25 November, 2010

A Reformation Prayer For Thanksgiving

Often other men have the ability to express my spiritual desires better than I do. Today is such a day as I consider thankfulness to God and what that means for my life, my family, and my spiritual hope. Enjoy:

Lord God,
our Heavenly Father,
we thank Thee for all thy benefits,
which we so unceasingly receive
from thy bountiful hand.
We thank Thee
that it pleases Thee
to sustain us
in this temporal life
and to supply all our needs.
We are especially grateful
that Thou hast regenerated us
unto the hope of a better life,
which Thou hast revealed unto us
in Thy holy Gospel.
We pray thee,
merciful God and Father,
that our hearts may not become
too deeply attached to these
earthly and perishable things,
but that we may always look heavenward,
expecting our Savior Jesus Christ,
until He shall appear
upon the clouds
unto our deliverance.

From the “Christian Prayers” of the Dutch National Church Liturgy, 1564.

A Psalm, Hymn, or Spiritual Song for the Lord's Day

17 November, 2010

Jerusalem Sinners in Need of Reformation

I have lived there.

I have lived in the Jerusalem for Reformed Christians. 12 years of it. I have attended two of the Christian colleges, one of the seminaries. I have worked for a Christian publishing house as well as a Christian psychiatric hospital. I would pass at least a dozen (or more) Reformed churches on my way to Church.

I have been in the restaurants and have heard people talking about BSF or the Catechism. I visited Mars Hill once. I know the difference between Heritage Reformed and Free Reformed. I know the difference between RCA, CRC, URC, PRC, FRC, HRC, IRC and NRC.

I know what happened in 1924 and why that little and insignificant seminary in Grandville is still angry about it. I have been to the intersection where there is a Reformed church on each corner, literally.

I have seen love grow cold, I have seen pastors eaten alive, I have seen the deadness of dead orthodoxy. I have seen the love for anything but Confessional Christianity. I have seen the Jerusalem sinner. I have been the Jerusalem Sinner.

May the Lord Jesus Christ break through the religion and bring true revival and reformation.

09 November, 2010

Water Into ANYTHING BUT Wine

As I study the second chapter of the Gospel According to John, I am amazed at how many people doubt Jesus' miracle of turning water into wine. Some claim that the wine is non-alcoholic wine, some claim that it is some unfermented juice, and some even go as far as saying that it was water turned into water.

Here is one example of the text being explained away: Leslie Weatherhead proposes that, "The wine runs out. Water is served. Why that's the best joke of all! They lift their wine cups, as we do in fun when we shout, "Adam's ale the best of all!" The bridegroom is congratulated by the master of ceremonies, who carries the joke farther still. "Why you've kept the best wine until now." It requires only a servant going through the room into the kitchen for a wonderful rumor to start!" (Weatherhead, It Happened in Palestine, p.50)

Friends, a proposal such as the one above takes more faith than believing the Word of God! And the only authority is the author's own imagination. Help thou our unbelief!

As I read and as I meditate, I pray that God would help my unbelief. How often do we find ourselves attempting to explain away the Scriptures? Not just this text, but any text that confronts us with the will of God: Sabbath keeping, sacrificial giving, a circumcised heart. The wedding at Cana is the classic example of the difficulties that we find in our own heart to believe the Word of God.

May we be hearers of the Word, and doers also.

04 November, 2010

Reformation Day Meditation on Psalm Twenty Five

Some have asked about the Reformation Day Service at Faith OPC in Long Beach in which I participated. Below is the meditation on Psalm 25 that I delivered as we gave thanks to God for the work he has done in the Protestant Reformation.

Reformed Presbyterians have a long history of psalm mediation during public worship. To many it looks like a mini sermon on a psalm. We also have a long tradition of retelling martyr stories from the Killing Times in Scotland when 18,000 Reformed Presbyterians were put to death for their faith in the one true King and Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. Both of these elements of the RP tradition have been incorporated in the meditation. As you read through, please be in prayer that God would again move through the Spirit of His Son to reform the Church.


This afternoon we will meditate on Psalm 25: 8-15, and as we do so, we must remember that as we gather to worship God and to celebrate what he in the Protestant Reformation; we must also remember the price that was paid by many who have gone before us. The price that was paid by the faithful martyrs and contenders for this Reformed Faith.

