Saturday, December 29, 2012

Litanies for Childermas



Deuteronomy 30:19; Proverbs 24:10-11; John 10:10; John 3:16
Pastor: Heaven and earth bear witness: the Lord has set before us life and death.
All: He has set before us blessing and cursing.
Pastor: Therefore, let us choose life that we and our covenant children after us may live.
Reader 1: If we faint in the day of adversity, our strength is small.  Deliver those who are drawn toward death, hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. 
Reader 2: If we say, "Surely we did not know this," does not He who weighs the heart and keeps our souls know it?
Pastor: Therefore, let us choose life.
Reader 3: The thief does not come except to kill, and to steal, and to destroy, but, Jesus has come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly.
All: For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Pastor: Therefore, let us choose life.

Psalm 139: 7-8, 13-18
Pastor: Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
All: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Pastor: Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
All: My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Pastor: Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.
All: How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

Romans 3:13-18; Jeremiah 8:3; Proverbs 8:36; Psalm 145: 8
Pastor: Lord, we come confessing.  We confess that our throats are open graves.  Whether we realize it or not, we have chosen the way of death.
All: There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together we have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.
Pastor: All those who hate God, love death.
All: Our feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in our paths, and the path of peace have they not known.  There is no fear of God before our eyes.
Pastor: But, the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Deo Gracias!

Adam lay i-bowndyn,
bowndyn in a bond,
Fowre thows and wynter
thowt he not to long.

And al was for an appil,
an appil that he tok.
As clerkes fyndyn wretyn
in here book.

Ne hadde the appil take ben,
the appil taken ben,
Ne hadde never our lady
a ben hevene quen.

Blyssid be the tyme
that appil take was!
Therefore we mown syngyn
Deo gracias!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Saviour of the Nations, Come


Ambrose (340-397) was the great bishop of Milan who was instrumental in the conversion of St. Augustine. In fact, there is evidence in one of Augustine's writings that substantiates Ambrose's authorship of a wonderful Advent hymn, Veni, Redemptor Gentium--indeed, he is credited with writing a goodly number of hymns and is sometimes referred to as the Father of Hymnody. This particular hymn has been traditionally sung during the vespers service of the Nativity on Christmas Eve. The great German Reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546) was instrumental in popularizing the hymn in Wittenburg through his 1524 translation from the Latin. The following version is an 1860 translation from Luther's German text by William Reynolds. Several other versions of this hymn exist, including a fine translation by John Mason Neale, Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth.

Saviour of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not of flesh and blood the Son,
Offspring of the Holy One;
Born of Mary ever blest
God in flesh is manifest.

Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

From the Father forth he came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell,
High the song of triumph swell!

Thou, the Father's only Son,
Hast o'er sin the victory won.
Boundless shall thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Church Circus

"A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Thursday, December 13, 2012

History Repeats: The Tron Church Debacle


"The Free Kirk, the Wee Kirk,
The Kirk without the Steeple."
"The Auld Kirk, the Cauld Kirk,
The Kirk without the People."
(A popular Scots rhyme at the time of 1843 Disruption)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snopsing Chalmers on the "Gap Theory"



It is often asserted that the Scottish reformer, educator, and pastor, Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), was one of the originators of the so-called "Genesis Gap Theory" as a part of his effort to harmonize the ideas of evolution and creation. Scan the internet and you'll see this claim repeated again and again. Even many of the most reputable Intelligent Design or Creation Science sites perpetuate this peculiar notion.

It has no real substance however. Indeed, it is an "urban myth."

The actual origin of the "ruin-reconstruction" view of Creation comes from the writings of late 19th century writers like Hugh Miller, G.H. Pember, and I.T. Taylor. It was then popularized by early 20th century dispensationalists such as A.C. Dixon, A.J. Gordon, and H.A. Ironside. And it was particularly propounded in the best-selling study Bibles of Finis Dake and C.I. Scolfield. The theory asserts that some indeterminate amount of time elapsed between the first two verses of the Genesis narrative--this "gap" could then account for millions of years of geologic time or the fall of Satan or any number of other perceived textual difficulties.

