31 January, 2006

Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep.

I would like to finish the impromptu series on preaching with a quote. I believe that others are able to answer questions better than me, so I will leave this to a professional on the topic of preaching. If any are interested in further study on the topic of preaching and what preaching looks like in the scriptures, I would recommend, Feed My Sheep edited by Don Kistler. The need is so great for preaching to be founded in the scriptures, and the need is even greater for the people who are called by the name of God to reclaim the book of the Bible and to devour it and to fall in love with it. Preaching is the means by which men and women of God are able to eat the Words of the Lord.

"Perhaps that is why [expository preaching] is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the Apostles and say, " It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God and serve tables...We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the Ministry of the Word (Acts 6.2,4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, or only study a passage when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take out our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God's Word, assimilating its grand theme of Divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind. "It is blessed," wrote CH Spurgeon, "to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.'"

John RW Stott, The Preacher's Portrait, pp30-31

28 January, 2006

The Apostle Paul's View of Preaching

I find it to be expedient in the light of the last post (see post below) to allow the Apostle Paul, the New Testament theologian, to give his insights on preaching and the necessity of preaching well. Paul's view was that people would not BE SAVED without preaching (from a sent preacher)! If this is the case, and I believe that it is, then we should, as preachers and hearers of preachers, be careful to know what scripture says about preaching:

Romans 10.13-15

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

* There were a variety of questions in the last post that I will address this Sabbath evening.

26 January, 2006

Follow That Grasshopper...He KNOWS Something!

There are very few preachers who preach good biblical sermons today. The Christian minister should preach sermons that are exegetical in nature and give the congregation an understanding of what the text means, its historical context, as well as ways in which to apply the sermon to living out the Christian life. This is the pattern that is found within scripture- the preachers of scripture open the law and gospel and give the hearers its meaning as well as its application.

Here are a few unbiblical ways in which preachers preach today. We discussed these in Homiletics and they are quite fun (although they should be avoided):
Hobby horse sermons:
The minister relates every sermon to their favorite secondary or tertiary doctrine. (Examples: Satan, the Millennium, the Nation of Israel, Evangelism, etc.)
Rocket sermons:
This type of sermon is begun from the text but quickly launches into space and goes off on tangents that no-one can follow.
Heart on the sleeve sermons:
The sermon is preached with such great emotion that the hearers are moved to great emotional highs or lows....but they do not know what the text was about.
Sky scraper sermons:
Patchwork quilt of entertainment and other things. They are one story piled on top of another. The text is never really developed but the stories and illustrations are piled high as the sky.
Grasshopper sermons:
A preacher takes a text and he finds a theme and then hops all through the bible making the listener try to follow in their Bibles. It is a string of texts that are connected with a few sentences. (A child with a concordance can preach like this).
Sherlock Holmes sermons:
The preacher wows everyone with the depths and the mystery of the Bible but never really tells you anything about what the text means.

I think that all preachers tend to lean in one way or another to one of these errors. As a Calvinist I have heard some of these from time to time. Although I believe in the doctrines of grace whole-heartedly (and would die defending them) I do not think that every page of the Bible is talking about unconditional election!

24 January, 2006

Hypocrites and other fake Christians

Hypocrisy is when one claims to hold a belief that they do not really possess. The term hypocrite was used in Old French as a play-actor; someone pretending to be something that they were not. Hypocrisy has its roots in Greek and was someone who wore a mask; someone pretending to be someone that they were not or someone that had "two faces" concerning a belief.

Many non-Christians see the hypocrites in the church and they are rightly disgusted. Hypocrites make up a number of the members of the church; but these people are not genuine professors of religion, merely frauds playing the role of the Christian. The hypocrites are what the Bible calls tares and Jesus is quite content with allowing the tares to be in the Church. These hypocrites have always been a part of genuine religion, and they will remain a part of genuine religion until the day of judgment when the wheat is separated from the tares. Jesus speaks of this in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew:

Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them [his disciples], saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

What does this all mean for you and for me? How does this apply to our lives?
-If you are a genuine Christian, someone who has professed faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice for sins and are being renewed by the power of the Holy Ghost, then you should strive to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. We should never allow the unbeliever to blaspheme Christ and his bride on account of our carelessness in sanctification.
-If you are not a Christian, then it is my Christian duty to warn you that your fate is the same fate of those tares. Hypocrisy and unbelief will be eternal bed-fellows in the fires of hell. Hypocrite: flee to Christ for redemption. Unbeliever: flee to Christ for redemption.

