Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This is too funny--and it's real!

I'm sure I'm not the first blogger to post it--but for those who haven't heard-
Ronald MacDonald Charged With Stealing From Wendy's
Another link here.

And it's a real story!
Quick before the links change!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Links of the Week

First up-Sovereign Love. According to the site-"Sovereign Love is a website compiled by teenagers and college students in the East Texas area and beyond." It's an interesting read.

Second-This picture cracks me up.

Book Recommendation-A Basket Of Fragments by Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne

I was delighted to find this book is still in print according to Christian Focus’ web site as my copy was printed in 1975. It is a collection of 37 sermons, and some hymns by Scottish preacher Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne (1813-43). (His name is spelled a variety of ways; I am using the spelling in my copy of this book).

Mc’Cheyne didn’t use a manuscript when he preached so these sermons are ones that listeners transcribed while he preached. Some are therefore only excerpts of that sermon, and many are quite short. They were later collected and published.

The heart of a godly man is revealed, and the glory of God is proclaimed. These would be valuable for study, devotions, or just for praising God.

Book Recommendation-The Passion of Jesus Christ-Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die-by John Piper

This wonderful book is not an official spin off of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, but there is a connection in subject and timing. Piper wrote this book after Gibson announced his movie. He had two concerns about the movie. These were not intended to comment on the movie, as it hadn’t been completed yet. His first concern was that in narrowing the focus to the last hours of Christ’s earthly ministry that His teaching may be short-changed, and he predicted the movie would raise charges of anti-Semitism and debate over “Who killed Jesus?”

He was right-while the movie contained some flashbacks showing teaching, they were not the main focus of the film. And it certainly ignited a debate. But this is not a review of the movie, but a review of Piper’s book.

Piper wrote fifty short chapters on the theme, “Christ suffered and died…”, and completes that sentence fifty ways. If that sounds like overkill, it isn’t, in some ways there is still more he could have written about the depth of Christ’s love in His sacrifice on the cross. This is a book that is easy to read, but also tough in spots, as often I had to stop reading to really absorb what it was saying, to look deeper into the Bible, and to pray. This book could easily be used for devotions or small groups, taking a two page chapter at a time.

Piper begins the book by explaining his purpose, and setting the scene. He begins by answering who killed Jesus. His answer? God. He writes, “It is a staggering thought. Jesus was His Son. And the suffering was unsurpassed. But the whole message of the Bible leads to this conclusion.”

Not the sort of opening you’d normally expect.

I won’t list all fifty ways Piper finishes the sentence, “Christ suffered and died…”, but encourage you to read this book for yourself. It’s not a long book (122 pages), but it is a powerful book, and gets to the root of the Gospel.
It is very Christ-centred.

Piper ends the book with a prayer for all the readers, that they would see their need, and go to Christ. He prays we will see God’s power and love shown in Christ’s sacrifice. He prays this for Christians to be strengthened and non Christians to believe. With or without this book, that is a wonderful prayer.

You can read excerpts and order the book by clicking here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A new blog link

If you visit this blog you may already check out the others I have linked. If you don't please check them out. There is something woth reading at each one. I can't endorse every little thing they say of course-(Nor could they do so to this blog)-but overall they are blogs worth checking out, even if some haven't been updated recently.)

Here's the newest link-Zavablog

A link to the Vossed World Blog-Piper: "Mode" and "timing" are "secondary"

Check out the link below to an interesting post on the goings on at Bethlehem Baptist.
In case you don't know, John
Piper is the pastor there. They've been going through a discussion on baptism and membership.
In any case--Breuss Wane of the Vossed World has posted an interesting article on his blog. I found it refreshing that while he is a Baptist, he was fair in his presentation of the Presbyterian view.

Here's the link-
The Vossed World

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Links of the Week

There's not a lot of info there yet-but keep on eye on it--especially if you're a Christian in Western Canada. Haldane House is a new initiative in theological education. Check it out.

For my other link, this week I'll present something fun.
Build your own Les Paul. Well, use Flash to build one on the screen, with different options for woods, finishes, and hardware--I could spend way too much time there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Book Recommendation-One Book, several authors on the Church

Onward Christian Soldiers
Protestants Affirm the Church
Don Kistler General Editor

The introduction and first chapter of this excellent book bring out the need to study the doctrine of the Church. It reads, “It seems quite apparent to us that a lack of interest in the Church would be tantamount to rejecting that which Christ loved and for which He gave Himself (Ephesians 5:25).” What it comes down to is this- the Church is God’s people and Jesus gave His life for it.

This book is one in a series of books edited by Don Kistler and featuring several contemporary authors. It is published by Soli Deo Gloria Ministries.
It contains eleven chapters dealing with various aspects of the Church.

