Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Owen on Union with Christ

"Let us consider the justice of God in forgiving sins. All of God's elect are sinners. How can God be just, then, if he allows them to go unpunished, seeing he did not spare the angels who sinned, nor Adam when he sinned at the first? The answer is in the union between Christ and the church. Because Christ represents him for all their sins so they are all freely and graciously pardoned (see Romans 3:24-26). At the cross, God's holiness and justice meet with his grace and mercy. This is the glory which delights the hearts and satisfies the souls of all who believe. How wonderful for them to see God rejoicing in his justice and yet at the same time showing mercy by giving them everlasting salvation! In the enjoyment of this glorious truth let me live, and in this faith let me die."

John Owen
The Glory of Christ

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2012 Puritan Reformed Conference

Last week I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend the 2012 Puritan Reformed Conference in Grand Rapids. It was the fourth annual conference put on by Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and (as has been the case with their past conferences) it was wonderfully conducted.

Throughout the conference, I tweeted highlights from the various messages. In lieu of a full detailed review of the conference, I thought it might help give you a feel for the conference if I were to share with you what I tweeted.

There's probably an easy way to re-order your tweets so that they read top to bottom as opposed to bottom to top. Alas, if this is the case, I am not smart enough to figure it out. So if you'd like to read the tweets in the order they were tweeted, go to the bottom of this post and start there.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Sproul on Preaching the Word

"In the end, we will reach our ends only when we aim not to preach to the mind or to the heart. We will rightly do both these things, only when we preach the Word. It is the source of the power to change the world. It never returns void. It is the power to tear down strongholds and every lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. It is the blessing that will drive us to take every thought captive. As it takes root in our hearts and minds, we remade men."

R.C. Sproul
Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Micheal Williams on the Imoportance of Biblical History

"The Bible keys on historical events. Biblical doctrine is not a matter of decontextualized ideas but the proclamation of events, the mighty deeds of God for our redemption. Ideas are not sufficient to create or sustain Christian confession. The idea of Christ pales next to the historical man who walked the dusty roads of Palestine twenty centuries ago on his way to Golgotha. Each of his footprints was that of the this-worldly embodiment of the God who promised that he himself would correct the folly of Adam."

Michael D. Williams
Far As the Curse Is Found

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Sinclair Ferguson on Preaching to the Heart

"In the last analysis, preaching to the heart is preaching Christ in a way that reminds people of Christ, but also manifests Christ to them, and draws them to Him. If, among other things, preaching is (as Phillips Brooks' famous description claims) 'the bringing of truth through personality,' then the personalities of the preachers of the cross must be marked by the cross. So we are called to be cruciformed (shaped by the cross), Christophers (bearing the Christ of the cross), and Christplacarders (setting Christ and Him crucified on display, c.f. Gal. 3:1) in our preaching as we 'try to persuade men' (2 Cor. 5:11).

"Perhaps such preaching of Christ is less common than we assume. If so, it is because we do not yet know Him nearly well enough.

"Let us then resolve, above all other ambitions, to know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Let is also be determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), so that, as we preach to the heart, God Himself will speak to His people heart to heart."

Sinclair Ferguson
Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Fun...Now That's Doing It His Way

I don't know what exactly to make of this, but when I saw it, it sure put a smile on my face!

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Playing the Blame Game

“Deeply ingrained in the children of Adam is the tendency to blame some aspect of creation (and by implication the Creator) rather than their own rebellion for the misery of their creation.”

Albert Wolters
Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview

What Motivates You?

Galatians 2:11-14 discusses Paul's confrontation of Peter over Peter's refusal to eat with gentiles. I saw a great post yesterday from Dane Ortlund dealing with this passage. In it he says,
Now how does Paul handle this? Certainly, he rebukes Peter—'I opposed him to his face' (2:11). 

Yet how does Paul do this? What is his diagnosis?

Paul identifies Peter’s error as gospel error. 'I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel' (2:14). What was Peter’s mistake? Gospel leakage.
But in what way was Peter's heart leaking out gospel? How specifically was he not believing the gospel?

The text tells us: 'fearing the circumcision party' (2:12). Fear. That was what drove Peter.

To sum up: Paul says Peter feared other men, causing him to not walk in step with the gospel, causing him to introduce all kinds of dysfunction into his relationships with other people.
Click here to read the entire post, and may we all be motivated by the gospel as opposed to fear.

Andrew Peterson's Rest Easy

The other day I wrote a post about Andrew Peterson's upcoming album, Light for the Lost Boy. In conjunction with the release of this album, Peterson has been holding a contest asking fans to create a video for his song Rest Easy. The winning project will net a $1000 prize for its creator and will become the official music video for the song.

