Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
October 15, Morning
His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the “I am?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry! Though a lamb, he is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though he breaks not the bruised reed, yet will he break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of his foes shall bear up before the tempest of his wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of his indignation; but his beloved blood washed people look for his appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them he sits as a refiner even now, and when he has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of him sincere and without rebuke in the day of his appearing.
From C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
From C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Thanksgiving as a holiday may not be the most significant event on the calendar. It is a relatively recent creation and a junior holiday, if you will, compared to Christmas, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Having said that, giving God praise and thanks is very serious business. It is good that we have a weekend to celebrate that fact.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
It is difficult to put yesterday’s sentencing of Emily’s killer into perspective. I thought that after sleeping on it, words might come more easily. It is not to be. It is hard to sum up yesterday, let alone the almost two years that preceded yesterday’s closure. I know that there are many people looking for a personal reaction on this blog, so I will share a few thoughts.
First, in the big picture, yesterday’s sentence changes very little. God is still good, He is sovereign over all things. Emily is still not with us, though we have a sure hope that we will see her again. We still miss her terribly. As a family, we are doing well, carrying on and loving one another. We have grown in our love for God and one another, and we have a great, ever-widening circle of friends and a wonderful church family.
Yesterday was significant, though. We anticipated the sentence that was delivered. Some hear “18 years” and react negatively to such a short sentence. For the record, the sentence for second degree murder is a mandatory life-sentence with a minimum ten-year parole ineligibility. In this case, the ineligibility has been extended to 18 years due to particulars in this situation. We have been assured by the Crown prosecutor and by the closing comments of the Judge that all the facts relating to this brutal attack and the unrelated sexual interference charge will be on record for that time of evaluation 18 years down the road (or, specifically, 18 years from December, 2008).
We have said from the beginning that our hope is not in the Canadian Legal system. Justice is God’s, and, by His grace, we have been able to leave that to Him. We are thankful to God for the way this process has worked. We have been treated very well. We have been impressed with the professionalism, wisdom and care demonstrated by everyone in the system.
Our legal system is not perfect. It’s another human institution populated by fallible sinners, like every human institution, including, of course, the church. If you struggle with cynicism and a complaining attitude to Canadian institutions, consider the alternatives around the world and throughout history. We have it very, very good in Canada. My observations are anecdotal and the circumstances of this crime are extraordinary, but I am humbled and satisfied with how things have unfolded in this very difficult case.
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lawrie Smith was concise, serious and most professional as befits her position. Her closing words after sentencing were a surprise to us. She took the time to give profound credit to the RCMP for their exceptional work. She said directly that without their work, we would not be here today. She also took the time to address us and the other victim’s mother and encourage and commend us. She offered her prayers and spoke of the evidence of God’s grace in our lives. That was very much appreciated.
One of the things I most appreciated about the Justice’s closing comments is that they effectively turned everyone’s attention from the perpetrator to the victim’s families. That was classy and well done.
I hesitate to mention other names because there are so many people to thank, and miss. From the many RCMP officers; EMT members; Victim Services people; the Crown Prosecutors we dealt with; and others, let me say publicly that we are thankful, and impressed with the good work that these people do. There are much easier jobs out there, and I am deeply grateful for these people that serve all of us.
We are also thankful that we do not have to endure a trial and subsequent appeals. This stage is over. Now we are praying that we will have many more opportunities to share the Gospel with people that need to be reconciled to God. I am weak, but He is strong. May He be glorified in our lives.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I'll quote the July 22 entry in its entirety:
WHAT WAS PAUL’S PERSPECTIVE before he was converted (Acts 9)? Elsewhere (Acts 22:2; 23:6; Phil. 3:4-6) he tells us that he was a strict Pharisee, brought up (apparently)in Jerusalem, taught by one of the most renowned rabbis of the day. For him, the notion of a crucified Messiah was a contradiction in terms. Messiahs rule, they triumph, they win. The Law insists that those who hang on a tree are cursed by God. Surely, therefore, the insistence that Jesus is the Messiah is not only stupid, but verges on the blasphemous. It might lead to political insurrection: the fledgling church was growing, and might become a dangerous block. It had to be stopped; indeed, what was needed was a man of courage like Saul, a man like Phinehas who averted the wrath of God by his decisive action against the perverters of truth and probity (Num. 25; see meditation for May 16), someone who really understood the implications of these wretched delusions and who saw where they would lead.