The first chapter is “I Love Thy Church, O God”, by John MacArthur. It is on the importance of the Church, and how the contemporary Curch often lacks a doctrine of the Church. His four main points are: 1) The Church is being built by the Lord Himself; 2) It is the outworking of an eternal plan; 3) It is the most precious reality on earth and 4) It is an earthly expression of heaven.

Next Joel Beeke writes on the Doctrine of the Church itself. He starts by pointing out two extremes of doctrines of the Church-The Roman Catholic hierarchical view and the modern individualistic view that almost disregards the Church. He turns to the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 16:18-“Upon this rock I will build My church.” Here he shows the biblical balance.

Jonathan Gerstner is next with the marks of the true Church. He lays them out a little differently than they are often expressed-but before he goes into those, he gives some background. He points out the difference between the true church and the pure church-the pure version we will not see until we are with the Lord. He laments some church divisions as unnecessary, but sees others as unfortunately necessary.

The two marks Gerstner presents are the preaching of the true Gospel and the Lordship of Christ as expressed in Scripture. Under Lordship he includes both the right administration of the sacraments and church discipline. He explains how differences in administering the sacraments (baptism and communion) are not sufficient grounds for disunity. (interesting reading now given recent events at Bethlehem Baptist Church

Gerstner’s chapter leads to the next by Don Kistler on church membership. Kistler starts with Paul’s metaphor for God’s people as the body of Christ. He writes, “The unfolding of history, then, is the outworking of how Christ adds members to His body until that body is complete.”

He admits there is no verse of Scripture that says, “Be ye members of a local church.” However, he asks, “Is there good reason and inference from Scripture that God expects professing believers to hold their membership in a local body?” He answers with a resounding “YES!” He looks at the ideas of the visible church (all professing believers), the invisible church (all true believers-this is only known to God), the local church and the universal church (the latter two are part of the visible church). He does very well at showing the importance of the local church, what it is, and its connection to the universal church.

James White also looks at the two extremes of the Doctrine of the Church as he starts his chapter on authority in the church. One extreme he labels as “The exaltation of the Church to an unbiblical position.” As a prime example he cites the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings and practices on infallibility. The other extreme is “The denigration of the Church to an unbiblical status.” His main example here is modern American evangelical Protestantism and its reshaping of the Church in the form of American consumerism. He makes this charge, “She (the Church) has become a merchant-selling her wares to the highest bidder, cajoling men to enter into her fellowship, begging believers to participate in her work.”

Next up is John Armstrong on Church discipline. He points out how discipline has become a misunderstood word and concept, largely due to our misunderstanding of love. He writes, “We seem to think love is letting people do whatever they wish, regardless of the consequences.” In this view, love and discipline become opposites, yet in truth they are complimentary.

He looks at two types of discipline-formative and corrective. Formative discipline, as the name implies, forms us. It shapes us as believers. Corrective discipline, then, corrects. It may involve putting people out of the church, but its goal is restoration.

Donald S. Whitney is next on the working church. His first sentence is, “Working in the church is part of the pursuit of joy.” And then he sets out to show this. While much of what he writes should be obvious, we often ignore it. One of the strong messages I got in this chapter is that it’s not only what we can get out of the church, but how can we serve it. What we get out of it can be very important (such as teaching and worship). But if we just go and sit and listen only-we’re missing at least part of the point- we need to serve as well.

Two related chapters follow as R.C. Sproul writes on Church unity and Phil Johnson writes on denominations and unity. Sproul writes about what unity we have and don’t have, as believers. He refers to a true unity we have in Christ, not just the man made unity and disunity we may also have. He also takes steps to show all believers have unity in Christ. The bottom line for this unity in Christ is the gospel-it is to be the basis for any unity we have. He writes, “No unity which compromises the gospel can be accepted.” So in this scheme, doctrine is important. To those who would downplay doctrine, and say, “Doctrine divides”, Sproul answers that doctrine does divide-as in the sheep from the goats (Believers and unbelievers).

Johnson looks at benefits of denominations, and how unity can exist because of them. He also looks at how that unity transcends denominations. Still the issue of Church Unity is not one to take lightly; disunity for the sake of disunity is sinful, as is disunity that cuts off fellowship for minor issues. Johnson looks at what various Protestant denominations have in common, and how that binds them across denominational lines. He warns that an external, organizational unity is not what Christ prayed for.

Next Joseph Pipa shows the importance of Creeds and confessions in the Church. He comments on how those who reject them-saying things such as, “No creed but the Bible, no confession but Jesus” misunderstand what creeds and confessions are. They are not intended to supplant scripture, but to be a commentary or summary. There is much to learn here. One point I liked was how each sermon is that preacher’s creed on the passage he preached from.

An essay by the late John Gerstner wraps up the book. It’s on when a person must leave a church. This is a touchy issue, and has been handled in many ways. This chapter needs to be read to fully appreciate it. He says a person must leave when a church ceases to be a church. While the dividing line on that may be clear to God, it may not be to us, and Gerstner digs into that. The major factor determining whether or not a church is still a church is the gospel.

