Sunday, April 30, 2006

How Sweet and Awful Is the Place

On Thursday morning at Together for the Gospel, we sang this hymn before Ligon Duncan spoke on preaching from the Old Testament. By the time we finished the second verse, I couldn’t sing. It’s hard to sing when you’re all choked up. Bob Kauflin followed by leading in How Deep the Father’s Lover for Us. Talk about piling on when a fellow is already wobbly!

I had never heard this hymn before – I don’t know how I missed it. The words are amazing – what really got me was the line, “Lord, why was I a guest.”

1. How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

2. While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?"

3. "Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"

4. 'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

5. Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

6. We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) Public Domain

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Back Home

I am very thankful that I could attend Together for the Gospel, but I am even more thankful that I am home with my family.

If you would like to see more pictures, go visit Timmy Brister at Provocations and Pantings or go to (Timmy took the picture that's on this post).

Last night on the plane I read Humility, True Greatness by CJ. What a great book. I need to get some more copies to give away! It was good to be able to read a book cover to cover (it's not very big). I don't get to do that often.

I'll do a proper wrap-up post ... later. I should get on with my day.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Last Post from Louisville

T4G is over. CJ Mahaney and John MacArthur spoke this morning. They were followed by a panel discussion with the five (four plus JM).

This is going to be a quick post. I have to take the shuttle to the airport in a few minutes. It is a beautiful day in Louisville. I must admit that I don’t have a hankering to do poke around here. I am very much looking forward to being home.

If Mr. Challies isn’t enough for you, you can order a CDs or an MP3 CD of T4G 2006 here. That’s what I’m planning to do. The CDs were $5 each plus $2.50 for a case here. Besides, the bookstore was always too crowed for this “wide open spaces” Alberta boy.

I’ll try to do a reflections post on T4G later. I haven’t had much time for reflection while I’ve been here. I’ll also tell you what books and things we received. And no, we didn’t get an Ipod loaded with CJ’s messages!

Next stop, Chicago, and then home!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

T4G Thursday Night

It has been a good day. Other than the busyness associated with nearly 3000 people, it has been an enjoyable time. Tonight John Piper was profound, as was the panel afterwards. I’ll be chewing on that material for a while. I hope and pray that it will bear fruit in my ministry.

I met several more people. One thing about coming alone is that it forces me out of my comfort zone more than I’m used to (I’m not a gregarious, slap-happy pastor – I’d stink at selling used cars). At supper, I went back to the food court that’s about 4 blocks away again (Chinese food this time, Subway the previous two times). I found a table with another single T4G badged individual. He was with a group, but they hadn’t made it to his table. We had a good chat and even found out that we were both bloggers (his site is Pressing Godward). I feel oldish here (not a word, I know, but I didn’t want to just say “old”). One reason is that there are so many 20 somethings. Another reason is that I’ve been taking the stairs. To the 14th floor. About 5 times today. Let’s just say that my cardiovascular fitness still needs some work. Wait times for the elevators have been really long. This conference is pushing the capacity of this place. Not to mention my heart and lungs.

I need to head to bed. The Oilers will have to win without my attention tonight (they just tied it 2-2!). TV news about hockey is pitiful here and I don’t feel like staying up in a public area refreshing the Oilers website for the next hour or so! I could listen to I could turn it up loud around a guy I met from Michigan yesterday. Maybe not.

Speaking of internet, I’m actually standing outside the elevators on the 18th floor with my laptop on a buffet thing (our floor has chairs by the elevator). There is no wireless on the 14th floor, but Marc Heinrich of Purgatorio said that there was wireless on his floor. I may look goofy here, but I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the Conservatory.

Speaking of Purgatorio, Marc snapped a picture of several bloggers, including that New Lumps guy and posted it on his site. I have a big smile because Marc said something funny. He’s like that. You’d never know it from his blog.

Speaking of …

Oh, forget it. It’s late and I don’t want to sleep in tomorrow. CJ at 8:00!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

T4G 1

The first session was excellent, as expected. If you want an great summary, go see Tim Challies. I read Tim’s summaries a couple of minutes ago, and then chatted with him in the Conservatory. Weird. Cool, but almost surreal. I can just listen in the sessions because, 1. I know Tim’s taking notes, and 2. I can buy the messages later. Lazy, eh? (or, should I say “huh?” because I’m in the States?). Besides, pen and paper were not included with registration.

