Friday, December 9, 2011

Children in Worship

After worshipping with us at Parish the first few times, people will often comment on how delightful, among many other things, are the sights and sounds of our "lively family atmosphere" and our wiggling, squirming, and murmuring children.  These are the sights and sounds of life.  These are the sights and sound of the past meeting the future.  And these are the sights and sounds of authentic community and covenantal worship.  Indeed, these are what Charles Spurgeon once called, "the sweet sights and sounds of a holy hubbub."  

At Parish we want to be very careful never to smother out that "holy hubbub."  That necessarily means that we very much want our children in the midst of us during worship.  We want them to learn to worship by watching their parents, siblings, friends, and covenant family members worship.  

Sometimes that may mean that things will get just a little distracting.  Sometimes it may mean that a mom or a dad (or perhaps a grandmom or uncle or sister  or next door neighbor) will have to slip out the back and into the foyer for a little "time out".  But, this is what life in the Kingdom should look and sound like. 

So, we are happy to embrace our children in our services--even as we are sensitive to and considerate of all those around us.  We will encourage families to worship together--whenever possible and practical. We want to graciously, invitingly, and purposefully help our covenant children to learn of the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel as they approach the throne of grace with all the rest of us in the Body of Christ. 

So, bring on the "wiggling, squirming, and murmuring." 

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Vicar

Nearly every time I go exploring in the vast, uncharted realms of Arthur Quiller-Couch's anthologies, I find some heretofore overlooked gem.  This summer as I was working my way through his Oxford Book of Victorian Verse, I ran across this wonderful poem by Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802-1839).  

I don't think it is too much to say that these thirteen stanzas capture almost perfectly my own vision of what a parish pastor's life and ministry ought to be. There is so much to learn from here.  I absolutely love it:

Some years ago, ere time and taste
  Had turn’d our parish topsy-turvy,
When Darnel Park was Darnel Waste,
  And roads as little known as scurvy,
The man who lost his way between
  St. Mary’s Hill and Sandy Thicket
Was always shown across the green,
  And guided to the parson’s wicket.

Back flew the bolt of lissom lath;
  Fair Margaret, in her tidy kirtle,
Led the lorn traveller up the path
  Through clean-clipp’d rows of box and myrtle;
And Don and Sancho, Tramp and Tray,
  Upon the parlor steps collected,
Wagg’d all their tails, and seem’d to say,
  “Our master knows you; you ’re expected.”

Up rose the reverend Doctor Brown,
  Up rose the doctor’s “winsome marrow;”
The lady laid her knitting down,
  Her husband clasp’d his ponderous Barrow.
Whate’er the stranger’s caste or creed,
  Pundit or papist, saint or sinner,
He found a stable for his steed,
  And welcome for himself, and dinner.

If, when he reach’d his journey’s end,
  And warm’d himself in court or college,
He had not gain’d an honest friend,
  And twenty curious scraps of knowledge;
If he departed as he came,
  With no new light on love or liquor,—
Good sooth, the traveller was to blame,
  And not the vicarage, nor the vicar.

His talk was like a stream which runs
  With rapid change from rocks to roses;
It slipp’d from politics to puns;
  It pass’d from Mahomet to Moses;
Beginning with the laws which keep
  The planets in their radiant courses,
And ending with some precept deep
  For dressing eels or shoeing horses.

He was a shrewd and sound divine,
  Of loud dissent the mortal terror;
And when, by dint of page and line,
  He ’stablish’d truth or startled error,
The Baptist found him far too deep,
  The Deist sigh’d with saving sorrow,
And the lean Levite went to sleep
  And dream’d of tasting pork to-morrow.

His sermon never said or show’d
  That earth is foul, that heaven is gracious,
Without refreshment on the road
  From Jerome, or from Athanasius;
And sure a righteous zeal inspir’d
  The hand and head that penn’d and plann’d them,
For all who understood admir’d,
  And some who did not understand them.