There is no record of Chalmers endorsing this view--or anything like it. The notion that somehow he did comes from a single statement in a single lecture out of the more than fifty volumes of his writings.

This is what Chalmers actually said: “The detailed history of creation in the first chapter of Genesis begins at the middle of the second verse.”

Clearly, Chalmers posited no gap, no ruin and reconstruction, and no attempt to reconcile evolution and creation here. At most, he made a simple exegetical observation that Genesis 1:1 declares God's ex nihilo creation; Genesis 1:2a introduces the Spirit's moving amidst the material void; And Genesis 1:2b begins to unfold the details of that glorious moving and its resultant redolence.

Regardless, debates about the age of the earth and possible conflict with the historicity of the Bible would actually not come into common discourse until well after the death of Chalmers. Indeed, he made his isolated comment in 1816--long before Darwin ignited the controversy with the publication of "Origin of Species" in 1859.

Thomas Chalmers most assuredly wrestled with ways to find a common ground for scientists and theologians--his Astronomical Discourses (1817) were particularly effective examples of his apologetic methodology. But never would he compromise the integrity of Biblical truth for the sake of supposed scientific accommodation.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reading Chalmers



 I am often asked by friends and students how to begin a serious study of the life and work of Thomas Chalmers.  This is at least partly because I can hardly ever give a lecture, preach a sermon, write an essay, or post a blog without mentioning him.  But even more, it is because reading Chalmers can proved to be an arduous and elusive pursuit.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Chalmers was heralded as the greatest preacher in the English-speaking world: he is very difficult to read.  His vocabulary is vast and unfamiliar, his Scots syntax is peculiar to those of us accustomed to the less circuitous English spoken south of the Tweed, and his pre-Victorian, Regency era rhetorical formalism is quite alien to modern readers and speakers of the King’s Tongue.  Plowing through his dense style is more than a little difficult—but it is also very much worth the effort.

It is worth the effort, that is, if you can find his works to plow through.  And that is no easy matter either.  Virtually all of his books have long been out of print.  Reprints are not only few and far between, they tend to be scanned from antiquarian library copies rather than newly, clearly typeset.  You can find quite an array of titles in the Google Books and Guttenberg Project digital collections—but, they lack the context that good introductory essays, explanatory footnotes and historical references, and deep indexing might provide. 

I have long thought that something like what James Bratt has undertaken to rehabilitate the life and work of Abraham Kuyper (especially his Centennial Reader and forthcoming magisterial biography), needs to be done for the life and work of Chalmers.  But until someone is able to take up that substantial mantle, we will have to content ourselves with a handful of scattered resources.

The first book that I always send readers to is the short profile by John Roxborough and Stuart Piggen entitled, The St. Andrew Seven  (Banner of Truth).  Though not entirely about Chalmers (most of the text is devoted to six of his students and the way he influenced the trajectory of their lives and ministries) it is nevertheless the best single, accessible work available in a modern edition.

The doctoral thesis of John Roxborogh is likewise very helpful.  Thomas Chalmers: Enthusiast For Mission (Rutherford House and Paternoster Press) is a concise examination of the parish vision and missional structure Chalmers helped to institutionalize in the Free Kirk.

In terms of biography, the most helpful work currently in print is a single chapter in Iain Murray’s A Scottish Christian Heritage (Banner of Truth).  As he always seems to be able to do, Murray captures the heart and soul of both the Gospel message and the human, historical means by which that message is proclaimed in this poor fallen world.

Another helpful doctoral dissertation recently published, but alas now out of print, is Stephen Brown’s Thomas Chalmers and the Godly Commonwealth (Oxford).  Serving as a critical biography, the work affords useful balance to the historical and theological reader.