I met Timmy, Marc, Tim, Justin, Paul, Jason the “bloggers that I read,” several other Bloggers at “Band of Bloggers” and have chatted with several others. There is a huge crowd here. Someone said 2800 (unofficial), and I can believe it.

Band of Bloggers was really worthwhile. I’ll have to reflect on some of the discussion that came out of that meeting.

Even though he probably won’t read this, I’d like to say “thanks” particularly to Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds and Reformation 21 Blog). He’s a “name” around here, but he noticed that I was on my own here and took the trouble to befriend me and sat with me during the first session. And yes, I did tell him in person that I appreciated it!

It’s going to be a full day tomorrow, so I should head to my room. Besides, I don’t want to say too much. I know a couple of readers that would like to be here. I don’t want to aid and abet coveting (right, Dan?).  
Together for the Gospel is about to begin.

I was glad to see that the T4G Homepage linked to Tim Challies Liveblogging (BTW, check out the new Discerning Reader - the links at Tim's site).

I went for a walk this morning and snapped some pictures. Louisville has quite a nice downtown. It sure is different using a film camera again; I'm so used to using a digital and reviewing my pictures immediately.

I probably won't get a chance to post until late tonight. No word on the free books yet : )

T4G Journal

Tuesday, April 25, 2006, 9:00 AM

Well, I’m on my way. As I am typing this, I’m sitting in 5A on America West flight # 301. Right now I’m over … clouds. I just realized that we might fly over the Grand Canyon. It would be cool if we did – and it wasn’t cloudy!

I got up this morning at 3:15, had a quick shower and hit the road. I realized when I started the car that I hadn’t put in a new headlight bulb that I bought about a week ago. This is the first bulb that I’ve put in this car, so I didn’t know if I could do it quickly. I did, and I’m glad I did. Traveling on our roads in the pre-dawn hours with half the lumens that I need is not a great idea with all the animals on the road. The deer, particularly, were out in droves (herds? flocks?), but thankfully they kept their places in the ditches.

I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to be getting on this flight. I read the rules before I came and was confident that I didn’t need a passport – this time (in a year or so it will be a different story). I have my driver’s license, but I didn’t bring my birth certificate. I got the lecture and the threat, but, with a longsuffering sigh, the customs guy stamped my card and waved me through. Whew. I hope I can get back home okay.

I listened to O. Palmer Robertson and Iain Murray preaching at Capitol Hill Baptist Church this morning already. You’ve got to like free MP3s.

Leg 2 – Tuesday, 10:15 am

Let’s hear it for time zone changes – at least this time. I didn’t realize that Phoenix is in the Pacific Time zone. I thought I would have lots of time, but I have a change of airlines (to Continental). This means a different terminal. That meant finding information (walk, walk, walk), finding the right exit for the inter-terminal bus (walk, walk, walk) and, of course, going through security again (no problem, thankfully, but always a hassle). If Phoenix were in Mountain Time, I would have cut it very close. As it is, I have almost an hour to spare.

Thankfully my connection in Cleveland is Continental as well, so that should be easy (?).  

I didn’t see the Grand Canyon, but there was some interesting topography to look at on the way to Phoenix. Phoenix is a bigger city than I expected. I’m going to have to look that up.

I made it Cleveland (Hi Alistair!). The flight was long, but fine. The plane was completely full. I prayed for the guy beside me, and for an opportunity to talk, but he wasn’t biting. I listened to a message by Josh Harris at Covenant Life Church on evangelism. It was part of a series called “Invest and Invite.” He said that he is always amazed at people that come home with stories about sharing the Gospel on the plane. He said he’s never had the privilege. He said that there must be a third class on planes – first class, coach class and the mystery section called “People who want to hear the Gospel.” He’s never found that section. Me either. BTW, in this same message he talks about “Ninja Evangelism.” Very amusing.

I didn’t have to go through security again in Cleveland, thankfully. I did, however, have to go to a different section (walk, walk, walk). It wasn’t that far, but I’m glad I bought a “Rollerboard” suitcase. I should get a strap to secure my laptop case though.

No free wireless here. I’m too cheap to pay for two hours of access. Particularly since my battery won’t last that long. It is now about 6:50 E.S.T. and my flight goes at 8:30.

