Tuesday, December 3, 2013

John Piper's Poem, "The Calvinist"

When many people speak (or hear) of Calvinism, they think of a "faith" that is cold and unfeeling. This short poem, in video form, does a wonderful job of getting at the essence of what a Calvinistic understanding of God and his word ought to look like. My prayer is that I, by God's grace, may be this kind of man.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Need Thee Every Hour...A Capella

I heard this yesterday really enjoyed it. All the parts are sung by one man, Sam Robson. His voice sounds really good with, well, his voice. Check out other a capella arrangements by Robson here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Think My Boyfriend's a Calvinst

This song by a young lady named Jacki McLeod is, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic.



He won't buy me roses
None of those daffodils
He just buys me TULIPS
To explain the way he feels

He said, "I treasure the Pslams, 
On my heart they are engraved.
But there's room for your name too, 
In a special spot I've saved."
"Can I ask you on a date...
Even though you're totally depraved?"

I think my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
He's always reading an NKJV
I think my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
Quoting Romans 8:28-30.

I think my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
But ultimately, 
It doesn't matter -
I didn't choose him, he chose me.

He said, "All I'm looking for is a godly woman,
I don't care if she's not pretty."
And considering your complexion,
It's a good thing I believe 
In unconditional election."

He said, "perseverance of the Saints is well illustrated 

By the way I put up with you constant complaining."
I said, "You're an epistemological, presuppositional, and post-millennial Covenantal Calvinist, also a theonomist, superlapsarian, and Reformed Presbyterian, but never an Arminian..." 
Don't say I am complicated!

He said, "Babe I'm sorry, 

I'll tell you something true."
"You're so unblemished, 
I could sacrifice you."

I think my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
He's got a tattoo that says "I heart RC Sproul"
I think my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
He made me burn my NIV Bible

I think my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
But ultimately, 
It doesn't matter -
I didn't choose him, he chose me. 

He said, "I wish I was the Holy Spirit 
So I could be inside your heart."
He said, "God told us to multiply, 
So baby, let's start!"

One day he said, "I love you Grace". 
I said, "My name is Jacki, you fool."
He said, "Are you sure your name isn't Grace?
Because you're irresistible."  

And that's what I knew, that...
My boyfriend's a Calvinist;
Il parles fran├žais comme Jean Calvin.
I know my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
Born in August like St Augustine.
I know my boyfriend's a Calvinist;
But ultimately, 
It doesn't matter -
I didn't choose him, he chose me. 

(HT: Jason Helpoulos)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Your Beauty is Awesome

Quite impressed by the witness of these Egyptian believers whose church was bombed...

(HT: Tim Brown)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Sermon Series on the Book of Ruth

Beginning this Sunday I will be preaching a series entitled Divine Faithfulness: The Book of Ruth. I can't wait, as Ruth is one of my favorite books of the Bible. As Sinclair Ferguson writes,
The book of Ruth is not a work of deep theological reasoning like Paul's epistle to the Romans, yet it is full of theology. It is not a magnificent symphony on the work of Christ like the Gospel of John, yet it ultimately points to the coming of Christ. It is not full of vivid apocalyptic imagery like the book of Revelation, yet it traces the details of God's working in the unfolding of the events of history. It is not basic instruction about the kingdom of God like the Sermon on the Mount, yet it contains important lessons about life in the kingdom.
If you live in the Flint area, we'd love to have you join us at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings this fall as we examine this Old Testament treasure of a book. Audio of sermons in the series will be posted on our website as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crazy Busy

If your life is anything like mine, you probably have the occasional busy day. Okay, more realistically, EVERY day seems to be a busy day. Because this is such a reality for so many of us, Kevin DeYoung has written the book Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. This week, Westminster Seminary Books has them available for half price (just $6.00).

Check out the following video preview in which DeYoung discusses the dangers of busyness and (especially) the video below it which includes DeYoung's cute, funny children.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Courage in the Ordinary

The other day I was listening to The White Horse Inn radio program and they had Tish Harrison Warren as a guest. I've never heard of Warren before, but I loved what she had to say about their topic this week: Courage in the Ordinary.

She recently wrote a blog post dealing with that very topic. In it she pointed out the desire that many Christians have to do something radical or revolutionary for Christ, a desire that she not only has experienced, but acted upon through various ministry efforts throughout her early adult years.

Despite this desire to be extraordinary for Christ though, she has come to see the value in the ordinary.
Now, I’m a thirty-something with two kids living a more or less ordinary life. And what I’m slowly realizing is that, for me, being in the house all day with a baby and a two-year-old is a lot more scary and a lot harder than being in a war-torn African village. What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily every-dayness of life. Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home. Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on an average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it.
She continues...
And here is the embarrassing truth: I still believe in and long for a revolution. I still think I can make a difference beyond just my front door. I still want to live radically for Jesus and be part of him changing the world. I still think mediocrity is dull, and I still fret about settling. 
But I’ve come to the point where I’m not sure anymore just what God counts as radical. And I suspect that for me, getting up and doing the dishes when I’m short on sleep and patience is far more costly and necessitates more of a revolution in my heart than some of the more outwardly risky ways I’ve lived in the past. And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day — an afternoon with a colicky baby where I’m probably going to snap at my two-year old and get annoyed with my noisy neighbor — without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I’ve done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting that the Lord notices me and is fond of me and that that is enough.
None of this is, of course, to criticize caring for the homeless or providing help somewhere on the other side of the globe. It merely reminds us that while we often spend much time and energy "looking for ministry opportunities," in reality we have many of them staring us in the face each day. And though they might not seem as glamorous or important as others, we must remember that we serve a God whose economy is radically different than our own.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

See The Man Who Ate New Orleans


I've posted before about Ray Cannata, who is not only the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, but is also known as The Man Who Ate New Orleans. He is so called because of his successful quest to eat at every (non-chain) restaurant in New Orleans. That quest was part of a larger story though, a story told in Michael Dunaway's documentary film of the same name.