Of the nearly one hundred works actually written by Chalmers, only the two volumes of his Sabbath Scripture Readings (Solid Ground) and his Letters (Banner of Truth) remain in print.  The Readings are delightful Lectio Divina meditations on individual chapters of Scripture written for his personal devotions during the last few years of his life.  They provide us with a remarkable glimpse into both his heart and his ministry, his piety and his hermeneutic.  The Letters portray the great man at work, at home, on the stump, in the midst of controversy, in the classroom, and amongst his brethren in a way that only a collection of personal correspondence possibly could.

Of his sermons, only The Expulsive Power of a New Affection is widely available.  It is genius and certainly warrants the attentions of serious students of the Gospel.  But a host of his other works are as valuable.  A new, annotated edition of his most accessible works should be a high priority for an enterprising publisher—as would a new comprehensive biography and in-depth studies of his parish vision, missional strategies, and church planting endeavors. 

Chalmers once asserted, “No matter how large, your vision is too small.”  My own vision for recovering the work of Chalmers from undue obscurity is large, but I am quite certain that in this too, he is right: it remains too small. 


Postscript: I have been “working” on several volumes for the past several years.  At least a couple of them will see the light of day very soon: a new annotated edition of the Keystone Memory System devised by Chalmers will be released as an e-book within the month; a very abbreviated, annotated collection of his sermons will be ready as a digital download shortly after the first of the year; a collection of my talks on Chalmers and his reforming vision should be ready by Spring; and both my big biography and my analysis of the parish system he recovered are on the drawing boards.  I even have titles for both: A Wider Diameter of Light for the former; Parish Life for the latter.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Leslie Printice: Pro-Life Pioneer


Leslie Printice was a young widow in New York City when she first became active in the pro-life movement.  A member of Gardiner Spring's congregation at the prominent Brick Presbyterian Church, she was encouraged by his sermons on child-killing to take a bold and active stand.  

She organized several meetings in her midtown Manhattan brownstone of doctors, lawyers, politicians, judges, and community leaders to hear the facts about the abortion trade.  Under the auspices of the church she set up the New York Parent and Child Committee.  The committee established prayer networks, sidewalk counseling shifts, and even alternative care programs with Christian doctors.  It also organized regular protests in front of Anna Lohman's five area abortion franchises--known professionally as Madame Restell, Lohman was the boldest, richest, and most visible child-killer.  

Tenacious and unrelenting, Leslie led a rally outside Lohman's lavish home on this day that was by turns emotional, physical, and fierce.  When Lohman went to trial for the first time the next year, Leslie was there--despite innumerable threats on her life from a number of the gangsters on Lohman's payroll--to testify with several children "saved from the butcher's knife."  

Nearly half a century later, her efforts were recognized in Albany by Governor Theodore Roosevelt as the primary catalyst for the state's tougher legislation and stiffer enforcement of protections for the essential right to life of all New Yorkers.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adventide



"Advent is a season of preparation.  For centuries Christians have used the month prior to the celebration of Christ’s incarnation to ready their hearts and their homes for the great festival.  While we moderns tend to do a good bit of bustling about in the crowded hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas that hardly constitutes the kind of preparation Advent calls for.  Indeed, traditionally Advent has been a time of quiet introspection, personal examination, and repentance.  It is a time to slow down, to take stock of the things that matter the most, and to do a thorough inner housecleaning.  Advent is, as the ancient teaching of the church asserts, a time of fasting, prayer, confession, and reconciliation.  All the great Advent stories, hymns, customs, and rituals—from the medieval liturgical antiphons and Scrooge’s Christmas Carol to the lighting of Advent candles are attuned to this notion: that the best way to prepare for the coming of the Lord is to make straight His pathway in our hearts."   —From Christmas Spirit: The Joyous Carols, Stories, Feasts and Traditions of the Season by Greg Wilbur and George Grant