Wednesday, 10:00 am

I’m here. I’ve met a few fellow T4Gers, including part of the contingent from Quebec. It’s great to be here. Registration is at 2:00, so I have some time to poke around. The hotel is very nice (if you’re curious, it’s at I plan to post some pictures when I get home. I just took a disposable camera. I didn’t want to pack our good digital.

There is free wireless in a big conservatory room, though I’ve heard that the East Tower (my side of the complex) may have wireless in the rooms. I’ll have to check that out!

I’ll keep you “posted” as the day continues.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Odds and Ends

I have a few little newsy items that I want to post. They will be of varying interest to my gentle readers, but I want to post them, so here goes:

  • Philip P. Bliss (see Hallelujah! What a Saviour! below) and his wife died in a train wreck at Ashtabula, Ohio, on December 29, 1876 when a bridge collapsed. The train fell 70 feet. Philip survived the fall, but wouldn’t leave without his wife. They both died in the fire. He was 37, she was 35. They left behind two small children.

  • When I mentioned my post on my old truck to my mom, she reminded me that I rode the bus from Nanaimo, B.C. to Raymond Alberta to fetch the truck. My parents dropped me off to visit a friend on Vancouver Island and continued with their holidays. The bus trip took 21 hours. How could I have forgotten that? It was only in 1982!

  • We had an unexpected house guest last night. A little dog appeared in our back yard. My three girls walked around the neighborhood looking for its home, but didn’t find anyone that knew were it belonged. It was Sunday, so the pound was closed, as was the vet and pet store. We kept the little ankle biter overnight. No, that’s not fair – the little thing was as mellow and friendly as possible. I don’t like these little pug-faced things normally, but this one was very nice. This morning we were able to track down the owner. It turns out that he was in the hospital and a friend was looking after “Misty.” The little Houdini escaped under a fence. We have a happy ending. I’ve posted a picture below for you lap dog lovers out there.

  • It’s my wife’s birthday today. We did the special dinner yesterday because we knew today was going to be very busy. Happy Birthday Juanita!

  • Our shingles are being replaced. A very capable home builder from our church has fit us into his schedule. We are grateful – the house market is very hot around here these days. He picked a great week to start. I said I’d help him and I’m going to be away most of the week. Oh well. I did do a little shingle removal this morning with him before we headed off to music festival in Hinton (an hour away) with Grandma. Juanita and our daughter Emily played today – cello and violin respectively. They did great!

  • Dishes await, Juanita’s out tonight, laundry, packing and kids need attention. What am I doing blogging? I hope to be able to post a bit from Louisville, but I won’t try to compete with Tim Challies.
Misty the Wander Dog

Sunday, April 23, 2006

1968 Chevy 4x4

See Post below for details.

Car Stories # 3 (the April Fool’s day one didn’t count)

When I was between Grade 11 and 12, I acquired what was probably my coolest vehicle (at least in Alberta!), a 1968 Chevy 4x4. My brother in southern Alberta had owned this truck for a few years. He bought it from a rancher who never drove it on the roads – it was a ranch vehicle all its life. When my brother got it, it needed a new box, even though it didn’t have any rust. Why? Because horses had chewed on it and left the edge all bumpy. I didn’t know horses did that. After he replaced the box, he painted it, though the quality of the paint was the weak spot of the truck.

I ended up getting it because my brother Charlie is a really nice guy. I needed a project for my grade 12 year in Auto shop class. My dad mentioned this to my brother, and he phoned me to let me know that if I wanted the truck, I could come to his place in Raymond (near Lethbridge) to get it. I lived in Ft. McMurray at the time, so I took the bus down and drove the truck back. Sounds easy, but the motor in the truck was pretty much toast, so it took me awhile to drive it back. The front two cylinders in the old 307 let so much oil past that two spark plugs would foul up every couple of hours – no small thing on a 900 km trip. The truck also had a big old Holley carb (a 780) and 3.73 gears. If I kept it around 50 mph, it would run on the primaries (the front two barrels). If I went any faster, it would open the secondaries and use gas at an alarming rate. It was a slow trip.

I drove the truck with the old motor for a while. I was able to do this because I found a much newer 350 to rebuild. It was a good learning experience to rebuild and replace this motor. If made a few mistakes, but it worked out well.

When I got the truck back together, it had lots more power. An old truck with a 4-speed manual is not a drag racer, but it was fun to drive. It had manual steering and brakes and old-style, narrow drum brakes. It took a strong leg to get ‘er stopped. Parking lots were a workout with the “armstrong” steering, too.

