Taken from Covenant, Winter 2008

26 November 2008

Scrooge


OK, Christmas is approaching and as it is my family usually, actually always, indulges in the Christmas Carol movies. Which movies are the best? In no particular order we have:

Scrooge with Albert Finney as Scrooge

A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott as Scrooge

A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart (not in his Star Trek uniform) as Scrooge

and let's not forget

The Muppet Christmas Carol
with Michael Caine as Scrooge

I know, I know, Dickens was a socialist of his day. Nevertheless, it’s a great story that is still capable of conveying some truth. So, what are your favorite holiday films and what will you be doing to prepare for this holiday season?

25 November 2008

Babies Growing Up To Be What?

Too funny not to pass on. I hope this doesn't hit too close to home for any of the Pastors I know.

20 November 2008

Kent Hughes Audio

R. Kent Hughes, author of one of the most outstanding books ever written for men, Disciplines of a Godly Man, recently spoke in Spokane, Washington and we have the privilege of hearing the recordings. I highly recommend his book and these talks to you. Discipline does not come naturally to us and Scripture expects it of us so these are worth a listen. He has some very timely and convicting comments on bible reading and reading in general as well as about church attendance and commitment. Listen to part 1, part 2 and part 3. Listen, be blessed and be encouraged.

19 November 2008

Westminster Shorter Catechism #107

Well, we're here. We finally made it. After more than 1 1/2 years of weekly posts we come to a close of our study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The weekly reminders gave us time to pause and think about what God has for us and what the Assembly wanted to pass on. Let's take a few moments and consider the last question of the WSC....

Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us? A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer, which is, [For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever; Amen.] teacheth us, to take our encouragement in prayer from God only; and in our prayers to praise him; ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and in testimony of our desire, and assurance, to be heard, we say, Amen.

Q. 1. Why is the conclusion joined to the particle For? A. To teach us, that therein are included arguments, or reasons to press God withal, and to prevail with him for audience.
Q. 2. But is it lawful to argue with God, and to urge him with reasons in prayer? A. It is not only lawful, but expedient, yea, highly commendable; as is seen in the saints prayer. In Moses’, Numbers 14:13. And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them.) Ver. 19. Pardon. I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people, according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people from Egypt, even until now. In Joshua’s, Joshua 7:7. And Joshua said, Alas! O Lord God; wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan. Ver. 9. For the Canaanites, and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: And what wilt thou do unto thy great name? In Asa’s, 2 Chronicles 14:11. And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on thee; and in thy name we go against this great multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee. In Jehoshaphat’s, 2 Chronicles 20:6. And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? And Hezekiah’s, 2 Kings 19:15. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims; thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth:
Thou hast made heaven and earth. Ver. 19. Now therefore, O Lord our God, &c.
Q. 3. But to what purpose, can we think to prevail with God, by our arguments and importunities? A. They are not used, as though we would put God in remembrance of any thing, or would prevail with God to do that for us, which he is unwilling to give.
Q. 4. Why then? A. For our own profit, for the enlarging of our own hearts, for the exciting of our fervency, for the exerting of faith, hope, zeal, charity, &c. in prayer; and so to prepare ourselves for the mercy, that we may the more gratefully receive it, and the more fruitfully employ it.
Q. 5. How many arguments are in this conclusion? A. Three.
Q. 6. From whence are they taken? A. From God’s kingdom, from his power, and from his glory.
Q. 7. What kingdom is here meant? A. God’s universal, essential, and absolute kingdom; wherein may be, and is involved, his special kingdom over the church.
Q. 8. What are the arguments from hence? A. Because all that we can pray for in this prayer, is for the advancement and perfecting of this his kingdom, by the destruction of all persons and things that oppose it, and the completion of his dominion over all his subjects; therefore he would grant all these requests.
Q. 9. What is another? A. Because he being such an absolute Lord and Sovereign has an undeniable right, and unquestionable authority, to give and grant all we ask, and to effect and bring to pass all we beg: For all persons and things are his own, and at his disposal. Matthew 20:15. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?
Q. 10. What is meant by power? A. God’s essential, infinite, irresistible power, whereby he can do what he pleases; Psalm 135:6. Whatsoever the Lord pleased, &c.
Q. 11. What is the argument from hence? A. That we ask nothing from God, but what we can do with infinite ease, in despite of all the opposition that hell, earth and heart can make to the contrary; Philippians 3:21 According to the working, &c. Ephesians 3:20. Now unto him that is able, &c.
Q. 12. What is meant by glory? A. Not his essential glory, which no man, or angel, can ever apprehend.
Q. 13. What glory then? A. His declared and acknowledged glory, even the accomplishment of all his decrees by his providence; and then the love, the adoration, and the praises, the self-dedications of angels and saints, returned to him for the same.
Q. 14. What is the argument or motive from hence? A. That seeing the substance of every request does directly tend to, and will perfectly end in, this glory of God, when they are fully answered; therefore he would gradually answer them while we are here, and perfectly at last, to the advancement of his glory now, and the completion of it then. 1 Chronicles 29:11. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, &c. Joshua 7:9. And what wilt thou do unto thy great name? Isaiah 42:8. I am the Lord, that is my name, &c. Isaiah 48:11. For my own sake, even for my own sake, will I do it, &c.
Q. 15. Why is Amen added? A. Because it is the usual conclusion of prayers and praises; Psalm 41:13. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, &c. Psalm 72:19. And blessed be his glorious name for ever, &c. 2 Corinthians 13:14 .The grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God, &c. Romans 16:20. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Q. 16. But what does this word here signify? A. It signifies, (1.) The reality and ardency of our desires to be granted in what we pray for: Revelation 22:20. He which testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus.
Q. 17. And what besides? A. Our trust and firm confidence that we shall be heard and answered in all these our requests; Revelation 1:7. Even so, Amen. Revelation 7:12. Saying, Amen. Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, &c.
Q. 18. What are the inferences from hence? A. That we ought to use in prayer all such arguments, as may most and best affect our hearts towards God, excite our graces, and succeed with God.
Q. 19. What is another? A. That all we pray for must be in a subserviency to God’s kingdom, and with a desire of his glory.
Q. 20. What is the next? A. That we must act according to our prayers; do all we can for the advancement of God’s kingdom, and the exaltation of his glory, as subjects and votaries thereto; Psalm 116:16; 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Q. 21. What may more be gathered hence? A. That as we ought to begin, so to continue, and conclude our prayers, in lowest adorations of God, and acknowledgments of his glory and attributes.
Q. 22. What more doth this conclusion teach? A. That in prayer we must be fervent in our desires, and longing for what we pray, James 5:16.
Q. 23. Is there any thing besides? A. That praying for things agreeable to God’s will, we ought to be confident that we shall succeed in our requests praying for the matter, and after the manner of this prayer; James 1:6, 8; Matthew 21:22.
- John Flavel