Friday, November 30, 2012

St. Andrew’s Day



Numbered among the Apostles, the brother of Simon Peter eventually became the revered patron of both Greece and Scotland where his feast day, November 30, remains a kind of national holiday.  Andrew (c. 10-60) may well have been, as tradition asserts, the founder of the church at the site of Constantinople, but he was most assuredly the great reconciler, as Scripture asserts.  As a result, his memory is celebrated by a day of forgiveness.  Services of reconciliation are often followed by a great feast of roasted or smoked beef, the telling of heroic tales, the reciting epic poetry, and the singing of great ballads.  King David of Scotland, son of Malcolm Canmore and Queen. Margaret, codified the day a national holiday in 1125—and so it has been ever since.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Wider Diameter of Light


"The wider a man's knowledge becomes, the deeper should be his humility; for the more he knows the more he sees of what remains unknown. The wider the diameter of light, the larger the circumference of darkness." Thomas Chalmers

"With every footstep of growing knowledge there ought to be a growing humility--that is the best guarantee both for a sound philosophy and a sound faith." Thomas Chalmers

Friday, October 19, 2012

Providential Working

‎"There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.”  Corrie Ten Boom

Thursday, September 20, 2012

St. John's Wayside Chapel


Having failed to gain permission from the Glasgow Presbytery to plant a much needed new parish church in the city, Thomas Chalmers and the session of St. John’s Parish Church were grudgingly allowed to create a “chapel of ease” or a “wayside chapel” within the boundaries of their current parish district in 1822.

The spare and utilitarian building was designed by the renowned architect John Baird and had a capacity of about 300 worshippers.  It also contained a number of classrooms within which several community classes were conducted and a small parish school convened.

It was popularly known as the Potters Kirk, because of the large number of the congregation employed in that trade--the Annfield pottery factory was just across the Gallowgate.  Indeed, the church provided a remarkable cultural and spiritual hub for the blighted jumble of the industrial neighborhood. 

The small bell-tower originally carried a small spire, creating a much-needed landmark for the otherwise dreary community. But it was removed sometime just before the Disruption of 1843.

Following the Disruption, the remaining congregants applied for parish status and in 1846 it was renamed St. Thomas Parish Church.  But, the largest proportion of the members had followed their mentor, Chalmers, into the Free Kirk.  Eventually, the parish was recombined with St. John’s and the building became redundant.  The building was sold to the Wesleyan Methodists but the decline in the neighborhood brought even that enterprise to an end and the chapel closed its doors in 1973.  Derelict, the historic building was torn down in 1976 and replaced by a corner market and a fast food outlet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

St. John's Parish Church


The parish experiment of Thomas Chalmers in Glasgow had as its cultural center of gravity a remarkable architectural icon (see image above).

The foundation stone of St. John's Parish Church was laid in 1817 by Henry Monteith, Lord Provost of the city, and Chalmers, then the pastor of the city's prominent Tron Church. The building, situated at the end of MacFarlane Street fronted the Gallowgate, and was erected at a cost £9,000. With a capacity of nearly 1600 worshippers, it was one of the largest church buildings in Scotland, located in one of nation's poorest urban neighborhoods.

During its construction the foundations collapsed sparking fears that the 138-foot high Neo-Gothic tower would not be able to support the weight of the full compliment of bells which had been specially designed for the church--only St. Andrew's in Edinburgh could boast a complete "Ringing of the Bells" at the time. The defective design was quickly corrected and construction was not long delayed.

The facility provided a sanctuary for the worship for the St. John's congregation, of course.  But, it also created a tangible presence in the community for the congregation's reforming work, a hub for its evangelistic, educational, cultural, and mercy ministries.

The new church plant was launched by Chalmers, who had ministered in the city since 1815 and had become the most prominent voice of Evangelical and Reformed Christianity in Britain. His vision for St. John's was to create a "parish model" of ministry, similar to what the little villages of Fifeshire enjoyed, but right in the heart of the poorest, most densely populated, most industrialized section of the city. 

