Archives for November 2009

reflections on an evangelical service

I am in my home town, assisting my parents in a move out to the coast so that our family can more directly care for them in their old age. Today I went to church with my dad. It was in this church that I grew up and had my first preaching opportunities. It is a church almost 100 years old. It has had a significant impact on many lives during its existence, including at least 5 men in the ministry from its young people just in my generation.

The style of service and many doctrinal issues make this a church I could no longer have close fellowship with, even if the Lord had brought me back to my home province for my ministry. I rarely attend here, not usually visiting my parents over a Sunday. In the last 27 years, I have probably been in the church for one of its services less than 5 times.

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fun techno stuff

I thought I might mention a couple of things I have found online recently. The first is something called Readability, which is a button you can add to your browser toolbar. On web-pages that are very busy with all kinds of adds, pics, etc, it will find the relevant story and eliminate all the clutter for you, making it easier to read.

I found out about Readability at a NY Times site, Pogue’s Posts, a blog by one of the NYT technical writers, David Pogue. Mr. Pogue is an interesting writer and covers a wide variety of gizmos and gadgets if that is something you are interested in. The Readability column is here.

Last, this one is kind of … different. I suppose several web-news sites have these kinds of aggregators, but I stumbled across MSNBCs “Weird News” feed a couple of weeks ago. They often come up with hilarious and interesting stories, some of which would make great sermon illustrations, if only one could find the text they go with. Of course, some of what they post is drivel, but I am finding that I am clipping columns for later use fairly regularly. With Readability of course!


four posts on alcohol

I’d like to recommend four posts on alcohol by Jeff Straub. Jeff and I tend to tangle online. We have widely different opinions in some areas. But I have to say these four articles are extremely well done and worth your time:

  1. The Christian and Alcohol: Does the Bible Permit Drinking in Moderation?
  2. Popping the Cork on a Can of Worms?
  3. Choosing to Abstain
  4. One Final Word on Alcohol

Regular readers will know that I don’t subscribe to the two-wine theory, but that I totally oppose the use of alcohol as a beverage for Christians at any time. I actually oppose the use of beverage alcohol for anyone, but my position is very unlikely to gain a hearing in the world at large. My hope is that Christians will get serious about alcohol and totally abstain. There is no good reason for any believer in Christ to ever participate in its use.


wheat and tares

One of the kingdom parables is often misinterpreted. I am amazed at this since our Lord Jesus Christ himself gave us the proper interpretation. Here is the parable:

Matthew 13:24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 "But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 "And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 "But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

What is the popular misinterpretation?

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psalms notes updated

For any interested in my outlines, I have uploaded my notes on the Psalms to date here.


I’m convinced that what kids need today are parents – not buddies.

A quote from a pretty good article by Zig Ziglar. “Zig On…When the Motive Is Love. I’m sure I can find areas where I disagree with Ziglar, but I think the general philosophy he expresses in this article is very similar to my own. The homes of our nation are in disarray, including many Christian homes. May our mothers and fathers learn to be parents and fulfill all their Biblical responsibilities.


the fundamentalist phenomenon

… to steal a phrase.

I ran across an article about the Reformed Church in America at the Christian news site, Christian Post. Entitled “Reformed Church in America Is Imploding, Professor Says”, the article describes turmoil in a denomination I don’t know a lot about.

Several things struck me about the way the conflict was described however. Note these key paragraphs:

Amid years of contention between liberals and conservatives over issues such as the civil-rights movement, women’s ordination and evangelism with regard to social witness, Luidens says "loyalists" emerged to keep the denomination together. They were more dedicated to denominational survival than to ideological purity, he notes.

Though the two extremes were held together then, today many liberals have left the RCA in significant numbers and conservatives have shifted their target to the loyalists and continue to "rail against ‘liberalism,’" he says.

Now before anyone shrieks, ‘none of these people are fundamentalists’, let me say I am quite aware of that. But the conflict illustrates exactly what fundamentalism is all about, how it came into existence, and why a need for it still exists.

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dumbing worldliness down?

Within fundamentalism, ongoing discussion of our views and practices inevitably leads to a discussion of worldliness. Traditionally fundamentalism has called for a separation not only from false teachers and modernism but also for a separation from the world. Fundamentalism has spoken out against an attitude of worldliness developing in the church.

In Dave Doran’s recent presentations concerning separation, he touched on the area of worldliness, some of which I objected to earlier. He continues this discussion by putting into writing a good deal of the material he covered in the presentations. This article deals with worldliness.

Dave starts off with a reasonable definition of worldliness:

Worldliness is having a heart and mind shaped by the world’s beliefs and values so that we engage in its sinful pleasures and pursue earthly treasures.

So far, so good. You can read any number of articles on worldliness and come up with similar definitions.

But it is the expansion of this definition that I find … what? Curious? Unusual? Discordant? Troubling? Perhaps all of the above…

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a man of the book

I’d like to recommend an excellent article by one of my old professors, Dr. Stewart Custer. In “Biblical Balance," he writes advocating that we become less shallow in our Scriptural understanding and really get to know our Bibles. I am afraid that most of us are ‘sound bite’ Christians. We treat the Bible like the media treats newsmakers – we take a slice of words that we think represents all of truth on a subject and think we know what the Author meant.

Dr. Custer starts his article this way:

Many people use Scripture for their own purposes. I am referring to sincere Christians who use the Scriptures to reinforce their own private interpretations of the Bible and of life. Many of these people are very godly individuals. I know of preachers whose personal dedication to the Lord is unquestioned, but who have certain doctrines for which they are notorious. They plug these things as though they were the great truths of revelation, when they happen to be of private interpretation.

Most fundamentalists would say they have a handle on the idea of holiness. Dr. Custer points out there are approximately 600 references to the word ‘holiness’ in the Bible (leaving aside passages that don’t specifically use that word). How many of those passages would you say you have thoroughly studied? What kind of grasp do you have on holiness, according to the Scriptures?

Our culture is filled with media, as Dr. Custer points out. All kinds of noise blares at us, demanding our attention. We live fast paced lives. We are ‘Martha’ Christians. We need to learn to be ‘Mary’ Christians, and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Turn off our televisions and our computers. Turn off our ipods and iphones. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Mt 11.29)

I can tell you that I was mightily convicted by this little article this evening


navigating the wilderness

The analogy of map and compass is a useful one for considering our navigation the ‘wilderness of this world’ and especially useful for navigating the ecclesiastical wilderness.

For a good understanding of the analogy, though, one must have some understanding of how maps and compasses work. A much more full description can be found from a chapter of a book, The Backpacker’s Field Manual, excerpted here on the Princeton University site, but I’ll attempt a bit in this post.

I suppose when we think of ‘mapping’ the locations on the ecclesiastical landscape, we probably envision a political map, with nation-states and their boundaries. Such maps seem fairly objective and definite in allocating the bounds of various domains, but they are of limited value for navigation.

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