18 November 2008

More on Reading

Hey, speaking of reading (#4 from my last post) here’s a great list on keeping your home library from the latest issue of Banner of Truth thanks to Stephen and Nate.

DIRECTION 1. Always reckon that the best book to be read, the first book to be read, and often the only book to be read, is God’s book.
DIRECTION 2. Give no credit to that opinion which holds bookishness in religion in suspicion or contempt.
DIRECTION 3. Do not be simply a collector of books. Retain them not for the number, beauty, antiquity, rarity, value, or mere possession of them.
DIRECTION 4. Mortify your library. That which you shelve may be construed the measure of that which you approve. That which you retain for reference may be read unwittingly for life (see Acts 19:19).
DIRECTION 5. Reckon that, contrary to popular expectation, those books lately written may be inferior to those of another day.
DIRECTION 6. Judge the importance of a book, not by the author’s exuberance or the publisher’s notices, but by the relative weight assigned that topic in God’s book. Weak books struggle through the press with ease nowadays, which strangely impresses the unwary.
DIRECTION 7. Do not give, lend, or recommend a book which you have not read. Do not trust an author just because he has written helpfully once or upon one subject.
DIRECTION 8. Care for your books. Esteem them as friends, for there may be times when they will be the only friends you have!
DIRECTION 9. And always a. Read widely. Avoid the accumulation of devotional material. Sermons are generally better heard than read. b. Read with discrimination. Be quick to part company with that book which fails to promote sound doctrine, solid thought, balanced inference, experimental godliness, and esteem for Christ.
DIRECTION 10. Never be found without a book nearby.

