Friday, December 28, 2007

Simply Amazing

I find it amazing how God created such fantastic creatures to populate this world. Check out this segment on how fast a falcon can dive. I was amazed at the top speed recorded for this falcon.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What Kind Of American Accent Do I Have?

This is really a trick question, since I am Canadian.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The West
The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hallelujah Chorus for the Hearing Impaired

I caught this over at Doxoblogy and thought it was worth posting here.

Although I enjoy and the Hallelujah Chorus, it is not my favorite piece from Handel's Messiah. My favorite is And The Glory Of The Lord.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Separated At Birth

I saw this picture over at Purgatorio, and right away it reminded me of a certain Sith Lord from the Star Wars movies.

I thought I would do some searching for a picture to show the similarity, and I discovered that I was not the first one to notice this as seen in the picture below.

The Pope and Emperor Palpatine (AKA The Sith Lord) separated at birth.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Acapella 12 Days of Christmas With A Twist

In keeping with Christmas coming up soon, I thought this was appropriate and funny.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Giveaway for December -- Enter Here

December Giveaway

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good Quote

Those who think they can map out a detailed programme of what will happen at the second coming should remember that, despite the prophecies of Scripture, nobody got the details of the first coming right!

Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Revised Edition 1987 p.154-155.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Liked This As Well

Anyone who can get Piers and Simon to react this way definitely has talent.

He made the semi-finals and this was his performance:

And here is the announcement of the winner:

I Always Like These Sort of Stories

What amazes me is that he can do this. I just wish he was not connected with the RC and the pope.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I don't think this is what they had in mind.

Or this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Did Not Expect This

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Exercise Plan

I decided a while back to try to take of some of the weight I have put on while visiting people from our church and elsewhere who keep feeding me cookies, cake and the like. To encourage myself I decided to participate in a contest over at to find the PUX biggest loser.

However, I could not find a good exercise program to assist me . . . until now. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Off To Algonquin

I am heading off to Algonquin Provincial Park to do some camping. Yes, I know it is the first weekend in November, but there is no better time to camp. This is not to mention that there are a number of people I know who will be camping up there as well. I am probably going to head out a little later tonight, and find some place to stop and sleep along the way. That way I can break up the 5-6 hour drive and make it a little more comfortable. Who knows, maybe in spite of the forecast, we will have snow.

Worlds Smallest Car

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Several New Sermons Posted

I have been rather behind in uploading the recent sermons from our worship services to the Bethel Reformed Church Sermon Cloud account. However, this afternoon I thought I would seek to catch up a little. So there have been about four or five sermons added.

This Sunday morning we took another break from our journey through Galatians, and remembered the Reformation by looking at the gospel that was brought into the light through the means of the Reformers return to reading the scripture.

Check it out. If you do, please leave some comments either here or on Sermon Cloud, and if you like what you hear, feel free to give it an Amen, especially if you believe others would benefit from hearing this sermon as Amens will move it into the front page at Sermon Cloud.

No One Deserves It, But God Gives It In Jesus - Ephesians 2:1-10

Sunday, October 21, 2007

For Those Cat People Out There

I was directed to this by my darling wife. It reminded me so much of our cat that I just had to post it. Ok, I really didn't have to post it, but I wanted to. So here it is.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Enjoyed This

Over at Pyromaniacs, Dan posted the following video of Slam poet Taylor Mali. This is well worth watching. If you want to see the text you can find it here.

What caught my attention is that I no longer expect people, especially people who are English teachers to have such a clear view of the silliness of the prevailing post modern tone of uncertainty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Don't Tell Me Those Things"

8 And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
as a witness forever.
9 For they are a rebellious people,
lying children,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the Lord;
10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
prophesy illusions,
11 leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah 30:8-11 (ESV)

These verses were some of those that we looked at during our Bible Study tonight. For some reason they seemed so contemporary. While there were originally addressed to the people of Judah thousands of years ago, they still reflect an attitude that is all to common today.

So many people who go by the name of Christian say things that are so similar. They do not want to hear about what is right and wrong. They don't want to hear about repentance and faith. They certainly don't want to be reminded of sin or suffering or death. When they hear these things they say, "I have enough troubles, I don't need to hear this. Give me something positive and uplifting. Give me something that will make me feel good." The words may not be the same, but the attitude certainly is. And, when they are directed to the cross of Jesus each week, they don't even find that great, amazing, utterly wonderful grace of God uplifting either.

Oh how we have forgotten the three times holy God who, even when we were enemies deserving nothing but eternal destruction, sent his own Son to suffer the punishment for sin, so all who put their trust in him would be accepted, forgiven, adopted, made into God's beloved people, freed from the domination of sin, and joined to Christ. None of this because a person renovates their life, but all as a gift of the undeserved favor of God. And, in all of this God still remained perfectly just, and perfectly merciful.

How can it be that we have become so satisfied with the sawdust of the world, and are no longer hungry for the solid meat from God?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

False Prophets/Teachers

With all the discussion in the Blog-o-sphere about Joel Osteen and the message he proclaims, I decided to post the following comment I made at another blog:

Jeremy, you certainly have provided much thought for discussion. However, when you mention Matthew 7:15-20 several things concern me. The text taken from the ESV, simply because that was handy, reads, “”Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Notice first of all the context, Jesus is giving a warning against false prophets or teachers. The first part of his warning points out that they will not be easily recognizable. They will look sincere and authentic. I cannot think of one major heretic in the history of the church that did not think they were correct. Many of them were even very likable, appealing people all of who claimed they were Christians. Yet, what they taught was not correct, it was a destructive heresy, and in teaching it they denied the very one who they claim bought them.

Joel Osteen does come across as a very nice, personable. However, that does not say anything about how true what he preaches is.

The next thing Jesus points out is that although these false prophets may look like sheep, they will be known by their fruits. In doing this he uses several illustrations to carry home his point that they way to discern true prophets or teachers from false is their fruit.

The question this raises is, what are the fruits in mind here. Too often that question is not asked. Instead we simply assume that what Jesus is talking about is how they live. That their lifestyle will show whether they are true or false teachers. If that is what Jesus is primarily looking to, we have to realize something, it may take years or even decades to be able to say one way or another with many people who are false teachers. Outside they look very good. May prominent false teacher throughout the history of the church have lived outwardly exemplary lives. Yes, in some cases today and in the past false teachers have shown the lie of their professed faith in Christ through lifestyles that are clearly opposed to Christ, but more often than not this took quite a bit of time to show itself. During that time, many people were led astray.

However, I think if one considers for a while about what the fruit of a teacher is, it starts to become clear that the primary fruit of a teacher is their teaching. Thus, a false teacher will be known by their teaching. That means all teaching must be tested by the Scriptures as to its faithfulness to that revealed word of God. Based on that, I would say that Joel Osteen’s gospel is not the gospel at all. It neglects what Paul said was of first importance (1 Cor. 15:1-10) and in its place tells people that they are accepted by God by doing their best. That is a false gospel and the Bible is clear on the result of that for those who preach another gospel and do not repent of it (Gal 1:8-9).

I do not write this with any pleasure or superiority. It is a terrible thing to consider the end for those who preach another gospel. The glorious part of all this is that Joel can still repent. He can still turn to the one who died for our sins, the one who stood as a propitiation so that God could be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus Christ. That is what changed everything for me, and I pray it will change everything for Joel Osteen as well.

Yes, I agree there are many Christians who claim to be believers but deny it in how they live, but we are not speaking about Christians in general, we are speaking about a person who claims to be a Christian teacher. He, I and all who are teachers will be called to account for what we have taught. If it is not the one and only gospel revealed in the Scriptures, then all that awaits is the anathema of God. (I write this with tears in my eyes.)

May God grant grace that we more and more will know and proclaim the gospel in word and deed.

Stupid Mindless Ratings

Today I was reminded of the web-page that will give a rating for a blog or web-page based on various words that are found in it. What I find interesting is that various innocuous words in context, your rating will quite quickly go from G to PG to NC-17 to R. For example one of the words flagged from my wife's blog was 'Dick' which in context referred to her uncle Dick who is sick in hospital. But that mention of Dick was misinterpreted to be a euphemism for a certain part of the male human anatomy. One can only imagine what the rating of a page with an abundance of quotes from the Dick and Jane early learning books would result in. The repeated, "See Dick run.
Run Dick, run" would certainly make a mindless word based scan quite useless.

This is not to mention that apparently the word "missionary" is also flagged. I don't know what they have against a missionary, although I guess the word missionary might refer to more than just a missionary who goes somewhere to proclaim something or to something quite unrelated.

If I start speaking about death or dying, even though death is all around us, even though I may simply be speaking of my grief over the death of my dog, all of a sudden my rating will go to R because I use the word death.

Needless to say, it is obvious that such a rating tool as this is utterly useless. It pains me to say, that there are probably people who actually depend on it. And if they saw my current rating after this post, they would want to avoid this site like the plague

Friday, October 12, 2007

Open Office, Firefox, IE Won't Print

Here is my problem. Until two days ago everything worked. I have not changed anything that I know of, but suddenly OpenOffice, Firefox, and IE won't print to my network printer. In fact, it seems they will not even get to the point of sending the job to the XP print-spooler.

What happens is the following. I will select print, and the requester come up with the various options and the network printer as the default. I click the print button, and the small window that indicates it is processing the print job comes up, but then for all three of these, the program freezes up. No job shows up in the printer window. To unfreeze them I have to restart the XP print spooler on that machine. Then they will error out. I don't know if they would do so if left, because after 5 minutes I figured I had waited long enough.

I have not yet tested this with my inkjet that I can plug right into my laptop because It is currently not accessable to me. Nor have I tired to directly connect the network laser printer to my laptop to see if it would print that way.

However, I have tried several other things that would print. Click 'n Design (my CD label printing software) works fine. A Disney program that prints out Winnie the Pooh stuff for my boy works fine. And a print test works fine.

My setup is a XP Home laptop connected through a wireless router (although while on my desk it is wired to the router) to the other machine with the printer which is a linux box running Samba and CUPS. Other machines on the network seem to print fine (all Windows 2000 boxes), but various programs on this one don't.

I have tried re-installing the programs. I wanted to re-install the printer, but it will not let me delete it.

If anyone has suggestions as to how to get this working without reinstalling XP, I would appreciate it as I will have to print up my sermons for Sunday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Voted Today

Despite feeling like something that the dog dragged in, I went and voted today in the Ontario provincial election. I don't know how many people who are eligible to vote in this Ontario election actually read this blog, but if you are, get out and vote today. It takes only a few minutes of your time, and it is an important part of how our province runs. I would hazard a guess that if more of those eligible to vote actually did vote, the various parties would feel much more accountable. Also, this year you have the opportunity to vote on a referendum to switch how the voting system functions to go from first past the post, our current system that will yield a majority government even with only 35-40 percent of the overall vote, or the Mixed Member Proportional system, that would bring a more accurate reflection of the actual votes cast into the provincial parliament.

Go and vote.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

October Book Giveaway Contest

Tim Challies is at it again. Giving away good book. Click the banner below to enter.

October Giveaway

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not From Man, But From God - Galatians 1:11-24

Why could Paul be so certain that the gospel he preached was the only way to God? How could he say those who turned away from the gospel he preached we deserting God? He started to answer that question in the section of scripture this sermon looks at.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baby Bunnies

This morning I was woken up from a deep sleep by Annette. She was telling me that one of our rabbits was pulling her fur out which is a sign that she will be having babies in the next day or two. The reasoning behind this was that I needed to make a nesting box for the female to make her nest.

I did not know where I was going to find the time to do so, but as I woke up I decided it would be better to do it first thing in the morning as that way it would not be hanging over my head. That was a good choice in retrospect.

I pulled the table saw (I purchased it for $25 at an auction a while back) out of the garage and got a piece of plywood out. Set things up and in a fairly short time had the sides and top finished. I used my new cordless Jigsaw to do some final work on the sides, and I hammered it together. Then I cut the bottom, and nailed it on. All told, I don't think it was too much time, maybe not even and hour and it was all done.

Annette put the new nesting box in the rabbit cage, and put the fur that had already been removed by the female rabbit into it, and we left it at that.

This afternoon I went out back to work in the trailer since it is quieter there than in the house, and I took a peek to see if the rabbit had added any more fur to her nest. What should I see but a little blood on the fur in the nest box, so I had a closer look. Sure enough she had had her babies. Sadly, two were dead, but two are alive.

The mother is a cute white with black spots dwarf rabbit, the father is probably our brown lop-earred buck, so they should be interesting looking babies.

I will see about getting pictures when they are bigger.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We Had To Put Riley Down Today

We knew this day was coming as Riley was 14 years old, and had been having increasing problems with his health. Already in the spring when we had a cold day following a warm day he would have a really hard time getting up, and over the past several months he seemed to be confused very often. We would feed him and he would forget as soon as he finished eating the food, or something would happen and he would just have this look like, "I don't get it."

We figured with the colder weather coming on, that we would have a day come when he could not get up, but we didn't get to that point. In fact, he had been dealing with the cold days and nights we had already very well. Well enough that I was wondering if we would get another year with him although he was having occasional problems where he would fall down for no apparent reason while walking. But, last Thursday he started to get sick. By Friday he was very ill and had lost a lot of weight. We had a dog agility trial to go to, and my mom was going to take care of our son, so she took care of Riley as well. The way he looked I honestly did not expect him to be alive when we got back Saturday. He was not in any apparent pain, but was obviously sick and had lost a lot of weight.

Saturday when we got home he was still alive, and was looking a little better, but he was still ill and his bodily functions were not functioning as they should. Sunday he looked a little better yet, and could keep his food down. We already had an appointment at the vet for Monday to have him put to sleep, but I was really wondering if I could do it as he seemed to be rallying.
We decided to take him to one of his favorite places to walk, the Pinery provincial park, and we had a wonderful walk with him, but after about 20 minutes, he all of a sudden had his chin almost hit the ground, and he was exhausted. We took a half hour of rest with him breathing very heavily, so he could rest. Then we headed back to the van. He enjoyed the walk, but not like he normally would.

Today he started to get sicker again, and although he looks pretty good in the pictures, you cannot feel how he had shrunk to skin and bones. We went to my mom's place, where he lived from the time we got him at the humane society as an eight week old puppy, who was terrified of dogs and cars, and while riding on my lap on the way home, decided to pee on me. That place was always 'home' for him, and he was very content to be there. We even took him to see his dog companion on the way there, which he also enjoyed, not wanting to leave.

At 6 my mom and I headed to the vet with him, and Annette stayed at my mom's with Justin. We got there early, so Mom took Riley for one last walk, and then at 6:30 we went in. By 7PM is was all over and he headed back to bury him.

Riley was a wonderful companion. One of the most even tempered, calm, obedient (at least until he got on) dogs I have ever known. I know I will miss him, I do already. It is amazing how an animal can become such a part of ones life. I know it was time, but I still wish we could have had a few more months.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Only ONE Gospel - Galatians 1:6-10

In a world where the majority of people think that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. In a world where most people believe it is wrong to confront someones else's beliefs even if they are wrong. In a world where many people believe all roads lead to heaven, the written word of God confronts us with the fearsome and wonderful truth that there is only one way to come to God in His forgiveness and acceptance. The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Now Jesus Loved Martha and Her Sister and Lazarus

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
John 11:5-6 (ESV)

Have you ever read this and wondered about it? It is a rather strange statement if you think about it. First we are told that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. That is not a surprise, nor is it strange. However, then the account continues and we read that when he heard that Lazarus was sick, sick enough that Martha and Mary sent for Jesus, Jesus, who loved them stays two days longer where he is. That, in many of our minds does not seem very loving. Many of us would expect that Jesus, hearing of Lazarus' illness, would have immediately left to help him. That is what we consider the loving thing to be. However, scripture is clear, Jesus loved them, but he waited two days before he went to them. Doesn't that strike you as strange? Why would Jesus do that?

I am sure there are people out there would would say it is because Jesus did not really love them. I have never read that, but I have no doubt that some would say this. However, the scripture is clear, He did love them yet he stayed. In fact the scripture goes further it tells us that Jesus loved them so he stayed for two days where he was. In other words, Jesus staying where he was for two more days was an expression of his love for them. It is precisely because of his love that he waited before coming.

Before we go on to consider what it was that Jesus was doing in his love for them by this, it is important to have that truth sink into our minds, because when you and I are facing distress and trouble and sickness and affliction, we want Jesus to act right away by taking it away. We don't want him to wait two hours much less two days or two years. Sometimes, as we wait in our affliction, we may even be tempted to think that Jesus does not love us. Perhaps our faith is in vain, and he never loved us at all. I don't know if you have ever gone through that, but I know from my own experience that it is so very easy to start to think that way. I have seen myself and others starting and going down that route many times.

Take heart from this though, for just because Jesus does not act on your timetable, does not mean he does not love you. If you have faith in him, if you believe that he died for you, realize that he has shown his love on the cross. Don't go by your feelings that can so easily lead you astray. Instead remember that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, and because of that love he waited to act. Just because he does not act right away to remove your trouble is not a sign of his lack of love, but instead is an expression of love that goes far beyond the pale love characterized by this world. For his love is looking for something far better for you than you may even realize.

That leads us to why Jesus waited two days. Based on what we find later, that by the time he arrived Lazarus had already been dead four days, even if Jesus had left right away he would not have arrived soon enough to keep Lazarus from dying. But, those for days are significant because in the understanding of the time, after four days a person could not be resurrected. Corruption and decay would have set in, and the spirit would have left for good. Thus, no one, not Martha or Mary, expected Lazarus to be raised. So in waiting Jesus set up something that would reveal to them something that they, and we need to understand, that he is the resurrection. That authority over death and life is in his hands. If Jesus had come right away, the raising of Lazarus would have been a miracle. The sisters would have rejoiced, but their understanding of Jesus and their faith in him would not have increased. By waiting, Jesus did something that they believed completely impossible and their faith and knowledge of His was built up. That would not have happened if he came right away. For Jesus the increase and building of their faith was of vital importance.

I believe the same thing is true for believers today. We often chafe under the troubles we face in life. We suffer the sufferings common to people in a world under sin such as illness, age and infirmity. We also face the sufferings that are particularly Christian or being mocked, abused, and considered as nothing by the world. Then we wonder why Jesus takes so long to deal with these, or sometimes, never deals with them and they end in death. But, here we find that He does this for a very important reason, it is because he loves you, he loves me, in such a way that he will not let us remain in our small and weak and childish understandings of who He is. Instead, He uses these afflictions to build our understanding, our faith, and our love for Him. He does that not so often by ending our suffering, illness or affliction, but instead by taking us through them to a greater experience of his grace and power.

Think of Paul with his torn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12) which was used by God to make apparent to Paul that the Lord's grace is sufficient for all his needs, and that the power of the Lord is made perfect in his weakness. Or earlier in 2 Corinthians we find that while Paul was in Asia he was brought to the brink of death, but that affliction was used by God to "make us rely not on ourselves bu on God who raises the dead." (2 Cor. 1:9) Or think about Job who came to know and understand God far better than he ever would if he had never suffered or if God has stepped in right away to bring that suffering to an end.

Jesus loves you in a far greater way that you may imagine. He loves you in such a way that he will always do what is best for you, even when that may mean you have to go through a time of suffering, sorrow, affliction or pain, because on the other side you will find that you can now not just see but know more of who Jesus is and so love him and live for him more.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Day Off -- Gone Fishing

Today was my day off. As usual, we headed out of the house, and went to London. There we visited with my mother for a while and dropped off Justin so we could have some time with just the two of us.

We did a little shopping, and then decided to go fishing. We headed out to Deleware where there is a fairly convenient location on the Thames river to fish. It took a while, but eventually I caught 2 fish. Annette didn't catch anything, but we both enjoyed our time fishing. Hopefully we can get out more often on my day off as it is an inexpensive and relaxing way to spend several hours, and it frees the mind to think on other things.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Sermons

The following links will let you listen to the sermons from this past Sunday at Bethel Reformed Church.

The Foundation of Christian Teaching - Colossians 3:16

In the Righteousness of Our God and Saviour Jesus - 2 Peter 1:1-2

Friday, September 07, 2007


I saw this over at Carla's blog, and thought it looked interesting. I'm not surprised by the results at all.

You scored as Amillenialist, Amillenialism believes that the 1000 year reign is not literal but figurative, and that Christ began to reign at his ascension. People take some prophetic scripture far too literally in your view.



Moltmannian Eschatology










Left Behind


What's your eschatology?
created with

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This Statement Bothered Me

A fellow Christian leader said something very like this, "I don't know anyone who got into heaven because of what they did, or anyone who didn't get into heaven because of what they did."

That is a paraphrase, but it is pretty close. Before I comment on it, I am wondering if those few people who read my blog might weigh in with their thoughts. There is something about this statement that seems wrong to me, but I would very much like other people's thoughts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update on Knee

It took a while, but my knee unlocked. It took most of the night, but thankfully I could more or less sleep as long as I did not move. If I moved in my sleep I would wake up because the knee would hurt for a moment, but then I could generally get back to sleep. I woke up about 5AM of so, and shortly after that it completely unlocked.

Now it feels sort of weak and wobbly, but not really sore. That is about what I expected, and with a little care it should be back to normal in a day or so.

I am a little tired, but generally feel pretty good. I may need a nap this afternoon when our boy naps, as when he is awake he makes altogether too much noise.

Thank-you for your prayers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Knee Problems

Today my knee decided that it should cause me some problems. I 1997 I had a torn meniscus repaired. Until recently it had caused me no problems. Then about a year back it started to cause me the same problems again. The torn piece of meniscus, because I have most certainly torn it again, will flip up and lock my knee. This is fairly painful, and means my knee cannot be extended all the way without pain or bare weight. I can force it to flip back, but that hurts and causes more damage. The best course is wait it out which takes several hours, but as long as I don't move a lot, is pretty painless. Pray that my knee will unlock please as once it does the pain will be gone.

Friday, August 17, 2007

This Made Me Laugh, And Laugh, And Laugh . . .

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Template Fixed

After a fair amount of time working through my template xml file, comparing it to the one I used in the first place, and making changes that did not fix the problem, I gave up and just put in the template again. That meant losing a bunch of my widgets and having to re-install them, but I think I have most everything back where I want it. I will probably have to do some more fine tuning, but over all it is looking basically the way I want it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Template Is No Longer Working

I just noticed that my template is no longer working. Since I put the three column template in so long ago, I can't really remember how to do it any longer. I will have to do some research and see what I can find out.

Apparently it is working again. No idea what is up with that, but I will have to look into it when I have the time.

Kidney Stone Has Passed!!

Today, just a few minutes ago, this kidney stone passed. While the pain it causes when between the kidney and the bladder is the worst pain I have ever felt, it is no picnic when it goes from the bladder out of the body either. It had been moving down that passage since yesterday late in the afternoon. The caused me to feel and urgency to go and thus I kept waking up every few hours last night. Thankfully, that is now over, and things can heal. Next time I go in to my doctor, I will bring the stone so they can send it out to be tested for composition. Hopefully, this will be the last time for this. Thank-you to everyone who prayed for me during this time. I am thankful that God did not have me go through the discomfort of having to have the stone blasted again. The last time I had that done, and it was almost as bad as the kidney stone for the next week and a half.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Looking To A Better Country

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV)
One of the things that I know I struggle with, and which it seems many followers of Christ struggle with, is that our affection are much too set on this world. With that in mind these verses caught my attention. They are found in a section of Hebrews that speaks of the faith that exemplified the saints of the past--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to name a few. The aspect of faith that is examined there is that it looks forward to something that has not yet been received.

Here we read that these people "died in faith." They knew the promise given them. They trusted that it would be fulfilled eventually. They trusted that God would be true to his word. Yet, they did not receive the things promised before they died.

What grabbed my attention was the other phrase used to describe them, "and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." Part of their dying in faith was not only that they saw the promises from afar even though they did not receive them, but that they realized something far greater, that is, that they and the promises they received and looked toward are not part of the current pattern of this earth. Instead, in faith, they realized that while here they were strangers and exiles. They did not fit with all that was around them because they were looking for something more. They realized that they were strangers and exiles while on this earth.

I think that caught my attention because what I see so often in myself and others around me is the exact opposite. We are obsessed with this earth and the things that are part of it to the point that it is difficult to imagine that we are strangers and exiles. Our hopes so easily become petty things of this earth. What we want to see happen are focused on the hear and now. There is little sense of looking for something more.

But, when one starts to really see themselves as a stranger and exile on the earth because of Jesus Christ, then what the middle part of these verses teach becomes true, "For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one." When we start to realize that the promises we have is far beyond anything this world could ever offer, and we realize that we no longer fit with this world, then it becomes clear that we are looking not for what the world can give, but for what only God can give. We are looking for something better that can only come by God's working. We are looking for a time and place when God will manifest himself in such a way that everything will be transformed completely because of his presence there. Is that not the hope found in places like Revelation 21 were we read,
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He
will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the
former things have passed away.”
Sadly, our hopes are often all too small because we are much to connected and at home in this earth. There is often little or no sense that we are looking for a homeland that is buile by God, because we are to at home in this world that is in rebellion against God.

The final verse calls for you and I to reconsider this comfort on the earth. We read that those who acknowledge they are strangers and exile on the earth, those who make it clear they are looking for a better place from God that is heavenly not earthly, are the sort of people that God is not ashamed to be called their God. If God is not ashamed to be called the God of those who are looking for the city that God has prepared for them, what of you and I who so often are not looking for that city, that country prepared for us by God?

This is a call to realize that true faith makes you a person who is no longer part of this earth. Yes, you live here. Yes, striving for good, peace and the like here is not a bad thing, except when it makes you or I forget that we are strangers and exiles on the earth. May God give us faith that realizes that, faith that lives in such a way that looks to the better country, the city God has prepared for us, where he will dwell with his people forever.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Kidney Stone, Still Not Passed

I wanted to give another quick update on how things are going with my kidney stone. It still has not passed. Today I am fairly pain free, at least so far. Yesterday, Sunday, was the exact opposite. I could not get to sleep Saturday night because of the pain, and by 1:30AM Sunday I was in the ER at the local hospital because the pain was overwhelming. They gave pain medication and that worked, and I remained in the hospital until 7AM.

Due to that, I was unable to preach the AM service, but told the Elder from our congregation that I might be able to do the PM service if I remained pain free, but as the medications from the hospital wore off, the pain returned. The Tylenol 3 tablets kept it bearable, but I was pretty much out of it all day. Thankfully, a retired minister who is part of our congregation offered to do the evening service so that was a great weight off my mind.

The ironic part of all of this was that both the morning and evening sermons I planned to preach dealt with suffering. The AM sermon was to be on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and the evening sermon on 1 Peter 4:12-19.

As I mentioned, today has been pretty pain free up to this point, but I still feel twinges, and my past experience tells me that another attack can come with no warning.

The biggest negative of all of this is that the meds and the fatigue make it difficult for me to process things mentally.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Friend With The Lord

I just found out today that a person I count as a friend who has been battling leukemia and seemed to be getting over it, died on August 4th. Rev. F. Scott Petersen, pastor of Fairfield Reformed Church, blogger at Ars Theologica went to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I only met Scott once in person at the Banner of Truth conference, but we communicated via e-mail and comments in one another's blogs. He was a strong voice against the slide in the RCA into a liberal wasteland, and a committed follower of Christ. The RCA is less without him.

Keep his family and Fairfield Reformed Church in your prayers as they go through this trying time. May the truth of these words of Christ sink in and strengthen them in this time,

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Service will be held at Fairfield Reformed Church, 360 Fairfield Rd., Fairfield, NJ 07004 on Tuesday the 7th at 11AM. In lieu of flowers, financial donations may be sent to the church for the family to help pay for Scott's medical bills.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Update on Kidney stones

For those who may be interested here is an update on my kidney stone. So far it still has not passed. It causes me discomfort from time to time, but with the pain killers that the doctor prescribed I can keep ahead of the pain. On the negative side the Tylenol 3's are making me rather unfocused mentally which they normally don't do, but that may be a result of my not getting a good nights rest for three nights in a row. I slept well last night, and DV I will sleep well again tonight.

I would appreciate prayers that God will give me a clear enough mind to get my sermons done for Sunday.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Caring For Pastor's Wife

JT over at Between two Worlds pointed his reader to a post dealing with how a congregation should care for their pastor's wife.

The original post is over here.

As a pastor whose wife has received the brunt of various criticisms I am very aware of the burden she has. I am also aware that people seem to think that complaints, gossip, and outright attacks on her or me in her presence are acceptable, when they would never say those things to my face.

I recommend reading the post. It has some great suggestions on how to care for a pastor's wife.

Money Challenge

I saw this over at Random Responses
and found it hits the nail of the head, so to speak. It is very convicting.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kidney Stone

Yesterday we officially returned from vacation. It was a good vacation, and while I would have liked another week, I felt rested.

However, that rested state was not to last. On Monday afternoon I had some minor side pain that reminded me of when I had kidney stones, but it was not intense and I had been busy doing various things so I figured maybe a muscle got a little strained.

I felt fine all day Tuesday, but after going to bed and having a hard time sleeping due to the heat, I woke up at 2-2:30AM with much more intense pain in my side. It still didn't come close to when I last had a kidney stone, but as time passed it got worse. Sure enough, when I went to the local ER, I have a kidney stone. Thankfully the medication worked great, so I didn't even need to take any morphine. Regardless, I got very little sleep, and there is still a twinge in my side that tells me the stone has not yet passed.

If this follows the pattern I experienced last time, as long as the stone is still in there, I will have intermittent attacks. Overall, I got about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours of sleep last night, and I feel very tired. Hopefully the meds will keep ahead of the pain, and that they will aid in the passing of the stone.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I know I have not been posting a lot. Things have been busy. I have been spiritually tired, and that means sermons take longer to write. I even have some blog posts in the works that I could not seem to get my mind to think through the way I wanted. We will be leaving for vacation soon. Some camping. Some day trips. But, probably little blogging. Hopefully the rest and reading will revive me. I know I am looking forward to some time away.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Spelling Bee Challenges

I found this posted here. I liked it, and was happy he spelled it correctly in the end.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Apparently I Am Very Rare

I found this over at my wife's blog.

Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)

Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant.

Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Whole New Way To Ride The Bus

I have to say, even though I am not into this, this really impressed me.

Woodpecker Cam

Yet another web-cam of wildlife is up and running.  Well actually it has been running for a while, but now the woodpeckers have babies.  Check it out here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Great Reading Idea

Darren R. Brooker posted a great idea for your summer reading.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This Is A Rather Interesting Dog

Doing a little searching around on YouTube, I found this. A rather interesting dog I must say.


This week went from one where I was hoping to get a lot of pastoral visiting done, to one where I will be doing pastoral visiting, but not of the people I expected. On Monday night I received a call from a member of the congregation I serve that their step-grandson had dies suddenly Monday morning. Their son and daughter in law are not members at our church, but I and my wife have started to get to know them over the past few years, and they would like me to do the funeral. I ask that you keep me in your prayers, as I did not know this young man (only 20) at all, so I do not know how he was with the Lord. Pray that I will clearly and lovingly proclaim the gospel at the funeral, and that God will use it to work in the hearts of those present there. Also, please pray for this family. I cannot imagine what it would be like to find my son dead, and then the police and paramedics and all the rest investigating to see what happened. Pray God will grant them the peace that can only come through faith in Christ, drawing them near to himself through his Son.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Married People & Finally, All Of You

Here are two recent sermons. I have not been posting them on my normal site because I have run out of disk space. I am working at correcting that, but for now, everything will be over at Sermon Cloud.

Married People -- 1 Peter 3:1-7

Finally, All of You -- 1 Peter 3:8-12


As I couldn't sleep, I thought I would post. Not that I have anything to say are 4AM, but I have the beginnings of a cold. By that I mean, I have a very sore throat. Sore enough that it is keeping me up. I think I will try sleeping again in a few minutes, but thanks to either my son (who just had a cold) or someone else who shall remain nameless who also has a cold who I came in contact with this week, I am getting one as well. Hopefully it will proceed quickly as preaching with a sore throat is most unpleasant.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Back From The Banner

I am back from yet another great Banner of Truth conference. Since the conference ended at 3:30PM, we decided to head right home rather than stop part way. I just arrived home at 1:00AM. Hopefully I will sleep well. I will post my closing thoughts when I get up after getting some sleep.

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Session #9

Mark Johnson
Romans 8:5-17

We will end the conference reflecting on the believers walking in the Spirit. Ending with life in the Spirit is an appropriate way to end. Both we and the congregations we serve struggle with this question, "How do we live the Christian life?"

These verses spell out suscintly the Spirits role in living christian life.

A. The Spirit enables us for the life of faith by giving us the ability to do so (v5-11).

1. What is noticable in these verses is the contrast between those living or controled by the flesh and those controlled by the Spirit. Those controlled by the flesh or sinful nature cannot please God. They are incapable of it at all. Those who have the Spirit in them are different. They can now live in a way that is pleasing to God. Outside of the Spirit people are dead in sin, therefore can cannot respond to God. It is this regeneration of new birth by the work of the Spirit that makes a person able to aprehend and desire God. But, there is also the on going work of renewal. The regeration in the sense that Calvin uses it. Gives new ability to please God. No matter how skilled, gifted or capable an unbeliever is, that person cannot please God. Only those the Spirit lives in are capable of pleasing God. It is now possible for them to not sin because the Spirit is in them.

2. This is an ability possessed by every believer.
This is not something for the spiritual elite only. If a person belongs to Christ, they have the Spirit. And, if you have the Spirit you have the things the Spirit blesses those in whom he lives such as life instead of the death in sin and possibility of now pleasing God. Believers now live the life of the Spirit in us.

B. Enables us to live this way because of the responsibiilty he lays upon us. We have an obligation. This is not let go and let God. It is live by the Spirit in us. We are to exercise this in dependance on him. See this illustrated in that we receive Spirit of adoption or sonship, but we cry our "Abba, Father." It is not the Spirit who crys out, we do; but we do it because of the Spirit of sonship. In the gift of the Spirit we have been given amazing resources by God, but we have not used them even close to their capacity. Why? Because of our sinful laziness. Because of our sloth. The reason we are not seeing conversions is because we are not willing in faith to testify to our neighbors trusting that by the Spirit God will bring people to faith. God expects us to use the gift he gives.

Our free will in our own nature is one that is at emnity to God. It will always go the wrong way. But God has dealt with it. He has given the Spirit through the Son that we can now walk in righteousness which we could not do before.

The call is to set our minds on what the Spirit desires. This is to be done consciously, intentionally, and diligently. This means looking to the word of God. This means using our minds so they get remolded by the truth. We are to transform our minds.

That leads to mortifying the deeds of the body. Moving our actions into comformity to Jesus Christ.

C. The Spirit provides the encouragement we need in the Christian life.

It is amazing how relationships change a person's life. Think of the changes from a single man to a married man to a father. How much more true is that in the relationship with God through his Son as we are indwelt by the HOly Spirit. As we grow and explore this relationship we will change. The Spirit does this with us as the Spirit of adoption or sonship. He is the one who moves us to cry, "Abba, Father." This is the instinctive cry of a child in their need. Where do you cry in your need? If you cry out to heaven, "Father" is that not evidence of your state before God.

The Spirit gives real life. It is by him that we have life and peace.

D. The Spirit reminds us where we re going. If the Spirit is in us, is the Spirt who raised Christ. He will likewise raise us to a new life in the world to come. The Spirit is working in us in all our weakness to make us new. While he is working we may not, in fact generally don't look good, but that is because we are works in progress. He is remolding and remaking the people of Christ that Christ may be glorified and through him God may be glorified.

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Session #8

Derek Thomas -- "Meditation and the Future Life: The Goal of Holiness"

Romans 8:1-11
Ephesians 4:17-24
Colossians 3:1-4

In this third and final session we come to what Calvin has to say about the goal of holiness. For most of those who attend the Banner there is a great love for the Puritain experiential preaching of the scriptures. What draws us in is that they speak to our hearts. What we long for most of all is that God's word addresses us not just at level of intellect but at the level of our affections and actions. We probably find Calvin more intimidating because we have concluded that Calvin does not speak to our heart like the Puritans. But that makes a division between the Puritans and the reformers of the 16th Century. The puritans loved and read Calvin. That sort of division is simply not true. To dismantle this error all one has to do is plumb the depths of book three of the Institutes.

Piety was important to Calvin. He in writing was writing in contrasts to the Summa of Aquinus. Calvin's institues were a summa of piety. They are the theology of the heart. We often do not grasp that. It shows how disengaged with how the reformers understood the Christian life. The problem is likely ours, not Calvin's. For Calvin there is a particular reformed spirituality. Reformed understanding covers all of life. That would include spirituality. It would point out that what is important are truth, what and how we know what we know, scripture, worship in accord with principles found in word of God, etc.

Central is the doctrine of the union with Jesus Christ. In that restoration and renewal the image of God like a ruined castle is recreated by the Spirit so that what is broken is brought together again. This is primarily that we might know God. Calvin in the institues is seeking to show how a believer comes to know God better.

In 1538 when Calvin was thrown out of Geneva, the first thing he did was to write a cathechism. There is pointed out that true piety embraces God as much as a father as it reverences him and fears displeasing him worse than death.

For Calvin especially, mind is hugely important and significant. Your mind matters. We are to use our mind. But, the heart is to be used too. We as Christians ought to be like newlyweds. Longing and anticipating and thinking about the future as we fall more and more in love with Christ. Sin and world and Satan all seek against this. Therefore effort is needed to maintain and grow love and hope toward God. Calvin called this meditation.

Meditation is enormously important to Calvin. Baxter had same take. He said we are to imitate the most powerful preacher we have ever heard in applying Biblical truth to our lives. Calvin said we are to live in this world so we more and more desire the one to come. We do that by meditation on those scriptures that are given to get a foretaste for what is to come.

This begins with a renovation of the mind. A change in the way we think. What is it that you thnk about when you are not thinking about anything in particular (Owen). Makes us realize we must force ourselves to think spiritual thoughts. Calvin does much the same thing. In commenting on Colossians chapter 3 he said, what Paul is saying here is that we are to express with aciduity and intesity to think on those things above. He warns that we are to beware of the tendency to stop at the resurrection. He comments that we have made too little of the ascension. One implicatoin of the ascension is that CHrist brings us with him into heaven. So we are to think on Christ where he really is, at the right hand of God in heaven. This requires a regular discipline of our minds. Those who are of the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.

Second, a detachment from the present world. There is an improper and intemperate love of this world that keeps us from serving and loving God properly. We tend to be slaves to this world. But, this world is like a shadow or dew in the morning. It will disappear. Even in Eden the garden was meant to move Adam and Eve to see the beauty of the one who created the beauty of the garden. All to often we fool ourselves that this world is all that there is. Even health and exercise are idols in today's world. Even in the Christian circles. Is that not in part because too many people live in affections for this world instead of eternity. We should live in light of eternity. We must sit loose to this world. Heaven it our homeland, so the world is an exile and a seplecure. This is not because there is not value or proper ways to enjoy this world. Calvin has much to say about that, but all the same this world is not our home. The new heavens and earth are our home. No one makes progress in sactification without looking in anticipation to death and the new life.

Meditation is not close your eyes and hum. It is a thoughful examinination and contempation and application of scripture. It is not a matter of asceticism and the like, but setting mind on things above. Trials are meant to detach us from this world and set our longings and affectons on the future world. The crosses we are given to bear are like ladders by which the mind and heart ascend to heaven. To loosen us from the things of this world.

Calvin says where is true joy and lasting joy to be found. It is to be found in its true sense not in the things, relationships of this world because they will pale in comparision to the joy of being in the presence of God and see Christ in all his glory.

Third, a realization that heaven is the ultimate destiny. There is a sense in which we have been save, are being saved, and will be saved. Only in glory will we be saved from the last remnants of corruption and freed from that attacks of Satan. There is an eternal weight of glory being prepared. Real world is actually the unseen world of angels, church triumphant and Christ and God. For Calvin this is one of the glorious priveleges is that when troubles come it does not shake us because there is an underlying rock under our feet of our eternal home that can never be taken away. Yes, it will be painful, but those who believe can stand because they look to what cannot be shaken.

So how do we do this?

This is done in part by the portayal of this life as found in the Psalter. The psalms were basic to understanding the nature of this life. The Psalms are realistic. They deal with all of life in all it good and bad. We should sing all the psalms. They are completely realistic covering the whole spectrum of emotions. We need to sing the psalms or we miss out on the shape of reformed spirituality, and will not anticipate the world to come as we should.

Second, prayer. For Calvin the psalms are prayers. What does it mean when we pray. In it we are being drawn into heaven. In prayer the Spirit makes requests in groans that words cannot express, and carries us up to heaven. For Calvin God gives us the Spirit to enable us to pray. The Spirit works for us and with us to bring our feeble voices to the Father in heaven.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Sesion #7


Read nehemiah 8

Patrick Harriston

"A Foundatin for Spiritual Revival"

For decades the walls of Jerusalme were rubble, and the people were in exile. But, now God had sent Nehemiah to restore the city, rebuild the walls, and now we come to the restoration of the people.

There is probably no other passage that sets out the foundations of true, biblical, heaven sent revival.

1. A passion for the word of god
2. Submission to the word of god
3. Transformation by the word of god

Passion for the word of God
The people gathered together and they asked Ezra to bring the law god had given. They wanted the word of god. The sense is that they directed or appointed Ezra to bring the book. We need that sort of passion in today's church.

The principle here is that true revival alwasys starts with a desire to hear the word of god. This is true throughout history. True in time of king Josaiah and in time of Luther.

Nehemiah did not coerce people to this. He did not command it. The people wanted it.

How do we account for this? The only answer is that is had to be a powerful work of God upon the hearts of his people. We naturally do not have this sort of passion for the word of God. Psalm 80:3, 7, 19 calls three times for God to turn his people to himself.

True revival stems from the work of God. That he stirs in them a yearning and desire for His word.

Remember at this time they were living in time of much improved political stability. The walls were rebuilt. Yet, there was still a sense that something was missing. They sensed that something was not right. Tells us we can have an abundance of material comfort, but unless God and word are in first place things are not right. For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

So the people went to Ezra. In doing so they went to the right person. When people want to hear the word they will look for the right man for the job. Notice they did not go to Nehemiah. Probably because Nehemiah was not the right man to do that. It was not his gift. People called for Ezra because he was best qualifited. (See Ezra 7:6, 10).

There were four outstanding characteristics of Ezra. As preachers we need these same qualities.
1. Scripturally proficient.
He was a scribe. The scriptures were his lifeblood. Teachers of God's words are to be scripturally proficient. We must be first and foremost men of the book.
2. Supernatually empowered.
The hand of the Lord was upon him. Signifies the power and enabling given to Ezra. It is possible to be skilled in scripture, but be woefully deficient in power. Power comes first and foremost from power of God in our lives. Zech. 4:6; 1 Thes. 1:5. We must seek God for his power in our preaching because on our own we are powerless. It is what makes power trembling preachers men of powerful preaching. It gives us conviction, earnestness and passion. We need the hand of God to take control of our disposition so our approach can be balanced.
3. Spiritually fervent.
Ezra was a man of deep piety. He knew God frist hand. Unless we know the God we speak about we cannot be the preachers we must be.
4. He was painstakingly dillegent.
He set his heart to study, practice and teach the word of God. Setting his hearts speaks of his enjoyment and love of the word of God. Danger of not having any enjoyment, delight of proclaiming word. Setting his heart speaks of his engagement with what he is doing. Setting his hearts speaks of his determination in what he was doing. This was oriented toward examining God's word. We would whould preach must of necessity be earnestly oriented toward the word. He also endeavored to live the word. We need to take heed to doctrine and our living it out. He also set his heart on expouding the word of God. Notice the order. It is important. First things must be done first. Some times we feel such dryness because we get caught up in professionally exegeting the text without having it work in us and see its personal application and living it out. Nothing commends the word of God as much as a life that exemplifies its truths.

