Monday, October 30, 2006

How Marvellous, How Wonderful…
A Guest Post for Reformation Day, 2006

By John Kivell

You will notice that I have taken as the title of this post, if not the content, lines from the chorus of a favourite hymn. This will not be some grand theological treatise, but rather a few very personal thoughts on the significance of the Reformation.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Eph 2:4,5 NIV)

How marvellous is God’s plan of salvation – a plan that could have been written by no human hand or imagined by no human intellect. How wonderful is this truth, even if it may seem to from time to time have been forgotten; buried in the mists of time, or tradition, or fashion, or ignored in favour of some formula of human invention that transfers sovereignty from God to man. But the truth is always there, even if it is forgotten. It is there even if we don’t know it, or indeed whether or not anybody knows it. In fact it was there, for each of us, even when we didn’t know it, because as Paul writes, “…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8b)

The reformation did not bring a new thing – it remembered an old thing; an ancient thing; a thing that had been there all along, as truth always is.

But how marvelous to know it. How wonderful the assurance of it!

What a blessing to those who first discover it, or to a Church that re-discovers it.

Chesterton has written of the deaths of the church, although as he was a Catholic, I’m sure he didn’t write it in approval of the Reformation. But I think the image fits. Just as out of the seeming destruction of a forest fire springs regrowth and new life, so out of the ashes of a dead and corrupt church came the rediscovery of these earliest truths and the Church was reborn.

How marvellous to realize we are saved by God’s grace alone, not by our works, which would be so pitifully inadequate to earn us the right to stand in His presence.

How wonderful to be assured that no further suffering beyond that of Christ on the cross was necessary as payment for our salvation and that the fictional netherworld of “purgatory” is a mere fabrication of man. “Jesus paid it all!”

How marvellous to know that the hand of God has written the formula for our rescue from sin. How wonderful to realize that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has accomplished it. How beautiful that God has told us of it in His Holy word. How comforting that He has given us His Holy Spirit that we might be confident in Him.

How great is our God!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Church and State Exhortation

I encourage you to read this brief post over at Doug Wilson's Blog and Mablog. I don't agree with everything that Pastor Wilson says, but this post really gets it right (his blog has a great title, too!).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Behold the Lamb of God!

Here is a hymn that I don't know. I was curious about it when I saw the title on Cyberhymnal. I liked what I saw, so here it is.

Behold the Lamb of God!
O Thou for sinners slain,
Let it not be in vain
That Thou hast died:
Thee for my Savior let me take,
My only refuge let me make
Thy piercèd side.

Behold the Lamb of God!
Into the sacred flood
Of Thy most precious blood
My soul I cast:
Wash me and make me clean within,
And keep me pure from every sin,
Till life be past.

Behold the Lamb of God!
All hail, incarnate Word,
Thou everlasting Lord,
Savior most blessed;
Fill us with love that never faints,
Grant us with all Thy blessèd saints
Eternal rest.

Behold the Lamb of God!
Worthy is He alone
To sit upon the Throne
Of God above;
One with the Ancient of all days,
One with the Comforter in praise,
All Light and Love.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Perfect Harley for Buggy

Yes, it is a Harley - from the dreaded AMF days in the 70s (yes, AMF the pool table people).

The title is an inside joke, but this is a neat little rig from Sunnybrae Bible Camp - the best camp on earth! The tire was fixed soon after this picture was taken, if you're wondering.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No! D'oh! and Whoa!

All at one Virtually Unclassifiable blog (look for it on the bottom of the blogroll).

Really amazing pictures from a "not to be missed" blog.

The Leviticus posts are great too. Not many people could pull that off!

So much for trying to sell yourself as bland, Mr. Bugblaster.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Divine Impassibility

I recommend to you two posts on divine impassiblity from the Reformation 21 blog. I think this doctrine is widely misunderstood, even in evangelical circles. In fact, if the emergent/postmodern church types got this right, I think half of their problems would vanish.

Phil Ryken's post is here and Derek Thomas' post is here. The posts are short, but they bear reflection.

While I'm linking, let me point you to some more free audio from the OKC Conference on Reformed Theology. The 2006 speaker was Michael Horton. The archives have free MP3 downloads and great speakers. Check them out!

h/t Justin Taylor

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Crown Him With Many Crowns

This is a glorious hymn, and familiar to most of my reader. There are a few verses here that I had not seen. Courtesy of Cyberhymnal.

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.

Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace, Whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round His piercèd feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

Matthew Bridges 1800-1894

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Great Audio

There is a quote from J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership something to the effect of "do not waste your time reading good books; read only the best books."

Sanders' advice really comes in handy when surfing the web. Looking at "good" stuff can take years from your life if you let it. There is a ton of good stuff on the internet, obviously (along with the junk), but I'm finding there's too much of the "best" stuff, too. At least when you're sitting where I am. It is worthwhile picking through some of these gems, however (things that are recommended and free get my attention first). Here are some longstanding favorites in both text and audio formats (I'll only hyperlink the ones that aren't on my links already - I'm lazy):
I've recently discovered the MacLaurin Institute MP3s, thanks to Justin Taylor. I recognize several names, but I've only listened to about four messages so far. It'll take me a while to get through these. These messages are a mixed bag - from Don Kistler to Richard John Neuhaus (and who knows who else among the "strangers"). It is good for me to listen to people that I don't agree with, for a change. This doesn't jive with the Sanders quote above, I guess, but listening for error occasionaly may help my critical faculties and keep me from "boy in a bubble" syndrome.