My disagreements here might be to part a of number 9 where we encouraged to “avoid the accumulation of devotional material.” As we don’t have the accompanying text with the directions I don’t want to put words in the author’s mouth. So, if I may, I would alter this to say that we should balance our libraries and therefore our reading time with both academic and devotional material. If I’m reading one then I’m usually reading the other. Otherwise I’m not academically increasing my general knowledge which should be balanced with devotional reading. In that way the former is not solely for education sake alone. I might also take some slight exception to number 4 and part b of number 9 (again giving the author the benefit of doubt as we don’t have the whole article). We must know our enemy and to do so and to be able to soundly counter him we must study his written work. If we “study to show ourselves approved” first we should then be reasonably able to discern biblical from unbiblical thus avoiding the author’s caution of what we “retain for reference may be read unwittingly for life.” On the whole I take recommendations such as these to heart and give them due thought and application in my life. How about you?

17 November 2008

Seven Ways to Improve Your Day Off

Free time, if there is such a thing, is at a premium. Idle time, let's face it, should not be a part of our lives. So, here's my list to improve our days away from the office. Any additions?

1. Set aside specific time to spend with your wife.
2. Set aside specific time to spend with your kids.
3. Determine/schedule how you will relax (it won’t just happen). Play guitar, have a game of golf, spend time with relatives, but whatever you do, plan it.
4. Spend time reading. Don’t like to read? Tough. There is no better way to enrich your mind & soul with the things of God.
5. Take time to meditate. Whether you’re in your study or at the park, meditate on the things of God. (We should be striving for this anyway, right?)
6. If you watch TV, watch quality. Watch something wherein the actors are true actors and there is a fine story to tell. Don’t watch the 99% of what’s out there and don’t fall prey to the cult of celebrity.
7. Spend some time thinking how you can help someone and then do it.

16 November 2008

The Blues is a Congregation...

The blues is a congregation of those who belong to Adam, who know what it means to be Adam and Eve's sons and daughters. It is also a congregation for whom the hope of Christ means redemption and freedom, the overturning and overcoming of that inherited curse. It is a congregation that sand and continues to sing of faith, hope, and love, one that tasted and continues to taste the sweetness of mercy. It is a congregation that hurls their words into the darkness, listening for a faint echo in return, a congregation waiting both patiently and actively for justice as they live in this world and as they long for the world to come. The blues is a congregation that sings on Saturday night in expectation of Sunday. - From Getting the Blues, What Blues Music Teaches Us About Suffering and Salvation by Stephen J. Nichols, pg. 171

14 November 2008

Never Been to Neverland?

Carl Trueman does it again with his latest article at Ref21, Trapped in Neverland. Its another spot on account of what is happening in our culture today. One pertinent quote reads, ...we need to put aside childish things and start acting like adults. Pascal put his finger on the problem of human life when he saw how entertainment had come to occupy a place, not as the necessary and momentary relief from a life of work, but as an end in itself. When entertainment becomes more than a pleasant and occasional distraction, when time and income become devoted to entertainment and to pleasure, when sports teams become more important to us than people - even the people to whom we are close - then something has gone badly wrong. The frothy entertainment culture in which we live is a narcotic: not only is it addictive, so that we always want more; it also eats away at us, skewing our priorities, rotting our values as surely as too much sugar rots our teeth. Jump over and read the entire article here & give it some thought. It'll well worth your time.

12 November 2008

Westminster Wednesday #106

We're nearing the end of our weekly study...

106. Ques. What do we pray for in the sixth petition? Ans. In the sixth petition, (which is, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,") we pray, That God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Q. 1. What do we request in praying, "Lead us not into temptation?" A. in praying, "Lead us not into temptation," we request that God would keep us from being tempted unto sin.
Q. 2. How doth God keep us from being tempted unto sin? A. God keepeth us from being tempted unto sin, either when he restraineth the devil (the great tempter of mankind) from assaulting us with his prevailing temptations; or else restraineth us from coming into those ways where temptations are waiting for us, and where we should be tempters unto ourselves. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation ."— Matt. 26:41. "Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me."— Ps. 19:13.
Q. 3. What do we request in praying, "Deliver us from evil?" A. In praying, "Deliver us from evil," we request, that when we are tempted by the devil, or the flesh, or the world, unto sin, that we may be supported and strengthened to resist and overcome the temptations, so as to be delivered, by the power of God's sufficient grace, from fallmg into the evil of sin. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."— James 4:7. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able."— l Cor. 10:13. "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee."— 2 Cor. 12:7-9.
- Thomas Vincent

06 November 2008

Our Lives Are Like Ruined Castles


“Our lives are like ruined castles in the Highlands of Scotland. We drive around and look through the morning mist; if you squeeze your eyes together you can imagine what that ruin looked like when it was in full swing: when all the windows were in place, when the lights were on inside, when with the skirl of the pipes the laughter ensued and the laughter emanated across the hillside. But its all gone now. But there is a majesty to it; there is a glory to it. Its a ruin. But its a glorious ruin. That’s what the bible says men and women are: glorious as made in the image of God…. and yet ruined as a result of our rebellion against God.” - Alistair Begg


We Forgot The "R"

This was just toooo good not to pass on. Enjoy....