The new building was finally opened in 1819 and remained a vital part of Glasgow's Evangelical and Reformed renewal until the landmark was demolished in 1962 in a tragically ill-conceived "modernization" scheme (see image below).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Most Unmanly Surrender


"I am afraid there has been a most unmanly surrender of Christianity and of all that strength and honor which belong to it, that so much authority has been given to the conceptions of a narrow and ignorant bigotry as to have laid open our religion to the scorn of philosophers, and to have brought down upon her the contempt and disgust of society; that in this way she has been associated with all that is mean and with all that is ignoble and has been looked upon as such a tame vulgar and unworthy thing, as to be totally unfit for a man of eloquence and of liberal illumination; ay, and when they cast their glance upon her, and see nothing in any of her features but the plain and the coarse and the ordinary, let us not wonder though it be a glance of hard and infidel disdain.  Are we, in truckling compliance with the humors of a baseless fanaticism, to strip away all learning and cultivation and eloquence as so many unseemly appendages?" Thomas Chalmers

Monday, September 3, 2012

Luther's "Defend Thy Christendom"

Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Woo Thou all Doubters and murderous Turks 
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.

Lord Jesus Christ, Thy power make known,
For Thou art Lord of lords alone;
Defend Thy Christendom that we
May evermore sing praise to Thee.

O Comforter of priceless worth.
Send peace and unity on earth.
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life. 


Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort
Und steur des Papsts und Türken Mord,
Die Jesum Christum, deinen Sohn,
Wollen stürzen von deinem Thron!

Beweis dein' Macht, Herr Jesu Christ,
Der du Herr aller Herren bist;
Beschirm' dein' arme Christenheit,
Daß sie dich lob' in Ewigkeit!

Gott Heil'ger Geist, du Tröster wert,
Gib dein'm Volk ein'rlei Sinn auf Erd',
Steh bei uns in der letzten Not,
G'leit uns ins Leben aus dem Tod! 

     --Martin Luther

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Breath of Our Breathing


 "Prayer should be the breath of our breathing, the thought of our thinking, the soul of our feeling, the life of our living, the sound of our hearing, and the growth of our growing.  Prayer is length without end, width without bounds, height without top, and depth without bottom; illimitable in its breadth, exhaustless in height, fathomless in depths, and infinite in extension.  Oh, for determined men and women who will rise early and really burn for God.  Oh for a faith that will sweep into heaven with the early dawning of morning and have ships from a shoreless sea loaded in the soul's harbor ere the ordinary laborer has knocked the dew from the scythe or the lackluster has stirred from his bed." Homer W. Hodge

"We are constantly on a stretch to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church. So, the Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—faithful men of prayer."  E.M. Bounds

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission



So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

30 Days of Prayer



Please join with Christians all over the world in praying for our Muslim neighbors during the month of Ramadan, July 20-August 18.  Visit the 30 Days of Prayer site for daily prayer guides throughout the entire month.

Right and Wrong



"Right and wrong are defined by God, and not by mutual consent, or by feminine insecurities, or feminist compromises, or by masculine insecurities, or by zeitgeist-riddled cultural observers, or by evangelicals desperate to be accepted with the cool kids, or by chin-stroking, Bible-surrendering academics." Douglas Wilson

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Just Weird



"God gives us a Francis Schaeffer and all too many of us grow up to act like Franky.  God gives us a Gordon Clark and we end up being like John Robbins.  God gives us a Dooyeweerd and we end up just being weird." Ben House

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Promises, Promises



“His divine power has granted to us all things that we need for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and goodness, by which He has granted to us His very great and precious promises.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Picking Our Battles



"Any coward can fight a battle when he’s sure of winning; but give me the man who has the pluck to fight when he’s sure of losing.  That’s my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat."  George Eliot 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils?

Tryon Edwards (1809–1894), theologian, editor, anthologist, biographer, and great-great-grandson of Jonathan Edwards
“Between two evils, choose neither; between two goods, choose both.” 
“Credulity is belief in slight evidence, with no evidence, or against evidence.”
“Facts are God's arguments; we should be careful never to misunderstand or pervert them.”
“Most controversies would soon be ended, if those engaged in them would first accurately define their terms, and then adhere to their definitions.”
“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.”
“Sinful and forbidden pleasures are like poisoned bread; they may satisfy appetite for the moment, but there is death in them at the end.”
“The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers, rather than fill it with the accumulation of others.”
“To rejoice in another's prosperity is to give content to your lot; to mitigate another's grief is to alleviate or dispel your own.”
“We should be as careful of the books we read, as of the company we keep. The dead very often have more power than the living.”
“What we gave, we have; What we spent, we had; What we left, we lost.”