"Tell me, you vain professor [of Christianity], when did you shed a tear for the deadness, hardness, unbelief, or earthliness of your heart? Do you think that such an easy religion can save you? If so, we may invert Christ's words and say, 'Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to life.'" -JOHN FLAVEL

"Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell."

23 January, 2006

Profiting from the Word

Earlier this month I gave the English Puritan, Richard Greenham's suggestions on how to read the Scriptures with diligence. (See: 4 Jan. 2006) I would like to give another Puritan, Thomas Boston (1676-1732) on how to profit from the reading of the scriptures. Thomas Boston was a Scottish Presbyterian and he was best known for his aid in the Marrow Controversy. Boston gives nine ways to improve on the reading of the scriptures:

1. Follow a regular plan in reading of them, that you may be acquainted with the whole; and make this reading a part of your private devotions. Not that you should confine yourselves only to a set plan, so as never to read by choice, but ordinarily this tends most to edification. Some parts of the Bible are more difficult, some may seem very barren for an ordinary reader; but if you would look on it all as God's word, not to be scorned, and read it with faith and reverence, no doubt you would find advantage.

2. Set a special mark, however you find convenient, on those passages you read, which you find most suitable to your case, condition, or temptations; or such as you have found to move your hearts more than other passages. And it will be profitable often to review these.

3. Compare one Scripture with another, the more obscure with that which is more plain, 2 Pet. 1:20. This is an excellent means to find out the sense of the Scriptures; and to this good use serve the marginal notes on Bibles. And keep Christ in your eye, for to him the scriptures of the Old Testament look (in its genealogies, types, and sacrifices), as well as those of the New.

4. Read with a holy attention, arising from the consideration of the majesty of God, and the reverence due to him. This must be done with attention, first, to the words; second, to the sense; and, third, to the divine authority of the Scripture, and the obligation it lays on the conscience for obedience, 1 Thess. 2:13, "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe."

5. Let your main purpose in reading the Scriptures be practice, and not bare knowledge, James 1:22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." Read that you may learn and do, and that without any limitation or distinction, but that whatever you see God requires, you may study to practice.

6. Beg of God and look to him for his Spirit. For it is the Spirit that inspired it, that it must be savingly understood by, 1 Cor 2:11, "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." And therefore before you read, it is highly reasonable you beg a blessing on what you are to read.

7. Beware of a worldly, fleshly mind: for fleshly sins blind the mind from the things of God; and the worldly heart cannot favour them. In an eclipse of the moon, the earth comes between the sun and the moon, and so keeps the light of the sun from it. So the world, in the heart, coming between you and the light of the word, keeps its divine light from you.

8. Labour to be disciplined toward godliness, and to observe your spiritual circumstances. For a disciplined attitude helps mightily to understand the scriptures. Such a Christian will find his circumstances in the word, and the word will give light to his circumstances, and his circumstances light into the word.

9. Whatever you learn from the word, labour to put it into practice. For to him that has, shall be given. No wonder those people get little insight into the Bible, who make no effort to practice what they know. But while the stream runs into a holy life, the fountain will be the freer.

21 January, 2006

A Plea for Justice

If feminism was defined as women having equal worth before a Triune God as well as equal worth before humanity than I can accept that as a definition. Feminism has gone well beyond its original intentions. Feminism was not intended to give women an authority over their own body that God does not even grant under his law.

In what the evangelical world calls "Sanctity of Life Sunday" may we pray that the Lord would serve justice as an estimated 40 million children have been slaughtered from the womb. (This is over 6 times the numbers of people murdered in the Holocaust.)

"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"The woman is awfully guilty who commits abortion...It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death."
-Susan B. Anthony

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
-Psalm 139.13-17 (NASB)

20 January, 2006

Whale Takes Presbyterian Tour of London

A tour of the Westminster Assembly's place of work is something that many Reformed Christians attempt to do in their life. The last time that a whale took this historic tour was in 1913.

Whale On the Thames

Calling the Sabbath A Delight

If one used one out of seven days to focus whole-heartedly on their relationship with Jesus Christ they would benefit greatly. Many Christians want to deny the Sabbath and say that it is rooted in the Mosaic law. This is untrue. The Sabbath day is a creation ordinance. Man was created to work six days and to spend a whole day in relationship with his maker. This is what Adam and Eve did, and this is what we are to do as well. The Sabbath is a perpetual obligation to the Christian-- Paul said in Hebrews that "there remains therefore a Sabbath for the Christian". We, as followers of Christ are in Sabbath in Christ, we look forward to our eternal Sabbath in glory, and we are to call the Sabbath a delight while here on earth being a testimony to the unbelieving world around us.