This was my first and last 4x4. I was amazed at where I could go with this thing. She was a particularly good hill-climber.

After I finished grade 12, I sold the old Chevy to a 16 year-old from our church for $1800. I bought a rusty Toyota Corolla (“Measles”) for $500 and headed off for Bible School in September.

I still miss that old Chevy sometimes.

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

This is a little late for a Sunday hymn, but there is a reason. We had a very small evening service tonight, but it was good. As we were waiting for the faithful few to come, my friend John (a regular New Lumps reader) was in Edmonton this morning and attended church at St. Paul’s Anglican. He said that they sang several great old hymns this morning, including Hallelujah! What a Saviour! After our prayer and brief study (on Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10), John grabbed a guitar and led us in this hymn. Thanks John. This is a song I’m glad to have going through my mind this evening.

Man of Sorrows! What a name,
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be? Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die; “It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing: Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Philip P. Bliss (1841-1876)

Saturday, April 22, 2006


No, not that kind – though I’m working on a post on that very subject (find and read Iain Murray’s The Invitation System in the meantime, thanks).

I’m getting my little MP3 player ready for my Louisville trip. Yes, I should have faith that I will be able to witness to someone on the planes, but I figure I will have some time to listen to messages as well as read. Tuesday will be a long day. I have to leave for the Edmonton Airport at about 4:15 am, fly to Phoenix, then Cleveland and then arrive in Louisville at about 9:45. Besides, 700 mbs of audio files don’t weigh any more than 20 mbs.

Lack of standardization is a pain. I find that a lot of sites use MPEG video files for their messages. That’s fine if I’m listening at my computer, but my Rio Chiba won’t recognize those puppies. Windows Media Player will play them, but it won’t convert them, neither does Plus! Digital Media Edition. I have a pile of MPEG files, so I did a search for a MPEG to MP3 converter. I bought the AimOne All to MP3 Converter via a download. It works fine, but it is a slow process. I can see why people store MPEGs, though. A 15mb file becomes almost 50 when I convert it. I could convert the MP3 to WMA, but that is too much (a couple of conversion jokes spring to mind here, but I don’t want to be too tacky).

I think I have the job done. I’m set for the trip and several days at the gym now.

So, what do I have on my player? Capitol Hill Baptist Church is a treasure trove. I have David Wells, O. Palmer Robertson, Iain Murray, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, Tom Nettles and of course Mark Dever Sermons from there. I also have some Sinclair Ferguson, a couple of White Horse Inn Programs, and messages from Sovereign Grace churches. I’ve listened to D.A. Carson on the New Perspective on Paul, but those messages are still on there as well.

Music? Very little at this point. Indelible Grace III is on there, but that’s it.  I still have about 100mbs left, so I’ll have to work on that. I don’t listen to much music these days, what with so many good messages and the occasional hockey game (Go Oilers!).

Technology is great, but it can be a real time-waster. Converting and loading files in the background is a distraction. As for listening, even quality messages can get to be too much. I remember hearing (from Iain Murray?) that Dr. Lloyd-Jones didn’t like the idea of people listening to his messages while they were washing the dishes or driving their cars because of the distraction factor. There is something to that. Everything in moderation, I guess – though that’s hard to do with the embarrassment of riches available on the internet!

Speaking of distractions, I have a sermon to finish!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Together for the Gospel - Soon!

Lord willing, I will be in Louisville, Kentucky in three days for the Together for the Gospel Conference. T4G begins with registration on Wednesday afternoon, but I’m arriving on Tuesday night so I hope to be able to recover from the long day of traveling on Wednesday morning.

There are two special events in conjunction with the conference, one just before and one just after. The first, on Wednesday afternoon, is Band of Bloggers, put together by Timmy Brister in Louisville. Timmy says that he has received emails from 250 bloggers who plan to attend. I had no idea that there were that many like-minded bloggers out there!  

The second event is an informational session at Southern Seminary on Friday afternoon which includes a tour and a dessert reception. That should be interesting.

I’m also hoping to be able to have a chat with Dr. Steve Wellum who teaches at Southern. He was my theology professor at ACTS Seminary in Langley. It would be nice to have a Canadian get-together. I don’t know how easy it will be to organize it on site, but I trust we’ll be able to pull off something informal.

