Friday, July 31, 2009
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
Vain are the hopes the sons of men,
On their own works have built;
Their hearts by nature all unclean,
And all their actions guilt.
Let Jew and Gentile stop their mouths,
Without a mum'ring word,
And the whole race of Adam stand
Guilty before the Lord.
In vain we ask God's righteous law
To justify us now;
Since to convince and to condemn
Is all the law can do.
Jesus, how glorious is Thy grace!
When in Thy name we trust,
Our faith recieves a righteousness
That makes the sinner just.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
1) Reading the text clearly from the canonical Scriptures.
2) Explaining the meaning of it, once it has been read, in the light of the Scriptures themselves.
3) Gathering a few profitable points of doctrine from the natural sense of the passage.
4) If the preacher is suitably gifted, applying the doctrines thus explained to the life and practice of the congregation in straightforward, plain speech.
The heart of the matter is this:
Preach one Christ,
to the praise of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
This portrait says volumes about the significance of the time period leading up to and including the Reformation, and about the incredible treasure of having the Bible translated in your own language. Thanks be to God for raising up men like John Wycliffe!
Here is the plaque that accompanies the painting at St. James Clerkenwell.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Council of Nicaea closes. The first of the ecumenical councils (this one convened by Constantine), it officially condemned the teaching of Arius, who denied the fully deity of Christ.
Friday, July 24, 2009
by William Cowper, 1731-1800
What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy-seat!
Yet who that knows the worth of pray'r,
But wishes to be often there?
Pray'r makes the dark'ned cloud withdraw,
Pray'r climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings ev'ry blessing from above.
Restraining pray'r, we cease to fight;
Pray'r makes the Christian's armor bright;
And Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel's side;
But when thro' weariness they fail'd,
That moment Amalek prevail'd.
Have you no words! Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain;
And fill your fellow-creature's ear
With the sad tale of all your care.
Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To heav'n in supplication sent;
Your cheerful song would oft'ner be,
"Hear what the LORD has done for me!"
Thursday, July 23, 2009
"... we cannot find, encourage, and preserve the best contemporary music without knowing those marks of excellence that made the best of the past stand out and survive so long.In the rest of the article, Williams elaborates on each of the marks and gives specific examples (both good and bad). It is well worth getting a copy and reading it in its entirety.
What are those marks? There are at least five: (1) biblical truth; (2) theological profundity; (3) poetic richness; (4) musical beauty; and (5) the fitting of music to text in ways that enhance, rather than obscure or distort, its meaning.
These are the marks of excellence in any age. They are not arbitrary but are derived from biblical teaching about the nature of worship (it is to be in spirit and in truth, and it involves loving God with our whole person, including the mind) and from an understanding of the nature of music and how it can support those biblical goals."
And though I've said it on this blog before, I'll say it again. If you do not currently subscribe to Touchstone, you are depriving yourself of possibly the best current example of literary excellence among all Christian journals. Click here to subscribe.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
One of the ways you will often hear Calvin described is fatalistic (i.e., since God is sovereign over all things, it doesn't matter what we do and thus things like prayer become meaningless). Of course, those who describe him in this way rarely know anything about him and have probably never read anything by him. But this characteristic is clearly dispelled in the portion that I read this morning from Book III, Chapter 20 - "Of Prayer - A Perpetual Exercise of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived from It."
Does this sound like someone who believes in fatalism?
It is very absurd, therefore, to dissuade men from prayer, by pretending that Divine Providence, which is always watching over the government of the universe, is in vain importuned by our supplications, when, on the contrary, the Lord himself declares, that he is "nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth" (Ps. 145:18).
"We silence ourselves exactly because God has not kept silent. We silence ourselves in order to hear God speak in His Word (cf. Deut. 27:9) We silence ourselves to show our assent to God's charges against us (cf. Ps. 39:9). We silence ourselves to show respect and obedience and humility and restraint (cf. Zeph. 1:7; I Cor. 14:34; I Tim. 2:12). We silence ourselves to search our hearts (cf. Ps. 4:4).
... Making silence together builds and unifies the church, witnesses to the majesty of God and tacitly proclaims His greatness to all who hear."
Monday, July 20, 2009
If your high school literature class was like most, you will appreciate this more accurate reflection of Edwards' sermon.
And to listen to a free MP3 download of Max McLean's powerful presentation of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," click here.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention.Not surprisingly, there have been a few responses from evangelicals to what Schori called "the great Western heresy."
Here is one from Al Mohler.
Here is one from Richard Mouw.
And here is another from Scott Clark.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"...[T]he minister should resolve to study good books - the best books. I am amazed when I survey the Internet at both the wealth and poverty of information available there. The web is a dangerous place for someone who is not cultivating the biblical duty of discernment. It is not the 'go-to' place for most ministers to advance their theological education after Seminary. The minister should be devouring Calvin, Turretin, the British Puritans, the Dutch 'Second Reformation' Divines, the Scottish and American Presbyterians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and their modern heirs. The minister should read recent books, but read them with discernment. Most recent books are untested. Reading the older writers appreciatively allows us both to remain in the 'old paths' and to read recent literature without uncritical enthusiasm towards the contemporary."