It's not just a story about food though. It's a story of one man's love for the city to which God had called him. Ray likes to say, "New Orleans is the best picture of Heaven that I know on earth.  It's also the best picture of Hell I know."  This balance, he says, provides both something to look forward to, as well as something to be a part of fixing. Ray and Redeemer have been a big part of that effort ever since Hurricane Katrina.

I've been excited to see the finished film ever since I met Ray a few years ago. Just yesterday I saw the following note on the film's Facebook page:

We're very very proud to announce that TMWANO will be premiering next Tuesday, August 28, for $2.99 streaming rental at Seed&Spark! Seed&Spark was started by some dear friends of ours (superstar founder Emily Best was chosen by Indiewire as one of 20 people changing the face of indie film), and it's a great, great concept. Check it out, for sure. We'll also be available for digital download and on DVD that same day (details to follow). And we're planning a big red carpet theatrical debut in Atlanta for the night of August 27th, so mark your calendars!!! 
A couple years ago I shared the trailer below. Check it out. Or even better, check out the film next Tuesday at Seed&Spark!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jesus on Every Page

I am very much looking forward to reading Jesus on Every Page by David Murray. Sinclair Ferguson offers the following endorsement: "With deceptive ease Dr. David Murray brings his readers on to the Road to Emmaus for a few hours of conversation about Jesus and the Old Testament. With an enviable grace and simplicity he teaches us how to read the Old Testament as Christians."

And if you buy the book this month, Dr. Murray is offering a bundle of great resources along with it for free.

If you're still not sold, check out the video trailer below:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Glory of Christ Conference Info

October 26th, Calvary Presbyterian Church will host the 10th annual Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference. The theme of this year's conference will be The Glory of Christ and, as has become our custom, a group of gifted pastors from the region will be assembled to address us.

Brief profiles of each of the speakers are listed below along with the specific topics on which they are speaking. As I'm sure you will agree, this is shaping up to be one of our best conferences yet!

All that is required is that you register for the conference, which you can do (for FREE...including a hot lunch!) by clicking here. If you have any questions, please email them to me at Pete@CalvaryFlint.com.

Join us this October as we behold The Glory of Christ!


2013 Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference Sessions

The Glory of Christ in His Incarnation & Temptation -- Pastor David Crabb has served as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lapeer since 2010. He is in the process of a transition to a new position with Training Leaders International, a ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. TLI sends teams of people around the world to train pastors who otherwise might not have access to sound theological education. David’s responsibilities will include writing curriculum for, as well as organizing and leading these teams. His educational background includes a BA in Rhetoric & Public Address from Bob Jones University and an MDiv from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, and he is currently pursuing a DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. David and his wife Stephanie have two daughters.

The Glory of Christ in His Transfiguration -- Rev. Jason Helopoulos is the Assistant Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, having previously served as church planter and Pastor of Providence PCA in East Lansing. Prior to that, he had served on the staff of Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Dallas as a pastoral intern for one year and as an Assistant Pastor at Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Lexington, North Carolina. Jason received a BA in History and Secondary Education from Eastern Illinois University and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary. A regular blogger on The Gospel Coalition and Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals websites, Jason also the author of A Neglected Grace: Family Worship in the Christian Home. He and his wife Leah have one daughter and one son.

The Glory of Christ in His Ascension & Intercession -- Rev. Chuck Jacob has been Senior Pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church (EPC) for almost a decade, having previously served as an assistant pastor at 2nd Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Chuck received his MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and while in seminary, he spent one year in Glascow, Scotland as a pastoral intern with Rev. Eric Alexander and Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. Before attending seminary, Chuck received a BA in Economics from Stanford University and worked in Washington DC for eight years, first as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board and then as a lobbyist for Apple. Chuck and his wife Diane have two daughters and one son.

The Glory of Christ in His Inauguration & Second Coming -- Dr. Don  Galardi is pastor of Community Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Owosso, where he has served for over 33 years. His educational degrees include a BA in Biblical Studies from John Wesley College, an MA in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Religious Studies from Trinity Theological Seminary. Don is a grader of written ordination exams for the EPC, has served as moderator of the EPC’s Midwest Presbytery, and is the author of the book Corrective Biblical Discipline: A Study in Scripture, the Reformed Heritage, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He currently is a board member for Gospel Through Colombia, which provides theological education for Protestant congregations throughout that country. Don and his wife Diedre have one son, one daughter and seven grandchildren.


Monday, August 5, 2013

A Word for Preachers...William Still on Preaching the Whole Word of God

"Beyond the deeper truths of the Gospel -- which, alas, so many do not teach and preach for, I fear, reasons obscure to others but known to themselves -- there is the darker blackcloth to the Good News, namely, the penal and corrective judgements of God, upon which the scintillating diamond of the Gospel shines with a thousand facets. The judgements are also the Word of God; and only he who preaches and teaches the whole Bible, dark and light, rightly dividing the Word of truth, fully proclaims the Word of God. After all, we see a rainbow only on the clouds."

