30 June 2008

I Am

I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(John 6:35; 8:12, 14; 10:9; 11:25; 14:6 15:1,5)

29 June 2008

Scottish Games

The Ohio Scottish Games were great as usual. The vendors, the food, the pipe bands, traditional Scottish dancing and, of course, the games themselves, it was time well spent. The Celtic Rock group Needfire performed and were incredible again. From Dallas, Texas they have really refined the art of mixing rock and traditional music. They were worth the price of admission alone. Check out their website. Have a look at the pics below and yup, that's me this year as we headed out Saturday morning.

27 June 2008

We're Off....

My wife and I are off to the 31st Annual Ohio Scottish Games this weekend. I look forward to this every year. A little piece of Scotland right here in Ohio for a day. (Its interesting that Ohio and Scotland are virtually the same in population and geographic size.) I'll be back soon...

26 June 2008

On Faith...

The tendency of circumstances is to bind or hearts to the earth: when prosperous, to make us satisfied with things; when adverse, to make us repine over or covet the things which we do not have. Nothing but the exercise of real faith can lift our hearts above circumstances, for faith looks away from all things seen, so that the heart delights itself and finds its peace and joy in the Lord (Ps. 37:4). This is never easy to any of us; it is always a fight, and only Divine grace (diligently sought) can give us the victory. Oftentimes we fail; when we do, this must be confessed to God (1 John 1:9), and a fresh start made. ...It is not easy for faith to rise above circumstances; no, it is not. It is difficult, at times, extremely difficult; so the writer has found it [and me - the blogger, too). But remember, a "fight" is not finished in a moment, by one blow; oftentimes the victor receives many wounds and is sorely pounded before he finally knocks out his enemy. - A.W. Pink

24 June 2008

Westminster Wednesday #87

Can you believe we've been at this over a year now? There is so much to study and apply so let's keep moving on & delve into this week's q&a.

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life? A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does with grief and hatred of his sin turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.

1. Is true repentance, repentance unto life? Yes: God hath to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life, Acts 11:18. Is it a grace? Yes: If God peradventure will give them repentance, 2 Tim. 2:25. Is it a saving grace? Yes: godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, 2 Cor. 7:10.
2. Is repentance required of every one of us? Yes: God commandeth all men everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30. Is it necessary to our pardon? Yes: for repentance and remission of sins are preached to all nations, Luke 24:47. Is it given to qualify us for pardon? Yes: God hath exalted his Son Christ Jesus, to give repentance and remission of sins, Acts 5:3. Can we be saved without it? No: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, Luke 13:3.
3. Is it necessary to repentance, that there be a sense of sin? Yes : Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, Ezek. 16:2. Must there be an acknowledgment of sin? Yes: I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me, Ps. 51:3. Must we acknowledge the fact of sin? Yes: Thus and thus have I done, Josh. 7:20. And the fault? Yes: I have done this evil in thy sight, Ps. 51:4. And the folly of it? Yes: O God, thou knowest my foolishness, Ps. 69:5. Must we acknowledge the original of sin? Yes: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, Ps. 51:5. Must we acknowledge ourselves odious to God's holiness because of sin? Yes: Behold, I am vile, Job 11:4. And obnoxious to his justice? Yes: If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand, Ps. 130:3.
4. Must there be an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ? Yes: there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared, Ps. 130:4. Must that invite us to repent? Yes: The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance, Rom. 2:4. Is that evangelical repentance which flows from a hope of that mercy? Yes: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, Matt. 3:2. Can there be true repentance where there is a despair of mercy? No: Thou saidst there is hope; no, I have loved strangers, and after them will I go, Jer. 2:25. Have we reason to hope for that mercy? Yes: Turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy, Isa. 55:7.
5. Must there be contrition for sin? Yes: When they heard this, they were pricked to the heart, Acts. 2:37. Must we turn from sin? Yes: Everyone mourning for his iniquities, Ezek. 7:16. Must we mourn greatly for sin? Yes: Peter went out and wept bitterly, Matt. 26:75. Must we mourn after a godly sort? Yes: Ye sorrowed according to God, 2 Cor. 7:9,margin. Must we mourn for sin with an eye to Christ? Yes: They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn, Zech. 1:10. 6. Must we hate sin? Yes: I hate every false way, Ps. 119:128. Must we loathe ourselves because of sin? Yes: I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes, Job 42:6. Must we be ashamed of ourselves before God? Yes: I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God, Ezra 9:6. And must we humble ourselves greatly in his presence? Yes: as the publican that stood afar off; and would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, Luke 18:13.
7. Must we confess our sins? Yes: for he that covers his sins shall not prosper, Prov. 28:13. And must we aggravate them? Yes: I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, Luke 15:18. And must we judge ourselves because of them? Yes: If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, 1 Cor. 11:31. And must we cry earnestly to God for pardon in the blood of Christ be merciful to me a sinner, Luke 18:13.
8. Must we turn from sin? Yes: Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, Ezek. 18:30. From our own sin? Yes: Return ye now every one from his evil way, Jer. 18:11. And must we turn to God? Yes: If thou wilt return, O Israel, return unto me, Jer. 4:1. Are backsliders invited to return? Yes: Return ye backsliding children, Jer. 3:22. And should they accept the invitation? Yes: Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God, Jer. 3:22.
9. In repentance must there be a change of the mind? Yes: Make ye a new heart, Ezek. 18:31. Must there be a change of the way? Yes: Cease to do evil, learn to do well, Isa. 1:16,17. Must there be a full resolution against all sin? Yes: Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols, Hos. 14:8. And a full resolution of new obedience? Yes: The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey, Josh. 24:24. And must we be serious in our endeavours accordingly? Yes: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, Matt. 3:8. -
Matthew Henry

