29 June 2010

26 June 2010

On Stewardship

While thinking about the principles of stewardship, the giving to the needy (especially today as we have so many friends, family and church members out of work), I came across the following from John Calvin,

[L]et this be the rule we observe when we seek to do good and to act compassionately: we are stewards of all that the Lord has given us, and which make it possible for us to help our neighbour. ...Now there is no better or more appropriate way of exercising stewardship than that prescribed by the rule of love. Accordingly, not only will we combine concern for our neighbour's interests with concern for our own, we will also subordinate our interests to those of others (A Guide to Christian Living by John Calvin, translated by Robert White, Banner of Truth Trust, pgs. 36-37).

So there is the rule, but to who does this apply?

The Lord requires us to do good to all. He makes no exception, even though most people are unworthy if we judge them on their merits. Scripture, however, forstalls us, warning us to pay no attention to human worth in itself, but rather to consider the image of god which is in all of us, which deserves all our respect and affection. Especially should we acknowledge it among God's servants in the faith (gal. 6:10), because it is being renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ (pg.38).

What's behind all of this? Calvin explains,

Christians must first have empathy for the person who needs help: they should pity his misfortune as if they themselves were feeling and experiencing it; they should be moved to aid him by the same compassion which they would have for themselves. ...We should recognize that whatever we have and are capable of doing is owed to a neighbour. There is no limit to our obligation to do good, except our lack of capacity; however far our capacity may extend, it should always answer to the rule of love (pgs. 41 & 43).

The rule of love always comes first but how often does the rule of self actually comes first? Calvin perfectly lays out the basic principle in all of our dealings and especially with the Brethren. Let's not forsake our calling to do good to all.

Is there a flip side to this? Is there a time when we should not give? Here we can turn to Tim Keller,

We must let mercy limit mercy. ...We may cut off our aid only if it is unmerciful to continue it. It is unmerciful to bail out a person who needs to feel the full consequences of his own irresponsible behavior. Sometimes we may have to say: "Friend we are not withdrawing our mercy, just changing its form. We will continue to pray for you and visit you, and the minute you are willing to cooperate with us and make the changes that we believe are needed, we will resume our aid. Please realize that it is only out of love that we are doing this!" (Ministries of Mercy by Timothy Keller, P&R Publishing, pg. 98)

To that, when the situation calls for it, we add a hearty, Amen! But better to err on the side of pity and mercy until the facts can be fully obtained. Investigate thoroughly and let Scriptures be the guide. It may take more than one instance of help to see a family through a crisis. It may take several and it may take other forms of assistance, but always let us remember Calvin's admonition, ...There is no better or more appropriate way of exercising stewardship than that prescribed by the rule of love.

Image credit

25 June 2010

Stetzer on Social Media

Insighful as ever, Ed Stetzer opened the Ligonier Conference last Thursday with his thoughts on social media. You can find his address here and the videos from all the speakers here.

Stetzer points out some of the reasons for engaging in social media:

1. Social media assists in community
2. Social media assists in communication
3. Social media assists in inspiration
4. Social media assists in introduction

Don't miss this video if you're questioning what's happening with social media at your church and in your home.

24 June 2010

On Using Technology

Some thought provoking comments from Vintage73 on the PCA's use of technology:

We need to ask ourselves how can we be stewards of the technology God has made available to us? Technological stewardship doesn’t mean putting tech budgets over the needs of the peoples. It’s not about constantly buying news gadgets, and getting rid of existing system just for the sake of being new. It means using what technology is at your disposal, to better accomplish your goals.

This article is well worth reading, giving it some thought and then, perhaps, acting on some of those suggestions?

22 June 2010

Doctrine of God Week 12

We are quickly coming to the close of our Doctrine of God series. Here is part 12, The Sovereignty of God.

(Please ignore the pop-up adds)

15 June 2010


We begin our study of Second Thessalonians having finished First Thessalonians a few weeks ago. Be blessed.

The Justice of God

Our study of the Doctrine of God continues this week with the Justice of God.

09 June 2010

Our Days are a Mere Handbreadth

Psalm 39:4-5
4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath. (NIV)

We should be blessed by this passage. I certainly was as I read it this morning. Hence, we must ask ourselves, what are we doing today? Are we building up treasure here or in heaven? If we're trying to build treasure in heaven, how are we doing that? What are our plans for the future? How can we use our time effectively with what time we have left here? I just heard the great analogy of life being like an overnight stay in a motel. Would you or I dump money and time into the room if we were just staying for the night? Of course not but we often do that with our lives here. Let's take time to think through our motives and refocus our hearts on what truly is important as our time here is so short.

08 June 2010

Hard Times and Lonely Days

I know it sounds like a blues song but it's actually an outstanding sermon. It's worth a listen.

Doctrine of God Week 10

Our study of the doctrine of God continues thiw week with the theme of God's goodness.

03 June 2010

Book Review: The Search for God and Guinness

If you like beer, especially stout, and history, you’re going to like Stephen Mansfield’s latest work, The Search for God and Guinness. Mansfield tells the story of the Guinness family and how many of its foremost leaders took their Christian faith seriously. So serious that they not only made Guinness the number one selling stout but also used their wealth to help the poor and needy. Moreover, they made the Guinness brewery an outstanding place to work even by today’s standards.

Mansfield, who researched the Guinness family well, does a wonderful job drawing us in to the Guinness family and detailing many of their contributions to society and indeed the world. This is not a book, however, if you’re looking for brewing techniques or beer marketing strategies. Rather, it’s a trip through history beginning before the days of Arthur Guinness and his successful brewery all the way to the present. Most of all, we see the faith, generosity, and social conscience that was so much a part of many of their lives. The family legacy was handed down father to son for two centuries, sometimes to the unwilling. Yet, the Guinness name prevailed and the company prospered and often did so in difficult circumstances. Not all of the family history was rosy either for we also learn a bit about the black sheep in the line that squandered their family money and were a disappointment. And the reader will see how two world wars caused sales to plummet but with the appropriate postwar changes, the company rebounded and came to be what it is today.

This is certainly an entertaining read. It’s not technical but rather informative. As a beer lover and Christian myself, I wish there had been more detail about their Christian beliefs. With the exception of Henry Guinness who became a notable preacher, this detail is lacking. Perhaps there was not enough to document.

Overall, this is a fine read and I eagerly recommend it, especially as you sit and devour it with a tall Guinness at your side.

01 June 2010

Calvin on God's Mercy and Our Foolishness

God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us – as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray. - John Calvin. Indeed, where would we be without God's tolerance with His people.