Under the slightly different question of when MAY you leave a church, Gerstner looks at what happens when a church requires you to believe that which you deny, or to deny that which you believe. This is in the area of non-essentials. We are not to separate over every little difference, but neither are we to go the other way and require non-essentials to be essentials.

Our doctrine of the church is very important. It affects how we do church, why we do church, and from there how we live and exist as Christians. This book has a lot of Biblical guidance to help us out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Is this going too far?

My first instinct is to say yes.

Check it out for yourself

Another "After Eden"

Friday, November 11, 2005

Words of John Chrysostom (5th Century)

If any be a devout lover of God,
let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast.
If any be a faithful servant,
let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.
If any have wearied himself with fasting,
let him now enjoy his reward.
If any have laboured from the first hour,
let him receive today his rightful due.
If any have come after the third,
let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.
If any have come after the sixth,
let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.
If any have delayed until the ninth,
let him not hesitate but draw near.
If any have arrived only at the eleventh,
let him not be afraid because he comes so late.

For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour
in the same was as him who has laboured from the first.
He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.

Enter then, all of you, into the joy of our Lord.
First and last, receive alike your reward.
Rich and poor, dance together.
You who fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice together.
The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it.
The calf is fatted: let none go away hungry.

Let none lament his poverty;
for the universal Kingdom is revealed.
Let none bewail his transgressions;
for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
Let none fear death;
for death of the Savour has set us free.

He has destroyed death by undergoing death.
He has despoiled hell by descending into hell.
Hell was filled with bitterness when it met Thee face to face below;
filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing;
filled with bitterness, for it was mocked;
filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown;
filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains.
Hell received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life is liberated!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.

How Much Bread Do You Take?

I’ve been thinking lately about the Lord’s Supper. Between a Reformation Day service and the recent presbytery meeting I’ve had extra opportunities to take part in the Lord’s Supper. In most cases, the practice is to pass the bread around so each person can tear a piece off for themselves.
Now I don’t mean to pry—and I’m not making judgments on anybody—but I notice that some people take a tiny piece, while others just rip off a big hunk. I’m fine with people doing either, but I sometimes wonder why people take the amount they do.

I know some people who are gluten-intolerant, so if they take a tiny piece, I know that’s at least part of it. I think some people take a small amount so there is enough for everybody, or so they don’t look greedy or gluttonous. Where I worship there is always more left over than what is taken as we have a small congregation. So if you’re concerned there may not be enough, take a look around and maybe you’ll feel free to take more. If you are afraid of looking greedy or gluttonous—I won’t think that, so take more.

I wonder if people take more do so because they think they’re getting a bigger serving of grace or of Christ. I don’t hold to transubstantiation or consubstantiation, but I don’t think the Lord’s Supper is merely symbolic. So taking a bigger piece doesn’t get you more grace.

I’m sure I missed reasons people would give for how much they take, and they may not really know why they have those reasons. But why shouldn’t we take a look at why we take as much or little as we do?

If our reasons are legalistic, presumptuous, or vague then we should re-think them. When you have done that, then take whatever size piece of bread you desire. And remember there’s a deeper meaning here.

Please feel free to comment on your views. I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Links of the Week

First-the site that asks the question-"Is your Church reflecting culture or shaping it?" among other questions-
It's a good resource for Christians.

For a humourous look at the impact Powerpoint has on the business world, check out this link. It presents Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as presented via Powerpoint.

Book Recommendations-Creation & Evolution

The Lie: Evolution by Ken Ham
"In the Beginning God..." By Homer C. Hoeksema

Anyone wishing to read about creation and evolution has a wide range of choices. There are many excellent books available, ranging from simple to very technical. Some, such as WHAT IS CREATION SCIENCE? by Henry Morris and Gary Parker, lean heavily to the scientific side. Others, such as “IN THE BEGINNING GOD...” are primarily theological, while most fall in between.

Ken Ham and Homer C. Hoeksema have written two of the more interesting and thought provoking books on creation. They use similar approaches, but each mirrors the author’s background. (Ham is a scientist and teacher, Hoeksema a theologian and teacher.) There are several books I could recommend on this topic, but I think these two will edify you in other ways as well. You can learn more than just information on creation and evolution.

Some Christians wonder why we should be concerned about creation and evolution. They may not see a conflict, or may not really care. Ken Ham’s ministry, Answers in Genesis, answers these questions. By showing the importance of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, (creation to the flood), he has reached many with the gospel and strengthened believers.

The theme of THE LIE-EVOLUTION is the important foundation the biblical account of creation has for the rest of scripture. If creation is true, then it points to a God who has a claim on each of our lives.