23 June 2008

The Votes Are In on Women Deacons

Ok, the votes are in. Not many of you voted and even less left a message stating why you voted the way you did. I’m glad you all stopped by and voted regardless. So, my take can be summed up in the conclusion of the link I provided. This is a well researched and well written study on the question and I believe the conclusion is biblically sound. Let me quote, in part, the conclusion (which does not exempt you from reading the work yourself):
Given the biblical and historical evidence regarding women deacons, the question asked in the modern debate needs to be changed. The question has been: should the church have deaconesses? The question should be: what type of deaconesses does the New Testament authorize?... The New Testament gives clear qualifications for servant-widows (i.e., deaconesses) in 1 Timothy 5:9ff. and 1 Timothy 3:11. While the New Testament deaconess is a separate office from the male diaconate (with separate qualifications and a different ministry), the office clearly has divine authorization. The simple fact is that having deaconesses in the church is biblical as long as the church defines deaconesses biblically…It is not enough simply to oppose the "women in the same office as men deacons" view of deaconesses. Churches must study and then put in place the servant-widows that do have divine authorization. Under divine inspiration Paul gives instructions to place godly widows on a list. These servant-widows or deaconesses are needed now just as much as they were in the early church. With the fragmentation of families, single mothers, and the separation of young families from relatives by hundreds and thousands of miles, young women need the support that only servant-widows have to offer.
I, perhaps, might expand the allowable women to serve beyond just servant-widows but I’m still working through that in the same way that I’m working through the issue that many churches have Elders that are not elder. I do see much value in having some, especially older, women in this role. The deaconess could, for example, accompany and elder or deacon on a call to a single woman’s home to discuss a sensitive issue that perhaps the woman my not feel open and comfortable discussing with only a man or with a man in any circumstance. So, I do think there is a role here that could be fulfilled by a woman who has been a Christian for some years, demonstrated Christian piety and has some life experiences that could aid others in the congregation. Thoughts?

[Just for the record, the votes were 3 in favor, 3 not in favor and 4 did not know.]

20 June 2008

On False Conversions....

Common experience declares how momentary and how useless are those violent fits and gusts of endeavours which proceed from fear and uncertainty, both in things spiritual and things temporal, or civil. Whilst men are under the power of actual impressions from such fears, they will convert to God, yea, they will turn in a moment, and perfect their holiness in an instant; but so soon as that impression wears off (as it will do on every occasion, and upon none at all) such persons are as dead and cold towards God as the lead or iron, which but now ran in a fiery stream, is now when the heat is departed from it. - John Owen

A Woman Deacon? Don't Forget to Vote

I see many of you have stopped by and read the post on women in the Diaconate but only a few have voted. Hey, take a minute to vote. I want to hear from you. Let me know what you think!

