29 December 2014

Scandalous Journalism

By this point many of you have read of the atrocious article in Newsweek, The Bible: So Misunderstood It's A Sin. It is nothing short of shoddy journalism that takes pot shots in an area where its author is grossly ignorant. Rather than refuting here, let me refer to you to two of the best refutations of this pathetic article. One from Al Mohler and the other from Dan Wallace. Both are insightful and fair.

28 December 2014

Book Review: Edwards On The Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God by Dane Ortlund

When I first started reading Edwards On The Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God I wondered what I got myself into. I wasn’t a big fan of Jonathan Edwards and was never really interested in the legacy of his theology. The further I read the more I understood what I was missing. Author Dane Ortlund unravels Edwards’ theology as he looks into how and why he saw the beauty of God. As we find out, Edwards should not be known only (maybe not at all?) for his fire and brimstone sermons. I found this to be a fascinating look into the life and teaching of Edwards and the foundation he has laid for us all. 

In thirteen brief but well worked chapters Ortlund fleshes out the Christian life theology of Edwards as found in the beauty of God. He notes that
 (T)the very first thing to be said about the Christian life is that for Edwards, beauty is what makes God God. “God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above ’em, chiefly by his divine beauty.”  Not sovereignty, not wrath, not grace, not omniscience, not eternity, but beauty is what more than anything else defines God’s very divinity. Edwards clearly believed in these other truths about God and saw all of them as upholding and displaying and connected to God’s beauty. Yet none of them expresses who God is in the way that beauty does. Dane C. Ortlund. Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Kindle Locations 319-324). Crossway.
We read that the beauty found in Christ is the central thrust of the book as we weave our way through all the chapters. The author covers a wide and necessary range of topics around this theme in Edwards’ theology. New birth, love, joy, gentleness, prayer and Satan are just a few of the chapter topics we find within these pages. All well researched and all well written.
Its worth noting that Ortlund does not have any hagiographic tendencies towards Edwards. The final chapter considers several of Edwards’s shortfalls, though, as the author reveals, they can be forgiven.
I enjoyed this book. I was reminded what the Christian life is all about and just how often I forget the truths Edwards spoke on so often. Compelling and engaging I would certainly recommend this work.
Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.   

09 December 2014

The Real Santa - Saint Nicolas

But if you have a lot of Santa Claus around, why not use him to your benefit and talk about the real St. Nicholas. We don’t know a lot about him, but we know he lived and was revered. ...So this Christmas, give gifts if you like. We will in our family. Receive them all with thanksgiving.  But do not forget what we need most–salvation through substitution. This is one gift the real St. Nicholas would not have overlooked. - Kevin DeYoung

Great post at TGC by Kevin DeYoung. He expresses my thoughts on the subject of Santa Claus with accuracy. Its a good read.

06 December 2014

Christmas Eve Service

Please join us on Christmas Eve for an Appetizer Hour at 6pm followed by our Christmas Eve Service at 7pm.   We look forward to celebrating with you!

31 October 2014

A Great Day for this Lecture on Martin Luther

Trueman at his best...

Carl Trueman, "Martin Luther, Troubled Prophet." A Lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary.

25 October 2014

Is the church letting you down or are you letting the church down?

It has been often stated that the number one reason people leave the church is due to a feeling that the church failed to meet their needs. - Pastor Brian Moss

Pastor Brian Moss has an excellent post on why people leave a church. His reasons are often true and heart breaking. His second point strikes a chord with me:

There are so many people who join our churches but never invest in relationships. They simply attend services. They treat the church like an IN-N-OUT burger joint – get my food and get out quickly. But sooner or later life happens, and when their world starts coming apart they have no relational safety net. They suddenly expect “the pastor” to “be there for them,” like he’s a spiritual Aladdin. Just rub the lamp and *poof*, there he is! But that’s not even the biblical calling of pastors. According to Ephesians 4:12, pastors are called to equip the members to be the hands and feet of Jesus. God designed the church to be a community of connected Christians, not a collection of customers waiting to be served. We tell our people, “If you join this church, but never develop any friendships here, we promise we will let you down.”

