Sunday, December 31, 2006

If you are having a hard day at work, watch this and realize you are not alone

This is one of those videos that make you feel sorry for the person, and at the same time make you laugh. He was certainly having a hard day. Here is an interview with more information.

Look up. Look waaaay up, and I'll call Rusty.

For those of you who are old enough to remember this phrase, it will remind you of the children's show The Friendly Giant. It was one of those shows that I always enjoyed watching as a child, and thinking back it not only introduced me to many books, but also to various types of music. Having said that, this post has nothing to do with it. Instead it has to do with looking up to the sky at night to see the various constellations. I don't know how many of you have done this. I was always somewhat interested in it, but it was not until I took an astronomy course in University that I really got hooked. For several years I would look at my star charts and try to find various constellations. However, during my seminary years I didn't have time to do this, and now I find that I have forgotten much of what I had learned. Internet to the rescue. At this site you will find a free document entitled What's Up 2007: 365 Days of Skywatching. If you want to know more about what you can see each night through this coming year, have a look. A brief warning though, it is 410 pages long so you might not want to print off the whole thing.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two Calls to Pray

Today two calls to prayer were sent out into the blog-sphere. The first, which seems less dangerous is for Dr. Al Mohler. At his blog the following is posted: Dr. Albert Mohler is recovering at Louisville's Baptist East hospital following abdominal surgery. Dr. Mohler was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday after experiencing abdominal pain. During a three-hour procedure, surgeons removed scar tissue from a 1980s operation. Dr. Mohler is expected to be released from the hospital next week and will continue his recovery at home. Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology and Senior VP for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will host The Albert Mohler radio program until he is able to return to the air. Dr. Mohler's blog and commentary posts will resume as soon as he is able. Please join the Southern Seminary community in praying for Dr. Mohler's quick and total recovery. The second, which seems much more concerning is that of Dr. James Kennedy. On Reformation 21 Rick Phillips posted the following: Please pray for Dr. D. James Kennedy, his wife and daughter, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Dr. Kennedy is in grave condition following a heart attack last evening. Jim's health has deteriorated markedly in the last several months, and he has manfully continued his ministry to the best of his ability. During all my interactions with him even during this trying time, he has exhibited his characteristic good cheer, charm, and force of mind. Along with being a man with great vision for the kingdom of Christ, Jim Kennedy is a true Christian gentleman. Please pray for God to restore him to full health and give him grace as his situation should require. He posted a further update here. Although these are widely different situations, both carry with them struggle and danger. Please pray for these men as they go through these bitter providences, that in them God's grace may be shown to be sufficient and that his power may be made perfect in their weakness. To God be the glory.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Seriously Merry Christmas

Since I have posted the rather tongue in cheek Merry Christmas for those who are 24 fans, I wanted to post a more serious Christmas greeting. As we worshiped today we remembered together the amazing truth that the Son of God came from the glories of heaven, not grasping the equality to God that is his, but rather pouring himself out into a human being born to an unwed mother and laid in a manger because there was not room in the inn. It is the glory of God with us, come to save us, and who would humbly and obediently go to death, even the shameful death on the cross. With that in mind, a blessed Christmas to all of you. Enjoy. HT: Denny Burk

Merry Christmas (Especially for you 24 fans)

I am not a huge fan of 24, probably because I have not watched enough of it to be able to follow the plot line without going back. The few times I have watched it, it has looked like the sort of show I could get into if I had the time to devote to catching up. Sadly, I don't, but I can still recognize good parody. :) So to everyone, a Merry CHRISTmas, and enjoy HT: Biblical Christianity

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tis the Season For Lists

It seems that as we come to the end of any given year, we are surrounded by various lists. To add to that, here is a list of the geekiest animals ever. Click Here

Christmas Lights

Have you ever wondered where those Christmas lights you put up came from? Well, here is an interesting video about how those made in China Christmas lights are put together. For more information check out Lights of Christmas HT: Random Responses

Saturday, December 16, 2006

George Street

The more I consider it, the more I think we make evangelism much too difficult. The thinking today is that one must do so many different things to successfully lead people to Christ. Yet, if the word of God is true, the success in evangelism is in his hands not ours. What we are called to do is as clearly and politely as we can present the gospel to people. Maybe we will not see the results ourselves, but God said his word will not return to him void, but will accomplish what he desires. As a reminder of that I link you over to this audio account of a faithful little man as a reminder that God works as his people are faithful in presenting the message of Jesus Christ. More audio lessons can be found at Way of the Master

Friday, December 15, 2006

Women Talk More Than Men

Like this is a surprise. For years it has been denied, but now the research has come back and found that women talk 3 times more on average than men. For more information, check out this article.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Interesting Contest

I heard about this contest from Biblical Christianity If I win I will be sure to blog about it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gift Exchanges?

Thankfully I seem to be past this point in my life, but I am sure that some of you are still involved in those group/office gift exchanges. You know the ones where everyone is supposed to purchase a gift in a certain value range, wrap it and put it under the tree. Then everyone draws a number and based on that picks a gift. The next person can either take that unwrapped gift or get one from under the tree. I always seemed to end up with something that no one else wanted, but another blogger has some good suggestions and warning on gifts for that sort of exchange. See Here

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cat QuizCat Quiz

HT: Annette
What breed of cat are you?
Your Result: British Shorthair

"Meow. I said meow! Where's my food?" All we ever hear about British cats in published material is that they're loyal and good hunters. But we British cat owners know that as house cats, you are quite useless, except maybe as very heavy heating pads. You are greedy, demanding, and narcissistic. Nevertheless, you are irresistible, so we end up worshiping you despite your obvious flaws of character.

Exotic Longhair
Scottish Fold
Devon Rex
What breed of cat are you?
Take More Quizzes

Monday, November 27, 2006

Advent Wreaths

As has been the practice in Reformed (RCA) and Christian Reformed (CRCNA) churches from the time I was a small child and before, our church uses an advent wreath to celebrate the season of advent and Christmas. I never really thought about it until several years back when I was searching for better advent readings than the ones the RCA had that year, and I found the pagan roots of this practice. Now, I have to say, this was an Internet article, so it would need more research on my part to verify the information found in it. Regardless of that, it made me start to consider whether this practice is something we should do in light of the regulative principal of worship. At first glance it may not seem that either of these denominations take this principal seriously in their practice. However, on look to the Heidelberg Catechism as it discusses the second commandment and you find the following:
Q & A 96

Q. What is God's will for us
in the second commandment?

A. That we in no way make any image of God
nor worship him in any other way
than he has commanded in his Word.

Notice the second part of this explanation of this commandment says that we should not worship God, "in any other way that he has commanded in his Word." That would mean that the official understanding of our standards is not that of, everything is permissible as long as God has not prohibited it, but rather, we can and should only do the things God commanded be done in worship. We officially believe the scriptures teach the regulative principle. I am still on the fence if I totally agree with the regulative principle, but I do find I am leaning more and more in that direction. That leads to my questions. First, how did two denominations that both believed in the regulative principle seem to abandon it and add things like advent wreaths? Second, what do those who read thing about the permissibility of advent wreaths based on the teaching of scripture. I know some of you simply like them, my question is not one of like of dislike, but are we wrong based on what the Bible teaches us to use them in worship? EDIT December 9, 2006 For more information and discussion on this topic see here and here at Challies Dot Com.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I am Still Here

It has been a long time since I have posted anything. Part of that is because I was on vacation (no Internet connection in Algonquin Provincial Park). The other part is that I have been ill with some nasty intestinal ailment that has hit everyone in our family. It started with Justin halfway through my vacation. I returned from Algonquin to a very sick boy and a rather frazzled wife. He seemed to get better by that Monday, so we proceeded with our plans for the second week of my vacation leaving Justin with his grandma and going to Toronto to visit friends and go to the Royal Winter fair. By that Monday evening, Annette was throwing up, with all the symptoms of what Justin had. By Tuesday morning, I had joined her, and we had found out that Justin was still sick (so this was not some one day thing). We decided to head home, and spent that week and the next (last week) feeling ill and weak and completely exhausted. The worst part of it, was that you would start to feel fine, start doing normal things (like work since last week I was officially back from vacation) and then with no warning you would feel horrible again. I am pretty sure I am over it now, but I also feel very behind in my work stuff. Last week was far from productive, and December, with all its busyness is coming. So far this week I have not had one of those relapses, although I don't have all my energy back either. It is because of all that that I have not been posting in the last while. Now that I am feeling more like myself, I hope to get back to things, but I need to catch up on work first.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sermons back on line

