31 December 2009

Watson on Love

A great way to end the year - a few quotes on love by Thomas Watson.
“He that loved Him that begat, loves him also that is begotten of Him.” (1 John 5:1). It is possible to love a saint, yet not to love him as a saint; we may love him for something else, for his ingenuity, or because he is affable and bountiful. A beast loves a man, but not as he is a man, but because he feeds him, and gives him provender. But to love a saint as he is a saint, this is a sign of love to God.

The saints are the walking pictures of God. If God be our Father we shall love to see His picture of holiness in believers, shall pity them for their infirmities, but love them for their graces. . . . It may justly be suspected that God is not Father of those who love not His children. Though they retain the communion of saints in their creed, they banish the communion of saints out of their company.

Wicked men seem to bear great reverence to the saints departed; they canonize dead saints, but persecute living. In vain do men stand up at the creed, and tell the world they believe in God, when they abominate one of the articles of the creed, namely, the communion of saints. Surely, there is no greater sign of a man ripe for hell, than this, not only to lack grace, but to hate it. -Thomas Watson

As this year passes it would do us well to consider our relationship with our brethren as Watson here suggests. May we not take lightly the communion of saints and indeed, may we recognize that Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others (from Desiring God by John Piper, page 96).

29 December 2009

27 December 2009

Flavel on the Soul

When the Spaniards came first among the poor Indians, they thought the horse and his rider to be one creature, as many ignorant ones think the soul and body of man to be nothing but breath and body. Whereas indeed they are two distinct creatures, as vastly different in their natures as the rider and his horse, or the bird and his cage. While the man is on horseback he moves according to the motion of the horse; and while the bird is encaged, he eats and drinks, and sleeps, and hops and sings in his cage. But if the horse fail and die under his rider, or the cage be broken, the man can go on his own feet, and the bird enjoy itself as well, yea, better, in the open fields and woods than in the cage; neither depend, as to being or action, on the horse or cage. - JOHN FLAVEL

26 December 2009

Lord's Day 51 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 51

Scripture Readings: Matthew 18:15-35; Luke 15:11-32; Ephesians 4:30-5:2

Q. 126.Which is the fifth petition?

A."And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ's blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbour.

For reflection:
What is standing in your way of forgiving your neighbor who has wronged you?

22 December 2009

A Christmas Thought

Oh when will sinners be weary of their bondage, and sigh after deliverance? If any such poor soul shall read these lines, let him know, and I do proclaim it in the name of my royal Master, and give him the word of a King for it, he shall not be rejected by Christ. John 6:37. Come poor sinners, come; the Lord Jesus is a merciful King, and never will condemn the poor penitent that submits to his mercy. -Taken from The Fountain of Life by John Flavel, pg. 192.

We should well remember that the meaning of Christmas is that a Saviour came to save the unrighteous. The Incarnation should remind us of this and forever should we be grateful. And, never should we neglect our privilege in sharing the gospel with those who so desperately need to hear it.

21 December 2009

Simeon's Joy

Looking for a great way to start your Christmas week? Let me suggest listening to the sermon below, Simeons Joy. Be blessed.

(Ignore the pop-up adds)

19 December 2009

Lord's Day 50 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 50

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 8; Psalm 145:14-21; Matthew 6:25-33

Q. 125.Which is the fourth petition?

A."Give us this day our daily bread"; that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby acknowledge thee to be the only fountain of all good, and that neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us without thy blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in thee.

For discussion and reflection:
How does living in an age of consumerism effect our understanding of this petition?

17 December 2009

A Brief Review of "Introverts in the Church"

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture is one of the best books I have read all year. The fact that I am an introvert may have something to do with it, perhaps. Or, perhaps not. Adam McHugh does the church and introverts a service with this work by delving into what makes an introvert tick. He first outlines where introversion differs from extroversion and explains how introverts are often not the people they appear to be outwardly. He dispels many of the myths that we have of ourselves and those of the extroverts in our lives. One of the most important facts he brings to light is that healing for the Christian introvert...is never found in aloneness, but is found in relationship to another. Our individualistic culture encourages us to find our identity in defining ourselves apart from others: who we are is how we are different from other people. But for Christians, personal identity is relational. We define ourselves in relationship to Christ: who we are is how we relate to him. The Son, sent by the Father, lives in us through the Holy Spirit, and we can't truly meet ourselves until we meet him.

McHugh then weaves his way through several chapters to explain how introverts are affected and misunderstood in many areas of life. Chapters on community, leading, evangelism and the church delve into how introverts see themselves and how they may respond Biblically while maintaining their uniqueness as introverts. Extroverts would do well to read and apply what McHugh outlines here so that they may better relate to the introverts in their lives.

One warning, there are several pages where the author strays from what I believe to Biblical and normal for us all regardless of our personalities. In the chapter on evangelism he seems to suggest that there are other non-verbal ways to share the gospel that would make the introvert more at ease. I think it is very plain that we must use words to explain the beauty of the gospel. Mere expressions such as an art sculpture will not suffice. Our God is a god of words and we must use them to explain him. Again, in the chapter in the church, McHugh suggests other ways of worshiping besides what Scripture instructs. Nevertheless, don't let these small drawbacks keep you from reading this very instructive and informative book.

I highly recommend this work to you. Whether you are an introvert yourself or an extrovert who may be struggling to understand the introverts around you & in your church, this book is a must read.

Silent Night? Maybe...

Remarkable rock guitar version of Silent Night....

(HT:Gary Brady)

16 December 2009

It's that time of year again

Those pesky C & E Christians are at it again. Read all about it here. (Relax, it's a bit of humor.)

12 December 2009

Lord's Day 49 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 49

Scripture Readings: Philippians 2:12-18; Colossians 3:1-4:6

Q. 124.Which is the third petition?

A."Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"; that is, grant that we and all men may renounce our own will, and without murmuring obey thy will, which is only good; that every one may attend to, and perform the duties of his station and calling, as willingly and faithfully as the angels do in heaven.

For discussion and reflection:
Why does it seem that Christians today agonize over knowing God's will for their life?

11 December 2009

Kindle, Nook, or SI Tablet or....?

Maybe I'm just an old fart but these book readers don't do much for me. There is just something about holding that book or magazine in my hands, being able to flip back and forth in all those pages, and laying it out in front of me on my desk as I study that just can't be ever replaced. Sure, it'd be cool to have a Kindle and carry around all the standard tomes with me. The Bible, Calvin's Institutes, Matthew Henry's Commentary, and all those other works that one refers to most often. But I'd never use it for actual reading. Yeah, I think I'm showing my age but that's ok. One day I'll succumb to the book readers temptations but today is not that day. I'm very happy to continue to live in the stone age and and keep the lumberjacks gainfully employed and the paper mills milling away to produce the paper on which those books which I treasure are printed. I'm just not sure which is one its way to becoming an antique faster, me or my books.