A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up! In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.The head monk, says, 'We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.'

He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old Monk.

So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing.

'We missed the R!'
'We missed the R!'
'We missed the R!'

His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old Monk, 'What's wrong, father?'

With a choking voice, the old Monk replies, 'The word was. 'CELEBRATE!!!'

05 November 2008

So What Now?

As I’ve stated before I shy away from political issues on this blog and will continue to do so. However, on this historic occasion I find it necessary to share a few thoughts. No, I did not vote for Obama and yes I am disappointed at the outcome. That being said, it has nothing to do with race. I would have gladly voted for conservative Ken Blackwell had he run. For that matter, I would rather live under a Christian dictatorship rather a free democracy that elects the likes of Obama. But what is the crucial issue here? The issue is that Obama is now our God ordained president and we should honor him as such. I truly believe as Christians and conservatives we are in for a very rough road ahead. We may be looking at some of the most truly trying times that many of us have ever seen but we must bow our knee to the true King, Jesus Christ. I am reminded here of question seven of the Westminster Shorted Catechism:

Q: What are the decrees of God?
A: The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.


Some verses to ponder on this are:

Ephesians 1:11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Acts 4:27-28. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Psalm 33:11. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Romans 9:22-23. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.
Romans 11:33. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

So, what do we do now?

We are to honor our president (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17).
We are to pray for our president (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
We are to thank God for our president (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
We are to respect our president (Rom. 13:7).

For the finest blog post on the election may I refer you to Eric Redmond’s post at BTW.

Westminster Wednesday #105

Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?A. In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray, that God, for Christ's sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

1. Are our sins our debts to God? Yes: There was a certain creditor that had two debtors, etc. Luke 7:41. Are they great debts? Yes: ten thousand talents, Matt. 18:24. Can we discharge these debts ourselves ? No: we have nothing to pay, Luke 7:42. Are we liable to the prison of hell then? Yes: not to depart thence till we have paid the last mite, Luke 12:58,59. Is it possible to obtain the forgiveness of this debt? Yes: There is forgiveness with thee, Ps. 130:4.
2. Are we to pray for the forgiveness of these debts? Yes: Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, Ps. 143:2. And to pray earnestly for it? Yes: For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, Ps. 25:11. Must we plead God's mercies? Yes: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions, Ps. 51:1. And Christ's merits? Yes: Through the redemption that is in Jesus, Rom. 3:24. Must we pray for it every day? Yes: when we pray, Give us our daily bread, we must pray, Forgive us our debts.
3. Must we pray that God would ease us of the burden of sin? Yes: Take away all iniquity, Hos. 14:2. And that he would cleanse us from the filth of sin? Yes: Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, Ps. 51:2. And cure us of the wounds of sin? Yes: Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee, Ps. 12:4. And save us from the punishment of sin? Yes: I will say unto God, do not condemn me, Job 10:2.
4. Must we pray to God to give us that grace which will qualify us for pardon? Yes: for Christ is exalted to give repentance and remission, Acts 5:31. And that he would give us the comfort of our pardon? Yes: Make me to hear joy and gladness, Ps. 51:8. And must we, in order hereunto, be particular in confessing sin? Yes: Declare, that thou mayest be justified, Isa. 43:26.
5. Must we forgive those who have provoked us? Yes: forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, Col. 3:13. Must we bear them no malice? No: Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye he condemned, Jam. 5:9. Must we be ready to be reconciled to them? Yes: When ye stand praying, forgive if ye have ought against any, Mark 11:25. Should we be merciful to those that we have advantage against? Yes: Thou shouldest have had compassion on thy fellow-servant as I had pity on thee, Matt. 18:33. Is this required to qualify, us for the pardon of sin? Yes: If Ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, Matt. 6:14. Will God forgive those that do not forgive? No: If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours, verse 15.
- Matthew Henry

03 November 2008

Stormy Monday

Yeah, its storming here right now but that's not what this post is about. Have you been reading Getting the Blues by Stephen Nichols? He refers to the blues tune Stormy Monday. "....But Sunday I go to church and I kneel down to pray." Here is T-Bone Walker's rendition of Stormy Monday. It just doesn't get any better than this.