He wrote too, in a quiet way,
  Small treatises, and smaller verses,
And sage remarks on chalk and clay,
  And hints to noble lords and nurses;
True histories of last year’s ghost;
  Lines to a ringlet or a turban;
And trifles to the Morning Post,
  And nothings for Sylvanus Urban.

He did not think all mischief fair,
  Although he had a knack of joking;
He did not make himself a bear,
  Although he had a taste for smoking;
And when religious sects ran mad,
  He held, in spite of all his learning,
That if a man’s belief is bad,
  It will not be improv’d by burning.

And he was king, and lov’d to sit
  In the low hut or garnish’d cottage,
And praise the farmer’s homely wit,
  And share the widow’s homelier pottage.
At his approach complaint grew mild,
  And when his hand unbarr’d the shutter
The clammy lips of fever smil’d
  The welcome which they could not utter.

He always had a tale for me
  Of Julius Cæsar or of Venus;
From him I learn’d the rule of three,
  Cat’s-cradle, leap-frog, and Quæ genus.
I used to singe his powder’d wig,
  To steal the staff he put such trust in,
And make the puppy dance a jig
  When he began to quote Augustine.

Alack, the change! In vain I look
  For haunts in which my boyhood trifled;
The level lawn, the trickling brook,
  The trees I climb’d, the beds I rifled.
The church is larger than before,
  You reach it by a carriage entry:
It holds three hundred people more,
  And pews are fitted for the gentry.

Sit in the vicar’s seat: you ’ll hear
  The doctrine of a gentle Johnian,
Whose hand is white, whose voice is clear,
  Whose tone is very Ciceronian.
Where is the old man laid? Look down,
  And construe on the slab before you:
“Hic jacet Gulielmus Brown,
  Vir nullâ non donandus lauro.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving in Boston

Early on the settlers expressed their thanksgiving for the evidence of God’s good providence in their lives.  Despite all the hardships they faced, they recognized the peculiar opportunity they had been afforded.  Thus, they outwardly affirmed their fealty to God and His ways.  

This verse by the renowned historical epic poet, Hezekiah Butterworth, captures that predisposition toward gratitude in early Boston.

"Praise ye the Lord!"  The Psalm today
            Still rises on our ears,
Borne from the hills of Boston Bay
            Through five times fifty years,
When Wintrop's fleet from Yarmouth crept
            Out to the open main,
And through the widening waters swept,
            In April sun and rain.

"Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
            The leader shouted, "pray";
And prayer arose from all the ships
            As faded Yarmouth Bay.

They passed the Scilly Isles that day,
            And May-days came, and June,
And trice upon the ocean lay
            The full orb of the moon.
And as that day, on Yarmouth Bay,
            Ere England sunk from view,
While yet the rippling Solent lay
            In April skies of blue.

"Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
            Each morn was shouted, "pray";
And prayer arose from all the ships,
            As first in Yarmouth Bay;

Blew warm the breeze o'er Western seas,
            Through Maytime morns, and June,
Till hailed these souls the Isles of Shoals,
            Low 'neath the summer moon;
And as Cape Ann arose to view,
            And Norman's Woe they passed,
The wood-doves came the white mists through,
            And circled round each mast.

"Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
            Then called the leader, "pray";
And prayer arose from all the ships,
            As first in Yarmouth Bay.

Above the sea the hill-tops fair;
            God's towers--began to rise,
And odors rare breathe through the air,
            Like balms of Paradise.
Through burning skies the ospreys flew,
            And near the pine-cooled shores
Danced airy boat and thin canoe,
            To flash of sunlit oars.

"Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,"
            The leader shouted, "pray!"
Then prayer arose, and all the ships
            Sailed in Boston Bay.

The whit wings folded, anchors down,
            The sea-worn fleet in line,
Fair rose the hills where Boston town
            Should rise from clouds of pine:
Fair was the harbor, summit-walled,
            And placid lay the sea.
"Praise ye the Lord," the leader called;
            Praise ye the Lord," spake he.