After a series of problems that came about because of changing my firewall software, the sermon hosting should be up and running again. Sermons from Bethel Exeter

What Can They Change With Photoshop

One of the things that is often forgotten today is the amazing power that advertisers have to change the images they use. There has always been the use of airbrushes in the past, but now with photoshop the power to change an image has gone far beyond what was possible before. Check out this video of how much images can be changed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Crazy World

I was reading the latest e-mail from and they had a link to a CNN story reporting on how a school has banned the game tag at recess. Once again the paranoia over lawsuits, and the strange idea that children should never be involved in anything rough and tumble have prevailed. I always enjoyed tag as a child, but I guess while the schools out there are promulgating a secular, postmodern, godless world-view, we can at least be sure that no child will ever run into another child and cause them to fall down or skin their knees/elbows/hands or anything else for that matter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Next Great Awakening

On the Ref21 blog Philip Ryken posted a very thought provoking quote by David Gelernter about where the next great awakening may start. Check it out

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


If you have been having trouble viewing the videos that I have posted, there is a good reason. Apparently there is currently a problem with Livejournal and a few different video hosting sites including photobucket. Since I use photobucket, the videos will not be visible until this problem is corrected. Simply know that they are looking into it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Radical Right Wing? So the federal Liberal claim.

Apparently Christians who are part of organizations like Focus on the Family, are now considered to be part of "Radical Right Wing Groups" according to the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. The article talking about this can be found here. I have to say that if these jokers get back in power it will be a difficult time for Christians in this country. I encourage all Christians here in Canada to write letters to your MP concerning this, and to spread this around so that people are aware of the views of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More on Brakes

Well, I seem to be having a problem that I can't nail down. I did the front brakes, replaced both calipers, pads and rotors. Took it out for a test drive and all seemed well except the rear brakes were making horrible noises. I did the rear brakes replacing both drums, shoes and springs. Now when I brake, I get a repeating thumping noise that slows down as the vehicle slows down. I'm not sure what the cause is. At first, since I didn't notice it when I had done the front brakes, I figured it was the rear brakes not being quite adjusted even though it felt and sounded like the noise was coming from the front drivers side. Checked the rear brakes again to make sure everything was the way it should be. Took it out for a drive still heard and felt the thumping. Decided to do the drive by test with my wife to see where the noise was coming from. She heard it from the front drivers side. So, I pulled that side apart, but everything looks good. It could be a defective rotor, so I may just get it replaced, but then again, it could be a defective caliper, or something I else I am overlooking. If anyone who is experienced with brakes reads this, suggestions are always appreciated.

Sermon Series on James

I have been regularly adding streaming mp3s of the sermon series we are going through at Bethel. The last two sermons are: It Isn't Nothing, It Is War -- James 4:1-10 (Part 1) and He Gives More Grace -- James 4:1-10 (Part 2) The whole series can be found here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Will The Youth Stay?

Here is an interesting article discussing a current concern in evangelical circles that only 4% of the teens will remain in the church when they grow up. I'm not sure how true the numbers are, but I debate some of the approaches I have seen that are attempting to keep the youth. If we think that we can do so by putting on a better 'show' than the world or by providing things like rock climbing walls, I think that it is doomed to fail because the world will always do that better. Those may be tools to get them in a place where you can teach them, but too often the teachings I have seen in those settings are mere moralism, not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Too often the attempt is to inculcate Christian 'values' without realizing that the problem is one of world-view. I am still thinking of this, and having few teens in our congregation due to a church split that happened long before I arrived on scene, I am far from an expert, but, I do that the word of God seriously when it teaches that faith comes from hearing the word of God preached. That faith bring a change in world-view so one is no longer modern or post-modern or whatever else, but Christian in their world-view. I am rambling, and the brakes of our car are calling. I will have to re-read this and think more to clarify things.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brake Jobs

I am quite pleased with myself. I did the front brakes on my wife's Mazda Protege. I always thought that brakes were something really difficult to fix. But, compared to putting a computer together, it is no more difficult. In fact, it actually easier. There are only two springs, two pins, two bolts, two pads and one rotor. Now the front brakes work wonderfully, but the rear not so much. Now that the front brakes are quiet you can hear the rear drum brakes making lots of noise. I pulled them apart, and found that they are disparately in need of repair, so that is the next thing on my list. My hopes are, that although they are more complicated, they will be as quick to do as the front brakes. I have the parts on order, and they should be in tomorrow. I have the car jacked up and the drums off, so I am ready to go tomorrow.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Eight Reasons For Not Sharing Your Faith?

Recently I have been preaching to remind people of the great good news of the gospel that we have been given to share. I have done this first to remind them of that good news because it is easy to forget it over time and not live in it's joy as we should. The second reason is to seek to move them to actually get involved with unbelievers by realizing the power of the good news of Jesus Christ lies not in them, or even in their fine words and arguments to the truth of the gospel, but in God. I want them and myself to realize that the power of God is active in the message of the cross, so we can be freed to speak it not depending on ourselves, but on God to work through it by the Holy Spirit. In that line of thought I stumbled upon this video posted by the people at The Rebelution speaking of eight reasons the main character in this short video does not share his faith with others. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One Sermon A Week?

I stumbled on to this post on The World From Our Window blog. In it Ken Fields gives some very good reasons for a pastor with a family to only preach one sermon a week. I don't know if I agree with him completely, but as Justin grows I find that he want to play more, and often I need to keep working to get both sermons done for Sunday. After a while this gets to be a fairly grueling schedule, and I don't get all the work into a sermon that I know I should. By that I mean I start to cut corners, simply to get the sermon finished. With that in mind I have a tendency to agree with him. Yet, I know I could do more than 4 sermons a month, but doing 8 in a typical month becomes mentally challenging. Add the special services (which thankfully my board of Elders will often cut out other services so the preaching load doesn't go up too much) such as Christmas and our practice of doing a New Year's Eve and New Year's Day service, and it can quickly make sermon prep something that disappears for the need to have the sermons done. Not to mention making it easy to neglect family time completely. I know some pastors who have on evening a month off, and others who have something like that and get off a whole Sunday when there are 5 Sunday's in a month. Something like that certainly helps to deal with things like this. At the very least this has got me thinking about what is best for those I am called to preach to, my family, and myself.

Flash Drives Are Great . . . But

Today was one of those days. I woke up, having not slept very well, with a fuzzy head. Not really a headache, but just mentally tired. I figured it would not be a particularly productive day, but I set to work none the less. I did the editing for the upcoming broadcast of our worship service, and got that rendering. Got the order of worship all laid out, hymns picked and announcements written. I even had several pages done on my sermon. Thankfully it was only the sermon and bulletin information saved on the flash drive, because about 4pm my darling son decided that he should push my laptop off the table where I had set it so I could put his sweater on so he could go for a walk with his mom. It landed on the flash drive bending it over. That in itself would not have been fatal, but in bending it over one of the small components that is surface mounted right near the plug end was pushed off the board of the flash drive. So now I have a flash drive with quite a lot of information that will not work. I did try re-attaching the part in hopes that I could get it to run long enough to get the data off of it, but I put in on backwards and while the drive was recognized, it gave an error. So, I tried to switch things around, only to break off what little bit of connection was left. I figure that pretty much does it for that drive. At least it was only a $40 flash drive, and not my $900 laptop. The information is not irreplaceable as all the stuff I also have as hard-copies except for the stuff I had been working on today. On the positive side, I got some work in with my soldering iron, and found my hand is getting better at that :)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Excellent Statement on the Biblical Roles of Men and Women

Annette found this excellent statement on the role of men and women as taught in Scripture. It is balanced and seems to seek to reflect the Bible's teaching on these topics. Check it out.