Another interesting tidbit that I picked up a couple of weeks ago in the Laurentians is that there are at least eight French Canadian pastors and students planning on attending T4G. One of the reasons that I agreed to sit on the Fellowship French Mission Board is that these people know and appreciate good theology!

I don’t do things like this. I wish I could take some other people with me – particularly my wife! Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this event. Tim Challies will be live-blogging this event, so check his site to keep up with what’s going on starting on Wednesday evening.

A Blogging Zits

Check out the April 21st strip. Hey, I heard that Dr. R. Albert Mohler reads Zits, so don’t look at me like that!

(Update: I fixed the link)

Invisible People

A friend from church took me out for lunch yesterday. We had a nice visit. After lunch, we went a local electronics shop to look for a phone headset because my friend has trouble holding the handset. He had a stroke a couple of years ago and gets around slowly these days. His speech is fine, as is his mind, but a disturbing “little” thing happened at the store. The salesperson never really looked at my friend. She described three different items to me, even though I said two times, “show that to my friend, he’s buying it.” It was like he wasn’t there. I’ve experienced this before when I’ve been out with seniors or people with a disability. My friend was quite disturbed by this slight and we talked about it on the way home. He’s not used to this kind of treatment, and I don’t blame him. He’s seen it before – too often. My friend’s wife had MS and spent many years in a wheelchair. She died about three years ago. People would ignore her too and act like she wasn’t there. Why do people do that?

I stopped by my mom’s place today. She’s doing great after breaking her hip in November of last year – she’s walking farther every day now that spring has sprung. However, she could relate to my story about my “invisible” friend. When she’s out with her children (including me), she feels invisible too. Some people will just talk to the younger, stronger person and avoid eye contact with the older person.

Part of the reason that I’m writing this post is to work through this discrimination as it relates to my own life. Sure, I’m angry at the insensitivity shown to my friend and my mom, but am I guilty of discrimination against the elderly and handicapped? Yes, more than I’d care to admit. For instance, there are some seniors that I know that are really nice people. When I’m at the Lodge or the Nursing home, I enjoy visiting them. I’ve heard fragments of fascinating life stories. Do I get there other than when I’m “doing my duty” when it’s our church’s turn to do chapel services once every 8 to 10 weeks? No, I don’t. I know they don’t get many visitors, but I’m not compelled to make a special trip to see them. I’ve talked to some people about helping with senior’s ministry, but I’m not leading by example very well and this ministry is not going anywhere in our church. I don’t go out of my way to spend time with those who are mentally or physically handicapped either. I admire people that do, but I’m more of a product of my culture than I should be.

What’s wrong with our culture when it comes to the elderly and disabled? Why does seeing people who are not young, strong and “normal” make us uncomfortable? We can blame Hollywood and Madison Avenue for their unrealistic images of ideal people, but the problem lies deeper than that. One of the effects of the Fall is our desire to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Because of sin, we all are under a death sentence. We grow old, we get sick, we have disfiguring accidents, we will ultimately die. The elderly and the disabled are reminders that something is wrong with our world and that there is something wrong with us. An automatic defense mechanism is to deny this fact, walk away and turn up the background noise (music, TV, general busyness, whatever).

If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we ought to do better. Jesus said that if we minister to “the least of these, my brothers” we minister to Him (Matthew 25:31-46). For our sakes, Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). He emptied himself so that we might be made full through Him.

We are not saved by the works that we do for those who are marginalized in society. However, the way we treat the weak will reveal the nature of our faith in Christ and our understanding of His condescension to us.

I pray that I will grow in practical application of the theology that I say I love as it works itself out in my service to others. Particularly towards those who are often invisible in our prosperous, strong, fast-paced world. A world that is a lot weaker and sicker that it thinks it is.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Crazy April

I knew April was going to be a busy month.
  • To Montreal for a Fellowship French Missions board meeting during the first week.

  • Home renovations off and on all month (and into May). Laminate flooring, painting 8 doors, trim and baseboard (primer and two coats). I’m all done that part, except for the reinstallation of the bi-fold closet doors and the transition pieces between different flooring materials. Coming up: New shingles, soffit and fascia, several new windows and a new back door plus the usual spring yard work. We’re getting help from a real carpenter for the roof, I’m planning to do the soffit and fascia, but we’re having the windows and door professionally installed.

