31 August, 2007

Welcome Watson Truth Eshelman

Anna Grace Eshelman and Owen Justice Eshelman welcome their new brother into the world:
Watson Truth Eshelman was born August 31, 2007 at 9:13 AM. He was 10 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 inches long. May God bless this little guy as he joins the family!

27 August, 2007

Puritan Seminary... Here We Go Again!

Today I started my last year of seminary training before I "get into the trenches", as a friend from college said. It was a good day of beginnings. There are a number of fresh faces who are new to the whole experience.

Today I was reflecting on my first semester and how terrified I was. I thought that the men who were almost finished knew SO MUCH more than me. Now I see, being on this side, that there is so much more to learn than I ever imagined. Seminary should not make any man proud of his accomplishments- it should humble him, knowing that, at best, he stands on the shoulders of giants.

We began the day with a luncheon of faculty and students. We also had a great time of giving our testimonies. We were to say who we are, where we 'have been', and where we are going. It was a refreshing time of seeing the work of the Lord in the lives of fellow men who love Christ, have a high view of His Word, and a love for 'the fathers' of the faith.

Dr. Bilkes gave a great devotion to begin the year that was especially applied to ministry students. It was taken from Mark 7, with special emphasis on verse 34:

And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. v.32-35

"Your ears and your tongue are things that the Lord is claiming for sacred ministry"
1. Know your need for ephphatha grace.
2. Pray daily and seek greatly for ephphatha grace.
3. Use ephphatha grace for the Glory of the Son of God.

Brothers and sisters, dear readers, I stand humbled to have the privledge of studying at Puritan. Pray for me as I begin my last year of seminary. May the Lord raise up many men who will be faithful to the Word of God, have a great love for the Son, and a burden for the Bride.

26 August, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: The BIble and the Unconverted

There are no promises for the unconverted in the Bible. They deceive themselves, regardless of what promises they may appropriate to themselves. These will not be fulfilled, for they are "without Christ, being...strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope" (Eph. 2:12). Only believers are the "heirs of promise" (Heb. 6:17). All the benefits of the covenant of grace are for them and will most certainly be given them (II: 632-633).

23 August, 2007

In Anticipation of our Third Child

Baptism is a great doctrine and an even greater blessing to those to whom it is administered. As we anticipate the arrival of our third child we think of all that baptism means and represents to us and to our children. The Lord Jesus Christ has a claim on our children, which means that they are:

1. In covenant with Him.
2. Have a responsibility to believe the Gospel.

We have great responsibility as parents to reflect what it means to be members of the covenant community. It also means that all who have made a profession to believe the Gospel have a duty to live lives that adorn the Gospel. When a child is baptized in the church there is a series of questions that are posed to the parents and to the covenant community. The ARP Book of Worship states to the congregation, "in the name of the whole Church of Christ, do you undertake responsibility for the growth of this child in Christian nurture?" What a great responsibility we all have as the Church of Christ grows through the birth of another covenant child. We remember the words of the Apostle Peter, "the promise if for you and your children!"

We should all improve on our baptism as we anticipate seeing this sacrament administered in the name of the Triune God.

Larger Catechism Question 167: How is our Baptism to be improved by us? A167: The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

20 August, 2007

The Death Cookie

There are some really tacky ways to do evangelism. The Jack Chick Track is one of the tackiest. I must confess that I have used these, and maybe will use them again in the future... like for tips at Russ' Family Restaurant.

The one that you see to your left was one that I gave to my wife before she was a Christian. Wow! Fun stuff. Read some of these things at the link. They have the whole tract online.

This one is one of my favorites... I can totally relate to the pain of being lied to about these things!

18 August, 2007

Sabbath a' Brakel: Communion of the Saints

Communion [of the saints] is exercised by being good examples to each other, and by following each other's example in doing good. Exemplary behavior is marvelously effective in attracting others. Christ is the perfect example, "leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21). Believers, however, in whom Christ has been formed, must manifest the image of Christ, also with the objective to be a good example to others. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 5:16); "In honour preferring one another" (Rom. 12:10); "Shew me thy faith without thy works" (James 2:18); "So that ye were ensamples to all that believe" (1 Th. 1:7); "In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works" (Titus 2:7) [II: 103).

16 August, 2007

Missio Ecclesia

I have a Christian education meeting tomorrow for my congregation. I am the chairperson of the committee. We have been asked to provide a mission statement for Christian education in the Sabbath School program. I will post mine tomorrow in the comments section if it approved. I am wondering if you all would give your ideas for what makes for good Christian education in the church of Jesus Christ?