Q. 1. In what sense is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. As it is dedicated by God, for man's sake and use that he may keep it holy to God.
Q. 2. In what manner should he keep it holy to God?
A. By a holy resting, and by holy exercises.
Q. 3. What should we rest from on the Sabbath?
A. Even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; or, which is the same thing, from all servile work, Neh. 13:15-23.

Q. 17. Is not the Sabbath a festival, or feast day; and consequently may not our conversation on it be cheerful and diverting?
A. It is, indeed, properly a feast day, but of a spiritual, not of a carnal nature: we may refresh our bodies moderately, but not sumptuously; and our conversation ought to turn wholly upon spiritual and heavenly subjects, or such as have that tendency, after the example of our Lord, Luke 14:1-25.
Q. 18. What should be the principal end of our six days' labour?
A. That it be so managed as in no way to discompose or unfit us for a holy resting on the Sabbath, or meeting with God on his own day.
Q. 19. What is a holy resting?
A. Not only an abstaining from our own work, or labour, but an entering by faith (in the use of appointed means,) into the presence and enjoyment of God in Christ, as the only rest of our souls, Heb. 4:3; that having no work of our own to mind or do, we may be wholly taken up with the works of God.
Q. 20. Why called a holy resting?
A. Because we should rest from worldly labour, in order to be employed in the holy exercises, which the Lord requires on this day; otherwise, as to bare cessation, our cattle rest from outward labour as well as we.
Q. 21. What are the holy EXERCISES in which we ought to be employed on the Lord's day?
A. In the public and private exercises of God's worship.
Q. 22. What are the public exercises of God's worship in which we should be employed?
A. Hearing the word preached, Rom. 10:17; joining in public prayers and praises, Luke 24:53; and partaking of the sacraments, Acts 20:7.
Q. 23. What is included under the private exercises of God's worship?
A. Family and secret duties.
Q. 24. What are the duties incumbent on us in a family capacity on the Lord's day?
A. Family worship, and family catechising, together with Christian conference, as there is occasion, Lev. 23:3. It is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your DWELLINGS, or private families; and therefore God is to he worshipped in them on that day.
Q. 25. What is family worship?
A. It is the daily joining of all that are united in a domestic relation, or who are dwelling together in the same house and family, in singing God's praises, Acts 2:47 reading his word, Deut. 6:7, and praying to him, Jer. 10:25.
Q. 26. How do you prove family worship to be a duty daily incumbent upon those who have families?
A. From scripture precept, and from scripture example.
Q. 27. How is family worship evinced from scripture precept?
A. Besides that this commandment enjoins every master of a family to sanctify the Sabbath within his gates, that is, to worship God in his family; there are also other scriptures, inculcating the same thing, by necessary consequence; such as, Eph. 6:18 -- "Praying always, with ALL prayer and supplication;" 1 Tim. 2:8 -- "I will therefore that men pray EVERY WHERE. "If with all prayer, then surely with family prayer; if EVERY WHERE, then certainly in our families.
Q. 28. What are the examples of family worship recorded in scripture for our imitation?
A. Among others, there are the examples of Abraham, Gen. 18:19; of Joshua, chap. 24:15 -- "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;" of David, 2 Sam. 6:20; or Cornelius, Acts 10:2; and especially the example of our blessed Lord, whom we find singing psalms, Matt. 26:30, and praying with his disciples, who were his family, Luke 9:18.
Q. 29. What should be the subject matter of family catechising?
A. What they have been hearing through the day, together with the principles of our religion, as laid out in the Shorter Catechism, with the helps that are published upon the same, which masters of families ought to use for their assistance in this work.
Q. 30. What are the proper seasons of Christian conference on the Sabbath?
A. At meals, and in the interval of duties: our speech should he always, but especially on the Lord's day, "seasoned with salt," Col. 4:6.
Q. 31. What are the secret duties in which we ought to he exercised on the Lord's day?
A. Secret prayer, reading the scriptures, and other soul-edifying books, meditation upon divine subjects, and self-examination.
Q. 32. With what frame and disposition of soul should we engage in the public and private exercises of God's worship?
A. With a spiritual frame and disposition, Rev. 1:10 -- "I was IN THE SPIRIT on the Lord's day."
Q. 33. What is it to be in the Spirit on the Lord's day?
A. It is not only to have the actual inhabitation of the Spirit, which is the privilege of believers "every day," Ezek. 36:27; but to have the influences and operations of the Spirit "more liberally let out," Luke 4:31, 32, and his graces in "more lively exercise," than at other times, Acts 2:41.
Q. 34. What moral argument have we from the ceremonial law, for offering a greater plenty of spiritual sacrifices to God on the Sabbath, than upon other days?
A. The daily sacrifice, or continual burnt offering, was to be doubled on the Sabbath, Num. 28:9; intimating, that they were bound to double their devotions on that day, which was consecrated to God to be spent in his service.
Q. 35. How much of the Sabbath is to be spent in the public and private exercises of God's worship?
A. The WHOLE of it, from the ordinary time of rising on other days, to the ordinary time of going to rest; "except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy."