Friday, September 15, 2006

To View Videos

I heard from my wife that some of her friends were having problems viewing the videos I have posted. They both use Internet Explorer. Other than my constant suggestion to people that they should switch to Firefox the fix for this problem (if you are facing it) is to get the newest flash player. You can download it from Adobe here. I hope that helps people out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Toronto Sola Scriptura Conference Blogger Get Together

Carla Rolfe has suggested that at the Toronto Sola Scriptura conference, that various bloggers try to get together. Early on my wife Annette and I chimed in that we would be there, and now Tim Challies has announced it in his blog as well. If you are interested, it would be great to have you come out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Don't Waste Your Life

If you want an excellent book written by one of my favorite authors, John Piper, absolutely free, go to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to get one. I particularly encourage those who read this blog who are interested in what Christianity is all about, and why following Jesus is not wasting your life to take advantage of this.

Monday, September 04, 2006

One More Justin Video

I know some of you might be finding this uninteresting, but what can I say, I am a proud daddy. One of the things my wife does is dog sit. This past weekend we were dog sitting an English Setter by the name of Spirit. She is great with kids, and Justin very quickly discovered that. Here are several videos edited together of him and Spirit.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Some more videos of Justin from our last vacation

While we were camping there we a few rainy days, and Justin discovered the joys of mud puddles with a little encouragement from his mom. He also had fun running back and forth looking at the turkeys at the CNE agricultural pavilion. And finally we have Justin at the CNE petting zoo. And after a long day of seeing exciting things . . . Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Videos of my boy

Here are some videos taken with my digital camera of my son Justin. This first one was taken when we were camping in July. My mother was dog sitting, and we came over to visit as where she was dog sitting had a pool. The dog named Wiley is a friend of our dog Riley since they were both puppies, and he is great with kids--much better than Justin. Well, Justin realized this very quickly how fun Wiley is. Here is the result. The next video is from the same trip, but at our campsite. Justin discovered that he could sit in Sassy's food dish when it was empty. Here is the result. Finally, from our most recent trip here is a video of Justin at the Seal enclosure in the Toronto Zoo. Part of me wishes I had my good video camera with me for these scenes, but I am very happy we have these memories stored even if the quality is not what I might like. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm Back

I have returned from our week away. Of course you probably noticed that already with the previous post :) The time away was great. It was an opportunity to recharge my batteries through rest and reading. During the time away I read Hitting The Bullseye by Paul D. Borden and Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller. Both books deal with church growth, but they are as different as night and day. Paul Borden takes a very business like approach to the problem of shrinking churches, and while what he states as being his reasons for wanting the church to grow are biblical, I could not help but question whether the way he encourages it to be done is the correct one. It seems like the pragmatic approach. It certainly has been effective in his own setting of the American Baptist Church. But, it seems to be very mercenary and lacking in taking a whole biblical approach. This is not to say that he did not have some good points. His understanding that the local church is the fundamental unit for church growth is right on and very biblical. His view that higher judicatories exist primarily to strengthen the local church in fulfilling the great commission is also right on. It is something that the RCA should take seriously in considering out 10 year goal. At least here in Canada, we send lots of money to the US end of the RCA, and see little or none of it back to our local congregations. I wonder what it would be like if the GS cut all those various groups and offices that we are supporting that have nothing to do with the 10 year goal, and put that money into directly assisting the churches in fulfilling the great commission. Better yet, let the local church keep the money and use it to minister the gospel in their local setting. Having said that, reading Paul Borden did not encourage me, or even really challenge me in my own walk of faith. On the other hand Outgrowing the Ingrown Church was a whole other situation. In is John Miller constantly went back to scripture to exhort, encourage, and correct the things that have gone wrong in congregation that have become ingrown. As I read it I was many times moved to repent of having become as ingrown as the congregation I pastor. I was challenged again and again to come to a full understanding of the gospel promises found in scripture that are fulfilled in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in all those who believe. I was made aware again and again that the many ways that I, like the congregation I serve, have become more and more ingrown. I was also reminded that it a lack of faith in the power of the gospel that lies at the heart of this inward focus. This book is one that I would recommend to others, and which I want to read again taking more time, so that I can work through what I need to do to live as a gospel minister. As I do so, I will hopefully post my thoughts as I go through it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


What cartoon are you?

American Dad

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Camping at a New Place

Today we head out for a much needed week off. I don't know what it was about this summer, but I have been very close to burn out a few times. Perhaps it is the emotions of the second miscarriage we have went through as a couple along with various concerns of the church, but I am completely done. I am really looking forward to getting away for a while, and I hope it will help recharge my emotional and spiritual energy. We will be camping at Glen Rouge Campground. It is a campground in Toronto. After doing some asking around, it seemed like it would be nice, and our hope is to do some day tripping in Toronto (CNE, visit friends, maybe the zoo and/or a museum) so its location is excellent as it is walking distance to the Toronto Bus system. Now hopefully, we did not make the wrong choice. I will tell you when we return.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Canadian Funded Media Twists Words of Prime Minister

I found this following video linked from Grey In Black and White, and it is yet another example of the problem with media today and how easily they can edit what is said to spin it to mean what they want, not what really happened. As a former film student, I have always been facinated by how editing of video and how the clips are put together can completely change the message being given. Watch and learn how important it is to think carefully about what it being presented in the news.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eucharistic Theology

No surprise here. Ok, I was surprised that it called me a Nestorian, but then the questions don't allow for the permanent union of Christ's two natures, while at the same time recognizing that his body is human and thus limited as to time and space while in his divinity he is ubiquitous. Edit: I removed the Nestorian part. (HT: Ars Theologica )
You scored as Calvin. You are John Calvin. You believe only those who have faith are united to Christ, who is present spiritually, yet you call this "Real."











Eucharistic theology
created with

Monday, August 14, 2006

Please Pray

Saturday we received a call from Annette's mom, that one of her second cousins died in a farm accident, he was only 12 years old. For more information look here and here. Prayers for that family as they go through this difficult time would be appreciated. The funeral is on Wednesday.

Browser Stats

"I was looking a the visitor stats on my blog, and one of them is what browsers people are using. I find it very interesting that 52% of the people who view my blog are using Firefox. I actually expected that the majority would be Internet Explorer, but I guess the word is getting out on how nice Firefox is. Having said that, these values are probably influenced by my advocating the use of Firefox to my friends and relatives who probably make up much of the readership on my blog.
Percent Browser Name Version
52 52.00% Firefox 1.5.0
36 36.00% MSIE 6.0
10 10.00% Safari 1.2
1 1.00% MSIE 7.0
1 1.00% Konqueror 3.4"