William Still
The Work of the Pastor

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...DeYoung on Christ and Communion

"The Lord's Supper is not only a visible reminder of the gospel, it is a spiritual feast where Christ is present as both the host and the meal. His presence is not physical, but it is real. At the Table, Christ nourishes us, strengthens us, and assures us of his love. We do not celebrate an absent Christ in the Supper, but enjoy communion with the living Christ. As Richard Baxter remarked, 'Nowhere is God so near to man as in Jesus Christ; and nowhere is Christ so familiarly represented to us, as in the holy sacrament.'"

Kevin DeYoung
The Hole in our Holiness

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fun...Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Check out this video of a dog seeing its owner for the first time in six months:



...and then there's the video of a cat's reaction in a similar situation:


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Revival vs. Revivalism

I really appreciated this video with Bryan Chapell, Kevin DeYoung and Rick Phillips discussing the topic of "revival and revivalism."
Should Christians Pray for Revival? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Register for the Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference

We're about half-way through summer and before we know it, fall will be upon us. That means it's time to register for the 10th annual Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference to be held on Saturday, October 26th from 10:00 am to 4:30 at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Flint.

Keep your eyes open for more detailed information that will be released soon, but as I have mentioned here before, the theme of this year's conference is "The Glory of Christ" and our speakers will be:
The entire event (including a hot lunch) is free of charge, but we do need to have an idea of how many will be attending, so we ask that you click here and fill out the quick and easy online registration form.

Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Biggest Mistakes Young Preachers Make

Great words of advice for new preachers from Voddie Baucham, Russell Moore and Tullian Tchividjian in The Gospel Coalition video below.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ESV Gospel Transformation Bible

I love Bryan Chapell. I love the English Standard Version of the Bible. I love the Christ-centered, gospel-grounded understanding that I've come to have of the overarching narrative of the Scriptures.

For all these reasons and many more--including (but not limited to) the involvement of Dane Ortlund and Scotty Smith--I can't wait to see the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Check out the video below.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Words at the End of a Pilgrim's Journey

Ever since I moved to Michigan nearly seven years ago, Leroy Cole has been among my dearest friends and most respected mentors. When my father died this past April, many people had kind words to say to me, but Leroy's words were among the wisest, most pastoral and and most profound.

I was saddened this week when I learned of his mother's passing at the age of 96, and further saddened that I simply lacked the capacity to share with him words as wonderful as those he had shared with me.

When I attended his mother's funeral today, I was moved by Leroy's words once more. The cover of the bulletin for the funeral included the picture above from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, as well as the following quote from Part II of the book:
Now the day drew on that Christiana must be gone. So the road was full of people to see her take her journey. But behold all the banks beyond the river were full of horses and chariots, which were come down from above to accompany her to the city gate. So she came forth and entered the river, with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the riverside. The last word she was heard to say here were, I come, Lord, to be with thee and bless thee.
So her children and friends returned to their place, for that those that waited for Christiana had carried her out of their sight. So she went and called, and entered in at the gate with all the ceremonies of joy that her husband Christian had done before her.
At her departure her children wept, but Mr Great-heart and Mr Valiant played upon the well-tuned cymbal and harp for joy. So all departed to their respective places.
Leroy commented,
And so it is that Bunyan pictures the departure of Christian's wife, Christiana. She and all pilgrims have their own path and progress, but persevere in the company of fellow pilgrims. Mr. Great-heart and Mr. Valiant-for-truth are the pastors who guide and protect believers along their way to the Celestial City. Their roll is not to secure them in this world, for all they are pilgrims marching to Zion.
So Monday, as a son, I wept at my mother's crossing. As a pastor, I rejoiced at her entrance into the presence of the King.
At times like these we try to humanize death, to think and say such things as, "she is now reunited with her husband after nineteen years of absence." But Darwin in life and death was valiant for truth and he, with great joy, accompanied her to the feet of Jesus: "the Way, the Truth and the Life." Faith gives way to sight and the face of Love is viewed.
"The Lamb is all Glory in Emmanuel's Land." (Rev. 5:4-10)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Fun...Father's Day

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Congrats to Redeemer New Orleans!

Chris Wappel is a good friend of mine from my college days. A few years ago he got married and I went to New Orleans for the wedding with my brother-in-law who also was friends with us in college. While there, we were introduced to Redeemer Presbyterian Church and its pastor Ray Cannata. Both of us deeply enjoyed our time with Ray and the Sunday morning we spent worshiping at Redeemer.

I have since developed somewhat of a friendship with Ray and you may remember my previous post about him as The Man Who Ate New Orleans. In Ray's time in New Orleans, not only has he dined at every restaurant in the city, Redeemer has been a part of rebuilding hundreds of houses demolished by Hurricane Katrina. If you haven't already seen them, check out the trailers below from the documentary film featuring these efforts.

Well, this Sunday was a big day at Redeemer as they officially moved from "mission church" status to that of a "particular church." Ray was officially installed as Pastor of the congregation and Chris was ordained and installed as a ruling elder.

Congratulations to them both and to everyone at Redeemer. May God bless you all as you continue to do the hard work of bringing the gospel to bear on the Big Easy!



The Man Who Ate New Orleans Sizzle Reel HD from Michael Dunaway on Vimeo.

Monday, June 10, 2013

As the Lord Commanded

In Exodus 39 and 40 we read about the making of the priestly garments and the tabernacle being erected. In those two chapters, at least 18 times they are said to have done something "as the LORD had commanded Moses" (or some other phrase with similar meaning). Upon reading this today, a series of thoughts came across my mind:
  • Wow. It's pretty amazing how specific God was in what exactly he wanted done amongst his people, especially in terms of their worship of him. We probably ought to be very careful about our propensity to choose churches on the basis of our preferences.