-From James Fisher's Catechism (on the fourth commandment)

18 January, 2006

Virtue Apart From My Own

Saint Augustine (354-430AD) is one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He fought the fight for the true understanding of justification against the heretic, Pelagius. If Pelagius would have won the justification controversy the Christian understanding would be that man's will is free to choose God and with right training one can become a Christian. Augustine argued that man's will is in bondage to sin because of the fall in Adam and in order for man to be converted to Christ, his heart would have to be changed by Christ.

Augustine understood what has come to be known as irresistible grace. Augustine as a young man hated God and he did all he could to run away from the need that God had placed on his heart. Augustine was attempting to run from his own sinful heart. This is seen in the following Confession. While meditating upon this section from his writings, any converted sinner has to see himself in these words. Do you see yourself?

And what is there in me that could be hidden from thee, Lord, to whose eyes the abysses of man's conscience are naked, even if I were unwilling to confess it to thee? In doing so I would only hide thee from myself, not myself from thee. But now that my groaning is witness to the fact that I am dissatisfied with myself, thou shinest forth and satisfiest.

Thou art beloved and desired; so that I blush for myself, and renounce myself and choose thee, for I can neither please thee nor myself except in thee. To thee, then, O Lord, I am laid bare, whatever I am, and I have already said with what profit I may confess to thee. I do not do it with words and sounds of the flesh but with the words of the soul, and with the sound of my thoughts, which thy ear knows. For when I am wicked, to confess to thee means nothing less than to be dissatisfied with myself; but when I am truly devout, it means nothing less than not to attribute my virtue to myself; because thou, O Lord, blessest the righteous, but first thou justifiest him while he is yet ungodly.

My confession therefore, O my God, is made unto thee silently in thy sight--and yet not silently. As far as sound is concerned, it is silent. But in strong affection it cries aloud. For neither do I give voice to something that sounds right to men, which thou hast not heard from me before, nor dost thou hear anything of the kind from me which thou didst not first say to me.

-Saint Augustine, Confessions, 10.2

Purpose Statement

16 January, 2006

From the City of Destruction to the Celestial City

The Interpreter explains to Christian about his pilgrimage:

"The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand: he can beget children, (1 Cor. 4:15), travail in birth with children, (Gal. 4:19), and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips: it is to show thee, that his work is to know, and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men. And whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee, that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master's service, he is sure in the world that comes next, to have glory for his reward. Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way: wherefore take good heed to what I have showed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death."

- John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress (part I, stage II)

13 January, 2006

The Christian Directory

My dear and loving wife Lydia was reading a great paper on the ethics behind Christian marriage. The article dealt especially with the ways in which two people, who are both tainted by sin, are to live in harmonious unity.

The article was one that she printed, but had never seen the original source called "The Christian Directory". The book was a ten year enterprise by the Pastor Richard Baxter (1615-1691). Richard Baxter was a Puritan minister of great ability and love for the people to whom he ministered. He had some errors that were not excusable (he was known to be a neonomian in his view of justification), but we are to follow him as he follows Christ.

The Directory had come to be known as a great source of practical counsel and application for many Christians around England and even in the Colonies at that time. When a Christian had a question on how to apply a doctrine or how to behave in a certain moral situation they would look to the Directory for biblical counsel. It is much like having a counselor on hand at all times to walk you through difficulties of life and faith.

The Directory was written at the request of the Bishop Hall from the Church of England. Hall knew that this was something that Protestantism needed and knew of no other man as pastoral and practical as Richard Baxter.