Disconnected people disconnect.

Maybe we should all take some time to consider if we are the problem - are we letting our church down?

You can read the entire post here.


03 September 2014

"Knowing God" Study to begin at Redeemer Church

The Mens and Ladies groups at Redeemer Church in Hudson, Ohio will be reading and studying through the well known and foundational book by J.I. Packer, Knowing God this Fall. We look forward to having you join us if you're in the area for a great time of fellowship and edification. Find out more here.

Product Description
One of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals (Christianity Today, 2006) Platinum Book Award, Evangelical Christian Publishing Association For over 40 years, J. I. Packer's classic has been an important tool to help Christians around the world discover the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God. In 2006, Christianity Today voted this title one of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. This edition is updated with Americanized language and spelling and a new preface by the author. Stemming from Packer's profound theological knowledge, Knowing God brings together two important facets of the Christian faith— knowing about God and also knowing God through the context of a close relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Written in an engaging and practical tone, this thought-provoking work seeks to transform and enrich the Christian understanding of God. Explaining both who God is and how we can relate to him, Packer divides his book into three sections: The first directs our attention to how and why we know God, the second to the attributes of God and the third to the benefits enjoyed by a those who know him intimately. This guide leads readers into a greater understanding of God while providing advice to gaining a closer relationship with him as a result.

10 May 2014

When We're Down and Out...

Miserable Christians Revisited
by Carl Trueman
Of all the things I have written, my little essay, “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?” has provided me with so many delightful surprises over the years.[1] I wrote it in about 45 minutes one afternoon, infuriated by some superficial comment about worship I had heard but which I have long since forgotten. And yet this little piece which took minimal time and energy to author has garnered more positive responses and more touching correspondence than anything else I have ever written. It resonated with people across the Christian spectrum, people from all different church backgrounds who had one thing in common: the understanding that life has a sad, melancholy, painful dimension which is too often ignored and sometimes even denied in our churches.

The article was intended to highlight what I saw as a major deficiency in Christian worship, a deficiency that is evident in both traditional and contemporary approaches: the absence of the language of lament. The Psalms, the Bible’s own hymnbook, contains many notes of lamentation, reflecting the nature of the believer’s life in a fallen world. And yet these cries of pain are on the whole absent from hymns and praise songs. The question that formed the article’s title was thus a genuine one: what is it in the hymnody of your church that can be sung honestly by the woman who has just lost her baby, the husband who has just lost his wife, the child who has just lost a parent, when they come to church on Sunday? The answer, I suggested, was the Psalms, for in them one finds divinely inspired words which allow the believer to express their deepest pains and sorrows to God.

Would I write it differently today? Not in terms of substance. If anything, I would broaden its application since I believe that its message is more important now than it was at the time of composition. As I survey the contemporary church landscape, I am struck at how even the great gospel of sovereign grace is now so often focused on the youth market and consequently packaged with the aesthetics of worldly power, of celebrity, of the kind of superficial approaches to life which mark the childish and the immature. Things that were once (and sadly no more) the exclusive preserve of the proponents of the prosperity gospel now feature in mainstream evangelical circles without comment or criticism. The world has truly been turned upside down when Calvinism has in some quarters become known for its pyrotechnics and its cocksure swagger.

I am also more aware now than I was when I wrote it of how real mortality is and of how short life can be. I wrote the piece with others in mind; now I am older and only too aware of how it applies to me and to those I love. The older one is, the more one is acquainted with the loss of friends and family, and the more one’s own mortality feels like a constant and unwelcome dinner guest. As a father I rejoiced the first time my son beat me in a running race; but my delight in his growing strength was short-lived when in the coming months and years I realized it was also indicative of my own decline.

The world tells us to defy this as long as we can, whether by fitness, fashion choices or even surgery. But the world is a malevolently plausible confidence trickster who tells us what we want to hear. Weakness and then death ultimately come to us all; and it is the pastor’s task to prepare both himself and his people for the inevitable. Thus, I now believe it is more important than ever that the church embrace weakness and tragedy in its worship. True, we look forward to the resurrection; but we often forget that the pathway to resurrection is necessarily and unavoidably through death. We need to remind our people in both what we preach, what we pray, and what we sing as a congregation that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness—and, where resurrection is concerned, in and through our total weakness at the hands of death.

Since writing the original piece, I have also become more aware of the power of liturgy to shape the mind of a Christian congregation. I am not talking here only of formal liturgies such as those in The Book of Common Prayer. I mean the form and content of any worship service claiming to be Christian. That which we say and sing as a congregation will over time subtly and imperceptibly inform our thinking about the Christian faith and thus about life in general in a powerful way. That is why an emphasis on the aesthetics of power and youth—perhaps we might say liturgies of power and youth—are problematic. They exclude the old or delude them into thinking that they are not old; and they deceive the young into thinking that they are the center of the universe and are destined to live forever. A liturgy which accurately reflects the expectations we can have for life in a fallen world, one that inculcates and reinforces that week by week, is important as a means of preparing our people for the suffering that must eventually come their way.

And that brings me once more to the psalms. True, there are Christian poets and even the occasional hymn writer who have captured the dark complexities of life; but there are none to compare with authors of the Psalter who set forth the riches and depths of human experience and existence with perfect poetic pitch. The church which makes the psalms part of her regular diet provides her people with the resources for truly living in this vale of tears, just as the church which does not do so has perversely denied her people a true treasure in pursuit of what?   Relevance? There is nothing more universally relevant than preparing people for suffering and death. I have people in my congregation who have very hard lives, lives that are not going to become easier over time. To them I can only say: suffering comes to us all, but there is a resurrection; listen to how the notes of real, present lament in the Psalms are suffused with tangible, future hope and be encouraged: weeping may tarry for the night, and indeed be truly painful while it does, but joy will come in the morning.
When I married a young couple in my congregation a few years ago, I commented in the sermon that all human marriages begin with joy but end in tragedy. Whether it is divorce or death, the human bond of love is eventually torn apart. The marriage of Christ and his church, however, begins with tragedy and ends with a joyful and loving union which will never be rent asunder. There is joy to which we point in our worship, the joy of the Lamb’s wedding feast. But our people need to know that in this world there will be mourning. Not worldly mourning with no hope. But real mourning nonetheless, and we must make them ready for that.

Still, as I look back to the original “Miserable Christians” piece, I never imagined I would still be commenting on it so many years later. I am grateful that it seems to have been a help and encouragement to so many.

Carl Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, and the pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

[1] “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?” in The Wages Of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism (Christian Focus, 2005), 157-63.

This article was originally published on the 9Marks website and is republished with their permission.

09 May 2014

On Wearing a Kilt

A great post on wearing a kilt can be found here from R.C. Sproul Jr. Read it and enjoy.

...When I wear the kilt I am not seeking to say that Christianity is Scottish, but that Scotland is Christian. When I put on my kilt I want to remember how God has worked through my people. But better still I want to remember how God has worked for my people. In short, I wear the kilt, a marker of my own peculiar heritage, to remember that my own peculiar heritage is but one example of the gospel as the power of God for salvation. R.C. Sproul Jr.

28 March 2014

What to think about the Old Calvinism vs. the New Calvinism debate

For  some excellent insight on the Old vs. the New Calvinism discussion (debate?) check out the Reformed Forum podcast on this issue. While you're there read Jim Cassidy's post, 5 Reasons Why I Am Not a New Calvinist. Folks, this is good stuff and we should spend some time thinking on these issues. The discussion was born out of John Piper's recent lecture at Westminster Seminary for the Seventh Annual Gaffin Lecture. For the record, I'm an Old Calvinist but have sympathy and even embrace some of the distinctives of the New Calvinists. Still, there are issues of great import that we should consider. Below is Dr. Piper's lecture.

26 March 2014

World Vision Indecision

I really question whether I can call someone “brother” or “sister” who is openly and unrepentantly defying Jesus’ words. - Denny Burk

If  you're on the fence trying to decide what to think about the World Vision fiasco, read Denny Burk's clarifying post in response to the silly remarks made by Jen Hatmaker. We must ask ourselves, Is Scripture our basis in life or not?

28 January 2014

The Legitimacy of Divorce

The Christian Pundit has published a valuable and necessary post on the legitimacy of divorce. Too often women (and sometimes men) are wrongfully and unbiblically encouraged to remain in a marriage because of a lack of understanding of Scripture.

The author writes...

In the well-known passage on marriage and divorce found in Matthew 19:1-9, with its corollary in Mark 10:1-12, Jesus clearly retains the abiding legitimacy of divorce for marital unfaithfulness–as he had already done in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:32). .....When the faithful spouse decides to divorce the unfaithful one because trust has been so shattered that he/she believes the marriage cannot continue, that is biblically legitimate. The primary criteria is not that the marriage can potentially be salvaged. The primary criteria is her God-given freedom to choose which route she thinks is wisest, taking counsel from believers who know and love her. ...God hates treacherous divorce, yes (Malachi 2:14-16). He hates adultery, abuse, and abandonment. He does not hate godly divorce. He has provided the opportunity for a way out of a violated covenant for the innocent party. He is just, holy and good. He is a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow.

Please read and try to understand the awful dilemma many women are placed in today by receiving unbibilcal advice cloaked as God's Word on divorce.

27 January 2014

18 January 2014

Carl Trueman Videos on Sin and the Christian Life

If you have not seen these yet, sit back and watch. You'll be glad you did.

Extravagant Grace Lecture by Barbara Duguid

Barbara Duguid
A wonderful time was had by all at our recent lecture by Barbara Duguid, author of Extravagant Grace.  Below is the audio of the seminar. Learn & enjoy!

17 January 2014

Having trouble reading academic books?

Great article on reading academic books from Jared Oliphint. Click over and have a read here.

If you can clear the fog of fear and hesitation hovering over academic books, you might find an unexpected depth and richness between the pages. Heavy theological reading will never take the place of a heart-gripping novel or a devotional full of soaring words of worship. But a rich read can often add color, dimension, and vibrancy to your Christian walk and give those devotionals a few more volts. - Jared Oliphint

02 January 2014

Extravagant Grace Author coming to Hudson, Ohio

Barbara Duguid
Barbara Duguid, author of Extravagant Grace, will be speaking at Redeemer Church in Hudson, Ohio on 16 January 2014. She is a counselor and member of Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Grove City, Pennsylvania. She holds an advanced certificate in biblical counseling from the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania. She will be speaking about her book which is based on the writings of John Newton. The session starts at 7pm and there will be a book signing afterward. For more on Barbara Duguid, check out her interview on Reformed Forum and for directions and more about Redeemer Church head over to their website.

"In this fine book, Barbara Duguid combines her love of church history, her enthusiasm for John Newton, her insights honed as a pastor's wife and, above all, her love for Christ and his church. Here the reader will find sharp insights into the psychology of sin and sound practical advice on how the Bible speaks to the mundane rebellions of everyday human existence. The heart is indeed restless above all things; Barbara Duguid ably directs us to where we can find rest: in Christ alone."
—Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, WTS PA; Pastor, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) Ambler, Pa. ---

"If only there were some secret—a strategy, an answer, a truth, a fix—to end all the awkward struggle in life! But nothing this side of the return of the King can make life easy. Even the saints in heaven cry, 'How long?' There is a way to live, however, that learns to struggle well through the wrongs inside us and around us. Barb Duguid struggles well. She has learned well from another lifelong struggler, John Newton. Both of them learned well from the the Man of sorrows and grace. He knows our weaknesses first hand. He loved us to the uttermost. He is loving us now. He will love us forever. Take this book to heart. It will sustain you for the long haul, long after the hyped up panaceas and utopias fail."
—David Powlison, Faculty Member, C.C.E.F.

01 January 2014

I don't like New Years Resolutions

I've never liked New Years resolutions. If it is something I need to do then I must resolve to do it at that moment. And there is much I should resolve to do. Here's another good take on New Years resolutions at A Jacket for all Seasons.