Anyway, each of these readers seems to still have its shortcomings (besides the price - I am a cheapskate by ethnic origin, I won't deny it). To read more about the Nook and Kindle check here and for info on the new SI Tablet take a look here.

10 December 2009

The Latest Trends on Religious Beliefs and Practices

A fascinating article on the latest trends on religious beliefs and practices of Americans can be found here at the Pew Forum. It's worth a look and a ponder. From the article:

Though the U.S. is an overwhelmingly Christian country, significant minorities profess belief in a variety of Eastern or New Age beliefs. For instance, 24% of the public overall and 22% of Christians say they believe in reincarnation -- that people will be reborn in this world again and again. And similar numbers (25% of the public overall, 23% of Christians) believe in astrology. Nearly three-in-ten Americans say they have felt in touch with someone who has already died, almost one-in-five say they have seen or been in the presence of ghosts, and 15% have consulted a fortuneteller or a psychic.

This study reveals some incredible evidence of the decline of Christian beliefs especially among Christians themselves.

08 December 2009

Covenant Theology Class 6

The next installment in the Covenant Theology study. This week is a review of the Noahic Covenant.

(Ignore the pop-up adds)

05 December 2009

Wizards in Winter

Lord's Day 48 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 48

Scripture Readings: Psalm 110; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Q. 123.Which is the second petition?

A."Thy kingdom come"; that is, rule us so by thy word and Spirit,that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; preserve and increase thy church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shalt be all in all.

For reflection and study:
Is the kingdom of God here now or is it still to come?

02 December 2009

01 December 2009

John Piper on Risk

This is well worth watching. We need to carefully consider Piper's perspective on taking risks for the sake of the Gospel.

28 November 2009

Packer on the Christmas Spirit

As we begin the Christmas season we would do well to remember the following from J.I. Packer's Knowing God:...The Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round. It is to our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians....go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them, but...averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.

The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor - spending and being spent - to enrich their fellowmen, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others - and not just their own friends - in whatever way there seems need. There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be (page 56).

Lord's Day 47 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 47

Scripture Readings: Psalm 99; 1 Samuel 12:1-15

Q. 122.Which is the first petition?
A."Hallowed be thy name"; that is, grant us, first, rightly to know thee, and to sanctify, glorify and praise thee, in all thy works, in which thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy and truth, are clearly displayed; and further also, that we may so order and direct our whole lives, our thoughts, words and actions, that thy name may never be blasphemed, but rather honoured and praised on our account.

For study and reflection:
What are we really trying to express in this phrase?

26 November 2009

Have a Great Thanksgiving!

A few Thanksgiving thoughts while you enjoy family and turkey...

Psalm 34
1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

A few more Thanksgiving exhortations can be found here, here and here. Have a great day.

24 November 2009

23 November 2009

Reason for Thanks

An outstanding sermon from First Thessalonians...

(Ingnore the pop-up adds, please)

21 November 2009

Lord's Day 46 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 46

Scripture readings: Luke 11:1-13; Ephesians 1:1-6; 1 John 3:1-12

Question 120. Why has Christ commanded us to address God: "Our Father"?
Answer. That at the very beginning of our prayer he may awaken in us the childlike reverence and trust toward God which should be basic to our prayer, which is that God has become our Father through Christ and will much less deny us what we ask in faith than our human fathers and mothers will refuse us earthly things.

Question 121. Why the words "in heaven"?
Answer. These words teach us not to think of God's heavenly majesty as something earthly, and to
expect everything for body and soul from God's almighty power.

For study and reflection:
What Scripture verses remind us that we should approach God in a child-like fashion?
Why do we not pray to Mary as the Roman Catholics do?

18 November 2009

Covenant Theology Study 4

This is the fourth class in a series on Covenant Theology given by Rev. Scott R. Wright of Redeemer Church (PCA) in Hudson, Ohio.

(Ignore the pop-up adds)

17 November 2009

Just $68 Gets You a Case

Have you seen this? Just 68 bucks gets you a case of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. A great little devotional book and it's great one to give away. From the DG website:

It feels too early to talk about Christmas, but it is fast approaching.

The merchandising world has been thinking about Christmas all year and is about to overwhelm us with its annual advertising blitz. Soon the season will be in full swing with traditional gatherings, company and school parties, greeting cards, decorations…

Yet in the midst of the breathless hustle and bustle stands Jesus, almost obscured, but not quite. And for those who have eyes to see him, Christmas provides a rare cultural opportunity to point him out to others who can’t see him (yet).

This Fall and Christmas we want to help you reach out to your neighbors, your co-workers, and those who visit your church. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ is simply a meditation on Jesus Christ. The chapters are short. The tone is worshipful. The subject is essential.

Our prayer is that many believers and unbelievers will read this book. We pray that afterwards, when they sing “O come let us adore him, Christ, the Lord,” they will sing with a new sense of wonder and profound joy.

I encourage you to order a case (DG will take donations less than $68) and share this book. Give it away and be an encouragment to others. Revitalize your own spiritual life while helping others to do the same.

16 November 2009

The Servant's Touch

The first sermon in a series on First Thessalonians.

(Ignore the pop-up adds)

New Issue of Themelios is Available

The latest issue of Themelios is available for download here. Articles by Truman, Carson, Ortlund and Grudem. Looks excellent.

14 November 2009

Fluff, It's All Fluff

Fluff, it's all fluff. I'm referring to the article by the Rev. Kenneth W. Chalker that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Saturday, November 14. The Rev. Chalker rambles through his article, Even in difficult times, there's much to be thankful for, citing his pastoral visits to an ailing parishioner ("Its just not fair") and pointing out several national and local horrors of late. Chalker laments, In this year when many of us are sick at heart for grieving loved ones of the murdered and wounded, when many of us are bummed out by continuous word of local corruption in government, such superficial cliches as "the sun will come out tomorrow" or "God does not give us anything we cannot handle" are not particularly helpful in rekindling a grateful heart. The truth we all intuitively know is that clouds over Cleveland are plentiful in November. And there are many things we cannot "handle." Lots of things are unfair. Rev. Chalker never ceases to amaze me and this article hasn't let me down. He goes on to say that, Good does triumph over evil. Hate does not ultimately win and that he doesn't want to offer cliches of his own. However, what strikes one most is the complete lack of Biblical support for his opinions and any Biblical help or comfort for facing these difficult times (what time in history hasn't been difficult?). The best he can offer is from his ailing parishioner from his sick bed: ...he affirms that people are basically kind, that there is a remarkable and resilient spirit animating our human flesh that is the source of our freedom and love of liberty and each other. What? Is that the best he can do? I thought cliches weren't called for in this situation.