02 November 2008

Psalm 119:9-16


Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.


Meditation is something that often eludes us. This Lord's Day, let's strive to meditate on God's Word and remember the ultimate sacrifice and rejoice in what He has done for us.

30 October 2008

Running Scared part 2

Last weekends Running Scared conference with Ed Welch was time well spent. Any day spent with like-minded believers is a good one and this day was no different. Welch shared great insights on the subjects of fear and anxiety and depression especially. There was not as much depth as my wife and I had hoped however with only an hour for each subject with time for q & a much more could not be expected. But judging by the questions from the crowd much of this was new & worthwhile to many in attendance. And, its always good to have knowledge reinforced. If you or someone you know is searching for answers in these troubling areas of life may I suggest purchasing Welch’s book, Running Scared. CJ mahaney has some thoughts on his book on the Sovereign Grace blog, too.

S.D.G.

29 October 2008

Westminster Wednesday #104

Only three more after today...

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition? A. In the fourth petition, which is, [Give us this day our daily bread,] we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Q. 1. Why is this petition placed after the three former? A. Because those concern immediately and generally God’s glory, in the advancement of his name, kingdom and will, which ought to be preferred to all our personal concerns; Psalm 69:9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Acts 21:13. I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Q. 2. Why is it put before the two following petitions? A. Not for its worth, but for its order; for we can have no spiritual blessings, unless we have a natural being in this life.
Q. 3. What kind of bread is here meant? A. Not spiritual bread, or our Lord Jesus Christ, (as some,) but corporal and temporal.
Q. 4. What is included in this word bread? A. Not that only which we call strictly bread, but all the good things of this present life.
Q. 5. Do we hereby beg pure necessaries only? A. No, we pray for conveniences for our comfort, as well as necessaries for our life.
Q. 6. Do we herein pray only for personal good things for our being? A. No, we pray for civil good things for our condition, that according to our degree in the world, in which God hath placed us, we may have a convenient allowance.
Q. 7. Do we pray here for ourselves only? A. No, but also for our charge, children, and family, that under and with us they may have the good things of this life.
Q. 8. Why do we pray to God for these good things, can we not get them ourselves, or our fellow-creatures give them to us? A. Not without God: whatever we have of these things, they are from God; whoever be the second cause or instrument: If ourselves, God gives us ability and success to get them; if others, God inclined their hearts, and opened their hands to bestow them; Deuteronomy 8:17-18. And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.
Q. 9. Why do we pray to God to give us bread? A. Because the least crumb of bread is a free gift, and never can be merited by all we can do or suffer; Luke 17:10. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
Q. 10. Why are all these things couched under the expression of bread? A. (1.) Because bread is one of the most necessary and useful things to preserve life. (2.) Because we must not ask delicacies and dainties of God.
Q. 11. What is meant by day in our petition? A. Either (1.) A natural day of twenty four hours; or, (2.) The day of our whole life.
Q. 12. Why do we pray for daily bread? A. Because God must give us the mercies and good things of every day, or else we cannot have them.
Q. 13. Why should we not pray for weekly, or monthly, or yearly bread, as well as daily? A. (1.) Because it is fit we should be still sensible of our dependence upon God. (2.) Because we do frequently pray to God, and so exert our graces, and maintain communion with him, and daily render thanks for daily favours; Psalm 55:17. Evening and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice.
Q. 14. What need we to pray for daily bread, when we may have stores laid up for years? A. They that have the good things of this life need to pray this petition, as well as they that have them not. Not that they may have bread, but that it may be bread to them: for except God give his blessing upon it, bread would be ashes, and not sustenance to us; neither could all the comforts of this life do us any good; Isaiah 3:1. For behold, the Lord, thc Lord of hosts doth take away from Jerusalem, and from Judah, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water. Malachi 2:1-2. And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you: if ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a. curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings; yea, I have cursed them already, because you do not lay it to heart.
Q. 15. Why do we pray only for daily bread, or a competency, may we not pray for abundance and riches? A. No, because riches are a great snare and temptation; Matthew 19:23-24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Proverbs 30:8-9. Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Q. 16. What shall we then do with riches, if providence cast them upon us, shall we cast them away? A. No, for some of the best of men, and greatest of God’s favourites, have lived and died rich. But, (1.) We must wean our hearts from them; Psalm 62:10. Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. (2.) Be thankful for them; and, (3.) Fruitful with them in acts of piety and charity; 1 Timothy 6:17, 19. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Q. 17. Wherefore is the bread called our bread? A. Not because we are absolute lords and possessors of it, for it is God’s only; Psalm 24:1-2. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Psalm 50:10, 12. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee, for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. But, (1.) Because we must have a covenant right to it; and, (2.) A civil right; we must come lawfully and honestly by, and so keep the good things of this life; 2 Thessalonians 3:10. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Q. 18. Having prayed for our daily bread, need we to labour and endeavour to get it? A. Yes, we must labour in good and honest callings; God’s blessing and man’s industry must concur towards the present maintenance of life; Psalm 128:1-2. Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord: that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Proverbs 10:4, 22. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
Q. 19. What is the first inference from it? A. That we must not seek great matters for ourselves, neither make them the matter of prayer to God; nor the end and design of our labours and callings among men.
Q. 20. What is a second inference from hence? A. That having food and raiment, we must be therewith content, and therefore thankful; 1 Timothy 6:8. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks.
Q. 21. What is the third inference? A. That we ascribe not our success in the world to our own skill and industry, for the wisest and most industrious do sometimes labour in the fire, and put their gain in a bag with holes; but to God’s free donation to us, and to his blessing upon our endeavours; Genesis 33:5, 11. And he lift up his eyes, and saw the women and the children, and said, Who are those with thee? And be said, the children which God hath graciously given thy servant. Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee, because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. Deuteronomy 28:3. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Ver. 6. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. -
John Flavel