Saturday, August 12, 2006

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 (ESV) Thanksgiving 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. As is found in the beginning of virtually all Paul's letter, here following the opening greeting we find a section of thanksgiving. In light of the problems that will be found in the Corinthian church in the rest of this letter, it may see surprising how thankful Paul was. He writes that he gives, "thanks to God always" for them. In spite of the sin that is allowed to run rampant in that church, the divisions between its members over incorrect things, their questioning of Paul's apostolic authority, and several other things, Paul still thanks God for them, not just sometimes, but always. Notice however, that Paul's thanksgiving to God for them is based firmly in what God has done in the Corinthians. It is because of the gifts of grace given by God in Jesus Christ to them, that Paul is able to thank God for them. For, that grace of God in Christ given to them, is a confirmation of the testimony about Christ that they have received. It is evidence that God is working in them and through them to make them more and more his people. Paul first pointed to the fact that God in his gifts to them enriches them in all ways, however, there are specific gifts in mind here as well. The grace that God has given in Christ is that he had enriched the Corinthians in Christ, "in all speech and all knowledge." The first enrichment is in all speech or logos. Although most English translations translate this as "speech," as Gordon Fee points out in his commentary, this word is used throughout 1 Corinthians in the context of spiritual utterance. At the very least the speech here is not merely the controlled tongue that James speaks of in James 1:26, but also has something to do with words of edification that teach spiritual truths. This is something that Paul will return to in the letter The second specific gifts is that of knowledge or gnosis. Again this is probably speaking of knowledge given by the Spirit of God, and again Paul will return to it in this letter. In both cases, although Paul is thankful to God for the Corinthians for these gifts, they are also things that are part of the problem in Corinth. These gifts that Paul repeatedly points out here are given in Christ, had become points of pride and stumbling in the Corinthian church. In spite of that, Paul is still thankful to God for them. That catches me short, for I wonder how often am I thankful to God for the people of God I know or minister to when they take the gifts they have in Christ, and misuse them, making them points of pride or division? Yet, here we see Paul was thankful for them. Yes, he will go on and correct the abuses, but he does not let that abuse remove the great truth that these people are God's people in Christ. That in Christ they have been given everything they need, even though they don't always use it the way they should. They too are people who are looking and waiting for the return of Christ. Paul then ends pointing out that since the grace of God was given to them in Christ and that they had been enriched in every way in Christ, that it is he who did this who will also keep them strong to the end so they will be blameless on the day of our Lord. There were problems in the Corinthian church, but Paul knows that God will not abandon his people. Those things need to be cleaned up, but God who gave the gifts in Christ, will also work in them to make them blameless. "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." Paul has such confidence in the effective working of God in his people, the he reminds the Corinthians that God is faithful. If he has done what he has done among them in his Son Jesus Christ, he will not leave them. No he will strengthen them. Again, this is a reminder I need. Often it seems that in my own life and ministry I am weak and unable to do the task set before me. While some of that is incorrect expectations both from myself and my congregation, I believe most of it is my own weakness that requires God's strengthening to keep me blameless. The reminder of God's faithfulness to complete what he has started, encourages me in those times when I am wondering if I can go on, or if my ministry is of any use at all. It strengthens me to know that when I am weak and helpless, God will strengthen me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (ESV) Greeting 1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I am hoping to try something a little different in my personal Bible study and blog. For the last several years I have been reading through my Bible in it entirety using various Bible reading plans. I have found that to be of great value to me, but often I would like to take some more time on a specific book in the Bible and spend time considering and meditating on it in depth. So after some consideration, I thought I might do that with 1 Corinthians. I considered doing Acts, but for some reason 1 Corinthians seems more appropriate. With that in mind, I hope to post my thoughts on various passages as I work my way through. Whether you find them helpful or not, or even insightful at all, I will try to post them. As I considered these opening verses in this letter, the first thing that struck me was in verse 2 the phrase, "to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" What struck me was the repeated use of words that point to holiness. Those who are sanctified are those who are set aside as holy to God. The saints are the holy ones. As I considered what I know of the Corinthian situation--the well known wickedness of the city of Corinth itself, the sin in the congregation of the Corinthians seen in things like the sexually immorality of a man having his father's wife, the divisions among the congregation with some following Paul, some Apollos, some Cepheus, and things like that--this reminder of the calling of the people to be holy ones and their being sanctified in Christ seems very appropriate. The Corinthians needed that reminder that holiness is basic to the call and working of God in their life in Christ. In today's world, where wickedness is found on all sides, where sex is flaunted and used to sell, where coveting is encouraged by the advertising industry to sell more product, where people seek to design their own definitions of what is right and wrong, where millions of unborn babies are put to death, and the list goes on; this word is needed. I need it, because I can very easily start to forget the importance of holiness. Not forgetting in an intellectual manner, but in a practical one. I need to be encouraged by these words to realize that God's working in me in Christ is to sanctify me and call me to be a holy one, so that I seek to live that calling in my day to day life, fleeing from temptation and striving to live as God has called me in love for him. Since it is God who calls me and all those who are his to this, I think that implies that for us to live it out can only be done by his enabling. In ourselves we do not have what is needed, but in Christ we are sanctified. So, for us to live sanctified lives requires living in Christ every day, abiding in him as he called us to do. It is only in him and from him that the reality of this will ever work its way out in the day to day living of life as one called to be a saint.

A Rather Interesting Use of Treadmills.

Found this linked at Challais and thought it was a rather interesting use of treadmills

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Looks Like We Have Some Work To Do

I found this as I was browsing through some other blogs (HT: Ian Clary). As a parent who is hoping to home school our child, this approach intrigues me. It also makes me realize that I should have learned Latin long ago, and better start learning it now :)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Israel and Lebanon

As I have watched thing progress in that horrible situation in the Middle East, I keep wondering how I should respond. My views on Israel as well stated in this open statement. I also believe Israel has some right and responsibility to protect its citizens from terrorists. On the other side we find Hezbollah and their armament and terrorist activity. I in no way want to seem to endorse what they do. Yet, at the same time it seems Israel is not merely attacking Hezbollah, but also Lebanon and the citizens who have nothing to do with the terrorism. As I considered it, and listened to the many people raking Israel over the coals for what they are doing, I wondered how would people here respond? I know this is not a likely scenario, but imagine if you will that a terrorist organization against Canada was located in the US. They were building up arms there, and at the same time were supporting various terrorist activities in Canada. They also, from those arms they have built up, shot rockets across the border at Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Hamilton, Windsor and various other cities. If that were going on, how long would most Canadians wait before they started to demand that our government do something? I highly doubt it would be very long, and I highly doubt that the response would be to demand a ceasefire. I guess the same goes for Hezbollah. If someone came in and made a new country in land that our fore bearers had lived on for generations, I am sure we would be less than impressed. Being dispossessed and moved off as has happened there would certainly be something that would also raise our anger. It is things like that which lie behind what they do. Now don't misunderstand me here. I don't think either side is in the right. Both have done things that are reprehensible. Yet, into that situation we have these political pundits who say we should call for a ceasefire. All well and good, but at the same time it is sort of pie in the sky. Hezbollah will not be satisfied until Israel is gone, and Israel will not be satisfied until they believe Hezbollah is sufficiently disarmed. Neither side is being "measured" in what they do, and trying to get into their minds a little makes me wonder if we in our comfortable, secure homes can understand what is going on there. I know I can't. At that same time I know that any ceasefire will only be putting off of hostilities until one side or the other decides that they don't feel secure or effective any longer. Finally, all this reminds me, that the only lasting peace is one in which the walls of division are removed with the two people becoming one people. That will only happen when people are truly united in Christ, so my prayer is that in this situation, people who truly follow Christ will show that he is the Prince of peace who breaks down the wall of division to build one new people to the praise and glory of God.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chicken pox

It had to happen sooner or later, but Justin has chicken pox. Annette noticed the first spot yesterday, and today he has several more on his back. She took him in to see the doctor, and with one look he said, "Yup, its chick pox." So now we have a little boy who will start to get very itchy. I hope he doesn't get it as bad as I did. Of course I was 25 at the time, but I was very sick with a high fever. It was miserable, and frankly the itching was the least of my concerns when I had them. At least this is now out of the way for him.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It Must Be All The Robert Ludlum Novels I Have Been Reading

Justified Infiltration Machine

Hit Counter

Because I wonder how many people actually view my blog, I thought I would add a web-counter. After a little research I discovered how to do it, and there it is at the top of the page. It was easier than I thought it would be, and now I will know if people are reading, or at least how many :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Not The Vacation We Wanted

Today we arrived home from our week off. The weather was good, all be it, hot. The camping was lots of fun for Justin with lots of things to discover and get really dirty doing it. However, for myself and Annette, it was not what we had hoped for. Although we had not told anyone (some had guessed) Annette was pregnant. This was her third pregnancy, the first ended in a miscarriage, and the second in our wonderful boy Justin. We hoped that this would be the time for a brother or sister for Justin as we are now both in our 40's (I just turned 40 on Sunday), but that was not what was in the providence of God. On Monday the 10th, Annette told me she was spotting, and by the middle of the week we had lost the baby. Although it was only 2-3 months into the pregnancy, the loss is no less. Annette picked the name Angelina for our unborn baby. Rather than being restful, this vacation turned into a very tiring emotional stretch that left both of us drained. It was good to be together through this, and not have to work. I worked the last time and paid for it in being completely drained emotionally and from that physically for months afterward. This time I had the time to work through things a little, but it was not the vacation either of us wanted.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