-- Guy Waters
Friday, July 17, 2009
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
There's not a sparrow nor a worm
But's found in God's decrees;
He raises monarchs to their thrones,
And sinks them if he please.
If light attend the course I run,
'Tis he provides those rays;
And 'tis his hand that hides my sun,
If darkness clouds my days.
When he reveals the Book of Life,
O may I read my name
Among the chosen of his love,
The followers of the Lamb!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
"A minister should keep good literary company..." -- R. Scott Clark
-- The Second Helvetic Confession (1566)
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Erskine's poetic rendering of the Ten Commandments could be a helpful tool for children (or adults) wanting to memorize them.
The Ten Commandments
Ralph Erskine, 1863
1. No God but Me thou shalt adore,
I am thy God alone.
2. No image frame to bow before,
But idols all dethrone.
3. God's glorious name take not in vain,
For be revered He will.
4. His sacred Sabbath don't profane,
Mind it is holy still.
5. To parents render due respect,
This may thy life prolong.
6. All murder shun and malice check,
To no man's life do wrong.
7. From thoughts of whoredom base abstain,
From words and actions vile.
8. Shun theft and all unlawful gain,
Nor gather wealth by guile.
9. False witness flee, and slandering spite,
Nor wilful lies invent.
10. Don't covet what's thy neighbor's right,
Nor harbor discontent.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I had no choice but to leave the church. My relationship with (spiritual noun) is better than ever. Now I meet regularly with my (relational noun, pl.) and talk about (noun that could be the focus of a liberal arts degree) and Jesus. We really care for each other. Sometimes we even (choose among: "pray for each other," "feed the homeless together," or "share power tools"). This is the church like it was meant to be. After all, (insert: "Where two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of you," or "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life," or " we don't have to go to church, we are the church"). I'm not saying everyone needs to do what I've done, but if you are tired of (compound phrase that begins with "institutional" or ends with "as-we-know-it"), I invite you to join the (noun with political overtones) and experience (spiritual noun) like you never will by sitting in a (choose among the following architectural put-downs: "wooden pew," steepled graveyard," "stained-glass mausoleum," or "glorified concert hall") week after week. When will the (biblical noun) start being the (same biblical noun)?
--Taken from Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
(43) Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. (44) And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. (45) Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
Monday, July 13, 2009
- It reads quickly and easily, much like Why We're Not Emergent.
- And like Why We're Not Emergent, DeYoung's chapters are more didactic and Kluck's are more narrative.
- Both men write with wit and humor, which makes for enjoyable reading.
- The book provides a realistic and honest discussion of actual problems with the church (problems often posed by critics), but it does so without discrediting the value and necessity of the church.
- They respond to the church's critics head on but with charity and humility.
- It is a clear and sound call for believers to love that institution which Christ shed his precious blood for, namely the church.
- It is a great book to give to all the twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings you know who have become disillusioned with the church.
- Along those same lines, I would think it would be a very helpful book to give to college students (especially those at Christian colleges who sometimes see little need for the local church).
- Chapter 6 ("Brief Interviews: Snapshots of Churched People") seemed unnecessary and out of place.
- There were several typos throughout the book. I'm not sure if Moody Publishers are to blame or the authors themselves, but it needed better editing.
- On the whole though, I found it to be helpful and would certainly recommend it.
- And I think it accomplished its stated purpose:
My aim is to present to the body of Christ, and for anyone else who cares to listen, a picture of why we should be in the church. Indeed, being a part of a church - and learning to love it - is good for your soul, biblically responsible, and pleasing to God.
And I don't mean the "church" that consists of three guys drinking pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks talking about the spirituality of the Violent Femmes and why Sex in the City is really profound. I mean the local church that meets - wherever you want it to meet - but exults in the cross of Christ; sings songs to a holy and loving God; has church officers, good preaching, celebrates the sacraments, exercises discpline; and takes an offering. This is the church that combines freedom and form in corporate worship, has old people and young, artsy types and NASCAR junkies, seekers and stalwarts, and probably has bulletins and by-laws.
The church we love is as flawed and messed up as we are, but she's Christ's bride nonetheless. And I might as well have a basement without a house or a head without a body as despise the wife my Savior loves.
--Taken from the Introduction (written by Kevin DeYoung)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
John Newton, 1725-1807
Now may the Lord reveal his face,
And teach our stammering tongues
To make his sovereign, reigning grace
The subject of our songs.
No sweeter subject can invite
A sinner's heart to sing,
Or more display the glorious right
Of our exalted King.
Grace reigns to pardon crimson sins,
To melt the hardest hearts;
And from the work it once begins
It never once departs.
The world and Satan strive in vain
Against the chosen few;
Secured by grace's conquering reign,
They all shall conquer too.
'Twas grace that called our souls at first;
By grace thus far we've come;
And grace will help us through the worst,
And lead us safely home.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Christ, Or Else I Die
William Hammond, 1719-1783
Gracious Lord, incline Thy ear;
My request vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry:
Give me Christ, or else I die.