David Crabb is a friend and fellow pastor, and he posted at his blog this morning that a family in his church entered the contest and just found out that their video is one of ten finalists. It's really well done with plenty of little creative nuances throughout. Check it out below.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Horton on Choosing the Right Hymns

"The best hymns of the historic Church, modeled on the Scriptures themselves (especially the Psalms) are rich with godly experience, but experience arising directly and explicitly in view of the mercies of God in his Son. When their goal is to make the word of Christ dwell in the saints richly, such hymns train generations of covenant heirs to invoke and to give thanks to the Triune God, not as an expression of autonomous zeal, but as a response to the Word that they hear and embrace. Depending on the wisdom that we exercise in selecting them, hymns can be a blessing or a curse in the church of God."

Michael Horton

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God is Good...All the Time!

Last night as I was going home from work, my car wouldn’t start. At first it acted like it was trying to start. Then nothing. As unfortunate as this may be, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. Both of our vehicles have over 180,000 miles on them, and while we do enjoy the lack of a car payment, it does sometimes seem as though we ought to earn frequent flier miles at the repair shop. And it’s never fun nor convenient to have a car in the shop.

Strike one.

Well, I called the shop that we frequent and told them I was going to have our vehicle towed over. They told me Tuesday was completely full, and that while they would try to squeeze it in, it would most likely be Wednesday before they even got to look at it.

Strike two.

I figured there was no sense in waiting an indefinite period of time after work for a tow truck to show up when I could just have them come get it the next morning when I was already going to be there anyway. So this morning my wfe gave me a ride to work. As she dropped me off she suggested, “Go see if it starts.” I reluctantly pulled out my keys, stuck them in the ignition, and what do you know? It started right up. No problem.

My response: God is good!

If they had been able to fit me in last night, I would have wasted time and money waiting for the tow truck and having the shop look at and fix my vehicle. Of course, I realize there is the very real possibility (probability?) that it won’t start later today. And if that’s the case, then you know what? God is still good.

I say this because God’s goodness toward me is not determined by my circumstances. While there will be times when everything seems to be going my way, there will also be times when it seems that all the world is against me. God’s word promises as much. (e.g., John 16:33)

Whether I am up or down though, instead of looking at my circumstances to determine whether God loves me, I need to take to heart the words of Hebrews 12:2, and look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." For if he was willing to endure the cross in my place, with all its shame and scorn, its pain and suffering, then I can be sure of his love and his goodness toward me. And so can you. Even when your car doesn’t start.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Keller on Preaching Christ, Not Moralism

"In nearly every text of Scripture a moral principle can be found, shown through the character of God or Christ, displayed in the good or bad examples of characters in the text, or provided as explicit commands, promises, and warnings. This moral principle is important and must be distilled clearly. But then a crisis is created in the hearers as they understand that this moral principle creates insurmountable problems. I describe in my sermons how this practical and moral obligation is impossible to meet. The hearers are led to a seemingly dead end, but then a hidden door opens and light comes in. Our sermons must show how the person and work of Jesus Christ bears on the subject. First we show how our inability to live as we ought stems from our forgetting or rejecting the work of Christ. Then we show that only by repenting and rejoicing in Christ can we then live, as we know we ought."

Tim Keller

(HT: Scott Sauls)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Fun...The Bathroom Mirror Prank

Christian Biographies for Young Readers

I have been impressed by a Simonetta Carr's series Christian Biographies for Young Readers published by Reformation Heritage Books.  The series is targeted at children between the ages of 7 and 12, but I have found that they can serve as great introductions for the whole family to such figures in church history as John Calvin, John Owen, Augustine and Athanasius.

The fifth and latest title in the series is Lady Jane Grey. Below is a video trailer for the book.

Puritan Reformed Conference

There is still time to register for the fourth annual Puritan Reformed Conference, held August 23-25 in Grand Rapids. Joel Beeke, David Murray, Burk Parsons and Derek Thomas will be among the great lineup of speakers at the conference, which this year follows the theme of "The Beauty and Glory of the Father."

Click here to register online. The schedule for the conference is as follows:

August 23 (Thursday evening)

6:00 – 7:00pm

7:00 – 8:00pm
Welcome, Prayer, & Singing
Opening Message – Jerry Bilkes, Father and Son in the Exodus (Hos.11:1, etc.)