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Extracting Hope




"It is not from the secret counsels of Heaven, of which all are ignorant, but the open communications of Heaven, to which all have access, that we extract hope." Thomas Chalmers

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kuyper Online


Princeton Seminary has begun digitally archiving their massive theological library--including the complete works of Abraham Kuyper.  The free library is now available online.  Amazingly, only about one-sixteenth of the Kuyper canon has ever been translated into English--so, here is a great opportunity for some Masters and Doctoral projects or theses. Kudos to my bibliophile friend, Ben House, for this heads-up find.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Covenantal Confession for Corporate Sin

“O Lord God of Heaven, the great and awesome God Who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant that I now pray before You day and night for the people of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against You. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments and the statutes that You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make My Name dwell there.’ They are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who delight to fear Your name, and give success to Your servant today, and grant him mercy.” (Nehemiah 1:5-11)


“O Lord, the great and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from Your commandments and laws. We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your Name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To You, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which You have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against You. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, refusing to obey Your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against Him. He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against the covenant people. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that He has done, and we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a Name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.  O Lord, according to all Your righteous acts, let Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city, Your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Your people have become a byword of shame among all who are around us. Now therefore, O God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for Your own sake, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by Your name. For we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay heed and act. Delay not, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your city and your people are called by Your name.” (Daniel 9:4-19)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

In All the Annals


“In looking back over the history of the Christian Church, and thinking of the great men who have from time to time appeared on her stage, I cannot recall any man who so brilliantly combined so many qualities of greatness as Thomas Chalmers.  We may find some men as distinguished in certain properties, natural or acquired: in learning—of both classical and theological erudition—in precise reasoning, in ready powers of discussion and debate, in eloquence, in holiness of life, in regularity of purpose, in determined leadership, in steadfastness even in adversity, in energy of character, in sagacity and humor, in attainment in science, in depth of artistry, and in influence upon the widest array in society—equally at home with princes and with paupers, with devout and with doubters, with the thoughtful and with the thoughtless.  Where however, shall we find a case in which so much original genius is blended and concentrated in one individual?  Where shall we find a case in which all these rare elements combined with loftiest Christian principle and devotedness, and the exercise of the most humble, gentle, generous, cheerful Christian virtues?  Surely, such graces are precious few in all the annals of the world.” John Gordon Lorimer (1808-68), Pastor of Free St. David's, Glasgow

In His Time


“Christians often have occasion to remark that God’s ways are not as man’s ways, nor His thoughts as man’s thoughts.  Likewise, His measure of time oft far varies from our own estimations. This holds true in a vast variety of respects—but it holds especially true in connection with the removal of the righteous from this scene of things by the hand of death.  If the affairs of the church or the world were entrusted to the management of man, he would protract the life of the faithful to the extremest limit of human existence, and while the life was prolonged he would take care that the mind should retain all its vigor, and that the experience and public usefulness should ever enlarge.  Widely different sometimes is the Divine method of procedure. The servants of God are often unexpectedly taken away, not when enfeebled in gifts, or graces, or influence, but when their powers are most matured, their minds most thoroughly disciplined for future service, having successfully weathered trials and temptations readied by more favorable circumstances for exerting propitious influences upon men and nations.”  John Gordon Lorimer (1808-68), Pastor of Free St. David's, Glasgow

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Slow Down and Rest

"I have often felt that the bustle of too active and varied sphere of exertion is adverse to the growth of one's personal and spiritual Christianity." Thomas Chalmers

Monday, January 9, 2012

Half-Hearted Ruts


“Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis