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.