Take Peter Kreeft for example. I read his Between Heaven and Hell many years ago and really enjoyed it. He has two messages on the MacLaurin list on Tolkien. I appreciated these messages, but his theology shows. A post on this will be coming soon.

Last week I listened to the first message by Vishal Mangalwadi (at the very bottom of the linked MacLaurin Institute page above). It was excellent. I downloaded the series and hope to listen to them all. I really appreciate his perspective from the East (and I don't mean Nova Scotia).

On the way to Edmonton today I listened
to Ken Myers on music and culture. I thought it was fantastic. I tried Alvin Plantinga on "Against Materialism," but I couldn't keep awake for that one. As I was driving, I though it would be best to try something else.

I listened to the last Desiring God 2006 message on the way home. It was the message by John Piper. That is a "must hear" piece, though if you know Piper, you already know some of the message. If you haven't heard these messages yet, get them. They're free. I'll even give you the link again. Here it is. Go get them - stream them, download them, whatever.

I don't have enough hours in the car or at the gym to keep up with these messages, but I'm having fun trying.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I've been wanting to contribute to this shindig - I love potatoes and this looks like fun. I'm not a cook, so I didn't want my post to look, you know, Mickey Mouse.

(I'm sure Josh will love seeing this 2003 photo on the web).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Be Still, My Soul

I first learned this song when I was a teenager in Ft. McMurray. A young woman in our church put together a small singing group and asked me to sing bass (thanks for the memory, Michelle). I loved the hymn, though it was some work for me to learn the bass part. The harmonies are beautiful, but the words are even better. It is a melancholy hymn, but with a realistic note of home. Verses three and five are new to me. I particularly like verse 5, but they are both welcome additions.

If you don't remember the tune, you can hear it here.

1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds
still know His voice Who ruled them
while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

5. Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy works and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Katharina A. von Schlegel
(b. 1697)

Public Domain

Thursday, October 05, 2006


One of the most memorable moments from the Desiring God 2006 Conference (which I am enjoying from afar via the free downloads) is found in the second Q&A session. Justin Taylor (who chaired the panel) has posted a transcript of John Piper and D.A. Carson's answers to a question about small church pastors who may come away from a big conference like DG 06 feeling inadequate and discouraged.

I listened to the audio of this panel this morning. Dr. Carson was moved to tears when he recounted his father's faithful ministry in Quebec.

I have the privilege of being a part of the Fellowship French Mission as our regional representative. Even younger second-generation pastors are thankful for the faithfulness of the pioneer Quebec missionaries of the 50s and 60s. Those who remain from that time are elderly, but their presence is felt and appreciated.

Today, there are still only about 0.6 % of French-speaking Canadians who would identify themselves as evangelical Christians. Quebec is a spiritual wasteland. Things are far better than they were 40 years ago, however, thanks to the faithful work of men like Tom Carson. Today, all of the Fellowship Baptist churches in Quebec have a Sunday attendance of over 8000 people. There is still much to be done. The work is still hard.

If you would like to learn more about this mission work on Canadian soil, take a look at . You’ll find a little history as well as missionary profiles on this site.

Hey, cool! I just went to the French Missions site and I see that our Project 2006 is over the top! Our Fellowship projects run from November to November in conjunction with our National Conventions. Praise the Lord for that good news!

I should blog more about this important ministry. Stay tuned for more in the future.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shop Class Project

My son bought his first car from some church friends. We had it towed home today and made some space for it in the garage. Josh is only 14, so we have some time to putter before he gets to drive this thing (and save for insurance). This Suzuki Swift is not very swift - even though it is the GT model with a whopping 100 hp (vs. the 50 or so for its Sprint / Firefly cousins). It has an automatic transmission that is not transmitting very much power. That's why Josh could afford it. Being a homeschool family we needed a shop project. This will be it. It looks good - even if it never works again (but we're optomistic at this stage).
Desiring God 2006 Messages Available


I haven't heard them, but I've downloaded them. I'm sure they will be excellent. I'm going to make the time to listen to these.

For an excellent synopsis of the messages, see the conference-endorsed live blogging by Tim Challies.

Desiring God is amazing. They give away more stuff than most organizations produce.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Forest Road

I don't know why I like this picture. It is very ordinary in a lot of ways. It makes me think of adventure and mystery. I guessI've read enough of the right kind of books. I won't ruin it by telling you where it goes (my son just came by and said "the towns").

One thing about these woods that is interesting is that the trees on the left all appear to be coniferous and the trees on the right are deciduous.

So, what was at the end of that path?

A nice place for Autumn family photos:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Evening Surprise

Unless something special is happening, our Sunday evening service is a tough sell. There were only four people out tonight (not including me), plus two visitors from Sri Lanka, of all places.

Niluka and Ruwan have been in Edson for one week. They have been planning to come to Canada for three years, learning English and getting everything in order. They are here on a three year work visa and hope to get permanent resident status after that. They hope to help more of their family members make it to Canada eventually. They are working as cooks at Boston Pizza.

Niluka attended a Baptist Church in Sri Lanka and his friend Ruwan is a Catholic. They may have to work most Sunday mornings, but they say they will come on Sunday evenings and perhaps Wednesday nights.

If you think of it, please pray for these fellows. They are bound to experience culture shock and loneliness. I hope our church family can help them feel more at home here.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Additional verse contributed by Bradford J. Brown

4. O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Robert Robinson

Public Domain - Courtesy of