"Give thanks to God with fervent lips,
            Give thanks to God today,"
The anthem rose from all the ships,
            Safe moored in Boston Bay.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tool Box

"My books are my tools.  They also serve as my counsel, my consolation, and my comfort.  They are my source of wisdom and the font of my education.  They are my friends and my delights.  They are my surety, when all else is awry, that I have set my confidence in the substantial things of Gospel truth and right."  Charles Spurgeon 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Free Agents and Non-Partisans

“It appears to us that a Christian minister cannot keep himself in the true path of consistency at all, without refusing to each of the parties all right of appropriation. . . He who cares for neither of two rivaling political parties is the only independent man; and to him only belongs the privilege of crossing and re-crossing their factious line of demarcation, just as he feels himself impelled by the high, paramount, and subordinating principles of the Christianity which he professes. . . But turning away from the beggarly elements of such a competition as this, let us remark, that on the one hand, a proper administration will never take offence at a minister who renders a pertinent reproof to any set of men, even though they should happen to be their own agents or their own underlings; and that, on the other hand, a minister who is actuated by the true spirit of his office, will never so pervert or so prostitute his functions, as to descend to the humble arena of partisanship.  He is the faithful steward of such things as are profitable for reproof and for doctrine, and for correction, and for instruction in righteousness”  Thomas Chalmers

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Over My Morning Joe

“What are the objects of mathematical science?  Magnitude and the proportions of magnitude.  But in the foolishness of my youth, I had forgotten the two chief magnitudes: I thought not of the littleness of time and I recklessly thought not of the greatness of eternity.”  Thomas Chalmers

Sorrow, But for a Time

"There are no crown-wearers in Heaven who were not first cross-bearers on earth."  Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"You will not be carried to Heaven lying at ease upon a feather bed." Samuel Rutherford

Friday, September 9, 2011

The One, True Sanity

What first attracted G.K. Chesterton to Christian orthodoxy, he remarked, was that “it was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons.” Fellow skeptics found the monks too meek and the Crusaders too bloody, the vestments too showy and the sackcloth too threadbare, the membership too common and the theology too exclusive. They faulted it for being too optimistic about the universe and too pessimistic about the world; for repressing sexuality too much and (according to the Malthusians) not enough. Yet the common man embraced Christianity. “Perhaps,” Chesterton concluded, “this extraordinary thing is really the ordinary thing; at least the normal thing, the center. Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is sane and all its critics that are mad--in various ways.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Education and Faith

"Education is inescapably a religious discipline. The contentmethodology, and the very culture in which education takes place are the product of the theologies which drive them. There is no neutrality. When parents choose between a Biblical vs. non-Christian educational paradigm for their children’s education, they are actually making a decision between competing faith systems. The question is simply this—in which religious educational system will my child be discipled?"  Doug Phillips

Friday, September 2, 2011

All of Grace

‎"What sweet consolations, what deft motivations, what strong demonstrations there are for us in the grace of our God." Thomas Chalmers

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Sermon Series: Genesis 1-11

Four decades ago Francis Schaeffer wrote, "The battle for a Christian understanding of the world is being waged on several fronts. Not the least of these is Biblical study in general, and especially the question of how the opening chapters of the Bible are to be read. Modern writers commenting on the book of Genesis tend to treat the first eleven chapters as something other than history. For some, the material is simply a Jewish myth, having no more historical validity for modern man than the Epic of Gilgamesh or the story of Zeus. For others, it forms a pre-scientific vision that no one who respects the results of scholarship can accept. Still others find the story symbolic but no more. Some accept the early chapters of Genesis as revelation in regard to an upper-story religious truth, but allow any sense of truth in regard to history and the cosmos (science) to be lost.... Here is where the great battle lines lie. Here is where the future of Christian civilization rests. Either God¹s Word can be trusted or it cannot. Therefore, it is the first order of business in the Church to settle the matter of how Genesis is to be read." (from Genesis in Space and Time, 1972)

What was evidently true then, is surely even more so today. The battle for our culture and the battle for the faith really begin on the front lines of Genesis 1-11.