13 August, 2007

Thoughts on Our Emerging Brethren

This week I had visitors from Albany New York. We had a great week discussing many things as well as praying, reading the Scriptures, and singing the Psalms. (We had a ton of laughs as well!)

One of our many discussions was on the Emergent Church. We talked about some of the books that I have read on the subject, as well as the many good things that this movement is doing for the church. It is sad how the Reformed camp, which has so much to offer, does not engage the culture the way that they did during the time of the Reformation or during the Puritan movement.

  • Today I listened to a sermon on Mars Hill's website. Rob Bell is doing a series called "God is Green" and it deals with God and the Christian's (or follower of Christ) response to the creation. Interesting. "God's primary purpose in creation is not consumption, but pleasure."
  • My professor, Dr. Gerald Bilkes' wrote a critique of the movement that is good as well.

11 August, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel

In reference to your baptism, continually ask: Has Christ died for me? Has not His blood been shed for the washing away of my sins and unto my reconciliation with Thee? Art not Thou my Father and I thy child? Is not baptism a seal to me? Can this seal be broken? Of course not; thus the forgiveness of my sins, reconciliation with Thee, and all the benefits of the covenant of grace are my portion. I shall hold fast to this and thus will go my way with joy and courage. Strive to be exercised in this and it will greatly strengthen you that, without your knowledge, you have already been sealed in your infancy. Yield not to unbelief by being tossed to and fro continually, asking yourself: Am I regenerated, am I already a believer, and is baptism indeed a seal to me? How this will injure you and rob you of the efficacy of baptism (II: 521-522).

06 August, 2007

Casual Thoughts on Formal Worship

When I first began studying the issue of worship, about 8 years ago, I was amazed at how much of the Scriptures speak of regulation according to God's Word. This, of course, seems to lead to some sort of bondage to the will of God alone. How can a sinful human submit to the will of a divine being that does not allow me to do whatever I want in worship?

True confession: For the first couple of years in my Christian life, I worshiped in evangelical and even some charismatic churches. These churches are quite innovative in worship and do many things that they do in an attempt to please the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the way in which I learned to worship, as those around me did.

The more that I studied, the more I felt liberated from the will of men as well as the 'worship wars' that are so common in today's churches. There is a lot of good things in evangelical churches; but there is also a lot of doing what is right in their own eyes.

The freedom that a simple, biblical, and reformed worship service brings is quite pleasing to the senses after-all. Acapella singing, God's songs as the text, simple exposition of the Word, and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Who could ask for more, besides these and the waters of baptism and the wine and bread of the eucharist?

The more I read, the more I loved the heritage in which I dwell. The more I submitted to what God desires in worship, the more I was able to cultivate a relationship with the Son. The studying of worship has been the single most liberating doctrine to my Christian experience. What has been your experience?

The more we do sanctify His name, the more we will fall in love with worship.
Jeremiah Burroughs

04 August, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel

Esteem very highly the least stirring of the Holy Spirit, as well as those stirrings you have enjoyed previously (IV: 273).

02 August, 2007

Going to the Creation Museum this Sabbath....What?

This is Lydia.

Here is a response that Nathan emailed to World Magazine regarding their recent article on the new Creation Museum. I will post it, because I think it brings up a very good point, and since he is unable to blog, heh, I will do so for him.

Ken Ham focuses on problems in society stemming from evolutionary thoughts and views--and not taking Genesis literally. While I agree with Ken, and appreciate the work he has done and is doing, I pray he also will recognize the importance of the Sabbath Day and the impact of not keeping the Sabbath holy on society. Nathan summed this up in the last paragraph of his letter.

Exd 20:8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

Isa 58:13 "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words."

Dear Editor,

I just received my latest World Magazine, which is always an anticipated day at the mail box! I was interested in the article, Museum With A Message about the Creation Museum that Mr. Ham has established.

What amazes me most about this museum is that despite the focus on a literal 6 day creation (which is a great purpose for a museum), Mr. Ham seems to have forgotten what occurred on the 7th day! The Museum is in violation of the 4th commandment as they work on the Sabbath and charge fees for entrance on the Sabbath day. A Christian museum that calls itself a ministry should not be open on the Lord's Day, and especially with fees over $20 per adult. If they want to make an impact on society, they would make a stand on 6 days of creation and one day of Sabbath rest. Hebrews 4:9 says that there remains a Sabbath for the people of God.

There will be no societal impact when the world looks on and says, 'Its business as usual at the Creation Museum.' Obedience to the Word is what an unbelieving society needs to see, not obedience to part of it!

Nathan Eshelman