8:15 – 9:15pm
Plenary Session #1 – Derek Thomas, The Holiness of the Father in the Old Testament

9:15 – 10:15pm
Exhibits Open – 10:15pm, Day One ends

August 24 (Friday)

8:30 – 9:00am

9:00 – 10:30am
Welcome, Prayer, & Singing
Plenary Session #2 – Bart Elshout, The Father’s Love for His Son (Jn.3:35)

11:00am – 12:00pm
Plenary Session #3 – Burk Parsons, The Father’s Beautiful Hand of Blessed Chastisement (Heb.12:4-13)

12:00 – 1:45pm
Lunch Break

2:00 – 315pm
Plenary Session #4 – Ryan McGraw – The Need for a Trinitarian Piety

3:30 – 4:30pm
Breakout Sessions:
David Murray, Counseling and the Fatherhood of God
Burk Parsons, The Glory of the Father in the High-Priestly Prayer of Christ (Jn.17)
Paul Smalley, Richard Sibbes on the Mercy and Faithfulness of the Father
William VanDoodewaard, Your Father in Heaven (Mt.5-7)
4:30 – 6:30pm
Dinner Break

6:30 – 7:00pm
Special Music – TBD

7:00 – 8:15pm
Plenary Session #5 – Joel Beeke, The Apostle John and the Puritans on the Father’s Adopting, Transforming Love

8:30 – 9:15pm
Q&A Session (moderated by David Murray)
Joel Beeke
Derek Thomas
Burk Parsons
Bart Elshout
9:15 – 10pm
Exhibits open – 10:00–10:45pm, Day two ends

August 25 (Saturday)

9:00 – 10:30am
Welcome, Prayer & Singing
Plenary Session #6 – William VanDoodewaard, The Father’s Mercy (1Pet.1:3-5)

10:45 – 11:45am
Plenary Session #7 – Derek Thomas, Seeing the Father in the Face of Jesus (Jn.14:9)

11:45am – 12:00pm
Closing Song & Prayer – 12:00pm, Day three ends

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Album from Andrew Peterson

I've made no secret of my appreciation for the music of Andrew Peterson. Many (if not a majority) of the music-related posts on this blog have dealt with his songs. So it's no surprise that I'm looking forward to the release of his latest album, Light for the Lost Boy, later this month.

To whet your appetite for the album, I've posted two videos below. First is a video that discusses the theme of the album as a whole, and then is one that is specifically about the song Rest Easy.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Calvin on the Image of the Invisible God

"The sum is this -- that God in himself, that is, in his naked majesty, is invisible, and that not to the eyes of the body merely, but also to the understandings of men, and that he is revealed to us in Christ alone, that we may behold him as in a mirror. For in Christ he shews us his righteousness, goodness, wisdom, power, in short, his entire self. We must, therefore, beware of seeking him elsewhere, for everything that would set itself off as a representation of God, apart from Christ, will be an idol."

John Calvin
Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One of My Favorite Bible Verses

I love passages of Scripture that boldly and clearly proclaim that God's love for us is not conditioned upon our prior obedience, but rather is what motivates us to obedience. As such, 2 Timothy 1:9 is one of my favorite verses, speaking of God, "who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began."

Praise be to God for his glorious grace!

He Holds All Things Together

Last Sunday I preached a sermon from Colossians 1:15-20 entitled "Jesus: God of Creation and Redemption." It was a joy for me to dive into this magnificent passage which so richly proclaims the preeminence of Christ over all things.

As I was preparing to preach, a comforting thought settled upon me: In verse 17, Paul states regarding Christ, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." It was the second half of the verse that specifically drew my attention, " him all things hold together."

Often, our existence in a broken, fallen world is fraught with pain, suffering and discord. In the midst of life's turmoil, we cry out to God questioning, "Why?" only to receive a deafening silence in response. Were we to judge God's disposition toward us on the basis of our circumstances, we would seemingly be forced to often conclude that he must hate us.

But we who trust in him instead can be confident in his steadfast love, not because of present circumstances, but because of the lengths to which he would go so that we might know this love. For on the cross we see the supreme example of God's love and the perfect juxtaposition of justice and grace. And while it must have seemed to all who witnessed it as the most God-forsaken moment in history, it was actually squarely in the center of God's providential plan.

So, coming back to Colossians 1:17, I am comforted by the certain knowledge that Christ is holding all things together...even when it seems for all the world that everything is falling apart.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pastors' Conference

Back in June I mentioned the pastors' seminar and Bible conference put on annually by West Cannon Baptist Church near Grand Rapids. This conference (to be held September 24 & 25) features Michael Horton and Kevin DeYoung, and registration opens today (only $35 if you register by August 31, $45 afterward). Check out the schedule below and for more information or to register, click here or call 616-874-6740.

A Word for Preachers...Stott on Expository Preaching

"Properly speaking, ‘exposition’ has a much broader meaning. It refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary). To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view. The expositor prizes open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted and unfolds what is tightly packed. the opposite of exposition is 'imposition', which is to impose on the text what was not there. But the 'text' in question could be a verse, or a sentence, or even a single word. It could equally be a paragraph, or a chapter, or a whole book. The size of the text is immaterial, so long as it is biblical. What matters is what we do with it. Whether it is long or short, our responsibility as expositors is to open it up in such a way that it speaks its message clearly, plainly, accurately, relevantly, without addition, subtraction or falsification. In expository preaching the biblical text is neither a conventional introduction to a sermon on a largely different theme, nor a convenient peg on which to hang a ragbag of miscellaneous thoughts, but a master which dictates and controls what is said."