But now on the Damascus Road Saul meets the resurrected, glorified Jesus. Whether he had seen him before we cannot be sure; that he sees him now, Saul cannot doubt. And a great deal of his theology, worked out and displayed in his letters, stems from that brute fact. If Jesus were alive and glorified, then somehow his death on the cross did not prove he was damned. Far from it: the claim of believers that God had raised him from the dead, and that they had seen him, must be true—and that could only mean that God had vindicated Jesus. Then what on earth did his death mean? From that vantage point, everything looked different. If Jesus was under the curse of God when he died, yet was vindicated by God himself, he must have died for others.
Somehow his death absorbed the righteous curse of God that was due others and canceled it out. In that light, the entire history of the Hebrew Scriptures looked different. Was it not written that a Suffering Servant (see yesterday’s meditation) would be wounded for our transgressions and chastised for our iniquities? Does the death of countless lambs and bulls really take away human sin? Or do we need, as it were, a human “lamb of God,” a human “Passover Lamb”? If the tabernacle and temple rituals are read as pointing to the final solution, what does that say about the present satus of the covenant enacted at Sinai? What about scriptural texts that promise a new covenant, a great outpouring of the Spirit in the last days (Acts 2:17-21; see Joel 2:28-32 and the meditation for July 15)? What place does the promise to Abraham have in the scheme of things, that in Abraham’s offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3; see meditation for January 11)?
Grant that Jesus is alive and vindicated, and everything changes.
D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois: 1998, p. 229
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Perhaps God does not strengthen us to make war. But in a theistic universe, we confess God gives us strength to write computer programs, to sort out administrative problems, to change yet another diaper, to study the Greek text of the New Testament, to bear up under insult.“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!” (18:46).
Juanita said that she just read a missionary letter that quoted the same lines. The author said, "I've done all those things! It was like reading a mini biography." It's neat to know that friends around the world are reading the same things.
What is even greater to contemplate is the fact that the saints over the centuries have been reading the same Word of God!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)
As recorded on Looked Upon
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Last week, I was thinking about interrupting my Hebrews series to do a more pointed reflection upon the Lord's Table. I found this post at The Gospel Coalition Blog to be very helpful. I stole the outline and wrote my own material under each point. It was well received and I think it is a very good guideline for thinking through the meaning of Communion.
The second thing that caught my attention was this post by Tim Challies from Saturday. I used part of this powerful Spurgeon quote in my message.
My notes for the reflection are below. My message from Sunday is up on our website as well.
Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
1. We look up in worship.
Jesus is Lord. He is the Son of God. We must worship no one but God. When we come to the Communion Table we worship Jesus. He is God. No one else and nothing else can bear the weight of worship – not because our worship is so great, but because God created us to worship Him alone.
Think about it. When we look to Jesus as Saviour and worship Him as our Lord, we know that He is absolutely perfect, our all sufficient Saviour. He is BETTER than any other, and absolutely powerful, faithful, loving and eternal.
If we lean on anyone else as ULTIMATE, they will fail us. But with Jesus, we can put all our hope and trust in Him and He will never let us down and never let us go.
Our worship includes joyful praise and DEEP THANKSGIVING to Christ. He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves – He has given us forgiveness, reconciliation and adoption so that we can call God our Father and enjoy Him forever!
As you participate in these elements today, worship Jesus as your God and King.
2. We look back in Remembrance
Jesus told us to remember when we eat and drink. Our thoughts should turn back to that hill outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago and remember what it cost the Saviour to suffer for my sin.
Our only altar is that blood-stained cross.
Think about that last meal – the Passover supper – that Jesus had with his disciples before He was betrayed. Think about the mockery of the trials that He endured. Remember the crown of thorns and the purple robe, the flogging and the jeering of the leaders and the crowds.
Think about that day – how the earth shook, how the sky grew dark, how the pagan centurion said, “Surely, this is the Son of God!”
Look back and remember.
3. We look forward in anticipation.
Jesus told us to continue to eat the bread and drink the cup until He comes. This solemn meal is very small, but it points ahead to a great feast in that Great Day to come – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
At that meal, we will be clothed in our FOREVER BODIES. We will be done with faith and hope, because we will have Jesus with us physically and we will OWN the INHERITANCE of the saint – reunited with all those that have gone before us, done with sin and corruption and sickness and death FOREVER.
Look forward to that day, savour the reality of the New Heavens and earth and determine to build up your treasure THERE, not here in this broken-down world!
4. We look outward in proclamation.
Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper our actions proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. I often say that these elements are a sermon in material form. That may not sound very Baptist, but it is biblical.
1 Corinthians 11:26 – as we eat and drink, we proclaim.
If you are here this morning and you are not a Christian, we want you to feel that you are on the outside looking in. Without that sense of distance, of alienation from this sacred meal, you will not appreciate what you are missing.
Don’t get me wrong – we WANT you to come in by faith, confessing Jesus as Lord and trusting Him as your Saviour.