  • Wouldn't it be nice if God spoke to us as he spoke to Moses, so that we might do things "as the Lord had commanded" us? 

  • About a tenth of a second later it occurred to me that of course he DOES speak to us, through the Scriptures! If I truly hungered to know and do God's will, then surely I would be ravenous in my appetite for God's word. And yet, there are times when I hunger for other things. Perhaps you are the same. Lord, forgive us of our double-mindedness and smash our idols that we might worship only you!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Registration Open for Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference

Even though it's not yet June, you can already register for the 10th annual Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference to be held on Saturday, October 26th from 10:00 am to 4:30.

As I have mentioned here before, the theme of this year's conference is "The Glory of Christ" and our speakers will be:
The entire event (including a hot lunch) is free of charge, but we do need to have an idea of how many will be attending, so we ask that you click here and fill out the quick and easy online registration form.

Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Church...In Less Than Three Minutes





(HT: Scott Sauls)

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Paul David Tripp on Spiritual Maturity

"It is quite easy for (seminary) students to buy into the belief that biblical maturity is about the precision of theological knowledge and the completeness of their biblical literacy. So seminary graduates, who are Bible and theology experts, tend to think of themselves as being mature. But it must be said that maturity is not merely something you do with your mind (although that is an important element of spiritual maturity). No, maturity is about how you live your life. It is possible to be theologically astute and be very immature. It is possible to be biblically literate and be in need of significant spiritual growth."

Paul David Tripp
Dangerous Calling

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Word for Preachers...Mohler on the Need for Urgency in Preaching

"In all too many pulpits, God has become our next-door neighbor, our great cosmic companion, or the divine leader of our small group, rather than the holy God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps the lack of urgency in so much preaching today comes from a lack of understanding about humanity's awful predicament. The greatest problem we human beings face is not a shortage of self-esteem. It is that we have rebelled against God, and, in His holiness, God will one day hold us to horrible account for our sin.

"The gospel necessarily comes with an urgent warning, because the distinction between those who obey its call and those who disobey is not merely between a better life and a worse life. It is the difference between life and death. It is an eternal distinction, for the cost of disobedience and the coast of not hearing the gospel is eternal death.

"That is why we must preach with urgency of a dying man. It is because human beings are in desperate need of salvation. Time is short, God's wrath is certain, and eternity hangs in the balance. Moreover, there is for each of us only one way out of this predicament, and that is the salvation God Himself has won through the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ."

Al Mohler
He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Refuge Amidst Storms of Destruction

In the daily Bible reading plan our church is working through, chapters 57-59 of the Book of Psalms was on the schedule for yesterday. As I opened my Bible, it struck me that the reading began with these words:
"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by." (Psalm 57:1)
The phrase "storms of destruction" provided an especially vivid illustration in the aftermath of the tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma in recent days. At times, our sin and life's trials truly wreak havoc in our lives in such a way that they could be labeled "storms of destruction." And then other times, those storms are less metaphorical. In both cases, the Body of Christ is called on to come alongside those who are suffering and to show them the love of Christ.

That is why I was so pleased when the deacons at our church met this week and agreed to collect donations through Sunday, June 2 to assist the relief effort in Oklahoma. HERE IS THE GREAT PART: They have decided to match every dollar given to this effort (up to $5000), and then will send the total amount to our friends at City Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City for them to oversee allocation of the funds in the relief effort.

City Pres is a gospel-loving church with a real heart for Oklahoma City and the surrounding area, and they are deeply involved with the relief effort. Click here to read Pastor Doug Serven's reflections on his day yesterday, which was spent in part cleaning up a cemetery and praying with those impacted by this storm of destruction.

If you would like to be a part of this effort, a collection box will be made available the next two Sundays at Calvary. Or, if you can't join us but would still like to play a part, feel free to send a check to Calvary Presbyterian Church at 6100 Richfield Rd., Flint, MI 48506 with "OKC" written in the memo section.




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

TGC Conference Audio Available


Last month around 5,000 people gathered in Orlando for The Gospel Coalition's national conference.  As TGC's founding documents state, their desire is "to serve the church we love . . . in an effort to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ." As such, they have made all of the TGC13 conference media (78 talks) available online for free. What a blessing to have all of this great teaching at our fingertips!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Robert Murray M'Cheyne

300 years ago today, Robert Murray M'Cheyne was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. M'Cheyne is most famous for the Bible-reading program he developed and for his applicatory preaching. Eric J. Alexander writes of him in What is Biblical Preaching?, 'He seemed, as his preaching progressed, to advance upon you until he was standing inside your heart, applying the Word of God to all your life.'

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote of him in his wonderful book, Preachers & Preaching,
You remember what was said of the saintly Robert Murray McCheyne of Scotland in the last century. It is said that when he appeared in the pulpit, even before he had uttered a single word, people would begin to weep silently. Why? Because of this very element of seriousness. The very sight of the man gave the impression that he had come from the presence of God and that he was to deliver a message from God to them. That is what had such an effect upon the people even before he had opened his mouth. We forget this at our peril, and at great cost to our listener.  
Below is a talk that John Piper gave on M'Cheyne at the 2011 Desiring God Pastor's Conference. Check it out if you get the chance, and thank God for the presence and example of such ministers as Robert Murray M'Cheyne.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Greater Pleasure than Sin


Good friend (and speaker at the upcoming Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference) David Crabb authored a blog post today about sin. I know. What a fun topic to talk about! NOT!!!