The people had a passion for God's word. They were not asking for some message that was current and contemporary. They asked for the age old body of writings that were the divine word of God given to Moses. All that God wants us to know this side of eternity He has given us in the Bible. In end times people will seek after what they want to hear. There is a great push to follow contemporary trends. But, if it's new it's not true, and if it's true it's not new. We need God's book. People were devoted to the Word. They stood in the mid day sun for perhaps as much as six hours. How would that go over today? These people were not turned off by the length of sermon. The stood and delighted in it. When a people has a passon for God's word they will demand it, have a passion for it, and will delight in it. This was not a passing thing. There was a second day and they came back to Ezra that they might gain further understanding of the word of God. They read from the word daily. They delighted in the word and congregated together to hear it. Nothing more effectivly unites God's people when they find their rallying point under the word of God. Staying at home listening to tapes or televangelist is not a substitute for gathering with the people of God. There is a distinct blessing for the gathered people of God. Not only that they concentrated on the word. They were attentive. Their ears were to the book of the Lord. Minds were engaged and focused. Their focus was just right. It was more on the word than on the man of God. It was the message not the messenger they were focused on. They wanted to hear what God is saying in his word. That is how we are to gather, to hear God speaking not the man. To the extent we expect God to speak to us through the word that we will be attentive to it. And, they grasped it intellectually. This comprehension was mentioned several times. Notice the goal is not to feel good, but to understand the word of God. How different this is from what we find so often today. Think of Phillip and the Etheopian eunich--do you understand what you are reading. Understanding of the word is vital. When it is understood it will ultimatly bring joy.

Do we have the passion, the delight for God's word. There are times when we do not have a heart felt passion for the word of God. Maybe only intellectual delight without the heart being gripped by it. Is it a drugery or a delight? The call is to desire the pure milk of the word like a baby desires milk (1 Peter). Why so often do we lack this?

Many things clutter it out:
1) Worldly anxieties and cares. Need to pray God will turn our eyes away from vanity.
2) Unconfessed sins. Sin is like wax in the ears when it comes to God's word.

Basis of revival is a return a passion for the word of God. May God help us in this regard for his name sake.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Session #6

Sadly I missed this session entitled, "Mortification and Vivification:
The Shape of Holiness in Calvin’s Institutes" I was quite tired at supper and decided to go to my room to lie down. I closed my eyes for a while to rest them . . . when I woke up it was well into the session time, and by the time I would have gotten everything together and walked over it would have been over, so I decided to simply forego the walk, and stay in my room. I am looking forward to hearing from others how this session went. If I purchase the CDs of the conference, I may post on this later.

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Session #5


Jonathan Watson -- “When Disaster Strikes: Lessons from Thomas Brooks”

A disaster of historic scale. 100000's of dead in London in 1660's plague. Victims were left in houses and doors nailed shut. Nurses hired to provide for their needs, and guards posted to keep them in. All to no effect. Large numbers of people died and the disease spread. A huge exodus became of the cities population, perhaps as many as 100000. Ironically many of the medical doctors and clergy left. Poor were prohibited from leaving. People tried everything they could think of to try to stop it. By the end of July 1665 more than 1000 Londoners were dying each week.

It was in the midst of this very disaster that Thomas Brooks ministered the gospel to the people of London. He was one of the 2000 ministers of the c of e who was ejected from his pulpit because of non-conformity. He chose to remain in in his parish and proclaim gospel. He remained there when the plague came. He did not leave the sheep in the hour of their greatest danger.

What is it that allows you to stay at your post? For books it was the strong sense of his call, love of Christ for sinner, the desperate need to those dying souls around him and the strong knowledge of the sovereignty of God.

Out of this he published several books. These books written in adversity have brought and continue to bring blessing even today.

Much was written to real flesh and blood people. People who had suffered from the plague and the loses from that time. Gives a great insight into puritan pastoral theology.

Brooks clearly regarded the receivers of his letters as believers. Believers who share a common experience of suffering. Clearly Brooks and his fellow puritans saw no inconsistence in possession of real faith and experiencing suffering, sickness and even death. In all that the lord still loves them.

there is a great art in not only hearing the voice of affliction, but also in understanding its voice. The encouragement he gave was for people to look and see the hand of God in the plague. He wanted them to see the hands of providence in this disaster. He wanted them to see that all afflictions that God lays on his people are his rod. It is their highest and greatest concern to hear the rod and learn the lessons God would have them learn from them.

He develops this in various ways. In showing how afflictions are like a rod he points out how parents choose what rod they will correct with not the children. So also God chooses the rod with which he will exercise his people.

That means we should never look at the rod apart from the one who wields it. Look to Christ and his affliction. But in the hands of the father that rod was one of love. The one he loves he chastens.

Perhaps the best statement is a call to acknowledge Gods sovereignty over the rod. All of it is under his control to increase, decrees, change or whatever else.

1. God is the author of all diseases in the world and he sends and calls them off at his pleasure.

2. It is a great point of faith to believe that all diseases are limited by God in terms of times and places. Plagues were in Egypt except for Goshen.

3. It is a great point of faith to believe that all diseases are limited in terms of persons.

4. ...that all disease are limited by God in the degrees in which they will rise.

5. . . . That all diseases are limited by God in terms of their continuance.

Must see that afflictions, all afflictions are under control of the sovereign God.

Modern historians sneer at the views of puritans concerning plague as a judgment of God upon the wickedness of the nation especially the act of conformity and the pastors who suffered because of it. But for brooks the rod is more than punishment, sometimes afflictions sent for trial but in no way because of sin. An example of this would be Job. Sometimes afflictions for trial, sometimes for instruction, sometimes for wrath.

Why then does God take up rod upon his children? He gave seven reasons and not all of them are punishment. Many are for training, instruction, build good that is there, to help open understanding, and make fit for service to God. Think of 2 Corinthians 1 when the sufferings that are comforted by God we are made able to comfort others. Could not do without suffering.

So how should we respond to the rod? Three areas of response:
1. Ask, "why the rod?" seek to know what the message of the rod is. That means asking God why the rod. This is not to satisfy curiosity, but comfort conscience. Brooks gives 12 ways that are found in his works.

2. Repent if rod because of sin. Deeply judge yourselves and humble repent of the sin that brought the rod upon you.

3. Cleave and cling close to God under the rod. Draw close to God to experience the riches and glory of God. This is the response of faith.

In summary we should fear the hand that wields the rod more than the rod itself. We should fear him with a fear of reverence. God is the refuge of his people. He is with them everywhere and always. We have his presence with us.

Finally, prepare for death. Have a readiness to die. Every pain, disease, sore is a warning to people to prepare to die. We die but once, so we need to prepare for it.

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Mini-Session


Starting last year the conference has included mini sessions of 15 minutes dealing with certain topics that are important for pastors and elders to consider. This is such a session.

Mark Johnson – Call To Ministry

The importance of appreciating the call to the ministry. Ministry is not merely a job, it is a calling. We need to be reminded of that. It is not something we choose ourselves, it is something that we are called to by God.

Today in evangelicalism the concept of calling is being challenged. These new views need to be challenged especially because of their effect on those in ministry.

Reason #1 -- Our understand of calling effects those who are entering ministry. Asking a candidate if they have been induced to enter the ministry by the Holy Spirit

This can be recognized first by a shared recognition of giftedness. This is not merely recognized individually, but also by the elders of the church.

Secondly, there must be a shared process of preparation. Seminaries are not pastor factories. Seminary educations only work if done in conjunction with the church.

Third, shared recognition only comes about when a particular man is called by a particular congregation.

B appreciating what calling means understanding what the ministry is.

First, the God who calls men is the God who equips men for ministry. That means the highest accountability is to God.

Second, we will appreciate for what we are responsible. This will change how we prioritize the things we do in ministry. Only when we appreciate the responsibility of our calling that we can see clearly. Above all there is preaching and pastoring of God' people

Third, we are to appreciate the provision for ministry that God gives. He is the one who provides what is needed. Who is sufficient for these things. God's grace is sufficient for all things.

C. Historic view of calling helps us as we sustain our ministries.

First, it helps in sustaining freshness in our ministry. The fact that we are called there by God means we will keep looking to God for fresheness both for the things we preach and our own freshness.

Second, it help in term of facing the difficulties of ministry. Ministry is filed with obstacles. Knowing calling helps us face these.