28 October 2008

Two More Ways to Write Bad Worship Songs

Bob Kauflin throws in his very valuable two cents in on the Top Ten ways to Write Bad Worship Songs. Amen! I’m not a songwriter nor do I aspire to be one but permit me to add two more. When the songwriter has got it down may I suggest that he sings it for a group of men. If it nauseates them and they head for the door, scrap the song. There has already been a mass exodus of men from our churches today and we can’t interest them in coming back. This may very well be one of the reasons why, that is, lovey-dovey songs that are more suited to be love songs than worship songs. And, the second point, we must use the name of Christ (or Lord, God, or other biblical name for one of the persons of the Godhead) in the song. If a Muslim could sing the song (not that any would) then it is not suitable for worship. Robin Mark, who is on most occasions a biblically, outstanding lyricist, stumbled when he wrote There Is No Other Name. Ironically, that name is never mentioned in the lyrics. Great tune but the lyrics sadly let us down.There are numerous other worship songs that contain one or both of these faults but the most notable is Draw Me Close which is more aptly suited for a woman to sing to the man in her life. There should be no doubt in our worship who we are singing to or what we are singing about. May we always exalt the our Lord without slipping into some kind of over-emotional, feminized sea of goo.

22 October 2008

Westminster Wednesday #103

Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition? A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we pray that God by his grace would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

1. Is the will of God's commands the rule of our action? Yes: we must understand what the will of the Lord is, Eph. 5:17. Are we to pray that we may conform to this rule? Yes: that we may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, Rom. 12:2 Must we pray that God would give us to know his will? Yes: Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law, Ps. 119:34. And to know it fully? Yes: That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will, Col.1:9. And to know it in doubtful cases? Yes: Teach me thy way, O Lord, lead me in a plain path, Ps. 27:11. Do all who are sanctified truly desire to know God's will Yes: What saith my Lord unto his servant? Josh. 5:14.
2. When we know God's will, are we able of ourselves to do it? No: we are not sufficient of ourselves, 2 Cor. 3:5. Must we therefore pray to God to make us able? Yes: Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands, Neh. 6:9. And must we depend upon his grace? Yes: I will go in the strength of the Lord God, Ps. 71:16. Must we pray to God to make us willing? Yes: incline my heart unto thy testimonies, Ps. 119:36. And to make us entirely willing? Yes: Unite my heart to fear thy name, Ps. 36:11.
3. Must we pray that we may be sincere in our obedience? Yes: Let my heart be sound in thy statutes, Ps. 119:80. And that we may be exact in our obedience? Yes: O that my ways were directed to keep thy commandments! Ps. 119:5. And that we may be universal in our obedience? Yes: That we may stand complete in all the will of God, Col. 4:12. And that we may be armed against that which would divert us from our obedience? Yes: Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken thou me in thy way, Ps. 119:37. And must we pray that others also may do God's will? Yes: That they may be perfect in every good work, to do his will, Heb. 13:21.
4. Is the will of God's counsel the rule of his actions? Yes: for he worketh all according to the counsel of his own will, Eph. 1:11. Must we desire that this may be done? Yes: The will of the Lord be done, Acts 21:14. Rather than our own will? Yes: Not as I will, but as thou wilt, Matt. 26:39. And must we acquiesce in it? Yes: It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good, 1 Sam. 3:18. And must we pray that he will enable us to do so? Yes: That we may be strengthened with all might, unto all patience and longsuffering, with joyfulness, Col. 1:11.
5. Do the angels in heaven do the will of God? Yes: they do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word, Ps. 103:20. Do they do it readily? Yes: they fly swiftly, Dan. 9:21. Do they do it zealously? Yes: for they are a flaming fire, Ps. 104:4. Do they do it with an eye to God? Yes: for they always behold the face of our Father, Matt. 18:10. And are we to pray that God's will may so be done on earth? Yes: that the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, Rev. 11:15
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18 October 2008