It's truly astonishing that the Rev. Chalker does not offer one piece of Biblical support for his opinions or spiritual comfort for his readers in this article. The Bible is not mentioned at all. God is only mentioned in a cliche that he tells us won't rekindle a grateful heart. That's it, God mentioned once in passing and no Scripture. I'm not really sure of what his point is. Surely I was not encouraged after reading it. I can't see how anyone else was either. Fluff, it's all fluff.

May I suggest that during these awful times that we need to seek out the Lord and bend our knee to Him. He is our only hope in good times or bad. Certainly Scripture tells us we should expect suffering - we live in a sinful world (1 Peter 3:14, 17, 4:15-16, 19; Hebrews 11:25; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 2Corinthians 4:16-17). If Christ suffered shouldn't we also expect to? But praise God, for He is our only hope (Romans 12:12).

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Lord's Day 45 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 45

Scripture Readings: Psalm 16; Matthew 6:1-5; Romans 8:26-30

Q. 116.Why is prayer necessary for Christians?
A. Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us: and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them.

Q. 117.What are the requisites of that prayer,which is acceptable to God, and which he will hear?A. First, that we from the heart pray to the one true God only,who has manifested himself in his word, for all things, he has commanded us to ask of him; secondly, that we rightly and thoroughly know our need and misery, that so we may deeply humble ourselves in the presence of his divine majesty; thirdly, that we be fully persuaded that he, notwithstanding that we are unworthy of it,will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, as he has promised us in his word.

Q. 118.What has God commanded us to ask of him?
A. All things necessary for soul and body; which Christ our Lord has comprised in that prayer he himself has taught us.

Q. 119.What are the words of that prayer?
A. Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

For discussion:
Should we continue to pray the Lord's Prayer?
How can we "pray without ceasing"?

12 November 2009

8 Reasons to Have a Facebook Account

I recently came across a blog post on why we (or at least the author) shouldn't have a Facebook account. After considering the author's reasons and knowing many others would agree with his reasons and have other reasons, I thought I'd give a quick run down on why I (we), as Christians, should have a FB account or at least be understanding of those who do.

8. Though I don't need up to the minute reports on what's going on with my friends, it's often cool to know what's happening in their daily lives. It allows me to become a deeper part of their lives & I can also pray for needs that arise suddenly during their day. If their comments are banal and boring I can skip to the next message. After all, not all my friends are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for my next post either. But that does not diminish my desire for their friendship and communication at whatever level that is. I've often been helped and inspired by messages that I have received throughout the day that otherwise I would not have benefited from. Likewise it's also great to see new photos friends post of special and not so special events.

7. I don't have a constant need to share what's going on in my life but I do like to share what's happening at varying levels of frequency. I may post 3 times a day or not at all. Some of my FB friends post countless times a day (often by Tweeting). If someone isn't interested (I know - who wouldn't be interested in my life?) they can just skip to the next message on the wall. I'm not so vain as to think everything I do should be shared on FB and if I do post it's not big deal if my friends skip it - I don't know anyway. I like to post photos as well. It keeps others up to date visually and makes them envious of how I've aged so well.

6. Because most of my friends have an account and they could let me know what's going on doesn't mean they will or are obligated to. By the time I might see them the flame has probably died down and I've been left outside in the cold. I'm not saying I need to be informed of everything but if something is posted on FB I can then be up to date and in the know. FB has kept me in the loop on conferences, podcasts, new blogs and more. Without it I'd be missing, at least what I consider, good up to date information. Besides, if something is urgent I'm going to get a phone call or email anyway, right?

5. Farmville - or should it be called Wasteville. I have to agree that these and other FB games are a waste of time. As Christians we have no time to waste. Staying in touch with friends near and far is one thing, playing silly games is another (can you tell I have an opinion on this?). I cringe when I get an invite to Farmville or Mafia Wars and very eagerly & happily hit the ignore button. C'mon folks, don't you have something better to do? Did you spend an equal amount of time memorizing Scripture today as you did playing Farmville? 'Nuf said. Use your time wisely on FB - make friends and stay in touch with them.

4. People accept Facebook and other social networking sites without due consideration - that's true. Should it's proper use be ignored because of that? I don't think so. For every blessing in this world there seems to be an evil that accompanies it. Social networking should be done Biblically and modestly. It should be noted that FB friends will never replace a real friend and/or one on one time with a friend. It's not Biblically a suitable replacement anymore than internet church replaces actual attendance with a congregation on Sunday morning. Nevertheless, the improper use of FB in this manner doesn't discount its value. I've made many new friends on FB and hope to make more.

3. Addiction to FB is a possibility. So is blogging, writing, talking on the phone, listening to music and a host of other good things done to the extreme. As noted earlier, we need to use our time wisely, in every area. If you can control yourself in other areas of God given enjoyment then time on FB shouldn't be an issue.

2. Don't let pride get in the way. If you had reasons before not to have a FB account but have changed your mind because of its benefits, by all means go for it.

1. I do(n't) want Facebook friends. Well, I wouldn't want my only friends to be FB friends but having them certainly doesn't hurt. Having true friendships as Christ did will never happen only on the internet. We're encouraged to foster deeper friendships in the NT and so we should. I will always first pursue in person, actual friendships. Human contact is critical. However, I have got to know several people on FB and have benefited by their friendship and all that attends that friendship. I've been exposed to good things that I otherwise would have missed. The use of FB has allowed me to regularly stay in touch with a friend in Texas, renew old friendships from years ago, stay in touch with church family during the week, and strike up new friendships with like minded folks from whom I have learned a great deal.

11 November 2009

Another Meltdown?

In an article on the Christian Post Professor Donald A. Luidens is quoted about the RCA, "Listen. Do you hear them? Those are the gentle, mournful sounds of a denomination imploding..."The denominational craft has carried us far, but its time is up. It has sprung debilitating leaks which can no longer be plugged. ..."It was here; it flourished; it ministered; it floundered; and then it was gone ... It is time to look for a new vehicle, or collation of vehicles, to move the church faithfully and compellingly into the twenty-first century." Sometime ago I was a member of an RCA church and experienced what Luidens here speculates.