Over the next several months at Parish Pres, we will undertake a detailed study of those early, formative chapters of the Bible--where virtually every Biblical truth, every doctrinal position, and every dogmatic revelation is given to us in seed form. May God use this time to shape and form in us an effectual faith and an abounding grace to meet the challenges of our culture and our world.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Wisdom of John R.W. Stott

"Every Christian should be both conservative and radical; conservative in preserving the faith and radical in applying it."

"Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us."

"Good conduct arises out of good doctrine."

"We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior."

"Apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable."

"We should not ask, 'What is wrong with the world?' for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, 'Where is the salt and light? Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?'"

"To encounter Christ is to touch reality and experience transcendence."

"The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So, the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a Eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival."

"His authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And His presence with us leaves us no other choice."

"Christian giving, like Christian living, is to be marked by self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness, not by self-congratulation."

"The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion."

"The chief occupational hazard of leadership is pride."

"It is impossible to pray for someone without loving him, and impossible to go on praying for him without discovering that our love for him grows and matures."

"The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales."

"These are the marks of the ideal Church: love, suffering, holiness, sound doctrine, genuineness, evangelism and humility. This is what Christ desires to find."

"The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice--and so the pain--of the cross."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

King, Judge, and Lawgiver

"There is to come a day when men shall be judged--judged after a better fashion than you or I can judge. How dare we, then, travesty God's great assize by ourselves mounting the throne and pretending to rehearse the solemn transactions of that tremendous hour? Judgment will come soon enough: may the Lord have mercy upon us in that day. My brother, why neediest thou hurry it on by thyself ascending the throne? Cannot God do his own work? Between brother and brother, differing on minor points, between Christian and Christian, each one obeying his conscience, we are not to exercise mutual condemnation. Come hither, brethren! Here is work enough for you all. Let us not therefore impudently intrude ourselves into the office and perogative of Christ. Let God be God--and let us content ourselves by this alone: He has redeemed the weak and the strong alike." Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, April 22, 2011

He Chose the Nails

The tool of torture becomes a sign of hope,
The measure for the love of God.
The intersection of eternity and time,
Did ere such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose such a crown?

The Hand that held the hammer was the Hand of God.
The Hand that took the nail was His only Son.
The doors of Heaven opened,
As He opened up His Hand.
And it rained down mercy; it rained down mercy.

He built an altar to offer up his son.
How could this be the will of God?
The intervention from Heaven was a voice,
Saying, though someday this must be done,
Abraham, it will not be your son.

The Hand that held the hammer was the Hand of God.
The Hand that took the nail was His only Son.
The doors of Heaven opened,
As He opened up His Hand.
And it rained down mercy; it rained down mercy.

He drank the cup and ripped the veil.
He chose the nails.

The Hand that held the hammer was the Hand of God.
The Hand that took the nail was His only Son.
The doors of Heaven opened,
As He opened up His Hand.
And it rained down mercy; it rained down mercy.

Wes King (c 2000)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preaching to the Whole Man

Some persons preach only doctrine; that makes people all head, which is a monster. Some preach only experience; that makes the people all heart, which is a monster too. Others preach only practice; that makes people all hands and feet, which is likewise a monster. But if you preach doctrine and experience and practice, by the blessing of God, you will have head, heart, and hands, and feet--a perfect man in Christ Jesus. “Rabbi” John Duncan, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at New College Edinburgh (1796-1870)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Have I to Fear?

Elisha Hoffman was a faithful 19th century Presbyterian pastor serving congregations in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. During his life, he published nearly 2000 hymns and songs--including "Are You Washed in the Blood?" "Down at the Cross," "Draw Me Closer, Lord, to Thee,"Hallowed Hour of Prayer," "What a Wonderful Savior!" "Sing of Jesus," and of course, his most enduring work, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."

That great hymn is most often sung to a tune written by another Presbyterian pastor, A. J. Showalter, who served for most of his ministry in Dalton, Georgia. Nearly as prolific as Hoffman, in his life he published more than 130 music books, which sold more than a million copies. They included the tunes for "After the Life-Paths," "Draw Me Closer, Lord, to Thee," "Like a Wayward Child I’ve Wandered," and "Waves of Salvation."

Their collaboration, written in 1887 for two friends who had recently lost loved ones, offers the only sure antidote to the sundry fears, dreads, and worries which so easily entangle and ensnare all of us:

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms;

O how bright the path grows from day to day,

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

What have I to dread? What have I to fear?
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Forgetting the Truth

"A lie can only seize the mind of that man who has forgotten the Incarnation." Andrew Nelson Lytle

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stopping by the Way

William Olney and Joseph Passmore were deacons for many years at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle during the pastorate of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. They helped to restore the office of the diaconate to its original Biblical basis: serving for the poor. Their busy ministry in service to the needy involved the administration of almshouses, orphanages, relief missions, training schools, retirement homes, tract societies, and colporterages.

In a lecture to young Bible college students in 1862, Olney stated, “Deacons are called of God to a magnificent field of service, white unto harvest. . . . Ours is the holy duty of stopping by the way, when all others have passed by, to ministrate Christ's healing. Thus, we take the Good Samaritan as our model, lest the pilgrim perish.”

To that same audience, Passmore said, “It is ironic indeed that our type of diaconal faithfulness comes not from the life of a disciple of our blessed Lord. Nay, not even is our type from the ancient fathers of faith, the Jews. Instead, our type is from the life of a Samaritan. Mongrel, as touching doctrine, this Good Samaritan is all of pedigree as touching righteousness. Oh, that the Church of our day had such men. Oh, that the church of our day bred such men, men of unswerving devotion to the care of the poor and broken-hearted. Oh, that the church of our day was filled with such men, men driven by the Good Samaritan faith . . . offering both word and deed, the fullness of the Gospel.”

According to their pastor, Spurgeon, the two men were able to, “demonstrate that the words of the Gospel could be translated into actual, tangible deeds. As a result, they were to be counted among the greatest evangelists of our day.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gospel Etymology

Just a little while ago a friend asked me to define "the gospel." He was prepping for a Sunday School class and wanted a good, succinct definition that he could use.

Instead of immediately thinking of the best doctrinal formulation, my mind recalled the etymological roots of the word. “Gospel” is from the Anglo-Saxon “godspel,” literally, “glad tidings,” or “good news” (from “god” meaning “good” and “spel” meaning “story”). “Good-gossip” was Samuel Johnson’s translation—which, I have to say, really captures the essence of the idea!

Thus, the word "gospel" connotes the happy announcement of God’s rescue and redemption of His fallen, sinful children by means of the gracious, sufficient, and finished work of Jesus Christ. What a wondrous truth!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fiercer Delight and Fiercer Discontent

"For our titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the old acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening." G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reformed, Ever-Reforming

"All the misery of the Presbyterian churches is owing to their striving to consider the Reformation as completed, and to allow no further development of what has been begun by the labor of the Reformers … Calvinism wishes no cessation of progress and promotes multi-formity. It feels the impulse to penetrate ever more deeply into the mysteries of salvation and in feeling this honors every gift and calling of the Churches. It does not demand for itself the same development in America and England which it has found in Holland. This only must be insisted upon, that in each country and in every Reformed Church it should develop itself in accordance with its own nature and should not permit itself to be supplanted or corrupted by foreign ideas." Herman Bavinck from Wyclif Blog

The Fundamentals

Beginning in 1910, a group of the most influential Evangelical Christian scholars and leaders began publishing a series of essays intended to defend Biblical orthodoxy against Modernist unbelief. By 1911, the essays began to be collected into hardback volumes to be distributed freely among seminary students, pastors, missionaries, and teachers.