Running Scared

Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio is hosting a seminar by Dr. Ed Welch . As you may already know, he is ...The author of several books and booklets, Edward T. Welch’s work demonstrates the power of Scripture to empower and redirect lives. His publications include Running Scared, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness and Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave.
He currently serves as counselor, faculty memeber and director of the School of Biblical Counseling at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation and as professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. Ed and his wife, Sheri, live in the Philadelphia area and have two married daughters and one granddaughter
. The sessions will cover such topics as depression and anxiety. My wife and I will be attending. If you're in the area, why not come and learn? Read more about it here.

Blogging Thoughts

Paul Wallace (recently interviewed by the Exiled Preacher) has listed some concerns about blogging that I believe are worth some review. He lists seven points, permit me to comment on one and seven. Points two - six are spot on (and let me point out that I have, concerning point number six, submitted myself to the authority of my church for my blog). His first concern is as follows, There are some extremely influential blogs that I think don’t even slightly deserve the influential position they have. Vice-versa as I have said before I get much more benefit from “small” blogs like most of those listed on my side-bar where real, ordinary pastors and other folks are sharing God’s word and their meditations there-on. I emphatically agree. There are a few large blogs that are worth read such as Justin Taylor’s Between Two Worlds, Mark Driscoll’s blog and the Desiring God blog and that’s about it. There is one out there that I can’t for the life of me fathom why its so popular but it is and that’s the way it is. So be it. Wallace’s affirmation that smaller blogs are of more benefit is very true. There is much more to be derived from the average guy or gal who is out there striving to do God’s work in a sinful world and sharing their life’s moments and learnings with us.

His last point is just as insightful: …I am convinced there are way too many armchair theologians out there, who can pontificate about finer points of doctrine and church practice but are not attached to a church at all, or are attached to churches that are well off doctrinally, but they can vent their frustrations in the internet realm, instead of taking courage and joining biblical churches. Likewise they cut down faithful people who just forget to dot their i’s and cross their t’s now and again. I learned my lesson with these folks years ago when I was involved with a particular newsgroup that had some theological heavyweights as members. These guys would cut you down over the least infraction. I often wondered what their congregations thought of them as many were Pastors. I describe myself as an armchair theologian but I don’t think you’ll find me pontificating (I love that word) very often. What you’ll find here is where I’m at, i.e., what I’m reading or thinking about, what I’m struggling through, what has encouraged me and therefore I hope what will encourage you.

Thanks Paul for a great post.

17 October 2008

Tattoos???


Johnathan Bowers has a thoughtful post on tattoos. Having tattoos myself I was intrigued with the post and thought I would post a few comments on the subject myself. First, I appreciate his comment that it is a matter of personal conviction. I would agree with that. Those who dislike them have their verses they like to throw at you for not marking the body but have little exegetical proof. I won’t go into that except to say that if anyone wants to debate (not go to combat, mind you) that I’m sure open to it.

His first objection, that we are “not our own” (1 Cor. 6:19-20), is a good point. But may I add that we should mindful of that the next time we get our haircut, eat that ice cream cone or buy those pair of trousers. In each of those situations we are also “not our own” and yet we are potentially telling someone else something about ourselves. We cannot avoid expressing ourselves no matter what we do. Objection #2, that tats can breed novelty is also valid. Yet I would humbly state again that if we own more than one pair of shoes, one jacket, one shirt, that novelty can set in and indeed does. Individuality, his third point, is often the reason one offers for getting inked and not necessarily a good one and at the same time we are all individuals so getting inked does not make any of us any more of an individual than anyone else.