  • My wife’s birthday is on Monday. We’re celebrating by going to music festival in Hinton – Juanita and Emily are playing. I guess I should plan something else too – though we’ve done our dinner out and I bought Juanita an early gift.

  • To Louisville for Together for the Gospel next week (can’t wait, though I’ll miss the family).

  • Preaching, Bible study, keeping up with church people, other meetings and family stuff. The usual busy stuff.
Before I know it, it’ll be May. Life is good, though. The weather is fantastic these days – clear, sunny, warm. Everyone is healthy, and I haven’t injured myself for weeks – even during the renovations. Amazing. I even beat my son Josh at foosball a couple of times last night (he still wins the vast majority of games, though).

I have some thoughts regarding more profound blogs, but that’s all I have the energy for, just thoughts. By the end of the day I’m quite pooped, so I just toddle off to bed. Perhaps when I get back from Louisville I’ll have a theologically interesting blog. That lineup is bound to be inspirational.

Speaking of which, good night!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jesus Live and So Shall I

Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever:
He, who deigned for me to die,
Lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me with the just;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.
Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
And, his kingdom still remaining
I shall also be with Him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised; be it must:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.
Jesus lives, and God extends
Grace to each returning sinner;
Rebels He receives as friends,
And exalts to highest honour.
God is True as He is Just;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.
Jesus lives, and by His grace,
Victory o'er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways,
Ever to His glory living.
The weak He raises from the dust;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.
Jesus lives, and I am sure
Naught shall e'er from Jesus sever,
Satan's wiles, and Satan's power,
Pain or pleasure-- ye shall never!
Christian armor cannot rust;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.
Jesus lives, and death is now
But my entrance into glory
Courage! then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just--
Jesus is the Christian's Trust.

Christian F. Gellert (1715-1769)
He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

It is Resurrection Sunday morning. I am looking forward to church today. I don't want to spend much time blogging on this special day, but I would like to point you to an article that you should read. Dr. Mark Dever has written an excellent article on the atonement in Christianity Today (!) magazine. It is an excellent introduction to various theories of the atonement, with a heavy emphasis on the biblical perspective.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

For (God) has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. Acts 17:31

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Done, Done, but Not Done

I'm done. It's been a long, tiring couple of days.

We're done laying the laminate flooring in the living room, hallway and three closets. I'm very thankful for the expertise and long hours - and tools - that a friend lent me (thanks a million, Daniel!). However, I'm not done the job. I have to paint and reattach baseboard and door mouldings and do the "transition pieces" where the laminate meets, well, non-laminate.

The job took longer than we expected, I had hoped to get more done while the family was in Edmonton (making room for the renos).

I'm missing my Internet time. Tonight, I took a quick look at a few key blogs (yes, that means you, my fellow Canadians, like Bugblaster, the Ruminator, Mr. Spud and the Cowboy. I have to checkTeam Pyro, Purgatorio and Cent. too, but that's it. Oh, and of course T4G - great post by Mark Dever today). I don't have the time or energy to read much or leave comments at my limited reads. I certainly don't have time to blog. 'Cept this one.

G'night! I should be "back" by the end of the week.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I’m Still Here

I haven’t been able to post lately for a variety of reasons. Last week I was in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, for board meetings with the Fellowship French Mission (more on that later). When I got home, I had to get ready for Sunday. Sunday afternoon we were invited out for lunch, and then we had evening service.

Today, a new adventure begins – I’m putting laminate flooring in the living room and hallway of our house. A friend is coming soon to help, thankfully. I’m no carpenter. I have been sneaking time to read a few blogs, but it has been too busy to post on this blog.

I’ll be back.

Monday, April 03, 2006

John Newton on Controversy

One of the captivating aspects of blog reading is controversy. Sometimes I have to wonder if my motivation in following some blogs is simply morbid curiosity – I have witnessed some real “train wrecks” in the blogosphere in the past few months. I won’t mention any names or link to any sites, but I will fire a volley into the fray. This will be my longest post ever, but I’m bringing in a guest writer – John Newton (1725-1807). Yes, the Amazing Grace John Newton. This letter contains excellent counsel that bloggers, pastors and writers who love controversy would be wise to heed.

From: John Newton’s Works; Letter XIX - On Controversy

A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention.  Newton replied as follows:

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf.  You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours, might take the field with a confidence of victory.  I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself.  If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded.  To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the word of God.  I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one.  For method’ sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public and yourself.