The articles continues, Amid years of contention between liberals and conservatives over issues such as the civil-rights movement, women's ordination and evangelism with regard to social witness, Luidens says "loyalists" emerged to keep the denomination together. They were more dedicated to denominational survival than to ideological purity, he notes. ...Moreover, Luidens points out from studies of RCA members that many in the Reformed churches have little knowledge of the doctrinal standards of the denomination, including the Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of the Synod of Dort, and Belgic Confession. Though there is a high level of assent to such doctrinal verities as the sovereignty of God, the divinity of Christ and the important of the Bible, the Hope College professor found that there is also a widespread affirmation that personal actions and beliefs are central to determining their eternal fates and that Christianity is not the only route to eternal life. ..."What emerges from these data theologically, then, is a generic form of American evangelicalism with a thin Calvinist overlay," he says. I can't help but to agree and hence after much soul searching determined it was time to jump ship and seek a new port. I can attest to his comment that many in the Reformed churches have little knowledge of the doctrinal standards of the denomination, including the Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of the Synod of Dort, and Belgic Confession. They weren't taught or mentioned and no one seemed to care.

However, Bradley G. Lewis, professor of Economics at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., thinks otherwise: The glue that once held the RCA together may have eroded, but Lewis suggests that new glue is already forming. Lewis sees hope in some of the new developments including: the new array of options for training ministers in Word and sacrament, coached clergy networks that offer support and encourage accountability, general synods that have given greater voice to delegates, greater dialogue between conservatives and liberals on what they've learned from visiting Christians in other countries, and foreign churches seeking partnerships with the RCA. I do so hope he is correct. These areas were truly lacking during my short tenure in the denomination. Doctrinally it was an abyss.

Indeed, the RCA ship as they knew it in 1970 or 1980 has imploded, Lewis affirms. But the current RCA vessel is nowhere near the ocean bottom, he suggests.

In the final analysis, it is for those within the denomination to determine if a lifeboat is necessary or if they should just jump ship swim for their lives. I hope they can swim.

09 November 2009

Good Stewards

A fine sermon given by the Rev. Scott R. Wright on the occasion of elder and deacon ordination and installation at Redeemer Church (PCA).

(Ignore the pop-up adds)

07 November 2009

Lord's Day 44 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 44

Scripture Readings: Colossians 2:20-3:17; 1 John 5:1-4

Q. 113.What does the tenth commandment require of us?
A.That even the smallest inclination or thought, contrary to any of God's commandments, never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart,and delight in all righteousness.

Q. 114.But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?
A. No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God.

Q. 115.Why will God then have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them?
A.First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin,and righteousness in Christ; likewise, that we constantly endeavour and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come.

For reflection:
What is different about this commandment from the other nine?

05 November 2009

Accepting the Risk

John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life is a must read as we as American Christians spend an exceptional amount of time wasting away our lives. We spend inordinate amounts of time on an array of time consuming tasks and hobbies that are completely useless for the Kingdom. Conversely, we need to step out in faith and take the risks that we have been trained or simply innately feel we need to avoid. Yet those risks are the very tasks of life we should be contemplating. Consider just the following two sentences (of many just as powerful) from the chapter, Risk is Right - Better to Lose Your Life Than Waste It:

And what if a successful risk would bring great benefit to many people, and its failure would bring harm only to yourself? It may not be loving to choose comfort or security when something great may be achieved for the cause of Christ and for the good of others.

That should hit us like a ton of bricks. We usually consider risks in light of our family or employment which provides security and comfort. However, we are never promised comfort and no matter how we try to hide behind a perceived biblical call for security, it just can't be found in the pages of Scripture. Taking risks is. Stepping outside the camp, that is, outside our comfort zone and below our financial happiness target is within the Christians' mandate. We should all read this little tome and evaluate where we are lacking. What part do you & I play now in bringing in the kingdom? What part would you & I play if we would take that risk?

May we all count the cost and then take the risk.

04 November 2009

Counting the Cost

Have we counted the cost to follow Christ? Or, is the Christian life a barrier against the outside forces of evil we don't like? Is worship a weekly gathering of saints or is it a social club that insulates you from the ugliness of those people you don't like? John Stott tells us in his Basic Christianity that....The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers - the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called "nominal Christianity." In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a descent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.

The message of Jesus was very different. He never lowered his standards or modified his conditions to make his call more readily acceptable. He asked his first disciples, and he has asked every disciple since, to give him their thoughtful and total commitment. Nothing less than this will do
(page 108).

These are powerful words written to us in a time when we need to count the cost for following Christ. Is Christ your hobby or your passion?

T4G 2010

Together for the Gospel: T4G 2010 Conference from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

02 November 2009

Suffering Saints

One of the finest sermons on suffering I've ever heard given by Pastor Scott R. Wright of Redeemer Church (PCA) Hudson, Ohio.

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T. David Gordon Lectures at the Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship Reformation Conference

Below are the lectures from the Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship Reformation Conference featuring Dr. T. David Gordon.

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31 October 2009

Lord's Day 43 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 43

Scripture Readings: Matthew 5:33-37; 1 Samuel 16; Ephesians 4:15, 25

Question 112. What is God's will for us in the ninth commandment?
Answer. That I do not give false testimony against anyone, twist any one's words, or gossip or slander, or join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without just cause. Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil uses, and they would call down on me God's intense wrath. I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can to defend and advance my neighbor's good name.

For discussion and reflection:
What are we still tempted to lie and how do we deal with that?

29 October 2009

Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship Conference

There's still time to sign up for the Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship Conference this weekend. Dr. T. David Gordon will be our speaker and will be talking about his book Why Johnny Can't Read and his forthcoming book Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns. Dr. Gordon is passionate about preaching and this should prove to be a thought provoking weekend. Please plan to attend. Click here for more information. Advance registration is not necessary but is requested.

28 October 2009

Another One Bites the Dust...

The very fact that several different positions may be bound to Scripture means that we cannot assert one interpretation of Scripture over another but are called to respect consciences in the community of faith on this matter. The emphasis of "conscience-bound" is not on declaring oneself to be conscience-bound; rather it is that we recognize the conscience-bound nature of the convictions of others in the community of Christ. With those words, the presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, took his stand on the homosexuality issue that the denomination voted on recently. However, as we read in Al Mohler's post from Monday, Luther had a very different view on a bound conscience:

The concept of being bound by conscience goes directly back to Martin Luther, the great Reformer who established what became known as the Lutheran tradition. On more than one famous occasion, Luther publicly took his stand and held his ground, claiming that his conscience was bound by the Word of God. He most famously made this case as he stood on trial before the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521. Before the impaneled church leaders and the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Luther declared:

"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason ..., I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience."

Of course, Luther was not merely claiming to be bound by conscience. He was specifically claiming that his conscience was bound by the word of God. Luther, unlike the ELCA, believed that the Scriptures offer a very clear presentation of the Gospel and of moral and theological teachings. Luther affirmed the inspiration, authority, sufficiency, and clarity of the word of God and he took his stand on the authority of Scripture alone. The Word of God bound his conscience by its clear teaching.

How disappointing but not totally unexpected. Another denomination bites the dust. We live in a world of compromise and what's worse is that it seems "Christians" take the lead and show the world how to compromise with our deepest beliefs - the Word of God. May our consciences be bound completely and exclusively by the Holy Scriptures that the Lord has so graciously given to us. Read the entire article here.

26 October 2009

Gospel Joy

A sermon delivered by the Rev. Scott R. Wright, PhD. on Isaiah 12. Excellent!

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24 October 2009

Lord's Day 42 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 42

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Question 110. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?
Answer. God forbids not only the theft and robbery which civil authorities punish, but God also labels as theft all wicked tricks and schemes by which we seek to get for ourselves our neighbor's goods, whether by force or under the pretext of right, such as false weights and measures, deceptive advertising or merchandising, counterfeit money, exorbitant interest, or any other means forbidden by God. In addition God forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.

Question 111. What does God require of us in this commandment?
Answer. That I do whatever I can for my neighbor's good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.

For reflection:
In what other ways an we describe "pointless squandering of gifts"?
How far should we go to "share with those in need"?

21 October 2009

Five Ways to Grab 'Em

Kevin DeYoung, in his post here, suggests five ways to grab the attention young people for the church. In his insightful article he frankly admits that it is easier in some ways and harder in others to reach the next generation. However, he boils it down to five necessary suggestions:

1. Grab them with passion
2. Win them with love
3. Hold them with holiness
4. Challenge them with truth
5. Amaze them with God

Ultimately, if we're not oozing with passion ourselves for the Lord, we won't engage them. He concludes, If we are to grab the next generation with the gospel, we must grab them with passion. And to grab them passion, we must be grabbed with it ourselves. The world needs to see Christians burning, not with self-righteous fury at the sliding morals in our country, but with passion for God. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, “I’m not looking for someone to set the world on fire. I want to know that if I dropped you in Thames it would sizzle.”

20 October 2009

Swine Flu and the Common Cup

Swine Flu and the Common Cup

Some good thoughts on the common cup from Russell Moore.

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Too Much Time on Facebook?

Ed Stetzer summarizes the data on Christian college students and social networking this way:

So what's the outcome? Over half admit that they were "neglecting important areas of their life" due to spending too much time online. Over 12 percent believe that they are addicted to some form of electronic activity. 21 percent felt that their level of engagement with electronic activities at times caused a conflict with their Christian values.

Interesting stuff? How much time do you & I spend on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, or blogging or some other means of social networking? We need to ask ourselves this question and then ask ourselves if the time we spent was biblically wise or foolish. Are we wasting time or being productive for the Kingdom?

17 October 2009

Lord's Day 41 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 41

Scripture Readings: Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-7; Philippians 4:8

Question 108. What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment?
Answer. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it and, married or single, live chaste and decent lives.

Question 109. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?
Answer. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why God forbids everything which incites unchastity, whether it be actions, looks, talks, thoughts, or desires.

For study and reflection:
What can you eliminate from your life to reduce "looks, talks, thoughts, or desires" that would lead you to break this commandment?

15 October 2009

Free Grace and Hard Trials

I know no sweeter way to heaven, than through free grace and hard trials together, and none of these cannot well want another. Taken from The Loveliness of Christ, by Samuel Rutherford, pg. 75).

If you don't have this little tome may I suggest you purchase one today. It's full of encouragement and helps for the Christian walk. In Sinclair Ferguson's foreward he shares that this small book is the one he has most often lent and quoted. And so it should be.

10 October 2009

Lord's Day 40 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 40

Scripture Readings: Genesis 9:5-7; Matthew 5:21-26, 43-48; Romans 13:1-7

Question 105. What is God's will for us in the sixth commandment?
Answer. I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor not by my thoughts, my words, my look, or gesture and certainly not by actual deeds and I am not to be party to this in others; rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge. I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either. Prevention of murder is also why government is armed with the sword.

Question 106. Does this commandment refer only to murder?
Answer. God's prohibition of murder teaches us that God hates the root of murder: envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness. In God's sight all such are hidden murder.

Question 107. Is it enough then that we not murder our neighbor in any such way?
Answer. No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to show patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness towards them, to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.

For study and discussion:
Does this commandment forbid all killing? What would be an exception?
Should convicted murders sill be put to death? How about a pedophile?

08 October 2009

Horatius Bonar on The Anchor of the Soul part 6

Horatius Bonar concludes his article on The Anchor of the Soul this way:

My anchor lies within the veil,
No wind can make it drive;
It lies where Thou art landed, Lord,
And where we shall arrive.

Poor sinner, the night is near, and appearances are very gloomy on the face of sea and land. The sea and its waves are roaring. Men’s hearts are beginning to fail them for fear(Luke21:26). The whirlwind which the Son of man is to send over the earth, as the herald of His coming, seems ready to burst forth. At present there is an ominous stillness — the stillness that precedes the thunderstorm. Are you meditating to flee? Is your hope this, that the storm will blow over at last? Alas! Alas! It never will; for the Living God will never die. Is it your hope that perhaps you may be drifted on the shores of heaven, though you were not directing your sails thitherward? This, too, is vain; for this storm is sent forth in order to drive vessels to the shoals of hell. Do you hope that you may brave it out, because you are not so heavily laden as others? Ah! But it is too true that one sin attracts the lightning, and one stroke of the thunderbolt will make way for the rushing flood. Oh, flee to the hope set before you! Flee from the wrath to come! Anchor on the sheltered shore! Rest on the Savior, who rests on the Father’s bosom! Return through Christ to God; and then, returning sinner, you will be welcomed to the Father’s bosom with the very welcome thatmet the returned Savior!

May we observe Bonar's call to flee the wrath to come and Anchor our souls on the sheltered shore!

06 October 2009

The Cross of Christ is Not a Secular Symbol

Below is a link to an excellent article on one more constitutional messy situation we as Christians are facing - is the Cross a Christian symbol and if so should it be permitted on public land. With his usual clarity Mohler follows the twists and turns of the case which goes to the supreme court this week. The situation involves a 6 ft. cross on the Mojave National Preserve in California. I found the statement by lawyers for the American Center for Law & Justice quite interesting: This case is only the most extreme example of a phenomenon that has plagued the federal courts for the past three decades. Ideologically motivated citizens and public interest groups search out alleged Establishment Clause violations, almost always in the form of a passive religious symbol or display of some sort, and make a federal case out of offense at the display. The basis for standing is typically that the religious display offends the sensibilities of the plaintiffs. The offense may be characterized as an affront to religious values, or as one in which plaintiffs feel stigmatized as political or community outsiders. But the sum and substance of the injury is that the display bothers the plaintiffs.

Yes, someone's sensibilities have been offended and it turns into a court case. As Mohler aptly points out, This raises one of the central constitutional questions faced by the Court: Is being offended or bothered by a display sufficient cause to be granted standing for a federal lawsuit? As numerous observers have recognized, the only claims accepted by the courts in this regard are those related to religious expression or symbolism. "Offended observer" status is a legal disaster. Moreover he points out, At this point, Christians should pay particular attention. While the government's lawyers try to press their case, Christians should reject any argument that presents the cross as a secular symbol. There is nothing remotely secular about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Arguments for the constitutionality of religious language and symbolism based in the supposedly secular character of the speech or imagery may win in the courtroom, but the arguments are devastating to authentic belief.

Of all people, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must be the first to insist that the cross is a symbol of Christian faith, pointing directly to the cross on which Christ died as our substitute. The cross must not be reduced to a generic symbol of death and the memory of loved ones.

Read the entire article by clicking on the link below.

04 October 2009

Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship Conference

Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship Conference
October 30-31, 2009
Biblical Worship in the 21st Century
Friday, 7-9PM, Saturday 9:00AM - 2PM
Speaker: T. David Gordon
Held at:
Evangelical Covenant Church,
Hudson, Ohio
Contact me for more details

03 October 2009

Horatius Bonar on the Anchor of our Soul part 5

The anchor is sure. That is, it can never fail nor break, for its nature is divine. It is also steadfast. It remains fixed whatever storm assails, because it is fixed “within the veil.” Let us survey the shore on which it is cast. This shore is the region within the veil. This adds to our grounds of faith, and brightens the confidence of our hope. This Savior on whom our hope rests is an accepted Savior. He is within the veil. The anchor has entered into that within the veil, that is, into the holy region within. The Father examined His work and found it faultless; and as a token of His well-pleasedness received Him within the veil, and placed Him at His right hand in all power and glory. Oh, how great is the consolation here! Our anchor rests, not on shifting sands, but in the bosom of the Father. It is “hid in God” (Col. 3:3). Sure anchor, and firm ground on which it is sunk! What storm will drag it up from that mooring? O my soul, keep to this anchor, and neither earth nor hell shall ever move thee from thy safe station on the shore of heaven! True,the vessel is worthless — my vessel with all its freight is worthless — yet nevertheless it is safe! “He bringeth me to my desired haven, and I am glad because all is peace” (Ps. 107:30).

And praise God that our Anchor is sure for where would we be as poor sinners without our Anchor.

Lord's Day 39 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 39

Scripture Readings: Ephesians 6:1-9; Romans 13:1-7

Question 104. What is God's will for us in the fifth commandment?
Answer. That I show honor, love, and loyalty to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I submit myself with proper obedience to all their good teaching and correction; and also that I be patient with their failings, for through them God chooses to rule us.

For study and reflection:
How do we honor our parents if they are not believers?

27 September 2009

26 September 2009

Spiritual Leadership Qualities

I was investigating spiritual leadership on the 'net and came across this gem from John Piper. He lists 18 qualities that he feels should embody those in leadership. I found number 3 to be especially good:

The great quality I want in my associates is one of intensity. Romans 12:8 says that if your gift is leadership, "do it with zeal." Romans 12:11 says, "Never flag in zeal, boil in the spirit!" When the disciples remembered the way Jesus had behaved in relation to the temple of God they characterized it with words from the Old Testament like this, "Zeal for thy house has eaten me up" (John 2:17). The leader follows the advice of Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." When Jonathan Edwards was a young man he wrote a list of about seventy resolutions. The one that has inspired me the most goes like this: "To live with all my might while I live." Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians said, "I have one passion. It is He and He alone." Jesus warns us in Revelation 3:16 that he does not have any taste for people who are lukewarm: "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth." Spiritual leaders must go out alone somewhere and ponder what unutterable and stupendous things they know about God. If their life is one extended yawn they are simply blind. Leaders must give evidence that the things of the Spirit are intensely real. They cannot do that unless they are intense themselves.

I'm not a particularly intense person myself so the point here is well taken. I think we often, too, allow others to drag us down in this area even when we feel especially empowered by the Spirit. This was a great encouragement to me as I will be shortly stepping back into the role of deacon. I hope you find it helpful as well.
(HT: Mark Altrogge)

Lord's Day 38 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 38

Scripture Readings: Acts 20:1-16; 1 Corinthians 16:2: Revelation 1:10

Question 103. What is God's will for us in the fourth commandment?
Answer. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God's people to learn what God's Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor. Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through the Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.

For study and reflection:
How do we "turn off" our busy lives and allow the Lord's Day to be what God desires it to be for us?

23 September 2009

Horatius Bonar on the Anchor of our Soul part 4

The anchor must be something out of ourselves: not our duties, nor our saintship, nor our walk with God, nor our evidences of the Spirit’s work within us, nor our strength of love — not any, nor all of these together! The anchor of a ship is something that lies without, and by being without secures it. That which quiets and assures the uneasy conscience and troubled soul of a sinner, is what he hears in the glad tidings. It is something said or shown to him by God. It is something that tells him, not of the feelings of his own heart, but of the heart of God. It is something that shows him the face of God, that he may read there, “God is love.” The work of Jesus, or rather Jesus Himself, in this way becomes the sure “anchor of the soul.” - Horatius Bonar

What a humbling way of expressing it - the anchor must be something out of ourselves. We can truly do nothing to soothe our souls on our own. Our surety must come from elsewhere.

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

19 September 2009

Preaching Morality vs. Preaching Christ

In T. David Gordon's book, Why Johnny Can't Preach (see sidebar for link), he discusses the virtues of preaching Christ rather than morality. Gordon drives home the point in the following quote from page 78:
No; preach Christ and you will have morality. Fill the sails of your hearers' souls with the wind of confidence in the Redeemer, and they will trust him as their Sanctifier, and long to see his fruit in their lives. Fill their minds and imaginations with a vision of loveliness and perfection of Christ in his person, and the flock will long to be like him. Impress upon their weak and wavering hearts the utter competence of the meditation of the One who ever lives to make intercession for them, and they will long to serve and comfort others, even as Christ has served and comforted them.

Let us all pray for our preachers, and for the next generation of preachers in seminary now, that preaching Christ would be the foundation of their preaching ministries.

18 September 2009

How do we handle denominational differences?

How do we handle denominational differences?

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Lord's Day 37 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 37

Q. 101. May we then swear religiously by the name of God?
A. Yes: either when the magistrates demand it of the subjects; or when necessity requires us thereby to confirm a fidelity and truth to the glory of God, and the safety of our neighbour: for such an oath is founded on God's word, and therefore was justly used by the saints,both in the Old and New Testament.

Q. 102. May we also swear by saints or any other creatures?
A. No; for a lawful oath is calling upon God, as the only one who knows the heart, that he will bear witness to the truth,and punish me if I swear falsely; which honour is due to no creature.

For discussion and study:
What circumstances require us to swear by the name of God?
Should we ever not swear by the name of God if asked to do so?

16 September 2009

The five points of Calvinism part 2

The five points of Calvinism part 2

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under the rose

The music below is free to download. All they ask is that you consider giving to Direct Aid Iraq. (I'm not promoting an opinion on the war here - just on the music - it's beautiful.) Thanks to Shaun Nolan for bringing this to my attention.

15 September 2009

Horatius Bonar on the Anchor of our Soul part 3

Who is our anchor?

Jesus is the anchor. He has been at the bottom of the depths of wrath, and His strength was tried and found perfect. Nothing can keep your souls from being tossed but this only; for nothing else resists the storm of God’s wrath. Your duties are not the anchor: can they endure the fierce blast of Divine displeasure? Your feelings and frames are not the anchor: can they stand the sudden dash even of one wave from the world, far less from the Holy God? The Spirit’s work in you is not your anchor; it is the cargo, or the vessel stores, which the sure anchor preserves from damage. Some mourn and say, Ah, if I had sinned less I should have had less difficulty in finding peace. Now, are you not forging an anchor out of your supposed goodness? If you could put so many acts of holiness in the place of those many sins, you would straightway form an anchor out of these. Others say, Oh, if I could only see that I had faith, I should then be at rest. Now you are just trying to make your cable your anchor; for faith is the cable that connects the anchor with the soul. Instead of distressing yourself about your own faith, be occupied with observing the soundness and steadfastness of the anchor, and your soul will be no longer tossed.

The anchor must be something out of ourselves: not our duties, nor our saintship, nor our walk with God, nor our evidences of the Spirit’s work within us, nor our strength of love — not any, nor all of these together! The anchor of a ship is something that lies without, and by being without secures it. That which quiets and assures the uneasy conscience and troubled soul of a sinner, is what he hears in the glad tidings. It is something said or shown to him by God. It is something that tells him, not of the feelings of his own heart, but of the heart of God. It is something that shows him the face of God, that he may read there, “God is love.” The work of Jesus, or rather Jesus Himself, in this way becomes the sure “anchor of the soul.”

How sweet it is that our anchor is not of ourselves and does not rely on our performance.

12 September 2009

Lord's Day 36 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 36

Q. 99. What is required in the third commandment?
A. That we, not only by cursing or perjury, but also by rash swearing, must not profane or abuse the name of God;nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and, briefly,that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; so that he may be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

Q. 100. Is then the profaning of God's name, by swearing and cursing,so heinous a sin,that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavour, as much as in them lies,to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?A.It undoubtedly is, for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God,than the profaning of his name;and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death.

For discussion and reflection:
Why is it so difficult for us to control our speech?
Have you considered lately that by keeping quiet that you could also be in sin?

10 September 2009

The Church and Socialnomics

This video is worth some consideration. How does the church engage the unchurched in their ministries? How does your church take advantage of the social networking? The whole area of social media needs to be reconsidered and explored deeply. It is isn't going away.


Reformation Polka

My friend Peter Webber brought this video to my attention. This is too good...

08 September 2009

Horatius Bonar on the Anchor of the Soul part 2

The anchor of the soul is found in the glad tidings concerning Christ. The awakened sinner’s question is, Will the holy God pardon my sins? He is tossed up and down till he gets this question answered. He feels as if he were the chief of sinners, and as if it were more difficult for God to pardon him than to pardon Manasseh, or Paul, or Magdalen, or any other sinner in the world. There seems to be the black gloom of wrath, the frown of severe displeasure, on the face of God. Oh, who can tell the anguish of that soul! It wishes to be at peace, yet knows not how. It looks around for rest, but knows not where to find it.

Hear then, “O thou afflicted, and tossed with tempest!” Behold it is written concerning the Lord Jesus, “Thy wrath lieth hard upon Me, and Thou hast afflicted Me with all Thy waves” (Ps. 88:7). This is the voice of one who has been cast like Jonah into the waves; and now he is in the lowest deep. The floods compass him about, and the billows pass over him! Is this a shipwrecked sinner? No — it is Jesus allowing the tempest to dash the billows of wrath against His own person. And to this He submits in order that He may show to all, that sin deserves nothing less than such a storm of the Almighty’s burning wrath. To this He submits, in order that it may be seen how the Holy One abhors to the uttermost every sin of every form — deed, word, or thought. But glad tidings now! Jesus who sank into the depths of this sea, and was buried under its mountain load, reaches the shore, and stands there declaring that “whosoever believeth in Him shall not come into condemnation.” Whosoever will agree that this Savior be his surety, shall not need to plunge into these waves himself, but shall be treated by God as if his sins had been already punished in that fierce storm that spent its violence on Jesus. Is this not rest to your soul? It shows you how justly and holily God may turn His anger from you; how He expresses His utmost displeasure against your sins, and yet saves you! Is not this quieting to your anxious conscience? Is it not an anchor? (Horatius Bonar, The Anchor of the Soul, emphasis mine).

Where else can we find this comfort for our souls? Who else can remove the dread? Let's be thankful this day for our Sovereign Lord tyhat takes away our sin and leaves an Anchor for our souls.

Another look at legalized gambling for Ohio

Another look at legalized gambling for Ohio

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05 September 2009

New Website - Meet the Puritans

Check out the great, new website, Meet the Puritans. Informative articles, video and audio resources and more. Take a look, it's really well done.

Lord's Day 35 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 35

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:22-26; Acts 17:29; John 4:22-24

Question 96. What is God's will for us in the second commandment?
Answer. That we should not represent or worship God in any other manner than God has commanded in the Word.

Question 97. May we not then make any image at all?
Answer. God cannot and may not be visible portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one's intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.

Question 98. May not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?
Answer. No. We should not try to be wiser than God. God wants us to be instructed by the living preaching of the Word not by idols that cannot even talk.

For discussion and study:
Can we make an image of God provided it is not used in the worship of God?
Can we have an image of Christ as he actually became a man and therefore had a visual appearance?

03 September 2009

Horatius Bonar on The Anchor of the Soul

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. — Heb. 6:19

He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still; then are they glad because they be quiet, so He bringeth them unto their desired haven. — Ps. 107:29-30

Roar on, ye waves, our souls defy
Your roaring to disturb our rest;
In vain t’impair the calm ye try —
The calm in a believer’s breast.

This world is a sea of perpetual storm; yet in it there are many souls who have found “peace and safety.” All these at one time heard the fearful howling of the tempest of wrath, and were tossed with its fury — but yet they have not suffered shipwreck — they have escaped it all. They hear the tempest still, and its ground-swell often heaves them in their safe anchorage; but their security is never shaken. These are sinners who have fled to the hope set before them, “which hope they have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” The world dislikes and despises these souls; for they were earnest in fleeing from the storm, and the careless world is sore galled by their unfeigned earnestness. They cast away all unnecessary lading, “counting it but dung that they might win Christ,” and having so done, they found Christ an anchor, “sure and steadfast.” But the world is not possessed of this, and therefore hates those who declare it to be their only security in the time of storm. And while the sinner who has betaken himself to this hope proclaims the safety of the anchorage he has found, they who will not flee to it decry his confidence as presumption, pride, vainglory! The world feels that if he be completely safe, then they are altogether wrong — if his hope be real, then they have no hope at all.

But come and examine the anchor, and the shore on which it is cast. There is a hope set before you — a hope of escape. The voice of God in the storm urges you to flee to this hope. It is spoken of fully in Hebrews 6:19-20. It is a hope which is an anchor of the soul. This anchor is itself sure and strong. It will not break nor let go its hold. The shore too on which it is cast is so solid and firm, that the anchor fixed therein will remain steadfast in spite of storm, and wind, and dashing wave. - Horatius Bonar, The Anchor of the Soul.

Feeling anxious today? Many of us are but we have no need to be. Christ is the Anchor of our souls and so we need not worry. Step out in faith today, Christain friend, and do what you need to do. Rejoice, pray and give thanks in everything for Christ is our Anchor.

31 August 2009

Romantic Imagery in Worship Music

I've commented before on my lack of enthusiasm for romantic imagery that is so often found in contemporary worship music. I don't believe these lyrics a) accurately express how we should biblically worship and b) these lyrics chase men away from worship and therefore the church. A man should feel uncomfortable singing these lyrics. Look at it this way, if you can't see Stonewall Jackson singing these lyrics, neither should you. I appreciate the comments of Matt Redman in the video below.

29 August 2009

The Government

I shy away from government commentary on this blog, but this I just can't resist sharing.

(HT: Gene Long)

Lord's Day 34 Heidelberg Catechism part 2

Lord's Day 34

Scripture Readings: 1 John 5:21; Deuteronomy 18:9-10; Acts 5:29

Question 94. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?
Answer. That I, not wanting to endanger my own salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry, sorcery, superstitious rites, and prayer to saints or to other creatures. That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God, trust God alone, look to God for every good thing humbly and patiently, and love, fear, and honor God with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against God's will in any way.

Question 95. What is idolatry?
Answer. Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of, or alongside of, the only true God who is self-revealed in the divine word.

For reflection and discussion:
What is idolatry?
Where do idols come from?

28 August 2009

Nine Factors

Nine Factors Contributing to the Resurgence of Calvinism:
1. Three Preachers: one from the 19th Century, one from the middle of the 20th Century, one who is still preaching today: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John MacArthur. A Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Dispensationalist. - Lig Duncan

Read the other eight reasons here. It's a good read.

27 August 2009

Are You a Blogging Scoffer?

Are you a blogging scoffer? I was reminded just how serious this question is while recently listening to Tim Keller's address this year at the Gospel Coalition. While speaking of those who are religious idolators he notes two marks of the scoffer (Proverbs 1:22; 9:7-8; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12; 19:25; 19:29; 21:11; 21:24; 22:10; 24:9; 29:8). The first is that he is dogmatic and closed minded. The second is that he is always "disrespectful to opponents, always belittling, always mocking, always distainful." Keller points out that "the internet breeds scoffers" because traffic is increased to your blog if you're a scoffer. So, even if what you believe is truth, it is possible to make an idol of it.

Are you a bloging scoffer? Let us always consider this before we click publish and let us think biblically about how we are increasing traffic to our blogs.

25 August 2009

22 August 2009

The ELCA's Recent Decision

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today, August, 22, 2009, the outcome of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s recent positive vote on welcoming gays and lesbians to the pulpit. This is distressing news of course to those of us who view homosexuality as sin. And what I also find distressing by those in favor of gays and lesbians in the church is their misrepresentation of the truth. For example, the article opens with a quote from the Rev. Paula Meader of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), “ ‘Jesus accepted all the social outcasts of his time”…”So, it’s about time, according to her, for the church to do the same.” How true, Jesus did accept and associate with the outcasts of his time but not to condone their sin but rather to bring them to accept his saving grace. It is astonishing how twisted and altruistic the truth can become when some start to defend what they think is biblical truth that is anything but Scriptural.

Did Jesus condone the sin of the woman at the well because she had five husbands and was living with another man (John 4:11-41)? No, but he did talk to her to so she would see her sin and abandon it to live a life that would be pleasing to God. And how do we know what is pleasing to God? It is not what we think, it is not what sounds good or what is socially acceptable. Nor is it what tradition says or any combination of tradition and Scripture. It is Scripture alone (Sola scriptura) which is a Reformed benchmark.

Scripture clearly points out that homosexuality is sin. The most prominent place we find this is in Romans 1, verses 26 and 27, For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. You can try your best to wriggle out of that truth by doing any sort of interpretational gymnastics that you like but the teaching is clear.

The article goes on to quote the Rev. Don King who is openly gay, “I believe the ELCA is moving in a direction of justice and openness.” Interesting that the ELCA is not moving towards being Scripturally obedient, rather it is moving towards “justice and openness”. It must be asked then, who is defining justice here? If it is God then we must see justice in light of what he has shown us in Scripture. God has sent his Son to live a perfect life, be persecuted, die on the cross and rise again in three days for our sin. That is how God has carried out justice for all of mankind including homosexuals. If it is man defining justice, well, we see how justice is carried out, i.e., to accept openly rebellious sinners into the church and give them positions of leadership.

What should we be doing? Christians in the church universal should be openly embracing the homosexual community in an effort to win them to Christ so that they may repent and turn from their sin of homosexuality. That is truly showing openness to the gay and lesbian community and an effort to see that justice is accomplished biblically.