Third, it helps us complete our ministry. The only thing that will keep us at our post is the knowledge that God put us there in the first place. If God led us there he did so for a reason and purpose.

Humanly speaking the work of the ministry is an impossible task. But, the one who calls us into ministry is the one of who we can say I can do all thing through him who gives me strength.

Banner of Truth 2007 -- Session #4


Session 4 Sinclair Ferguson -- “Our Holiness: Abiding in Christ’s Love”

John 15
Particularly verses 1-7
In center point of the teachings of the farewell discourse.
chapter 15 gives us what seems like a metaphor, but in the process it grows into a remarkable analogy of the relationship between Christ and his people.
Begin with a question, "asked last night if we would have ordered topics of holiness the way they have done here."
Especially would we have included the section in the middle with abiding in Christ, or would we not have used the theme of the conflict for sanctification. Suspects many of us would have passed abiding in Christ and went to the battle and finished with the Spirit. From and architectonic approach this would make sense, but sanctification at the end of the day is a matter of personal character. Holiness is what we become in Christ Therefore this topic of abiding in the love of Christ that is very important. It provides a very particular flavor.

We can become very tired of the statement that the heart of the Christian message is love, but the truth is that the heart of the Christian message is love. First fruit of Spirit mentioned is love. The summary of the law is love. The believer is one who abides or stays in the love of Christ

there is a false type of holiness that is a sanctification by vinegar. Where a person presents themselves as an example of sanctification which has something in it that not only repels unbelievers, but also repels weak believers.

The call is how we relate to the least of these. To the weak believers, that is a mark of our sanctification. A test of our holiness is how do we deal with the weak ones, and how we seek them out.

Abiding in Christ brings a new atmosphere to a persons life. Not like a house that is immaculate, but at the same time while it looks good it is filled with a sense of alienation. Instead it is to be homey comforting, loving.

Ch 15 verse 9 'abide in my love'
this is of the quintessence of true holiness. Love flows out of us to congregation only in so far as we abide in love of Christ.

Three headings
The love in which we abide
The union with Christ by which we abide
Characteristic marks
1. The love in which we abide
tendency to make it so ethereal that we think it cannot be described in words. But Jesus puts it into words. That is the pattern is first of all the love the Father has for the son. Love of son for the Father is rarely mentioned in John's gospel, but there are many references to the love of the Father to the son. So many examples of how the Father loves the son. From the beginning the intimacy implicit in the "pros ton theon" of the word with the Father. the Father has given all things into the sons hands (john 3:35). The Father loves the son and shows his all the things he is doing (john 5). Similar to Father teaching son his trade. Extraordinary love of Father in that he has no secret from the son, shows him what he does. John 8:32 do what Father does. John 15:9 John 17:24, 26 Or most significantly is John 10:17, for this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life.

The love 9of the Father fros the son has more than one dimension because it is and eternal bond with one another. Mutual esteem, enjoyment, and mutual admiration. given a pale reflection of the love of a man and his wife who can spend much time just with one another. Before creation creation God was being intimate, loving his son. This is beyond our imagination.

Fellowship of Gods people is an analogy of the love of God for his son. That they may be one as the Father and son our one that the world may believe. It isn't normal. It isn't natural. It is supra natural.

The Father loves his son as his son from all eternity. The Fathers love for his son is unconditional, but the Fathers love for the son as a mediator is carefully conditions. It is capable of development and growth. Jesus in john 10 says there is a moment in his life as mediator where there is a moment of climactic consummation of the Fathers love for him. That Christ would become incarnate and enter Mary's womb. But, that paled into in significants when on the cross when he cried out, "my God why have you forsaken me." that was when Father cried out 'my Jesus I love they."

Jesus loved his disciples to the end. Speaking of his atoning love. see paralleled of Philippians 2:5-11 and John 13 where Jesus took form of servant and washed feet. when he finished he took his place at the head of the table. Whom he loves he loves to the end, not to their end and their death, but to his end, that he might love them more. That is what the atonement is all about, the efficacious love of God to salvation that he might love us more.

This fullness of love in which we are to dwell is not just in what he does to atone for us, but the love that brings atonement is the stepping stone to the love of complacency or delight in those for whom the atonement was made. So he now loves us as those he has atoned for. See that here in john 15. Owen speaks of this in a four fold manner.
1 love of delight--outflowing of love in appreciation and joy 15:11. Once atoned for there is a love of Jesus that overflows in delight over believers. We can so easily lose sight of this.
2. Love of value. He was made flesh and died for his people. His saving love for us expresses his value of us. Because he has died for us,we have become valuable. Not based in our value in ourselves. We are his treasured possession.
3. The love of pity or compassion. Expressed in many ways. Here in v 18 we find the world will hate us because he love us. So at the end of the passage he speaks of how the counsellor will come
4. The love of ? Love of the abundance of grace that is ours in Christ Jesus.

How well do you understand this in what it does to the style of your holiness?

the union in which we are to abide
1. A personal union. Abide in me and I in you. That is difficult for us to expound is that there is not a perfect analogy for this. Jesus uses the vine and the branches. The union we have with Jesus Christ is a union with his person. "Pistuo eis" eisis unique to bible. indicates union of persons. Not an impersonal union, it is the very person of the son of God in us by Spirit and us in him by the Spirit. The union with Christ we have is not that we somehow or another share his grace because following him there is no such thing as grace. Grace cannot be separated from Jesus Christ There is only the lord Jesus grace is not something. All there is is Jesus himself. let us not fail to understand that Christianity is Christ So you become like him because you live most closely with him. People in congregation start to be like their pastor, and their modeling of Christ is based in his modeling of Christ even in its distortions. Key is personal union with Christ
2. Spiritual union. In sense that it is a union forged by the Spirit. The same Spirit that indwelt him and empowered him as he walked this earth. There are not more than one Spirit There is only one holy Spirit, and he is the one who indwells all believes. Verse 23, if anyone loves me then my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. He will more and more work in me by the holy Spirit so that I become more and more a fitting home for Christ
3. union that is regulated by his word. If my word abides in you, Jesus said. Col 3, let the word dwell in you richly. Our love for the lord Jesus will be manifested in what we are and how we are preaching. Not experts who stand over scriptures, but people who bring out beauties of the scripture and hold it up before them. that they see that we to are constantly learning more of scripture. That we with them are below the scriptures and sit where the congregation sits. Our ministry of the word weekly is a marvelous part of our abiding in Christ
4. Union of friends. Dr. Ferguson laments the easy use of Christian names today. Not like the days when one would draw one into friendship by saying, call me by my Christian name. Now he calls his disciples friends. This is also a growing union, like union with wife grows after marriage. This will grow forever in the coming age.
5. A union the causes pain. As the things that should not be part of us are chiseled away. We feel that pain, yet we don't understand why. We are pruned by the Father to cut away everything that gets into the ways of fruit

C. The marks of those who abide
1. Universal obedience to the lord Jesus commands
2. Respondent friendship to Jesus himself--he not just makes us friends but seeks a response of friendship. To think of ourselves as his friend.
3. Love for all those for whom Jesus has died -- love one another
4. A willingness to suffer in communion with Christ Union with Christ will bring suffering
5. a constraint to witness to Jesus name. When the helper comes he will bear witness and you will bear witness. V27. Because Spirit with Christ from the beginning
6. Christ's joy will be in us and our joy will be full. What does Jesus mean by this? Both our lives give Jesus great joy and the great joy of our Saviour dwells in us.

When this is true, our ministries will be different and Jesus like.
At the end of the day there is nothing else worth living fr.

Opening -- O The Deep Deep Love Of Jesus