Eventually, The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth, edited by A. C. Dixon and R.A. Torrey, became an encyclopedic collection of 90 essays published in 12 volumes over the course of six years.

Dealing with the sundry Modernist errors of Higher Criticism, Liberal Theology, Marxism, Socialism, Secularism, Atheism, and Darwinianism, the essays also debunked the Modernist utopian sects of Christian Science, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and New Age Spiritualism.

It was from these volumes that the popular press coined the pejorative terms, “Fundamentalism” and “Fundamentalist.” But like most popular labels, the term is actually quite misleading—or, at the very least, it has become so.

The Evangelicals who wrote the essays were led in large part by the intellectual precociousness of the Reformed theologians B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, James Orr, G. Campbell Morgan, J.C. Ryle, Thomas Spurgeon, and Arthur Pierson. It just so happened that they were even then in the throes of a titanic struggle for the soul of their traditionally orthodox but drifting institutions: Princeton Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian Church. The Fundamentals necessarily bore a distinctive "Reformed" stamp—indeed, the essays were very much a response to that great struggle (a struggle which ultimately gave birth to Westminster Theological Seminary, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Reformed Theological Seminary, and in time, the Presbyterian Church in America).

Thus, in more than a few ways, the “fundamentalists” were actually a far cry from what we think of today as “Fundamentalists.” Indeed, their substantive, articulate, and academic nature altogether belies the Modern conception of "intolerant," "ignorant," and "ideological" religious radicalism.

Thankfully, the books are available on the web from xMission. In addition, Baker Books continues to keep the essays in print in a fine four-volume compilation (nearly identical to my own 1916 set).

Faith Comes by Hearing

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

"All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. The sum of Your Word is truth, and everyone of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." (Psalm 119: 105; 160)

"All God’s precepts are trustworthy. They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness." (Psalm 111:7-8)

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep my Word" (John 14: 23-24).

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word. Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes" (Psalm 119:9, 12).

"His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Peter 1:3-4).

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

James Jordan on "Parish"

The Biblical conception of the Church is geographical, not ideological. In America today, we drive past twenty churches to get to the one we "agree" with. This situation cannot be reformed overnight, but we need to start thinking the way the New Testament does. We need to recover the parish concept of the Church.

Biblical government in the Old Testament is intensely local: elders over tens, then fifties and hundreds, and then thousands. The "elders of the gate," who tried capital cases, ruled over populations of only a few thousand, about the size of a large subdivision in our of our cities — about the size of a political precinct. The New Testament view of the Church is the same: the Church in a place, taking dominion over a parish, over a precinct.

The local Church must see herself as the True Governor of the neighborhood or precinct in which she meets on the Lord’s Day. Whether the people up the street worship at that Church or not, they are still part of the parish of that Church in one sense. We must reacquire a dominion-consciousness about our parishes. Neighborhood people must be prayed for, invited to Church bazaars and festivals, and the like.

Unfortunately, Christians today are all concerned about national and international affairs, or state and city affairs, all of which are "too big for us" (Ps. 131). We say that we want local government and that we are against big government, but when we act and pray, we give the lie to this.

Thus, we are sending a signal to our slaves (rulers) that we think Babelically instead of locally, and that is how we are badly ruling our world today.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Great Commission

"There are certain pious moderns who will not allow the preacher to speak upon anything but those doctrinal statements concerning the way of salvation which are known as 'the Gospel.' We do not stand in awe of such criticism, for we clearly perceive that our Lord Jesus Christ himself would very frequently have come under it. Read the Sermon on the Mount and judge whether certain among the pious would be content to hear the like of it preached to them. Indeed, they would condemn it as containing very little Gospel and too much good works. They would condemn it as containing all too much of the legal. But we must never let be forgotten Christ's emphasis: the law must be preached, for what the law demands of us, the Gospel produces in us, else ours is no Gospel at all." Charles Haddon Spurgeon