There had been other directories written, but this one takes a special place as being thorough and complete. (More complete than Perkins or Ames 'Cases of Conscience' that were predecessors in this type of counseling manual.) In this time period there were also directories written by the Jesuits (a religious and militant order of priests that were set up to destroy the Reformed faith) and as the non-Protestant manual popularity grew, the need for a Reformed and evangelical directory grew alongside of it.

This is the result of this work.

"It is possible to see clearly the difference between the 'how-to' books of today's evangelicals and the 'how-to' teaching of the Directory, which is so much wiser and digs so much deeper. The sheer brilliance of Baxter's achievements in crystallizing a proper form for the life of faith, at a high level of intelligent, Bible-based, theologically-integrated wisdom, and with unfailing compressed clarity, is dazzling to the mind." - J.I. Packer

11 January, 2006

The Mercy of God Applied to Sinners

Psalm 130, A Song of degrees.

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Jehovah. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for Jehovah, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in Jehovah: for with Jehovah there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

When thinking on the mercy of God and the forgiveness of sin Psalm 130 immediately comes to mind for many Christians. This Psalm teaches us numerous things about God and the nature of the salvation that he bestows upon the elect. This Psalm is one that is dripping with God's goodness and his mercy. Here are a few things that can be gleaned from this text:
1. God is one who is a hearing God. He hears our cries and our voice.
2. No one would be saved if God looked upon his or her iniquity.
3. God saves his people so that they may fear him.
4. The godly wait for God's answers with diligence and with the use of means.
5. He will redeem and it will be a plenteous redemption!
6. He will save his church from all sin.

"It is to be noticed that the foundation upon which he would have the hope of all the godly to rest is the mercy of God, the source from which redemption springs. In the first clause he reminds them that although they bring with them no worth or merits of their own, it ought to suffice them that God is merciful. This mutual relation between the faith of the Church and the free goodness of God is to be attentively marked, to the end we may know that all those who, depending upon their own merits, persuade themselves that God will be their rewarder, have not their hope regulated according to the rule of Scripture. From this mercy, as from a fountain, the Prophet derives redemption; for there is no other cause which moves God to manifest himself as the redeemer of his people but his mercy."

-John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 130

Book recommendation:
The Forgiveness of Sin: A Practical Exposition of Psalm 130
by Dr John Owen.

10 January, 2006

A Trinity of Filth

Three Denominations: Three Serious Problems.

Episcopal Church (ECUSA): Still angry about a gay bishop from 2003. What is the big deal about a gay bishop...He was a gay priest for years? Unfaithful priests are okay...But not bishops?

Presbyterian Church (USA): A clause which would allow for ministers of the Gospel to not have "chastity and fidelity" standards? Okay..Ministers do not have to be loyal to their wife (or husband in the PC(USA)...Based on "conscience reasons"? Disgusting.

American Baptist Churches (USA): Gay churches are angry because as Baptists they are not held to any creed or standard. Hm. They are right...This is the problem with non-confessional congregationalism.

Come Lord Jesus in judgment and reform! Make your bride holy, pure, and spotless.

Mainline Mess

09 January, 2006

Man's Days Are As the Grass

The idea of taking advantage of time is something that is lost in today's culture and even in modern Christianity. The idea of youth and even the worship of youth is something that fosters immaturity of faith as well as practice. There was a time in Christian thought (and I suppose that many still think within these categories) when maturity and proper use of one's time was important to one's relationship with Christ.

It is recorded in the private diary of Rev. George Whitfield, the powerful 18th century revival preacher, that he lamented the fact that he wasted a half hour of time in a day. This was seen as a great sin. The seriousness of life, the preciousness of time, and the fact that man pines and dies in a few short years was on his heart and mind. Jonathan Edwards uses this idea of time wasted to call the converted and unconverted alike to take into account the fact that their time is pining away and that soon they will have to give account for how well they used this great gift from our God and Father in Heaven:

You are one to whom God has committed that precious talent. You have had a great deal of time. You have had a great deal of time that has past. And time is worth much to you as to others whether you are so sensible of the worth of it or no. You are the one that has an eternity before you. When God created you and gave you a reasonable soul, He made you for an eternity; and he gave you time here in order to prepare for eternity. And your future eternity depends on the improvement of time. Consider therefore what you have done with your past time. You are now beginning your time; but a great deal of your time is past and gone, and all the wit and power of the universe can't recover it. How have you spent it? Let your own conscious make your answer. There are many of you that may well conclude that half you time is gone. If you should to live to the ordinary age of man, your glass is more than half run, and perhaps there may be but few sands remaining; your sun is past the meridian, and perhaps just a setting, or going into an everlasting eclipse. Consider, therefore, for what account you can give of your improvement of your past time. How have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?

