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!

(Ignore sponsor pop-up adds)

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.

Posted using ShareThis

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?