At Least Some of my Hardware is Working Again

Although my video editing computer is still off-line (pretty much sure it is an overheated and cooked CPU) I have fixed the other piece of hardware that has been causing me problems, that is, my laser printer. It is a Samsung ML-1210 and has served printing sermons, agendas, letters, and a whole host of work related printing for the last 4-5 years. However, recently it has had problems feeding the printer. After some research I found that the paper feed wheel tends to dry up and get glazed over, so since the printer had stopped feeding paper at all, I decided to take it apart. It was actually quite easy to do. I opened it up, took out the paper feed wheel out and used some sandpaper to remove the glazing. Boy was it glazed and cracked. Then I cleaned the rubber wheel up with some cleaner, and put everything together. Other than one piece that I cannot figure out where it goes (a solid rubber cylinder that seemed to have no mounting point that fell off in my hand when I removed one of the parts) it is all back together, and everything works. It feeds paper again and prints just fine. Now I can print my sermons out on the printer I prefer. I am glad God has given me the ability to do things like this.

My Boy At One

It has been a year (a year and day to be exact) since Justin was born. I find that hard to believe. It certainly doesn't seem like a year, but it seems each day Justin gets bigger and bigger. He is starting to walk. I have seen him walk from one item of furniture to another in the living room, about five or six steps; and Annette has seen him walk across the kitchen. He will stand up on his own now without holding on to any furniture, and stand there waving whatever toy he happens to have in his hand. Come Saturday we will be celebrating his birthday, but to celebrate the day, here is a picture taken yesterday, his birthday, as he was eating lunch. Justin At One

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Video Computer Died

Well today we had to go out and run some errands. While we were out I thought I would download the video for our TV broadcast on to the computer we use for our editing. I started it up, and off we went. When we arrived back, the computer screen was blank and the computer was making a weird noise. I turned it off and back on again, and the same thing happened. So I opened it up and the problem became very apparent, the cpu cooling fan had stopped so the Athlon XP 2100 processor is now toast (sort of literally.) It is totally burned out. That means at the moment we don't have a video editing computer, which is a problem since we have a broadcast coming up this Sunday. After some thinking, I decided to take out the hard drive that has the raw video on it and put it on another much slower computer on our home network. That would allow me to copy the video file (if it was downloaded before the computer died) to my laptop (the only other fast computer we have which has a DVD writer) and do my editing on it. I did that, and after some trouble found that the video file was there. Now to copy a 16 Gigabyte file over a network connection. This is not a fast process. It will work for now, but I think I need to find a way to get my video computer back up and running. I figure since AMD has stopped making the Athlon XP processors a long time back, to do so will probably require purchasing a new motherboard, processor and ram (my current machine used SDRAM not the DDR ram that most current motherboards use.) Best case situation is probably about $200 before taxes. If editing works well on the laptop I could go a much less expensive route and purchase a firewire card for it. That would allow me to do all my editing on the laptop from taking the digital video off the tape to writing it back to DVD or videotape. Cost wise, the second option is much preferable. I guess I have some decisions to make.

Monday, July 03, 2006

RCA lack of stand on abortion

I once again read through the report of the commission on theology to the GS of 1984 entitled, "Moral and Spiritual Issued Raise by the Practice of Abortion." As I read it, I found I was simply made angry at its double speak. While it has a strong point, speaking the the need of strong covenant community, it does not actually address the moral issues of abortion. Instead as it draws to a close it states the following, Communally acceptable guidelines for the option of abortion will be available in such cases as early-teen pregnancies, incest, rape, life-threatening or health-threatening circumstances for the mother, or the high probability of a seriously defective child. In a covenantal community, however, many of these situations which otherwise would encourage abortion, should be less prevalent. The community will participate in, and accept responsibility for, birth decisions and abortion decisions if any. There will be frequent community experience of common prayer and common forgiveness. As I read that, and re-read that, I realized that our official statement to the world is that we see the real possibility of abortion for a whole host of reasons including a "high probability of a seriously defective child." All this flies in the face of the fact that all human beings are in the image and likeness of God, even those who has sever handicaps. Not to mention the number of times that I have had a couple come to me with the doctor saying that the ultrasound showed their baby would have a serious defect, only to have a healthy baby born. Not to mention those who have been born with a serious physical or mental problem, who are some of the most amazing babies that testify to the grace of God in the lives of his people. Such a stand, or lack of it, in my mind is yet another place were we have decided to abandon following our Lord and trusting his providence so that we can compromise with the world's view of things.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Started Pod-casting

In an attempt to keep up with technology, I have started to pod-cast the messages of our Sunday services. The podcasts are still in the formative stage, and will probably be plagued by problems as I work to incorporate all the aspects of a pod-cast to the feed. If you are interested check out Messages From Bethel Exeter

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

General Synod 2006

Another General Synod (GS) has come and gone. From the reports I have heard so far, I cannot say that I consider this a positive GS. The positive thing that I heard of was that the attitudes of the delegates was supposedly quite good. However, the that being said, the things that are important for the denominations ability to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, were not. The overtures dealing with the 3 year dialog on homosexuality were all turned down. There was some hope when GS voted against the recommendation by the advisory committee on the overture from Classis Ontario which called for the dialog to be clearly defined as dealing with how to minister to those struggling with homosexuality rather than dealing with whether it is sinful. However, simply voting down the recommendation does not mean the overture is accepted. When a friendly motion to that overture that was even more open in its statement was presented it was voted down. I cannot remember the wording of the final motion that was made on this, but I cannot say I was happy with it. I will try to get the actual text and comment on it more, but my take on it was that it still leaves open the door to trying to maintain unity with people who do the exegetical gymnastics needed to say that homosexual behavior is acceptable in certain settings. To say that is to strike to the heart of the good news that Jesus has not only faced the punishment our sins deserve, but that he has also set those who believe in him free from their bondage to sin because it still gives sin the upper hand. I don't know where this will lead, but I can't imagine it would be to a good place. The other overture that was basically buried was one from Classis California which called for severing our ties with the United Church of Christ in the USA. That denomination not only has a policy that encourages churches to accept and ordain practicing homosexuals, bisexuals, etc; but they also have in their fellowship several congregations that are Unitarian Universalists. This overture was declared out of order by the president of the GS because Classis California has not paid their entire assessments. This is not to say that I would have expected this overture to pass as similar ones have come in previous GS meetings and have not been supported. The final concern I have is the fact that the GS, unlike previous years, decided that the Lord's Day really isn't that important, so to cut the meeting length shorter by one day, they decided to do business on Sunday. As a person who is becoming more and more convinced that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, I doubt that such a move pleases God, nor will it be blessed by God. Even if Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath, it is a day that has been set aside for the worship of God through Christ. By making it into yet another business day, even when it is church business, removes what sets it apart. Once again we have all this talk about seeking to have the denomination grow, but we continue to think that we can have real growth while being in disobedience to God. To think that is not only arrogant, it is dead wrong.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dry Bones

I found this great quote from Matthew Henry as I was researching my Sunday sermon on Ezekiel 37:1-14. Here he is talking about how the Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophecy to the dry bones. But we call in vain, still they are dead, still they are very dry; we must therefore be earnest with God in prayer for the working of the Spirit with the word: Come, O breath! and breathe upon them. God's grace can save souls without our preaching, but our preaching cannot save them without God's grace, and that grace must be sought by prayer. Note, Ministers must faithfully and diligently use the means of grace, even with those that there seems little probability of gaining upon. To prophesy upon dry bones seems as great a penance as to water a dry stick; and yet, whether they will hear or forbear, we must discharge our trust, must prophesy as we are commanded, in the name of him who raises the dead and is the fountain of life.