Actually, as David recognizes in the post, if we had our druthers we probably wouldn't talk about sin at all. It is not pleasant spending time considering that which has so much power over us. And no matter how often we redouble our efforts to "try harder," it seems that those efforts always end in futility, as we are relentlessly enticed by sin's promises of pleasure (fleeting though it may be).

David writes though that there is a way to defeat sin:
The only way to defeat the pleasure of sin is by faith in the promise of God that there is a greater pleasure. Something more satisfying, more joy-giving than sin. Holiness will not come through man-made regulations or through using fear as a motivation, but through a mind captivated and controlled by Christ. Seeing Christ is what causes us to be like Him. When we see Him partially in this life, we are changed partially into His likeness. When we see Him perfectly in the life to come, we will be changed perfectly into His likeness.
Click here to read the entire post.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Word for Preachers...Wright on the Central Calling of Preachers

The words "Him we proclaim" in Colossians 1:28 "serve, for Christian preachers and teachers, as a constant reminder of their central calling, not (first and foremost) to comment on current affairs or to alleviate human problems, good and necessary as those activities may be, but to announce that Jesus is Lord."

N.T. Wright
The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries:
Colossians & Philemon

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Fun...Kiss Cam

A reminder to be careful. You never know who is watching...or when you might get exactly what you deserve.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference...Save the Date

On Saturday, October 26th our church will be hosting the Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference. This will be our tenth year hosting the conference and we are very excited about it!

This year's theme will be "The Glory of Christ" and as has become our custom, we will once again have four gifted pastors from our region coming to speak to us. Our guest speakers will be:
One big change that we hope you will be excited about is the fact that THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE WILL BE ABSOLUTELY FREE! We will gladly accept donations to help support the conference and enable us to continue to provide it, but we wanted to remove the possible obstacle of cost so that as many people as possible could be a part of this thoroughly enjoyable and edifying experience. 

So make sure you mark October 26th on your calendars now. In the meantime, feel free to email any questions to me at Pete@CalvaryFlint.com, and keep your eyes open for further information.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Ted Kluck on Cynicism and Sin

"Cynicism is described accurately by Paul Miller in A Praying Life: 'Shattered optimism sets us up for the fall into defeated weariness and, eventually, cynicism. You'd think it would just leave us less optimistic, but as humans we don't do neutral well. We go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. We feel betrayed by life.'

"And when we feel betrayed by life--and God--sin usually follows. We sin because we fundamentally distrust that God's plan will be enough to bring us the happiness (or esteem or comfort) that we crave the most. So we look to the world to provide those things. And many times, from Christians, we're just implored to 'sin less.' We buy the forty-ninth Internet filter for our computers, or take on our fifth accountability partner. Those things, mind you, are good and helpful. But like John Piper asserts in Future Grace, we must replace the sin with something greater."

Ted Kluck
Finding God in the Dark

Sola Conference

The five "Solas" stand at the heart of Reformation Christianity and they will be the theme of a conference in Michigan this December. I look forward to attending the Sola Conference in Lansing on December 6th and 7th, and sitting under the teaching of a great group of speakers.

Heikkinen and DeYoung (the conference's organizers) speak about it in the video below:



Check it out here, register by July 31 for only $45, and I'll see you there! The schedule is as follows:

Friday, December 6, 2013 

9:00 – 1:00: Preconference Track for Pastors & Church Planters
2:30 – 4:00: Session 1 – Sola (Noel Heikkinen)
4:30 – 5:30: Session 2 – Ad Fontes: Why Going Backward Is the Best Way to Go Forward (Kevin DeYoung)
7:30 – 9:00: Session 3 – Sola Fide (Matt Chandler)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

8:30 – 9:30: Session 4 – Sola Gratia (Leonce Crump)
10:00 – 11:00: Session 5 – Solus Christus (Stephen Um)
11:30 – 12:30: Session 6 – Panel Discussion
3:00 – 4:00: Session 7 – Sola Scriptura (Albert Mohler)
4:30 – 5:30: Session 8 – Soli Deo Gloria (John Piper)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Back in the Blogosphere

Sorry for my extended absence. You may have noticed that I had not posted anything since Easter.

Well, the month of April was a very difficult month. My family left for St. Louis to visit my parents in St. Louis after church on Easter Sunday (March 31). We arrived around midnight, and just a few hours later my father became ill. Twelve hours after that we were taking him to the emergency room. That night he was admitted to the hospital, where he would remain for the next 10 days until he ultimately passed away peacefully in his sleep as my sister and I sat by his bedside.

Needless to say, this threw a rather major monkey wrench in my regular routine. I've been spending the last couple weeks trying to get to at least some facsimile of "caught up." I feel like I'm starting to get close, so hopefully I can resume spending at least a little time each week posting things here.

I would like to express my thanks to the many of you who have been so gracious through your notes, calls, encouragement, love and prayers over the last month or so. I can scarcely express how much they have meant to my family and me. May the Lord bless you all at least a fraction of how much he has blessed me through you. If he should, you would be mightily blessed indeed!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

That's My King!

Friday I posted a clip from S.M. Lockridge entitled, It's Friday...But Sunday's Coming. Now that Easter Sunday is here, as we celebrate the resurrection of our King, it seemed appropriate to share another clip from Lockridge entitled, That's My King!

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Maundy Thursday Sermon...Denying Jesus

Last night at our Maundy Thursday service, I preached from Luke 22:31-34 on Denying Jesus. Audio is available here and below is an excerpt.
Peter needed to come to a realization and it's the same realization we need to make: We do not strive on the basis of our own strength; we thrive on the basis of God's strength. When we are weak, he is strong through us.