19 June 2008

On Preaching...

...We would do well to bear in mind James Packer's point that preaching is not simply communication; it is far more than that, in that it actually brings Christ, God himself, to the congregation. The sermon may be made up of words, but what takes place is far more than mere transmission of information; the Holy Spirit uses those words to point to Christ. It is only as Word and Spirit work together that people are confronted with the claims of Christ in a way that truly challenges and changes them. Quoted from Reformation: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow by Carl Trueman.

What's on Tap?

Or more precisely, what have I been imbibing lately? I've found a new favorite (until I find another new favorite) in Tetley's English Ale. Brewed in the north of England it pours smooth and creamy and has a crisp, fresh taste. Also, I've found a local purveyor of fine beers that carries an old favorite -Tennent's. I first had this at the Ohio Scottish Games 10 years ago (sadly, they no longer have Scottish beers at the Games). Its more hoppy than what I usually go for but refreshing nonetheless. As for duds, I purchased a six-pack of Railbender Ale. Brewed by the Erie Brewing Company in Erie, Pa. I found it quite unremarkable. It reminded me of a Brooklyn Lager which I wouldn't spend my hard earned pesos on, either. Of course, both are a step above a Bud Light but with so many fine brews out there I won't spend the cash on either again.

What's on Tap at Great Lakes Brewing? Take a look:

Barrel Select Pils Crisp golden pilsner loaded with noble hop flavors.

Burning River Pale Ale An assertively hopped American Pale Ale with citrusy and piney Cascade hops.

Commodore Perry IPA A medium-bodied and well hopped India Pale Ale with a dry, fruity aftertaste.

Dortmunder Gold Lager A smooth lager that strikes a delicate balance between sweet malt and dry hop flavors.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter A complex, roasty porter with a bittersweet, chocolate-coffee taste and bold hop presence.

Eliot Ness Amber Lager An amber lager with rich, fragrant malt flavors balanced by crisp, noble hops.

Grand Cru A full-bodied Belgian Ale spiced with coriander and orange peel for a subtle citrus flavor and complex finish.

Holy Moses White Ale A Belgian Wit Ale spiced with orange peel, chamomile and coriander.

Moondog ESB Extra Special Bitter ale with a flowery hop bouquet and crisp finish.

Rye of the Tiger India Pale Ale brewed with rye malt and loaded with hops.

18 June 2008

Westminster Wednesday #86

Its that time of the week again....

Q: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 1. How is faith a saving grace? A. Faith is a saving grace, not by the act of believing, as ah act, for then it would save as a work— whereas we are saved by faith in opposition to all works; but faith is a saving grace, as an instrument apprehending and applying Jesus Christ and his perfect righteousness, whereby alone we are saved. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."— John 3:16. "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,"— Acts 16:31. "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Christ unto all and upon all them that believe."— Rom. 3:22.
Q. 2. Who is the author of faith in Jesus Christ? A. The author of faith in Jesus Christ is God, whose gift it is, and who works this grace of faith in the soul by his Spirit. "Ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."— Eph. 2:8. "Ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God." — Col. 2:12.
Q. 3. How doth God work this grace of faith in the souls of men? A. God doth work this grace of faith in the souls of men ordinarily by hearing of the word preached. "So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God "— Rom. 10:17. "So we preach, and so ye believed."— 1 Cor. 15:11.
Q. 4. What is the object of this grace of faith? A. The object of this grace of faith is the Lord Jesus Christ, and his righteousness, and the promises which are made through him in the covenant of grace. "He that believeth on him is not condemned."— John 3:18. "For therein is the righteousness ot God revealed from faith to faith : as it is written, The just shall live by faith "— Rom. 1:17. "The Scripture hath concluded ail under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."— Gal. 3:22.
Q. 5. What is the subject of faith in Jesus Christ? A. 1. The subject of denomination, or the persons in whom alone this grace of faith is to be found, are the elect ouly. "According to the faith of God's elect."— Titus1:1. "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."— Acts 13:48. 2. The subject of inhesion, or the parts of the soul in which faith is placed and doth inhere, is not only the mind and understanding, but also the will and heart. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them."— Heb. 11:13. The persuasion of the truth of the promises is the act of the understanding; the embracement of the things promised is the act of the will. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness."— Rom. 10:10.
Q. 6. What are the acts of faith in Jesus Christ? A. The acts of faith in Jesus Christ are— 1. A receiving of Jesus Christ. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."— John 1:12. 2. A resting upon Christ alone for salvation. This is implied in all those Scuptures which speak of believing in Christ, and believing on his name.
Q. 7. How is Jesus Christ to be received by faith? A. Jesus Christ is to be received by faith as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Q. 8. How is Jesus Christ offered to us in the gospel? A. Jesus Christ is offered to us in the gospel, as priest, prophet, and king; and so we must receive him, if we would be saved by him. Q. 9. When doth the soul rest upon him for salvation? A. The soul doth rest upon Christ for salvation when, being convinced of its lost condition by reason of sin, and its own inability, together with all creatures' insufficiency, to recover it out of this estate, and having a discovery and persuasion of Christ's ability' and willingness to save, it doth let go all hold on the creatures, and renounce its own righteousness, and so lay hold on Christ, rely upon him, and put confidence in him, and in him alone, for salvation.
- Thomas Vincent

And don't forget to check in tomorrow at Not Just Sunday for Heidelberg Thursday!

17 June 2008

St Columba Prayer

Let me bless almighty God,
whose power extends over sea and land,
whose angels watch over all.

Let me study sacred books to calm my soul:
I pray for peace,
kneeling at heaven's gates.

Let me do my daily work,
gathering seaweed,
catching fish,
giving food to the poor.

Let me say my daily prayers,
sometimes chanting,
sometimes quiet,
always thanking God.

Delightful it is to live on a peaceful isle,
in a quiet cell,
serving the King of kings.

16 June 2008

Take the Poll on Women Serving in the Diaconate

The PCA has decided not to even form a study committee on the issue of women serving in a diaconal capacity. HHmmm....what do you think? I was in the the PCA prior to 2000 ministering as a deacon in my church and the issue was brewing even back then. So, vote on the sidebar & let me know what you think by leaving a comment telling me why you voted the way you did. Read about the PCA decision here and an interesting study is here.

14 June 2008

D.A. Carson's "How Long, O Lord?"

I've just finished reading D.A. Carson's "How Long, O Lord?." This is truly a wonderful book full of choice bits to assist our understanding of suffering in the Christian life. From the outset Carson tells us that it is not "an academic discussion of philosophical problems" (pg. 11) nor is it a "comprehensive guide to the problem of suffering" (pg. 12) rather, it is a book of "preventative medicine" designed to get the Christian thinking about suffering and evil so that a theology of suffering can be developed within the the mind of the believer. We must face the fact that if we live long enough, at some point, we will encounter pain; we need to be prepared. The work covers many aspects of suffering. Let me share a few of my favorite quotes:

In fact we believe that sin properly deserves the wrath of God, then when we experience the sufferings of this world, all of them the consequences of human rebellion, we will be less quick to blame God and a lot quicker to recognize that we have no fundamental right to expect a life of unbroken ease and comfort. From the biblical perspective, it is because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed (pg. 44).

But we must enlarge our grasp of what it means to live in a fallen world, so that when such things occur we are not devastated because we have cherished false expectations. The Bible does not tell us that life in this world will be fair. Evil and sin are not Victorian gentlemen; they do not play fair. We ourselves are part of this evil world order, and it is only because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed (pg. 57).

Yet it does help to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if you cannot see it; to know that God is in control and is committed to his people's good, even though it still does not look like that to you. The suffering is no less real, but perhaps is less debilitating when the larger perspective is kept in mind (pg. 66).

...when suffering is mingled with the faith of [Romans 5:1-2], and with delight in being reconciled to God, it then produces perseverance. The staying power of our faith is neither demonstrated nor developed until it is tested by suffering (pg. 71).

It is only in the context of suffering that Christians can learn what it means to be "more than conquerors." This phrase does not come in a context suggestive of a "higher Christian life," a superior brand of Christianity that triumphantly lives above nasty little things like doubt or discouragement or defeat or depression. Rather, it comes in context where Christians are attacked. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Paul asks with rhetorical flourish (pg. 78).