Friday, May 26, 2006


One of the books I picked up while here at the Banner conference is, The Pastor in the Sick Room--Ministering the Gospel to Those one the Brink of Eternity by John D. Wells. Since it is a fairly small book (only 128 pages) I decided to start reading it while down here. It has been a fascinating read so far. As I was reading today there is one quote that struck me, so I thought I would share it: James M. Campbell, in his little book, Unto the Uttermost, has well said of the Christian ambassador, "Down to the dying moment he is to stand beside the sinner, telling of the mercy that stoops to receive the fragments of a wasted life; tell of the blood of sprinkling, and challenging earth and hell to show a sin it cannot cleanse."

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Sometimes I just need to post a picture of my boy, Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Not live blogging, but the best I can do

The Banner Conference is going great. It is a great blessing to have this opportunity to not only sit under the preaching of the word, but also to fellowship with like minded pastors and elders. As you can see I am trying to take the notes I write down and transfer them to blog entries. Since I am not a very rapid typist, and my hand writing is quite bad, this takes a fair amount of time. I also don't want to miss out on the free time when we can fellowship with one another. I have had the joy to be able to visit with ministers from several denominational backgrounds, and even with some from the RCA. Scott Peterson, Scott Nichols and Peter ? have been great to speak with, as we all share the same concern with the current situation in the RCA. It is good to know that there are pastors, even in the liberal east of the RCA, who are solid theologically and have been kept by God not bowing their knee to Baal.

Banner Conference 2006 -- Session #3 Philip Ryken "The Need for Reformation Today"

Philip Ryken spoke on Jeremiah 7:1-15. What we find here is that reformation starts with the preaching of the word of God. Jeremiah is preaching in the gate of the temple to all the people of Judah who had come there to worship. Perhaps, although we are not told, it was one of the high feasts (Passover or Tabernacles) when a great number of people would have been at the temple to celebrate. This preaching of Jeremiah also came at a pivotal point in the history of Judah. In Jeremiah 26 we find that this preaching of Jeremiah occurred following the reign of Josiah with all its reforms and at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim. That was a time of growing darkness and desperate need for reformation. The only way that reformation would come is through the proclamation of God's word. What we find here is that this proclamation of the word of God will face opposition. Jeremiah would be seized by the people for this as recounted in Jeremiah 26. The preaching of the word will be opposed and we should not be surprised by this. Instead we should persevere in preaching it. The reason the preaching of the word upsets people is that it points out that religious observance without moral obedience does not save. The people were religiously observant. They were coming to temple to worship. They would be what we call church goers. Yet, we find here that it is just these people who need reformation. So also today, reformation starts in the church, then brings change elsewhere. It starts in the hearts of the ministers of the word, and spreads out from there. That means that the problem is not just out there, it is in the church. The church needs a greater sense of God. That was the problem with the people of Judah. They were putting their trust in the external observances. They trusted in the temple--in its outward trappings and observances. We see a similar thing today in the focus on the visible--numbers, buildings, programs, cash--instead of the holiness of our members. When a church does that it is on its way to apostasy for the measure of a church is the power of God at work in it. Yet, we are tempted to look at externals like:
  • Self-help Christianity with its focus on what you do for God to make yourself better
  • Political Christianity that thinks the right party in government will make things all better
  • Style based Christianity that looks at outward style either traditional or contemporary
  • Or those who call for a new version of God
    • Love not justice
    • God of Uncertainty rather than certainty
    • God who is powerful but not sovereign
The temple became a place of superstitious trust. Do you religious duties and you will be safe. Then you can go and do your own thing all the rest of your life. In doing this the people misapplied what it means to be the elect people of God. That as the elect people of God they were safe even if they lived lives of sin. It was not the temple itself that was the problem, but their misplaced trust in the temple as if it protected them in such a way that the rest of their lives were unimportant. Looking at the list of things Jeremiah is told to confront them with it becomes apparent that they had broken every one of the ten commandments. Once again this is very similar to today. People are making their own laws, and no surprise they are against the laws of God. Even in the church today people are religious, but less moral. All this is an indication that people do not really know the God of the Bible, for they mistreat the poor and weak and helpless. It has been said the test of a nation is how they treat the weak and poor. Here we find that a similar test can be used for our own reformation. The truth of our spiritual reformation can be seen in how we treat the poor, weak and needy. The Jews thought reformation only had to do with temple things, not the whole of their life. It seems often people think the same today. They think God cares nothing for what they do through the week, but Jeremiah reminded then and reminds us that God is watching. He sees how we live. Religious observance without moral obedience is a faith that will not save, and the results are seen in Shiloh. That were where the tabernacle was located at one time, but because of the wickedness of the people it was only ruins when Jeremiah spoke to the people in the temple gates. He tells them go look at what religious observance alone brings. Go to the place where God was and find what happens to those who think this way. The people of Jerusalem thought this would never happen to them, but Shiloh was the location of the tabernacle and it was no more. The same would happen to Jerusalem, and too all who think and live the same way. We need to heed these words, and realize that reformation will start with the preaching of God's word used to change hearts and lives.

Banner Conference 2006 -- Session #2 Sinclair Ferguson "Jesus Christ The Church Builder #1

In this lecture Dr. Ferguson started to looks at Jesus Christ the church builder. In this first of two lectures, he looked at Matthew 16:13-28. This passage comes at a pivotal point in the gospel of Matthew. It is a turning point in the divine revelation of who Jesus is, and through the supernatural work of God in Peter, he confesses that Jesus is the Christ. Following this confession Jesus started to reveal more fully where the final destiny of his ministry would be, pointing the disciples to his suffering and death. It is in this context of the confession of Peter and the revelation of Jesus of his suffering and death, that Jesus gives the teaching concerning his building of the church. The particular verse in question has been one that has been much discussed. For the word "church" is not frequently used in the gospel. There is teaching concerning the new community that Jesus came to form, but the word "church" is not used. Following these things Jesus also told the disciples not to tell anyone. For while he spoke with more clarity, he did not speak with total clarity because the disciples understanding of him as the Christ lacked total clarity. With this in mind, Dr. Ferguson stated that his purpose in this lecture was to draw out various strands that show Christ as the great church builder. There are four things in particular that he wanted to examine. First, the church is central to the vision and work of Christ. This is something we really need to be convinced is true. Christ came not to simply save individuals, but to form a new people for himself. Central to the Father opening Peter's eyes to who Jesus is, is to show that Christ intends to build his church (ekklesia). This word in used in the LXX to speak of the gathered people of God, called out of Egypt, called out from the world, called out to worship, called out to community to assemble for Himself. Jesus speaks of one flock with one shepherd in John, and in the Luke 9 account of the transfiguation of Jesus we find he speaks with Moses and Elijah concerning his exodus (Luke 9:31) which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Jesus came to make a redeemed community, and his words were fulfilled at Pentecost where he starts to build his church in the power of the Holy Spirit forming a new community. This means we need to love the church and give ourselves for the church, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. It is the church that is the context for the transformation of our lives. It is there that we are fit together more and more, but this is slow work. It is the church that is the context for all NT evangelism, and there are little if any verses that speak solely of personal evangelism. We need to understand this. It is not about getting better movies to use for outreach. Evangelism is a church thing. Together the people of God are the evangelistic tool God uses. This is seen again and again in Acts. It is as the church is the church that it is used by God to draw people in. Jesus is making a community so different from everything else around it, that people wonder where did that come from. When the church is the church it astonishes the world, so our task as ministers is to see that this community is formed. Second, The church is build in enemy occupied territory. Jesus taught that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. That is the principle that he holds forth, only to have it shown in practice with Peter's response to his teaching that he would be betrayed, suffer and be put to death. Jesus responds to Peter's disavowal of that mission of the Christ by saying, "Get behind me Satan." So what are the gates of hell? Dr. Ferguson pointed out that in the OT the gates were the place where the elders meet. It is at the gates where the leaders provided their leadership. It is this that Jesus refers to when he speaks of the gates of hell meaning that there are strategic forces arrayed against building the church because the church is build in enemy occupied territory. As the kingdom advances, attacks come against it. Attacks from within, and attacks from without. It is in this environment of attacks from the gates of hell that we do our work. When you enlist in the gospel ministry you enlist for a life of danger. You enlist as soldiers. Again we need to recognize this truth for ourselves. We also need to make the congregations under out care understand this. For, Christ builds his church in enemy occupied territory. Third, The church is built by Christ, by the work of gospel ministers We find this in verse 18 where we read, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church" There has been much discussion on this, but it seems best to say he is speaking about Peter. This is not saying that Peter has primacy of authority as some claim, nor that Jesus is bestowing a succession following Peter. Rather, Peter is the dominant apostle. He is always mentioned first within the apostles. One reason Jesus speaks to Peter here is to contrast the glorious community Christ is building, and contrasting it to the weak vessel he uses to build that community. Peter in all his pathetic weakness will be used by the grace of Christ to build his church. But, that is not all, in speaking about Peter here, it speaks of his primacy in ministerial exercise. He was the first to confess Jesus is the Christ. Peter would be the first to be used, but not the last or only one. This speaks to us and reminds us that Jesus central instrument in building his church is the work of the gospel minister. That is seen in places like Ephesians 4 where the gifts listed are all 'word' based gifts. Gifts of those who proclaim the gospel that the church might be built up. This calls all who are gospel ministers to pour the word of God into the people in their care. As a gospel minister you could put your name in the place of Peter's here as one of those who are used by Christ to build his church. Fourth, the church is modeled by Christ in the pattern of his death and resurrection (v 24ff) Those who belong to this new community that is being built by Christ, have their lives molded by Christ and his example. They see in him that death is the way to life, and the cross is the way to victory. This is the shape of the Christian church in this world. Dying and rising always go together for them. Sorrows and joys, sufferings and glories go together in the life of the community Christ is building. As we find in 2 Corinthians 4, death is at work in us, but life in you. We need to see that this is the pattern in the church that Christ is building, so when we suffer we seek God to work life through that suffering in others. Because, Christ is building his church through himself, through his death and resurrection.