We need to remember at all times that it is not our personal holiness that earns our spot with God. I need to remember that I am a wretched, miserable sinner, saved by grace alone that I might pursue holiness to the glory of God. And I even fail at that having been saved, and yet, as great as my sin is, the grace of God is greater still! And I must remember that always.

God pours out his grace on us. He floods us with his grace. And we must realize too that he does this not merely so that we would be receptacles of his grace, but that it might flood into us and flow through us and pour out of us into the lives of others. We are to be conduits of God's grace, not merely receptacles of it.

Now what does that look like? Well, it means that we ought to serve humbly, realizing that we are no better than anyone else. It means that we should serve selflessly and sacrificially. It means that we should offer forgiveness to those who have offended us, to those who have wronged us, to those who have injured us, to those who are even our enemies. Not because they deserve it, but because they need it, and because when we needed it Christ Jesus gave it to us.

It's Friday...But Sunday's Coming!

 Rev. S.M. Lockridge

What Christ Endured

"Thus, while he was hanging on the cross from below Satan and all his hosts assailed him; from about men heaped scorn upon him; from above God dropped upon him the pallor of darkness, symbol of the curse; and from within there arose the bitter cry, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'"

William Hendriksen
New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon

Friday, March 22, 2013

Great Book Deal

Westminster Seminary Bookstore has a great deal running on the Contours of Christian Theology series. If you purchase the set by April 27, you can get them for 55% off ($80, as opposed to the cover price of $176), This is an excellent series as the endorsements below testify. If you don't want to buy the whole set, but would like to get a few of the books, they are also on special individually through Wednesday for 45-50% off the cover price.
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Word for Preachers...Stott on the Pastor's Personal Walk

"We pastors have God-given responsibilities both to the congregation we serve and to the doctrine we teach, for both have been committed to us. Yet our prior responsibility is to ourselves, to guard our personal walk with God and our loyalty to him. Nobody can be a good pastor or teacher of others who is not first a good servant of Jesus Christ. Disciplined habits, of pastoral visitation and counselling on the one hand, and of theological study and sermon preparation on the other, become barren exercises unless they are supported by disciplined habits of personal devotion, especially biblical meditation and prayer. Every pastor knows how exacting his ministry is. We may encounter misunderstanding and even opposition; we shall certainly grow weary in mind and body; we may also have to endure loneliness and discouragement. Even the strongest personalities collapse under the weight of these pressures, unless the power of God is being revealed in our weakness, and the life of Jesus in our mortal bodies, so that 'inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor. 4:7-11 and 16)"

John Stott
Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

Friday, March 15, 2013

Exciting Conference News!

On October 26th we at Calvary Presbyterian Church will be hosting our conference for the 10th time and we have a number of developments to share:

1) The conference's name is changing. To this point, it has been called the Mid-Michigan Conference on Reformed Theology. Beginning this year it will simply be called the Mid-Michigan Reformation Conference. The name change reflects a number of things. While we are still unquestionably Reformed in our theology, our intention is to have a Gospel-centered conference instead of having a Reformed Theology-centered conference. The teaching will still be from a Reformed perspective, but we hope this change will reflect our realization that we are not saved by having really sound theology, but by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The reality also is that, perhaps since we have always held the conference on Reformation Weekend, many (most?) of the people we spoke with already referred to it as our "Reformation Conference." Perhaps this was also because of the fact that it's less wordy, which is another benefit of the new name.

2) This year's theme will be "The Glory of Christ" and we will once again have four gifted pastors from our region coming to speak to us. David Crabb of First Baptist Church in Lapeer, Jason Helopoulos of University Reformed Church in East Lansing and Don Galardi of Community EPC in Owosso have already agreed to speak. We are still waiting on confirmation from our fourth speaker and will pass along word as soon as we have it.

3) And the biggest news is...THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE WILL BE ABSOLUTELY FREE! We will gladly accept donations to help support the conference and enable us to continue to provide it, but we wanted to remove the possible obstacle of cost so that as many people as possible could be a part of this thoroughly enjoyable and edifying experience. 

So make sure you mark October 26th on your calendars now. There will be more information coming out soon. In the meantime, feel free to email me with any questions at Pete@CalvaryFlint.com.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Calvin on the Believer's Security

"Christ instructs his followers to remember that, in this world, they may be said to be in the midst of a forest, surrounded by innumerable robbers, and are not only unarmed and exposed as a prey, but are aware that the cause of death is contained in themselves, so that, relying on the guardianship of God alone, they may walk without alarm. In short, our salvation is certain, because it is in the hand of God; for our faith is weak, and we are too prone to waver. But God, who has taken us under his protection, is sufficiently powerful to scatter, with his breath alone, all the forces of our adversaries. It is of great importance for us to turn our eye to this, that the fear of temptations may not dismay us; for Christ even intended to point out the way in which sheep are made to live at ease in the midst of wolves."

John Calvin
Commentary on John 10:28

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Exactly Do We Owe the President?


In a post today entitled The Most Disobeyed Commandment in the Church, David Murray cites the Westsminster Larger Catechism (Answer 127) in outlining what we owe the President:
  1. All due reverence in heart, word, and behavior
  2. Prayer and thanksgiving for them
  3. Imitation of their virtues and graces
  4. Willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels
  5. Due submission to their corrections
  6. Fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority
  7. Bearing with their infirmities
  8. Covering them in love
I fear that many Christians I know (including at times myself) have failed miserably at these (especially numbers 1 & 8). I'll let you and the Holy Spirit be the judge at how well you specifically have done, but Murray puts it this way:
Many Christians have shattered this commandment in a thousand pieces over the last four months, perhaps even over the last four years.