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing.  This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.  If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.”  The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly.  The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.  In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now.  Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.  But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger.  Alas!  “He knows not what he does.”  But you know who has made you to differ.  If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel.  You were both equally blind by nature.  If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.  Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation.  If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy: but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose.  “If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.”  If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

By printing, you will appeal to the public; where your readers may be ranged under three divisions: First, such as differ from you in principle.  Concerning these I may refer you to what I have already said.  Though you have your eye upon one person chiefly, there are many like-minded with him; and the same reasoning will hold, whether as to one or to a million.

There will be likewise many who pay too little regard to religion, to have any settled system of their own, and yet are pre-engaged in favor of those sentiments which are at least repugnant to the good opinion men naturally have of themselves.  These are very incompetent judges of doctrine; but they can form a tolerable judgment of a writer’s spirit.  They know that meekness, humility and love are the characteristics of a Christian temper; and though they affect to treat the doctrines of grace as mere notions and speculations, which, supposing they adopted them, would have no salutary influence upon their conduct; yet from us, who profess these principles, they always expect such dispositions as correspond with the precepts of the gospel.  They are quick-sighted to discern when we deviate from such a spirit, and avail themselves of it to justify their contempt of our arguments.  The Scriptural maxim, that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” is verified by daily observation.  If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit.  The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.

You will have a third class of readers, who being of your own sentiments, will readily approve of what you advance, and may be further established and confirmed in their views of the Scripture doctrines, by a clear and masterly elucidation of your subject.  You may be instrumental to their edification if the law of kindness as well as of truth regulates your pen, otherwise you may do them harm.  There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.  I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from and are nourished by the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse were always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind.  I think I have known some Arminians, that is, persons who for want of a clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace, who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.  And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility, that they are willing in words to debase the creature and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of.  Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.  Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature, and the riches of free grace.  Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.  Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress his wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good.  They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.  I hope your performance will savour of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking.  It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers.  If ever such defenses were seasonable and expedient they appear to be so in our own day, when errors abound on all sides and every truth of the gospel is either directly denied or grossly misrepresented.  And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it.  Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which are at most but of a secondary value.  This shows, that if the service is honorable, it is dangerous.  What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made?  Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you; he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defense of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate.  If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.”  This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, “not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.”  The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors.  If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves.  If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands.  Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.

I am, &c.  

Courtesy of Ligonier Ministries, way back in 1997.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Love Constraining to Obedience

To see the Law by Christ fulfilled,
To hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child
And duty into choice.

1. No strength of nature can suffice,
To serve the Lord aright
And what she has, she misapplies,
For want of clearer light. (Repeat chorus)

2. How long beneath the Law I lay,
In bondage and distress
I toiled the precept to obey,
But toiled without success. (Repeat chorus)

3. Then to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do
Now if I feel its power within
I feel I hate it too. (Repeat chorus)

4. Then all my servile works were done,
A righteousness to raise
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose His ways. (Repeat chorus)

©1998 Kevin Twit Music. Lyrics: William Cowper (1731-1800)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Car Stories 3 - My Strangest Car

Yep. It was a Trabant - the darling of East Berlin (until the wall came down). My part in the story begins in Vancouver - before the wall came down. An embassy official brought the car to Canada in the 80s. As you can see, it was a stretched model, suitable for diplomatic services. I don't know why it was painted yellow. There was evidence in the nooks and crannies that it was originally black. This fellow managed to bring the car to Canada (a regulatory nightmare, I'm sure), but he didn't bring any spare parts. When the engine blew, he was out of luck. He sold the car, and I, having the right connections, heard about it. I bought and sold lots of cars when I was in college, but this was the oddest. The original motor as a little 2-stroke with only 26 hp. It was easy enough to find a replacement - there are lots of old 2-stroke motorbikes on the coast. I used a twin from a Yamaha RD 400 (air-cooled, about the right amount of power).

I didn't keep it for long. I got sick of all the attention it attracted, but the worst part was climbing hills. If I had more than one passenger, someone would have to get out and push. I found out - too late - that I couldn't resell this rig. I didn't have diplomatic immunity from safety standards and emission controls like the E. German dude did. I had to take it to a wrecker. I hope they recycled the plastic body. It would have made a lot of fine garbage cans. Frankly, that's all it was fit for - the garbage can. Like this post.

Happy April First.