Banner Conference 2006 -- Session #1 Matt Kingswood

The first session of the conference was an excellent sermon by Matt Kingswood. I met Matt the first time I came to the Banner and have gotten to know him a little, but have never had the privilege to sit under his preaching. I was in for a treat. Matt preached on Ephesians 3:14-21. This passage if found between the opening section of Ephesians which focuses mainly on doctrine, and the next section of Ephesians that focuses mainly on application. In it we find the doctrine that Paul had just expounded moving him to prayer, and in that prayer Paul has this statement, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us." It is this statement that the message revolved around. First, it was noted that when Paul looks to himself he sees that he is disabled. Usually when we think of someone who is disabled we think of physical things, and that is part of what Paul may have seen. We know he had a thorn in the flesh, but his disability goes further. It is found in his weakness and he realizing that he is not sufficient in himself for the gospel ministry (2 Corinithians 3). We also are disabled when we look at ourselves, and Paul here wants us to redirect our attention away from ourselves to God. In doing this he speaks of God's ability in such a way that it is not specific, but at the same time he states the truth of God abundant ability that is covers everything. The call is first to realize the power of God. God does far more abundantly in the power that is at work in us. Consider this power. It is the power that spoke at creation and brought all things into being. Even more than that, it is the power that is spoken of in Ephesians 1:19-20 were it speaks of this power as, "the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places" The power of God at work in those who believe, is the power of the resurrection, of the empty tomb. In this great power God answers prayer. Notice that means that whatever we ask in prayer, even more, whatever we can even imagine, God can and will do more. This is a rebuke to our prayers. It calls us to look at our prayers and ask if we are praying with this great power of God in mind. Or, do we have small expectations. Our are expectations of God unworthy of his great and abundant power. For, small expectations lead to small blessings. Are not our prayers often too timid? Now we need to be clear here, for some name it and claim it teachers look to this passage as proof of their gospel of prosperity. One web site even sub-titles this verse as as "extreme prosperity." As if it is speaking of God providing our physical needs beyond what we ask or imagine. With this misuse, it would be tempting to avoid a passage like this, but just because it is misused, does not mean we should not properly use it. For this text is a great encouragement to prayer, if it is understood in the context in which it was given. The boundaries for this verse are found in its context, particularly verse 21. First we find that God does far more abundantly than we ask or imagine in the context of being in Christ. There is no reason for those who are not Christians to expect God to hear their prayers at all. This is not a blanket promise to all men. It is a promise to the children of God. Second, we find the context of God doing far more abundantly than we ask or imagine is in the church. Jesus promised to build his church, so we must ask whether what we are asking is something that promotes the health, growth and well being of the church. Third, we find the context of God doing far more abundantly than we ask or imagine is that it is to the glory of God. Is what we are asking something for the glory of God. As James taught, ". You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." We must always remember that the context for God power is his glory. In all this we are reminded that God can do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine. The limits are not what we think. The limits are not even what we imagine. They are what God will do. This means that our prayers must acknowledge the infinite power of God in these three areas. From the abstract we must move to how this is realized in our lives for God's abundant working is according to the power at work in us. It is not only realized out in the abstract, but as he works in us. God seeks to strengthen us in the inner man (3:16). He works at making us something. Think of all the things called for in the application section--that we maintain the unity of the Spirit, that we speak the truth in love, that we make the most of the time, and all the rest. Think how that would change us if we were like that all the time. Can you even imagine that, or does it seem beyond imagining? Now realize that God can do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine. God is able to do it. You do not need to stay where you are. Looking to the actualities of life, if you examine how God works in your life, thankfully doesn't he do more than you ask or imagine already. What we receive is not in keeping with what we pray for, thanks be to God. It is far more. God does more than we ask or imagine already. Often in spite of us God works. Our prayers may be small, but God's grace is big. Yet, there is one more thing we need to acknowledge--sometimes God does things that we would not want to imagine. Matt gave the example of a man whose wife was pregnant. She went to bed with flu like symtoms, and never woke up. Both her and the baby died from a rare blood infection, and at the funeral he said he could not imagine that she was gone. He was left alone to take care of three children. We must remember that even there God's power is active, and it is directed by is perfect wisdom. On the last day we shall count it a great mercy that we didn't have our way (JC Ryle) Even these things we would never want to imagine are for our good. For the God who does for more abundantly than we ask or imagine, is the God who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. And as verse 19 reminds us, his love is also far greater than we really know. These are my notes on this talk.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Banner Conference Arrival

After a good nights rest in Carlisle, and a hefty breakfast, we headed up to Cumberland Valley Books to do some shopping. As usual once I get into a bookstore with a good collection of theological and reference books, walking out without purchasing at least a few is almost impossible. The shopping was good, and I lefts with several books for quite good prices. However, while shopping a person from the US Geological Survey hit the mirror on my van with their mirror as they drove by where I was parked. Thankfully they left their contact information, so I won't be one the hook to pay for that repair myself. The glass is cracked in several places and I am not sure if the motor of the power window is undamaged or not. It seemed to move the window, but then stalled in one direction. It is also now much more noisy than it was before. My hope is that we can get everything organized so that I can get it fixed when I get back to Canada. Following our shopping spree, we headed over to Messiah College where we registered and checked in. Some of our group decided to head off to see Gettysburg, but although I would have liked to go again, I needed some time to wind down and rest. But, that was not to be, as one of our party needed to go to lunch because he is diabetic, and my van was the only one available. So off to the restaurant we went for a fairly good meal. By the time I got back, there was only 1 hour left until the first speaker, so I did get a little rest before heading over. It was good to finally be here. To know that soon I would be able to enjoy the fellowship and even better listen to the preaching of God's word.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Arrived in Carlisle

