Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thomas Brooks Quote

Grace and glory differ very little; the one is the seed, the other is the flower; grace is glory militant, glory is grace triumphant.

—Thomas Brooks

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Book Recommendation-The Vanishing Conscience by John MacArthur

(This is adapted from the first book review/recommendation I wrote for the Church Newsletter about 7 years ago. Hopefully any changes are for the better.)

The Vanishing Conscience is a book well worth reading. It combines characteristics I find most useful when they are all present. It is challenging, convicting, exhorting, and encouraging. When a book combines all four of these characteristics it can give me a fuller picture of who I am in Christ, and where I’d be without Him. I can see my sin and see my Saviour.

The Vanishing Conscience is in some ways the most difficult book I have ever read. It is not written at a highly technical or scholarly level. Its style is very readable. The difficulty lies in how it challenged and convicted me. I often had to stop reading and examine myself and pray. This can be very profitable, as you are not allowed to be complacent. In fact, I would say if you can read this book without feeling challenged and convicted, you need to examine yourself to see if you really do know the Lord. Some sections did not bother me at all, but others cut deeply.

In the first section, MacArthur looks at society’s notions about sin and guilt. He shows how they are not only tolerated, but often condoned and even celebrated. He outlines the “victim mentality” and challenges you to examine yourself to see if you fall in with the world this way. He then proceeds to define the conscience and look at how it can be cleansed and strengthened (This is part of the encouraging the book does.) He then turns his attention to how sin can silence the conscience and lead to moral decline. We need to ask if this is happening to us.

In the next section MacArthur looks at the nature of sin. He begins by examining the doctrine of total depravity, using the first three chapters of Romans. He looks at how society focuses on self, not God. He moves on to how we try to justify our own sin, and then looks to Christ as the only answer. He outlines the need for repentance and being born again. He brings in the gospel. To believers this is wonderful encouragement. He then looks at misguided attempts to deal with sin, looking primarily at those who say we can be perfect in this life. Sanctification is a life long process. On various occasions MacArthur has stated, “It’s not the perfection of your life, but the direction.” It is important to see this. We are not perfect in this life, but we ought to be moving in that direction.

In the final section MacArthur deals with handling sin. He brings up the often neglected biblical teaching of mortification. Mortification is putting to death the deeds of the flesh. It is not effective if it’s only half-done. MacArthur explains mortification using I Samuel 15, which tells what happened after Israel had defeated one of their fiercest enemies, the Amalekites. God had told them to destroy everything connected to the Amalekites, but Saul didn’t fully obey. He even spared the Amalekites’ king. This was the final event that led to God rejecting Saul as king of Israel. It is well worth your time to read this section, as the full impact of this illustration can not be properly conveyed here.

MacArthur goes on to overcoming temptation. He explains the difference between temptation and God’s testing of us. Through Christ we can endure both. The most convicting part for me was the chapter on keeping a pure mind. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit our minds are the place we sin the most. Most visible or outward sin starts in the mind. If our sin stays in the mind, no one knows about it (except God, but we often ignore that). If the sin stays there we think we got away with it, but eventually it will catch up with us. MacArthur exhorts us to watch over our hearts and guard our thoughts.

The final chapter looks at how many in the church have substituted forgiveness of our sins, and the seriousness of sin with “feeling good”. He ends it with practical application for recognizing and dealing with sin in our lives. This is indeed the sort of encouragement we all need. The book also contains three appendices well worth reading.

Throughout the book, MacArthur looks to the Bible and to God. Jesus Christ and the gospel are prominent. He challenges us to examine our attitudes. The conviction I felt came from the Holy Spirit as God’s word was opened up and showed me my sin. I was encouraged in the application parts of the book, and in looking to Christ and what He has done. It is so easy to be lazy regarding our conscience and therefore how we live. This book deals with the heart and mind. It follows the idea of reformation starting with ourselves and working outwards. The Vanishing Conscience is a much needed and profitable wake up call I recommend for every Christian.