Revelation 6:10 speaks of those martyrs and says, “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

Why are they able to stand before God and cry out? Look at our Psalm: Verse 8 reads, “The Lord is good and just; the way He’ll sinners show.” Friends, we gather to celebrate the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ has shown the way to sinners, sinners like you and me, and this psalm is calling on us to respond with praise and adoration and thanksgiving!

Verse 9, “He guides the meek in what is just, that they his path will know.” Friends, do you know this path? Have you bowed your knee to King Jesus as you confess the way to God is only through the son and that by faith alone by grace alone to the glory of God alone?

In verse 10 we see the result of this confession of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will keep his word; we will obey his covenant; our way will be loving kindness and truth! What a wonderful confession from the Psalmist. David here cries out that he knows the way of God and that this way has been revealed to him- and when we pause to meditate on the greatness of this fact, and as we reflect on what it means to live lives as sons and daughters of the reformation, we must be humbled. Humbled to to our knees in praise and thanksgiving. I am not worthy Lord. I am merely a sinner saved by grace. And this si what David does in our second stanza: My sinfulness is great. And great O Lord my blame, O pardon my iniquity, to glorify your name.

David understands that even in the state of grace his praise is hindered, his praise is not perfect. I must have my sin pardoned so that I may glorify your name! Have you considered that? Especially you young people- have you considered that if you are outside of the Lord Jesus Christ then you are unable to live out your chief end as our catechism calls it.

But in verse 12 we see something different. We see fearing the Lord leads to living unto his glory and fulfilling this chief end of man. The soul will see prosperity and the land his seed will own. Who owns the land? The seed, Christ, the inheritor of the nations as we already sang about this afternoon.

And as we move into verse 14, we must pause and think about close friendship with the Lord. Can you speak this way? Do you find this intimacy in your relationship with Christ- is he close to you or is he still out there- out there somewhere?

On May 11, 1684 there were two women who both saw Jesus Christ as their friend. They were both named Margaret. One was in her 60s and the other was only 15 years old. They lived in Scotland, and Scotland at that time was in the midst of a great war as those faithful to Christ were driven into the fields and away from their churches because many faithful Presbyterians would not acknowledge that the King was the head of the Church. They said that Christ was the head of the church, not the king... and because of this testimony they were persecuted.

Our two friends of Jesus, because they would not claim that the king was the head of the Church was arrested, like many others in this time. And not only were they arrested, but they were sentenced to death. They were taken to a little town by the ocean called Wigtown and there two stakes were set up in where the tide would soon come in and cover the poles.

The older Margaret was tied further our and the younger Margaret was tied closer to the shore where she could see Margaret. Friends gathered! Some cried. Others yelled, “Just say the king is the head of the church.” Neither Margaret wanted to betray their friend, Jesus Christ. Their savior and Lord.

The older Margaret struggled as the waters engulfed her and she died. A martyr for the sake of Christ. A martyr for this same Reformed Faith that is still confessed today.

One of the guards yelled to the younger Margaret: What do you see now, Margaret? She yelled back, “What I see is Christ wrestling there!” She knew the Lord was good and just and that close friendship with the Lord was hers because she was faithful to the covenant.

Another guard yelled, “Say God save the king!” Margaret yelled back, “I wish the salvation of all men and the damnation of none!” She refused to speak against her Lord and the Reformed Faith that she loved.

As the waters came to young Margaret they touched her toes and then her knees and then her waist. She began to sing. “The Lord is good and just, the way, he’ll sinners show, he guides the meek in what is just, that they his path will know.” The waters continued to rise and this Psalm that we are about to sing was on the lips of young Margaret as the waters of Wigtown swallowed her up and as she entered into the presence of the one we are here to celebrate today.

Some accounts of her death have her singing stanza 6 in the handout as the waters covered her face. “Close friendship with the Lord will all who fear him know; the knowledge of his covenant he unto them will show. My eyes upon the Lord continually are set; for he it is that shall bring forth my feet out of the net.”

Friends, as we sing this psalm, do so as young Margaret would have sung it. Sing it as if your soul depended on it. Sing it as a prayer that the Lord Jesus would build his church, and reform his church, and make her as a pure and spotless bride. Sing this psalm knowing the value of our reformed heritage, and the value of friendship with Christ.