The first portion of the trip to the Banner of Truth conference has been completed. We had 9 people driving down which required two vans. We left Woodstock ON at a little after 8am. We had to pick up one other person in Burlington, then we headed for the border. Usually border crossings are pretty straight forward, but that was not to be the case for us this time. The first van got through with minimal problems, but the second van, the one I was driving had a British citizen on board and on person had just finished his education at an American seminary on a student visa and instead of saying that his studies were completed the seminary recorded them as terminated. The border guard must have been having a bad day because he really got in the face of both of these gentlemen, and while he rightfully pulled up over, the attitude he showed was the sort that gives border guards a bad name. We were told the wait to get the visa would be 2 hours, so the other van went ahead and left us with some directions. Thankfully the wait was not 2 hours, and God got us through in only 45 minutes. Overall it was both concerning, thinking that we might be turned back and not get to the conference, and somewhat exciting to see the border security people at work. By the way, the people inside were very friendly, and did their job with efficiency and professionalism. My compliments to them for doing a demanding job, especially with those who did not speak English, with a professional but friendly manner. Once we were back on our way we made good time, although instead of taking the by-pass to I-90 we ended up taking 190 around Buffalo. That added another five minutes to our trip, and we had some other navigational concerning when we thought we had missed the exit for Batavia while we were talking theology. That is what happens when you get a bunch of pastors in a van together. Again, we were wrong, and we soon arrived at the exit. In Batavia we started to look for a washroom to relieve ourselves, but none of the gas stations had one. The first one we stopped at told us they used to have one but their customers destroyed it. There must be some anti-public toilet gang in Batavia, because none of the gas stations had one. Thankfully, a short way out of Batavia we did find one, and we stopped to answer the call of nature and pick up some snacks. We also checked a map to verify the directions we had been given, and all seemed good. We headed out and made great time, passing the other van which had stopped for lunch in Savona. They caught up, and we continued together all the way to Carlisle where we checked into the Motel 6 for the night at about 6:15pm. Overall a pretty good trip with only a few hitches. We then headed out for supper at Applebees. Picked up some stuff from Wal-mart, and headed back to the Motel for the night. So now we are here, ready to rest and prepare for the start of the conference tomorrow. The trip was one that reminded all of us that we are always under the providential care of God. In his providence he had us stopped at the border for some reason. Yet, in all of this the comfort is that we are in his providential care, and he is working out his good purposes that he may be glorified. It is wonderful to serve a God who oversees this creation in such a way that even the sparrow falling to the ground is in his care, and since that is the case, so are all the events in our lives.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

One More

This may be my last blog entry until I am actually at the Banner conference. I am currently at my parents-in-law's place because I will be preaching a classical appointment at their church. I am using their internet connect, but this afternoon we go to my mother's place for the night (she lives much closer to the place where all the pastors who are going to the Banner with me will meet) and she does not have internet access. So I just wanted to say . . .


Friday, May 19, 2006

Bearing With Those Who Are Weak

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) The Example of Christ 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. As I read this it struck me how different the tolerance Scripture calls for is from that of the world. Again and again we are told that we should tolerate all sorts of sinful practice in the church for the sake of unity and peace in the church. In and of itself, this call is not incorrect. There are many places in Scripture that call for us to be one and Christ and the Father are one, to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, however, even though those calling for unity would agree that this unity should not be at the cost of the truth of scriptures, in practice that is often exactly what happens. This passage also calls of a bearing with one another. In verse one we read, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” In other words, those who are strong should be patient with those who are weak, and not seek to merely do their own thing. Now I am sure there are people who would say, “There, you see you who claim that this or that practice that scripture says is wrong but I do, you should bear with me in my weakness and not please yourself.” Yet, it strikes me that to say that would be to miss the point. For in context the issue is not whether a person can do something that is sinful in itself, that is something against the revealed teachings of God's will found in Scripture, but rather on debatable things. Going back to the previous chapter we find the background for the weak and the strong mentioned here. The weak are those who think something is a sin that is not. They have not truly understood their Christian liberty. The specific issue has to do with dietary laws. Although not specifically mentioned it would seem this is speaking of eating meat bought in the market place if it had been offered in the temple of the various pagan gods because of the mention of some only eating vegetables. The other option is this could be speaking of clean or unclean food as defined in the Old Testament. It does not make a big difference either way as Jesus did away with the food prohibitions. The strong are those who realize that in and of itself the meat is neither clean or unclean. The weak on the other hand are those who think it is sinful to eat that meat, and so they eat only vegetables. In other words, the weak are those who think something that is in itself not sinful, is sinful. They do not yet fully grasp their Christian liberty. With that being the case, for those who claim that we should not point out how they are going against the revealed will of God to say that we should bear with them in their weakness, is at best to turn this passage on its head. For if they are correct that they have Christian liberty to do whatever it is they do, then they would by the definition of this passage be the strong, and we who think they are sinning would be the weak who have not fully grasped our Christian liberty. Thus they would be the ones who need to bear with us, and they would be the ones who should not lead us into sin by their actions. That would be the best case, but the worst case is more likely. That is those who are advocating or living in a practice that is blatantly against what the Scriptures teach, are taking a passage that deals with questions of Christian liberty and making that liberty a license for sin. For although it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, that comes with the warning, “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” If someone is living according to the flesh, then they are the weak ones, or perhaps they do not really have faith at all. So this passage in calling for the strong to bear with the weak, is not a call to compromise on the Word of God, but a call to be patient with those who do not yet understand the liberty they have in Christ. Yet, even here we need to be careful, for this bearing with those who are weak, is not what many people might think it is. The bearing with the weak is defined like this, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” That is, bearing with those who are weak, does not mean leaving them where they are, it means patiently seeking to build that person up. It means seeking to strengthen them in their faith, and in how to live in keeping with that faith. This becomes apparent when we look further at the reason for this, “For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”” What we find is that Christ is both the reason for living this way, and the pattern for how to do this. He is the pattern because of what he did. He took upon himself the sins of those who believe, taking the reproach against God that they represent upon himself. He patiently bore his sufferings, so that he could save his people, and he did this so that they, by grace through faith, would be transformed into his own likeness. So in what he did, bearing the sins of his people and patiently working to transform them, he shows both the ground and the pattern for us. The ground or reason for our bearing with others is that Christ did that for us. He did not leave us as we are, but died to save us and transform us. The pattern he gave us, is one of patient love that does not capitulate to sin, but seeks to transform people to be what he has called them to be. Think of how patient Christ has been with you. Think of how he has works through the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures. Think of how he has transformed you life by his grace and Spirit. Now apply that to how you deal with fellow Christians. Not in the wrong way, thinking that you can save them because only Christ can do that, but in the right way, following the patient pattern of Jesus. The other thing we find is that working for the good of others, is based firmly in what the Bible teaches us. We read, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Far from trying to find ways around what the Bible teaches us about how we should live, bearing with those who are weak seeks to make them more and more aware of what the Bible has to say. It is in the Scriptures that we find the instruction and encouragement that we all need so that we can continue to live in hope. Finally, this is all done to the glory of God. First, because we cannot do it without his grace. He must be working in all of us to bring about this sort of bearing with one another. That is why this section ends with a request to God, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is God who grants this, and so the only way we can live this way correctly is to turn to him and his grace every day. That means prayer, lots and lots of prayer. Although we have to strive to live this way, the fact that is ultimately depends on God's grace means that in the end the glory goes to him. So we do this so that God will be shown as glorious in our lives in how we treat one another. Now, with all that in mind, I hope you realize that this sort of bearing with and pleasing of those who are weak, is far from easy. In fact it is far from being what the world thinks of pleasing at all. For it will at times require not mere patience, but also admonitions, corrections, and rebukes. It requires constantly calling for others and ourselves to conform ourselves more and more to the pattern God has given in his word. It means at times encouraging people, and at other times pointing out where they are going wrong. Many of these things are not pleasant, but that is what bearing with one another is all about. It is about continuing to point people to Jesus and his Word, so that they by the grace of God and the working of the Spirit might be transformed to be like Jesus. And, it is about listening to those who seek to correct you Scripturally as well. But, it is never about compromising with sin, for that will not bring glory to God. So this section ends with these words, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” May I be more like this; may you be more like this so God will be glorified.