I don’t want you to participate if you do not believe. There are warnings of judgment for taking part in an unworthy manner. This does not mean that any of us consider ourselves to be worthy BY OURSELVES, but only through faith in the forgiveness and righteousness EARNED by ANOTHER – namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. We come by faith – but we participate because we really do believe in the merit of Christ for us.
5. We look inward in examination.
As believers, when we eat the bread and drink from the cup, it should only be in a spirit of humility and repentance. It is our sin that cost Jesus such suffering – particularly the suffering of the cup of the Father’s wrath that He drank for us as He absorbed the penalty for our sin.
If we are Christ’s people by grace through faith, then sin no longer reigns. However, it still remains until we see Jesus face-to-face, and we must learn to hate it more and more.
We should not focus merely on the physical sufferings of Jesus, but confess our sin that caused our Saviour grief. Just yesterday I read this quote on Tim Challies’ blog:
*You need not weep over the crucifixion, but weep over your transgression, for your sins nailed the Redeemer to the accursed tree. To weep over a dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease. To weep over the dying Saviour is to wet the surgeon's knife with tears; it were better to bewail the spreading cancer which that knife must cut away. – C.H. Spurgeon
So participate in this holy meal only after you have looked deep within and have confronted and confessed the sin that remains in you.
Remember, though, that your sin is wonderfully and supernaturally forgiven by the work of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Confess it. Trust Christ that He will remove it from you “as far as the east is from the west.”
6. We look around in consideration.
Look at each other. We who are joined together in a fellowship of faith in Christ are His Bride, His Body.
In 1 Corinthians 11 the context is love for one another. This church was messing up their celebration of the Lord’s supper and even doing more harm than good because they were not considerate to each other.
I read somewhere recently that, “One of the reasons the church exists is to teach us to love people that we don’t like very much.” Christ’s ministry of reconciliation not only teaches us an example of love, it promises to change our hearts so that we do love one another.
Be considerate, understanding, patient, courageous to exhort when necessary, speaking the truth in love.
We are going to have a few moments to silently prepare to take the Lord’s Supper together.
Look to God in Worship; look back to the cross in remembrance; look forward to Heaven in joyful anticipation; look outward in proclamation at those who are watching you; look inward in examination as you confess your sins; and look around in consideration at Christ’s body that is sharing this meal with you.
* C.H. Spurgeon, "Wherefore Should I Weep?" 22 October 1876, from Luke 23:1-31.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Monday, March 01, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The first passage, the instruction regarding worry, is very well known:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5
(W)hen we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
In the first passage, the apostle urges us to find God’s deep peace by trading our anxiety with joyful, thankful prayer. In the second passage, it almost seems that Paul has been a nervous wreck regarding the Thessalonian Christians.
See also 2 Corinthians 11:28 where Paul says that he has to bear the pressure of anxiety for the churches daily (concern / anxiety is the same word as the anxiety in Philippians 4:6).
So what gives? Is worry always bad, or does Paul set the pattern for good worry?
I’ll give my take on how to reconcile these passages tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
I do not believe that these verses describe a Christian losing their salvation, but this warning should cause all of us to tremble.
I have posted the message on our church website. I couldn't get it to upload - every once in a while I run into this problem - but I did an end-run around that by splitting it into two parts (part 1, part 2). We're working on a solution to uploading big files -- that is, long sermons.
I welcome your feedback on this controversial message. I've heard from a few people locally already! I'm still not convinced of my handling of all the details, but in the big picture, I'm satisfied that I understand the warning and its application.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
Saturday, January 02, 2010
The M'Cheyne plan will take you through the Old Testament once and both the New Testament and the Psalms twice. If four or five chapters per day is too much, cut it in half and read the first or second two readings. Carson's commentary is designed to help you think through what's in the text and is a wonderful complement.
I don't normally talk about my Bible reading (do your praying, etc. in private and all that), but I have been using both of volumes daily, reading all four daily readings and Carson's commentary. I speak from happy experience as I recommend them.
If you'd prefer to get the books, you can find them at the usual bookstores, or get them at Monergism Books online. They are also available for free as PDFs, which is what I use because one of our volumes went missing.
Friday, January 01, 2010
In the first chapters of the Bible, we read that God walked with Adam and Even in the cool of the evening. In the last chapters of the Bible, we read of an angel who says in a loud voice: Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:3).
At the beginning and at the end of God’s revelation to man, we understand that it is God’s design to dwell directly and immediately with the people that He created. What about all the time in between – the time that we live in? Will God dwell with man on the earth now in our sinful and rebellious state?