Sure, we must defend the sanctity of life and of marriage, but we must not do so at the expense of the fifth commandment. Since when do we get to pick and choose which commandments are most important and which are irrelevant?

Serious moral errors in some areas of government policy and practice are no excuse for failing to obey this commandment in all other areas.
Thankfully and mercifully, God offers forgiveness for this sin too – if we repent of it and believe in Jesus.
 

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Word for Preachers...Alexander on the Key to Applicatory Preaching

"I am told that someone said of Robert Murray McCheyne of Dundee, 'He seemed, as his preaching progressed, to advance upon you until he was standing inside your heart, applying the Word of God to all your life.'

"My own increasing conviction is that this application begins at our own door. I think the secret of applicatory preaching is that we must apply to ourselves the Word of God while we are meditating upon it, while we are studying it. We must do this before we ever begin to think about applying it to other people.

"John Owen wrote, 'A man preacheth that sermon well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. If the Word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.' And again, 'He who doth not feed on and digest and thrive by what he preaches and prepares for his people, may give them poison as far as he knows,   for unless he finds the power of it in his own heart, he cannot have any ground of confidence that it will have power in the hearts of others.'"

Eric J. Alexander
What is Biblical Preaching?


Where Theology Intersects Life

Here is an example I noticed last night of the type of theological insights that make Kevin DeYoung a must-follow at Twitter:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Get the Word Out!

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may be familiar with the Smith family. Friends of mine back in Webster Groves, Missouri, and one of my favorite families on earth, I've mentioned them before (here, here, here and here).

Karen created a missionary organization called Get the Word Out, Inc. Its underlying goal is to distribute Bibles with the understanding that God's Word changes lives, replacing despair with hope, conflict with peace, and hurt with healing. Much of their ministry has taken place in Kenya where they have also been able to help people through such projects as digging fresh-water wells, building an orphanage and a school, and even bringing children with cancer back to the United States so that they receive medical treatment which otherwise would have been impossible.
  
They are preparing to send a team to Kenya in a little over a week, and just the other day, the resale shop they started to help fund the ministry was featured on KSDK Channel 5's Show Me St. Louis. Check out the video below. And please consider how you might be a part of the wonderful work they're doing!

If you live in St. Louis and are interested in visiting the GTWO Store, their address is 10050 Manchester Rd. in Glendale and their phone number is 314-368-8184. You can also reach them via email at gtwothrift@gmail.com.

 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...DeYoung on the Gospel and Holiness

"(T)he gospel aids our pursuit of holiness by telling us the truth about who we are. Certain sins become more difficult when we understand our new position in Christ. If we are heirs to the whole world, why should we envy? If we are God's treasured possession, why be jealous? If God is our Father, why be afraid? If we are dead to sin, why live in it? If we've been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways? If we are seated in the heavenly places, why act like the devil of hell? If we are loved with an everlasting love, why are we trying to prove our worth to the world? If Christ is all in all, why am I so preoccupied with myself?"

Kevin DeYoung
The Hole in our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Word for Preachers...Alexander on the Unction of God

"When the unction of God is upon the preacher of his Word, people will go away saying, not 'What a great preacher!' but rather, ' Truly, God is in this place! How great and glorious he is!'"

Eric J. Alexander
What is Biblical Preaching?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Calvin on the Principal Office of Christ

"The principal office of Christ is briefly but clearly stated; that he takes away the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and reconciles men to God. There are other favours, indeed, which Christ bestows upon us, but this is the chief favour, and the rest depend upon it; that, by appeasing the wrath of God, he makes us to be reckoned holy and righteous, that, by not imputing our sins, he receives us into favour."

John Calvin
Commentary on John 1:29

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Word for Preachers...Ferguson on the Preacher's Heart

"There is a widespread need for (preaching that produces inner prostration of the hearts of listeners). We have an equal need as preachers to catch the vision for it in an overly pragmatic and programmatic society that believes it is possible to live the Christian life without either the exposing of our own hearts or the accompanying prostration of ourselves before the majesty of God on high.

"It is just here that one notices a striking contrast between the biblical exposition one finds in the steady preaching of John Calvin in the sixteenth century and preaching in our own day. It is clearly signaled by the words with which he ended virtually every one of his thousands of sermons: 'And now let us bow down before the majesty of our gracious God...' Reformed biblical exposition elevates God and abases man. By contrast, much modern preaching seems to have the goal of making man feel great, even if God Himself has to bow down.

"So a leading characteristic of preaching of to their heart will be the humbling, indeed, prostration of hearts before the majesty of god on high. This is simultaneously the true ecstasy of the Christian, and therein lies the paradox of grace: the way down is always the way up.

"But if, through the preaching of the gospel, we want to see people prostrated with mingled awe and joy before God, the essential prerequisite is that we ourselves be prostrated before him. John Owen's words still ring true even after three and a half centuries: ' a man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul....If the word do not dwell with power in  us, it will not pass with power from us.'"

Sinclair Ferguson
Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sinclair Ferguson to Leave First Presbyterian

I know it's probably wrong to have "favorite pastors" that you don't even personally know. Even so, I must admit that Sinclair Ferguson has long been one of my favorite pastors. In seminary I was greatly blessed by such books of his as The Holy Spirit and Children of the Living God...and that was before I was even aware of his incredible accent! A number of years ago he spoke at my denomination's General Assembly and preached the two best sermons I've ever heard at a GA. I subscribe to his podcast through SermonAudio, and am routinely blessed by his preaching from the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Columbia, South Carolina.