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LOTW October 19, 2006

Links of the Whenever for October 19, 2006-

First up--a variety of Bible commentaries online--some very good, some not so good.
You'll find a variety at Classic Bible Commentaries It's billed as "History's Most Renowned Commentary Writers."

Then--shield your eyes!!!!
It's WHA uniforms!
See the 70's at their brightest, and gaudiest--the uniforms of the World Hockey Association. (Actually it's kind of fun--and some weren't too bad.)

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There Goes Good old Presbytery

Well, it's come and gone again.

Some wonderful fellowship, and some great worship, and even fun in the committee meeting--that was Presbytery. It's not all perfect, but we're a young Presbytery and we're sorting things out. I was encouraged to hear others are like minded in several ways.

If you belong to a Church that holds Presbytery and you have the opportunity to attend--I would encourage you to try it-hopefully you will see the good, and pray for the less than good. Hopefully you will be encouraged by Church Government in action.

I'm looking forward to the next one--I think it will be better.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hymns on The Christian Life-"The Shining Light" by William Cowper

My former hopes are fled,
My terror now begins;
I feel, alas! that I am dead
In trespasses and sins.

Ah, whither shall I fly?
I hear the thunder roar;
The Law proclaims Destruction nigh,
And Vengeance at the door.

When I review my ways,
I dread impending doom:
But sure a friendly whisper says,
"Flee from the wrath to come."

I see, or think I see,
A glimmering from afar;
A beam of day, that shines for me,
To save me from despair.

Forerunner of the sun,
It marks the pilgrim's way;
I'll gaze upon it while I run,
And watch the rising day.

William Cowper suffered from depression. His friend, John Newton set him to compose hymns. His struggles are seen in this and other hymns he wrote, and even better we see the results. We see his eyes on Christ.
For more of his hymns on the Christian life-click on this link.

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Slaves of Uprightness

The title above is part of what I got when I entered the French translation of my Blog (see below) into babelfish. (Yes I know it is not the most accurate way to translate.)

But the results were amusing.

The top of the "re-translated" blog now reads-
Slaves of uprightness (Romance 6:18)
A list of the reading recommended, bonds, thoughts random and comments of a reformed Christian prospect. And it is Canadian Westerner too.
I'm now a "reformed Christian prospect." Does that mean I could get traded?

Other results-
-I link to a blog called "Horsefly of Calvinist"
-In a book review it says-"Perhaps I should have another recommendation of book."
-I have a link to "RevGot of waxes of lenscleanse about the antidotes of materialism"
-A review of a Peter Jones book now reads-"He was once Peter Jones was invited by my gathering to present a series of talks on the new movement of age and the evangile."
-Oddly enough this last one makes sense-"But as Christian we must be portion of different."


My Blog in French

This was interesting.
While checking the stats on my visitors I saw one referral where my blog was translated into French.
I hope it made sense.

Esclaves de droiture

And in French I am "pélerin", not Pilgrim...


Monday, October 09, 2006

LOTW October 9, 2006

Thanksgiving Day is almost over for us Canadians, and so to celebrate a new edition of Links of the Whenever---

First up a link on baptism.
This is actually a link to a page of links on

At this link you'll find several articles on baptism, defending both Paedobaptism (or covenant baptism--baptising children of believers) and Credobaptism (baptising believers only). There are also articles linked on this page on the baptsim of the Holy Spirit and also on baptismal regenration.

As a Presbyterian I hold to Paedobaptism, but there are well written articles on both sides.

Baptism (Credobaptism & Paedobaptism & other articles too.)

Then, if you're looking for a new game to play try this one-
It has nothing to do with John Calvin, except that cartoonist Bill Watterson named the character Calvin after John Calvin.
It's a fun read.

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Credit where credit is due...

This post of mine from almost back to the start of my blogging experience-
A mystery of life solved--sort of
is not the result of my wisdom, but actually is the from the knowledge and wisdom of someone I will refer to as "Mrs Pilgrim" for now. Although she wasn't "Mrs Pilgrim" at the time...

And now it's set straight.

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