Discussion Points:
-How have you used this gift of time to God's glory?
-Are you seeking maturity of faith, or are you content with what little experience of God you have?
-What areas of your life should be purged so that you have more time to develop your spiritual life?
-What are some scripture passages that can encourage us to use time properly?

08 January, 2006


PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS has become all the rage amongst the Roman Catholic Church. I think that when the Gospel is presented with clarity and the truths of the Protestant Reformation are show to be experiential as well as scholastic- people listen!

An Examination of Roman Catholicism is worth the read for anyone who is working through issues regarding the Catholic Church.

(Heidelberg Catechism) Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord's supper and the popish mass?

Answer: The Lord's supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us. But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

06 January, 2006

Teens Living Out the Glory of God

"The goal of all of this is to root our children's identity in the existence and glory of God. We want them to understand that they were made by him, that they belong to him, and that they are called to live for his glory. We are called by God to do theology, that is, to live our lives with a moment-by-moment consciousness of God. He is the reality that gives sense and shape to every other fact we discuss and consider".

-Paul Tripp (p 55)

04 January, 2006

Reading the Word with Profit

Richard Greenham was an English Puritan who ministered in Dry Dayton, England from 1570-1590. He was known to have a fantastic ministry in which he aided in the training of many young Puritan ministers. He was also known for his extensive counseling ministry. In his book titled, A Profitable Treatise For the Reading and Understanding of the Scriptures, he gives eight states of person with which we are to approach the scriptures.

We are to read with:

1. Diligence. If you read diligently it will make your rough places plain. Most of the time when we have difficulty with scripture it is because we do not read it with diligence.
2. Wisdom. Do not spend the most amount of time in the difficult passages of Scripture. Do not be in difficult parts without balancing with easier passages. That is a matter in wisdom. You need a whole Bible to make a whole Christian. We are to use wisdom in the manner of the use of time. Do not ever let a day go by without reading the scriptures.
3. Proper Preparation. You must approach the bible with a reverential fear. We are to lay up God's word in our heart. We are to approach in preparation desiring to learn of God. Do not come to your Bible without a heart for sitting at the master's feet.
4. Meditation. We can read, but without meditation we will not receive depth. The difference between reading and mediation is the difference between drifting and rowing in a boat. Do we want to drift through life, or do we want to row towards a goal? Meditation makes the Scriptures to be our own.
5. Conference. We are to get together for spiritual conversation. We are to speak with others about that which we are reading and experiencing in the Christian life. This is for the sake of iron sharpening iron. Conference is to be done with ministers as well as lay people.
6. Faith. Without faith the reading of Scripture is an empty practice. We are to mingle all of our reading with Faith as Paul tells us to do.
7. Practice. We are not to just hear a sermon or the reading of Scripture, we are to live that which we read.
8. Prayer. Prayer is indispensable. We are to pray before, during, and after reading. We are to pray for more understanding and for light to discern. All reading is to be mingled with prayer. We are to have a conversation with God as we read his written Word.

"To neglect the reading of the Word is to neglect the Lord. That is a very dread thing."

02 January, 2006

Of Filthy Brides and Bloody Grooms

A new catechism on the Trinity is the focus of the new addition of Credenda Agenda. The focused catechism was for the purpose of "filling gaps" of older catechisms. It seems that Wilson does not find the historical catechisms to suffice on this head of doctrine. His catechism is poetic as well as in a biblical form called iambic pentameter and chiasm. (I will not explain, but may do a post on this later). Below is a section that I have found to be an appropriate meditation on the relationship of Christ to the Church. It is a marvelous piece to meditate upon. How could the dirtied bride enter the Son's wedding?
Christ killed her sin upon His bloody cross;
Like Father and the Spirit, triune life
is death and gift, a dance of sacrifice.

Where did the Son take her? What does she do?
United to His wife, He raised her from
the dead, ascended into heaven, and joined
the dance, the fellowship of Trinity.

How can the bride not fall again, like in the Garden or the desert?
Unlike Mosaic saints, who strained without
a will, God poured the Spirit in His Church,
empowering us for loyalty and love.

What is the purpose of this marriage of Son and Church?
This new Adam and Eve pick up the work
abandoned by the first to raise a godly
seed, expand the feast, and build a garden city.

How does God send us from the wedding?
He loads our arms with water, wine, and bread
and sends us cheering down the highway,
to fill the wedding hall with guests.