God is omnipresent. That is, He is everywhere at the same time. Speaking to pagan philosophers in Athens, the Apostle Paul said: 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring' (Acts 17:28). If we are all His offspring and we all live “in” Him, as He is everywhere, then what’s the point of talking about where God dwells?
God created man to worship and enjoy Him. God created man and pronounce this crown of His creation, “very good.” God took particular, personal care in making man and woman. The most important aspect to that care was the fact that God made man – male and female – in His own image.
Most of all, man is created for relationship with God – for worship, for adoration, for thanksgiving to God and enjoyment of God. In the beginning, God did indeed dwell with man in uninterrupted fellowship. That did not last. In Genesis 3, we read about a tragedy that we can’t fully comprehend. We have each been born into a fallen, sinful, broken and twisted world. It seems normal to us, and yet, even the atheist knows that things are not the way they’re supposed to be.
There is much beauty and goodness left in the world, yet everything has the stain of sin, and we know that death is a constant enemy. We know the story of the fall (see Genesis 3:8-11).
Note that even before the curses were pronounced, we read that something terrible had happened to Adam and Eve: Man hid from God – new realities of guilt and fear and self-preservation in the face of God’s holiness and goodness rushed to the surface and man ran from God.
It’s been the same ever since. Even religious man hides from God in his religion, even as he says he is seeking God. The golden calf that Aaron and the people made to worship in the wilderness is a classic example of religion at work. The God who spoke on Mount Sinai terrified them, so they made a calf of gold and then had a party.
Time after time in the history of the Bible, man hides in fear from the revelation of God’s holiness and creates idolatrous religion as a sinful substitute. Most people on earth believe in God. In spite of the press that the New Atheism has received in recent years, people who reject any concept of God are in a small minority. Religion is a quest for man to reach up to God. Religion is formed by man out of the brokenness of sin, it is a twisted form of worship designed by man to make God smaller and man bigger. Man wants to make the One True God into something he can control, but this is only an evidence of mans sin and arrogance.
So will God dwell with man? God has said, man shall not see me and live (Exodus 33:20).
Still, there is a longing for something divine, something eternal, and something significant in the heart of man, but sin stands in the way. Because of our sin – inherited from Adam but compounded by our own sins – we have hidden from God and God has, in His mercy, hidden His face from us.
Because God is holy, he judged sin. There was a sentence in the form of curses, these were the consequences of rebelling against a holy God. But even in that judgment there was mercy. This mercy came in the form of a promise
When was that promise to be fulfilled? It was not fulfilled with Cain. He proved to be the first murderer. Human accomplishment and the development of culture did not reverse the curse, it only amplified sin and underscored the distance between God and man. In Genesis 4-5, we see the sober pattern of the fallen world – the refrain of “and he died...”
In every stage of Old Testament history, we see that the distance remains. Through the prophet Isaiah, the LORD says: Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear (Isaiah 59:1-2).
What was the greatest thing that was lost in the Fall? The immediate presence of God! When God created man, it was for His glory and man’s good. It was for mutual enjoyment. God loves His people and He desires to dwell with us. That’s why we are still here. That’s why we have not been destroyed by His righteous judgment.
What about the curse? I said earlier that God promised that He would send one to end the curse and restore the blessing of the presence of God. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).
The enmity between the woman and her offspring is plural – this has been the story of human history, hatred, violence, idolatry, disease and disaster of every kind. It seems like the serpent wins.
However, the one who will crush the serpent’s head is an individual, God become flesh. He shall bruise the head of the serpent. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:14-15).
God delights in His Son. It is because Jesus Christ has defeated Satan by taking upon Himself sin and, consequently, death, that He is able to be our Champion to reconcile us to God:
• He is the New Adam – this is the new beginning that we’ve been waiting for
• He Himself is GOD WITH US He is God who dwells with us
• He brings reconciliation, peace, grace and LIFE to the fallen sons of man.
The Christmas Hymn, Joy to the World has a great verse: No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, Far as the curse is found.
“HERE HE IS” – Finally, the one that has come to rescue us from the curse.
• Incarnation – Immanuel: God with us; Jesus: God saves; Christ: The Anointed One
• Life – Perfect, righteous, the perfect law-keeper, identifies with our suffering
• Death – Takes on the curse, bears our sin, sheds blood to purchase our forgiveness
• Resurrection – defeats death, crushes Satan, guarantees our inheritance with Him!
God will dwell with man. He has come to dwell with us so that we may dwell with Him forever!
One day, we shall see the face of Jesus and be made like Him (1 John 3:2). In the meantime, we have a preliminary restoration through the knowledge of Christ. By His forgiveness and new life, we may dwell with God as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ is the light that stepped down from Heaven, God become flesh so that God may truly dwell with us and we may dwell with God forever. This is the true meaning of Christmas!