Fourth, I think this is extremely important, he feels that having a tat can cause an offense. Very true. So can sporting the latest fashion, or being of the mind not to sport the latest fashion, or driving a Cadillac rather than a Honda, or having a beer, or, or, or… and the list goes on. Its very easy to offend other non-likeminded believers. That is why we need to be patient with our brothers. How about giving an offense to unbelievers? Unbelievers will find fault with believers with almost anything simply because we are believers and the gospel is an offense. I would, however, offer caution here that the tat itself, the design, the meaning, what it portrays is what actually can give offense and therefore we need to choose our tats carefully so as not to give offense in this manner. Tattoos are so common today that many folks do not notice them anymore. We should be mindful too, that any lost soul that enters our church covered with them is still a lost soul seeking the same thing we did. Lastly, tattoos will fade. If that is an issue for someone then don’t get one.

As for myself, I got my tattoos when I was older. I gave each one much thought and each one has more than one meaning. Most are covered by short sleeves and display either my Scottish heritage or my Christian heritage but the two that show below the sleeves are the most “Christian” of the lot. I have been asked what they are and what they mean and have used them as “door openers” to explain the gospel on more than one occasion. Above you see one of those tats. Can we have tattoos for the glory of God? I think so.
Great post Johnathan - thanks.

What say ye?

16 October 2008

Hebrews 6:18-20


That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 6:18-20

Some believe the anchor was the first Christian symbol preceeding the cross. We can read some history on the subject here but the very real question for us is whether Christ is truly the anchor of our souls today? If not, have you considered why not?

Image credits here and here

15 October 2008

Westminster Wednesday #102

We're quickly drawing to a close on our study. Let's continue...

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition? A. In the second petition, which is, [Thy kingdom come,] we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed, and Mat the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Q. 1. What is the first thing signified by the kingdom of God here? A. The gospel is here intended by the kingdom of God, Matthew 13:47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind.
Q. 2. What is the thing signified by the coming of this kingdom of God? A. It signifies the removal of all impediments, that hinder its propagation in the world; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.
Q. 3. Who, and what hinders the propagation of it? A. Antichrist, that man of sin, hinders it externally; 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. The devil and men’s lusts internally; 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Wherefore we would have come unto you (even I Paul) once and again; but Satan hindered us. Luke 19:14. But his citizens hated him, and sent a messenger after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Q. 4. What then is the desire of all good men, with respect to the coming of the gospel-kingdom? A. That all nations may be brought to Christ by the preaching of it, and so Christ’s kingdom be greatly exalted and enlarged; Isaiah 2:2. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it.
Q. 5. What is the second thing here meant by the kingdom of God? A. It signifies and intends the work of saving grace wrought in men’s souls; Luke 17:21. Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Q. 6. Why is this work of grace called the kingdom of God? A. Because wherever saving-grace comes, it subdues the soul to Christ’s sceptre; 2 Corinthians 10:5. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringeth into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Q. 7. Wherein consists the kingdom of grace? A. It consists not in external rites and observances, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; Romans 14:17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Q. 8. What do we ask of God in this petition, with respect to this kingdom of grace? A. Herein we desire not only our own personal progressive sanctification, but the sanctification of others all the world over; Acts 26:29. And Paul said, I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
Q. 9. What is the third thing here meant by the kingdom of God? A. By it is here meant the future state of glory and blessedness; 1 Corinthians 15:50. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, &c.
Q. 10. Why is the heavenly state called the kingdom of God? A. This is called the kingdom of God, because in that state God reigns over his people gloriously, there being no rebellion in them in the least degree; Luke 20:36. For they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. And they reign with Christ; Revelation 3:21. To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, &c.
Q. 11. What do we desire in prayer for the coming of this kingdom? A. We desire not only our p reservation in our passage to that state of glory; 1 Peter 5:10. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you? But the hastening of it to ourselves and others; Revelation 22:20. Amen, even so come Lord Jesus.
Q. 12. What is the first instruction hence? A. That the gospel is an invaluable mercy, as it is the instrument of bringing us into Christ’s gracious and glorious kingdom; Acts 26:18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Q. 13. What is the second inference from hence? A. That men may really hate and oppose the very thing they pray for.
Q. 14. What is the last instruction hence? A. That how firmly soever Satan’s and Antichrist’s kingdom seem to be founded in the world, they must and shall fall before the daily prayers of the saints.