I hope these few quotes give you an interest and a flavor for the work. There is so much more I could share about this work but I'll leave it to the you to seek out the answers for suffering in your own life. I highly recommend this book and would recommend it now, so that you may have time to develop your own theology of suffering.

11 June 2008

St. Augustine

"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."- St. Augustine

10 June 2008

Westminster Wednesday #85

Let's move right along...

Ques. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?Ans. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.

Q. 1. How many things doth God require of us to escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin? A. God requireth three things of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin— 1. Faith in Jesus Christ. 2. Repentance unto life. 3. The diligent use of all the outward means wherehy Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.
Q. 2. Why doth God require of us faith in Jesus Christ, that we may escape his wrath and curse? A. God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ to escape his wrath and curse, because by faith in Jesus Christ we have an interest in Jesus Christ and his imputed righteousness, and the promise he hath made of remission and salvation unto us. "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."— Phil. 3:9. "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."— Acts 10:43. "By grace we are saved, through faith."— Eph. 2:8.
Q. 3. Why doth God require of us repentance unto life, that we may escape his wrath and curse? A. God requireth of us repentance unto life, that we may escape his wrath and curse, because the promise of forgiveness of sin is made to repentance, as a concomitant of faith; and it is not for God's honour to pardon and save any that go on still in their trespasses. "Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."— Acts 3:19. "Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."— Acts. 20:21.
Q. 4. Why doth God require of us the diligent use of all outward means, that we may escape his wrath and curse? A. God doth require of us the diligent use of all outward means to escape his wrath and curse, because although God could save without means, yet it is his wilt to appoint means, which, having his institution, we cannot expect the benefits of redemption and salvation should be communicated to us any other way. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."— 1 Cor. 1:21. "Pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee."— Acts 8:22.
- Thomas Vincent

09 June 2008

Heidelberg Catechism Posts

Although I align myself with the Westminster Confession and Catechisms the Heidelberg Catechism is nevertheless a fine catechism and worthy of much study. My good friend Scrape at Not Just Sunday has started a weekly study of the HC here. Well worth the time to look in and have a read each week. Also, Iain Campbell has a fine post on the the HC as well here. Take a look!

08 June 2008

There's a New Renegade In Town - My New Granddaughter

There's a new Renegade to contend with - my new grandaughter! She was born Friday night at 11:25 pm at a whopping 8 pounds, 4 ounces and 19 wonderful inches long. I'm already praying God will draw her to Him & that she will happily serve Him. Praise God!

05 June 2008

Books for the Guys

Al Mohler chimes in with his suggestions on books that men and boys would enjoy here. I totally agree when he states that, “One reason for low interest in reading among males is the fact that much of the reading they are required to do in school is so uninteresting or demoralizing for boys. I believe that reading is appetitive. Readers develop a more ravenous appetite for books when they discover that they want to read and actually enjoy it. Here are some recent books that men and older teenagers are likely to enjoy.“ One title really caught my eye, Six Frigates, The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. That will have to go on my Amazon wishlist. Here is the link for Mohler's list.

04 June 2008

Westminster Wednesday #84

We continue.....

#84 What doth every sin deserve?

Ans. Every sin deserveth God's wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come.

Q. 1. What is. meant by God's wrath and curse, which every sin doth deserve? A. By God's wrath and curse, which every sin doth deserve, are meant all those punishments which God in his wrath hath threatened to inflict upon sinners for their sins.
Q. 2. What are those punishments which God in his wrath hath threatened to inflict upon sinners for their sins? A. The punishments which God in his wrath hath threatened to inflict upon sinners for their sins, are either in this life, such as all temporal and spiritual judgments here; or in the life which is to come, such as the punishment of hell; of both which we have seen before in the explication of the nineteenth answer.
Q. 3. Doth every sin deserve God's wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come? A. Every sin doth deserve God's wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come, because every sin is committed against an infinitely holy and righteous God, and his justice doth require infinite satisfaction; aiid if some sinners do escape some temporal punishments, they cannot escape the eternal punishment of hell, which is the only satisfying punishment, unless they have an interest in the satisfaction made by Christ. "Cursed is every one that continueth not ill all things which are written in the book of the law to do them "— Gal. 3:10. "Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."— Matt. 25:41.
- Matthew Henry