Wealth and honor I disdain,
Earthly comforts, Lord, are vain;
These can never satisfy;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
Lord, deny me what Thou wilt,
Only ease me of my guilt.
Suppliant at Thy feet I lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
All unholy and unclean,
I am nothing but sin;
On Thy mercy I rely;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
Thou dost freely save the lost;
In Thy grace alone I trust.
With my earnest suit comply;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
Thou dost promise to forgive
All who in Thy Son believe;
Lord, I know Thou canst not lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
As I said before, this looks to be a very worthwhile few days focusing on a significant subject.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
M. Justin Wainscott, © 2009
That sacred stream which ever flows,
Flows from the Savior's wounds,
Does in the souls of saints compose
Sweet, Christ-exalting tunes.
So let the saints in chorus flood
This place with songs of praise;
And sing of Christ's redeeming blood,
And marvel at his grace.
The precious wounds of Christ above -
His hands, his feet, his side -
Stand as a witness to his love
For us, his ransomed bride.
Those wounds which paid our sinful debt
Remove all grounds for pride;
For God's requirements all were met
When Christ our Savior died.
So let us boast in him alone,
And in the wounds he bears;
Since he who sits on heaven's throne
Those sacred scars still wears.
And when before that throne we stand,
And on our Savior gaze;
We'll truly come to understand,
His wounds deserve our praise.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
by Wendell Berry, 1980
For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.
I read of Abraham's sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.
I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.
And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.
-- John Angell James, "Religious Education of Children, a New Year's Address to Parents and Ministers" (1846)
Monday, July 6, 2009
Here is a look at their topics:
"The Preaching of the Reformers: Martin Luther and John Calvin" (Steven Lawson)The thought of these topics alone make this a very desirable conference to attend. If you are in relative proximity to Mobile, Alabama (or have the means to travel there), I would encourage you to try and go. The conference is scheduled for September 28-29.
"The Preaching of the Puritans (I)" (Joel Beeke)
"The Preaching of the Puritans (II)" (Joel Beeke)
"The Preaching of the Great Awakening: Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield" (Steven Lawson)
"The Preaching of the 19th Century: Archibald Alexander and Charles Spurgeon" (Steven Lawson)
"The Preaching of the 20th Century: Martyn Lloyd-Jones and James Montgomery Boice" (Steven Lawson)
-- Taken from Calvin's Institutes (3.12.8)
Sunday, July 5, 2009
"Called to be saints" (Romans 1:7)
We tend to regard the apostolic saints as if they were saints in a more special manner than the other children of God. All are saints whom God has called by His grace and sanctified by His Spirit. The nearer a man lives to God, the more intensely he mourns over his own evil heart. The more his Master honors him in His service, the more also does his evil flesh tease him daily. The fact is, if we had seen the apostle Paul, we would have thought him remarkably like the rest of the chosen family. If we had talked with him, we would have said, "We find that his experience and ours are much the same. He is more faithful, more holy, and more deeply taught than we are, but he has the same trials to endure."
Do not look on the ancient saints as being exempt from infirmities or sins. Do not regard them with that mystic reverence which will almost make us idolaters. Their holiness is attainable even by us. We are called to be saints by that same voice which constrained them to their high vocation. It is a Christian's duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship. We have the same light that they had, and the same grace is accessible to us. Why should we rest satisfied until we have equaled them in heavenly character? They lived with Jesus and for Jesus . Therefore, they grew like Jesus. Let us live by the same Spirit as they did, "looking unto Jesus," and our saintship will soon be apparent.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Honoring God Before Country
As we celebrate the independence of our great nation, we acknowledge God's bountiful blessings and providential care throughout our history.
We acknowledge the courageous and sacrificial service of so many men and women who fought and are fighting for the freedoms we enjoy and so often take for granted. With deep gratitude, we recognize and remember those who gave their lives defending those freedoms.
We acknowledge those who have gone before us to help shape and form these United States.
And we acknowledge the wonderful opportunities and benefits afforded to us simply by being American.
But as Christians, while still being grateful and mindful of this wonderful nation of ours, we celebrate a far greater freedom today - freedom from sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus on this day it becomes especially important for us to remember and confess that we are Christians first, then Americans.
We acknowledge God before country; the Cross before the Stars and Stripes; and the Bible before the Declaration of Independence. Our primary loyalty is to Jesus Christ and his kingdom, which is made up of people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
So we proclaim today that "our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20).
Speakers include Daniel Akin, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Michael McKinley.
God Exposed will call pastors and church leaders to embrace and defend expositional preaching as a means to strengthen and grow the church. Expositional preaching - that which has as its aim to explain and apply a particular portion of God's Word - is especially important in a day when many are abandoning faithfulness to the Scripture in their pulpit ministries. This conference will encourage and train pastors whose primary calling is ministering the Word of God to their people.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
- Registered users place at least $25 worth of merchandise in your shopping cart.
- During checkout type the text July2009 in the Coupon or Customer Code box.
- Select Economy Mail as your shipping method.
- Shipping charges will automatically be removed from your order.
In addition, DeYoung and Kluck were the guest voices today in the "On Faith" section of The Washington Post, which can be read here.