John Stott
Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Fun...Bad(minton) Olympic Highlights

I'm a big sports fan and would absolutely love to share video from the Olympic games here at my blog. Unfortunately, NBC has paid quite a tidy sum for exclusive rights to display such video.

Well, "Where there's a will, there's a way..." the saying goes. And the creative folks at The Wall Street Journal have figured out a way...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Preeminence of Christ

This Sunday I will be preaching from Colossians 1:15-20, which states about Christ Jesus, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."
In preparation for my sermon I came across these words from William Hendriksen and found them so moving that I couldn't wait until Sunday to share them!
"Col. 1:15-20 pictures a Christ who holds in his almighty hand and embraces with his loving heart both the realm of creation and that of redemption. He who is 'the firstborn of all creation' is also 'the firstborn from the dead.' He who died on the cross knows by name the most distant star. He not only knows it but guides it. Still better: he controls it in such a manner that it will serve the interests of his people (Rom. 8:28). The so-called 'laws of nature' have no independent existence. They are the expression of his will. And because he delights in order and not in confusion it is possible to speak of laws. He who in answer to prayer grants assurance of salvation is also able in answer to prayer to grant rain!

"The present-day application of this truth is immediately evident. Since the Christ of Calvary rules the heavens and the earth in the interest of his kingdom and to the glory of his Name, always over-ruling evil for good, neither automation nor bomb nor communistic menace nor depression nor economic unbalance nor fatal accident nor gradual decline in mental vigor nor hallucination due to nervous disorder nor any invader from outer space (about which some people have nightmares!) will ever succeed in separating us from his love (Rom. 8:35, 38). He who tells us how to go to heaven and actually brings us there, also knows how the heavens go; for he, all things having been created and 'holding together' in him, through him, and unto him, causes them to perform their mission and to go to the place predestined by him."
From Baker's 12 volume New Testament Commentary by Hendriksen & Kistemaker

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Can We Have Both Convictions and Compassion?

The other day I saw the following cartoon:

I had two different, conflicting reactions. The first was to wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment it espoused as it is essentially something that I have long maintained. I can disagree with some aspect of your life (be it found your in your beliefs, words, thoughts or actions) and not be anti-you. All the people I love most at times say, think and do things with which I disagree. Heck, I sometimes even do things with which I disagree!

My second reaction though was to ask the following question: Why is it that so often when we say, "I disagree" some people hear "I hate you" instead? Some would contend that it is because none of us likes to be told we are wrong (especially when it comes to overarching things like lifestyles), and if we can recast valid moral criticism as hateful rhetoric, it frees us from feeling guilty. This likely is part of the problem for all of us in facing criticism, but I fear that often when social liberals write off conservative critiques as self-righteous, hateful and judgmental, it is in large part precisely because conservative critiques (regardless of their level of validity) are often self-righteous, hateful and judgmental.

On both sides of the equation, compassion and conviction are often set against each other. As Christians, we must do all we can to work against this. While we must stand firm in our biblical convictions, if we are to call ourselves followers of Christ we must stand firm in a Christ-like manner, more concerned about GOD'S glory than about either OUR rights or our BEING right.

In a blog post today, David Crabb makes the following helpful observations:
Christians follow a Savior who looked out upon a sinful, hard-hearted multitude and had compassion on them, because he saw them for what they were–sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). This is hard for us. Holding compassion and conviction together in healthy tension is not something that comes naturally. We tend to either be compassionate and sinfully permissive, or conscientiously upholding Biblical standards of holiness but self-righteous.

And yet the same Jesus who threw the money-changers out of the temple, wept over the city of Jerusalem. In both our public discourse and in our personal relationships, may we have more of the spirit of Jesus.

Compassion and conviction is not an either-or scenario.
After all, if I am a Christian, my Savior commands me, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matthew 5:44). And in humility, I must always remember, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15).

How to Think and Talk about Election

Below is a video clip from a sermon delivered by John Piper. In it he makes reference to 2 Timothy 2:10 and points out how this verse informs our understanding of the doctrine of election, and the practical implications that it has for our lives.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Bayer on Who We Perceive Jesus to Be

"Reviewing popular perspectives on Jesus is as important for us as it was for the first disciples. Who do we perceive as the Master to be? Do we domesticate Jesus merely as the 'Lord of the church,' the 'Lord of my personal prayers,' or the 'Lord of my family'? Or do we bow before him as the Lord of the universe, the Lord over political rulers and business leaders, the Lord over creation and his church, the Lord to whom we are to submit rather than merely asking him to bless what we do?"

Hans Bayer
A Theology of Mark:The Dynamic between Christology and Authentic Discipleship

(HT: Justin Sembler)