As I read Ham’s book I realized he was using what is called a “presuppositional” approach, as opposed to the evidentialist approach often used in this debate. Presuppositionalism acknowledges that we all have biases and interpret all evidence based on those biases. To change our minds we need to examine our biases and on some level realize their faults and weaknesses. Evidentialism just deals with the evidence, and ironically, presupposes that at least some people have an open mind and will believe the evidence. Usually the only people who are convinced using the evidentialist approach are those who have the same biases, although they may not realize they do.

Ham begins by pointing out that we are all biased, we all have beliefs that shape how we see the world. He further states, “It is not a matter of whether one is biased or not. It is really a question of which bias is the best bias with which to be biased.” Once we realize this and see that both creationists and evolutionists don’t have separate evidence, but the same evidence, we can see that it isn’t creation (or religion) versus science, but one religion versus another. For as Ham goes on to show, both creationism and evolutionism are religious views.

Ham looks at what difference not believing in God makes to how you approach the world and authority. In evolution we are our own authorities, and can make our own rules, we can even be relativistic and capricious in them. The creationist view says God sets the rules. This makes all the difference in how we live our lives. Using Creation and the first eleven chapters of Genesis as a basis, Ham outlines why certain things are so, and why some things are wrong, and others right. He sets the foundation for the gospel, the incarnation and atonement of Jesus. Through various chapters he presents the foundation of scripture against evolution and deals with real issues. He gives practical advice, all based on scripture, especially as it relates to creation. The book also contains a list of resources to check out.

Ham concludes with two wonderful appendices. One is called, “Twenty Reasons Why Genesis and Evolution Don’t Mix” It goes through twenty compelling points that if we disagree with we need to prayerfully ask why. These points involve science and scripture. The other appendix is titled, “Why Did God Take Six Days?” It is very insightful and forces you to look at the question. The answers are compelling. With a page count of 164 this book is not a difficult read or a time consuming endeavour, and is extremely worth your time.

“IN THE BEGINNING GOD...” contains three main sections that build on one another.
The first is called, “The Divine Foundation: The Infallible Scriptures.” Hoeksema starts where Ham does, and where every believer ought to, with Scripture. Hoeksema looks at what it means to say scripture is infallible, what scripture says about itself, and looks at what the church has said about it. He also notes attacks on scripture, and calls us to guard it.

The second section is called, ”The Creation Record: Literal or Not?” Hoeksema looks at how we should view the creation account, especially if we profess to be Christians, and therefore believe scripture to be infallible. He looks at this question from several angles. He also looks at what is called theistic evolution, or progressive creationism, and shows how the two are really the same. Both are attempts to include God in evolution, or aspects of evolution in creation. He shows why these are NOT options for the Christian. In this context he also deals with the question of a young earth versus an old one. (Ham’s book looks at this too.) He further develops this in the next section.

The third section is called, “Genesis and Science” It covers some of the same ground as Ham does, but from a slightly different angle. He addresses the conflict between evolution and science, and why evolution isn’t true science. He further looks at various aspects of creation in light of science and scripture. He takes an approach that shows creation is the only scriptural option. He does provide more, but that is his main point. “IN THE BEGINNING GOD...” is just under half as long as THE LIE-EVOLUTION, and very readable. I highly recommend this book as well.

If you are discussing evolution with a non-Christian Ham’s book would be better. Both have valuable insight if you encounter a believer who wants to mix any evolution in with their view of creation. (This includes believing the earth to be billions of years old.) A proper belief of creation is not essential to be saved, but it can affect the way a person thinks and lives. Whether they realize it or not, they are undermining the Bible to some degree. If that person is in a teaching or leadership role it can negatively affect how they lead or teach without them realizing it. Those who mix should ask themselves if they are judging scripture by science or science by scripture. All Christians need to judge everything by scripture, taking it for what it is. We need to ask what our bias is.

Monday, November 07, 2005

New Archaeology Find

Now I don't base my faith in archaeological finds--but sometimes archaeology gets quite interesting. I do have an interest in history, and that involves digging up past civilizations.
I haven't had much time to look into this in any depth yet, so I won't jump all over it as if it's the be all and end all of evidence. (And I am a presuppositionalist who believes evidencs has its place.) But I thought I'd share this for those who haven't heard. And it does mention a doubter-but that's always to be expected.
Archaeologists Unveil Ancient Church Site

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Links of the Week

I enjoy the guitar, and I enjoy classical guitar, and I enjoy Christopher Parkening--one of the premier classical guitarists today. Make that one of the best guitarists period. I've been a fan for years.
Here's his site.

Horatius Bonar lived from 1808-89.
He wrote many things, including the wonderful hymns seen

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Doxoblogist series

Just thought I'd link to Doxoblogy--where the Doxoblogist is presenting a series of articles on election and justification-

(This is a link to his site-if he has added new articles you may need to scroll down
This is the most recent article at the time I posted this