Yesterday I received an email from a friend informing me that Ferguson would be retiring. It contained a link to an article from The Aquila Report that included part of the message he wrote to his congregation. As I read it I was struck (though not surprised) by its pastoral tone and Christ-centeredness. He wrote the following:

I do not really need to remind you of the first thing. Christ alone is our anchor.
Our church is first and, foremost Jesus Christ’s Church. He has built us together
here over the centuries; his servants have come and gone. But he has remained
“ever faithful, ever true.” It is always right and healthy when we love our
pastors—and like my predecessors here I have felt myself to be deeply loved; but
we are here only to point to the Savior whose church we are. I did not anticipate
that the last series of sermons I would preach to you would be from Hebrews (I
wanted to expound Philippians!). But how appropriate that these Sunday
morning we hear the message again and again: See how great Jesus is. Fix your
eyes on him.
I do not really need to remind you of the first thing. Christ alone is our anchor.
Secondly, let us continue to love and encourage one another. I have often said
that I believe the most important picture of the church in the New Testament is
that of a family. More and more I have felt that is what we want to be here at
First Presbyterian. It is certainly here that a chief element in the impact of our
witness will be found in a day when so many natural families have become
dysfunctional. Life as it is meant to be is found in Christ. His grace runs in the
dried up riverbed sin has created in every dimension of life—not least family. So,
in the church, as we often sing,
He wills us be a family, diverse, yet truly one:
O let us give our gifts to God, and so shall his work on earth be done.
The third thing (yes, there would be a third thing!)? Let us continue in prayer
that the Lord will work on among us, and provide for us the ongoing ministry
that will keep us growing in Christ and faithfully serving him into the future.
On Monday night when I went home after breaking the news to our elders,
Dorothy overheard me singing and commented on the words: “Through the love
of God our Savior, all will be well…” “Yes” I said, “but as I was singing the words,
tears were flowing down my cheeks!”
Surely if the heart of a stoic Scot can be melted with love for this congregation,
the capacious heart of the Lord Jesus is filled with a love for us that knows no
bounds, and “all must be well.” I certainly believe that will be so.
Whatever he may choose to do upon his return to Scotland, my prayer is that Sinclair Ferguson might be blessed at least a fraction as much as he has been a blessing to me. If so, he will be mightily blessed indeed!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Fun...Trick Shot Titus

My favorite part begins at the 1:42 mark.
 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Keller on Rejoicing and Repentance

“Rejoicing and repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change. Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus’s sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin. When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves. Fear-based repentance (‘I’d better change or God will get me’) is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us -- seeing what it cost Him to save us from sin -- we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”

Tim Keller
Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters  

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Word for Preachers...William Taylor on Evangelistic Preaching

"To call upon men constantly to come to Christ and to repeat perpetually the words of Paul to the jailer, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,' without at the same time telling them who Jesus Christ is and what it is to come to Him, is the merest mockery. It is using the name of Christ as though it were some cabalistic charm and reducing the Gospel message to an empty formula. If therefore we would be effective evangelists, we must be ready to give an answer to him who asks us, 'Who is this Jesus that I believe upon him? What is there in His dying that has any relation to me?'"

William M. Taylor, in his book The Ministry of the Word
cited in What is Biblical Preaching? by Eric J. Alexander

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Fun...Top TV Marriages

Yesterday being Valentine's Day, I saw an interesting article at Relevant Magazine offering up the top TV marriage of each decade since the 1960s. According to the author, the winners were:
  • 1960s - Rob and Laura Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • 1970s - Bob and Emily Harley of The Bob Newhart Show
  • 1980s - Cliff and Clair Huxtable of The Cosby Show
  • 1990s - Homer and Marge Simpson of The Simpsons
  • 2000s - Eric and Tami Taylor of Friday Night Lights
  • 2010s - Peter and Kristina Braverman of Parenthood
You can click here to read the whole article and I'd love to hear your feedback. First though, here are a few of my own observations:
  1. It's odd that the first three selections all come from shows called "The (Star of the show's name) Show." Not the name of the character played, but the actual name of the actor. Bizarre.
  2. Interestingly (albeit, I would argue, not coincidentally) Friday Night Lights and Parenthood both had Jason Katims as executive producer and a main creative influence. Both of these shows were/are favorites of my wife and mine. In fact, we only watched Friday Night Lights (on DVDs from the library) after having gotten hooked on Parenthood and finding out that Katims had also done FNL. 
  3. The Simpsons? Either TV marriages were horrible in the 1990s or...well, you'll just have to read the article.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 Magnify Conference with Alistair Begg


If you plan on being anywhere near Mid-Michigan on April 5th and 6th, please allow me to heartily recommend that you attend the Magnify Conference, hosted by a quintet of churches from the Lansing area. Alistair Begg will be the featured speaker and will be examining the priority of God in a world that is eminently consumed with self.

The conference is very affordable ($20 for an individual, $10 for each additional family member) and you can register by clicking here.

If you're interested the schedule will be as follows:

Friday
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm...Plenary Session #1

Saturday 
8:00 am – 9:00 am...Musician & Pastor Breakfast Seminar (RSVP only)
9:15 am – 10:45am ...Plenary Session #2
11:00 am – Noon...Q & A
Noon – 1:30 pm...Lunch on your own
1:30pm – 3:00 pm...Plenary Session #3

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Road to Calvary


I'm looking forward to a new sermon series that I'll be preaching during Lent. Check out the video preview below and, if you're in the neighborhood on a Sunday morning, stop by Calvary Presbyterian Church for corporate worship at 10 o'clock. We'd love to worship with you!