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Look at the Fish!

We live in a hurried society. We live in a society that tells the microwave to hurry up. We live in a time when we can get anything we want as soon as we want it. Think of the entertainment that streams from our internet service. I live in a city where Amazon offers one-hour deliveries! We are a hurried and impatient people.

This hurried society has caused the Church to know less of the Scriptures, even while 20 centuries of commentaries and sermons are available with the click of a trackpad. We must regain a depth of understanding and a depth of humility as we approach the Word of God.

The Scriptures tell us that we are to meditate on the Word of God. Meditation takes time. It take effort to look at the Word of God and to dive deeply into the teachings, mysteries, and truths of the Word. The first Psalm tells us that the godly makes the Word of God his meditation day and night.

Do we take time to mediate on the Word? Would the church today increase in her love for Christ, understanding of Systematic Theology, application of New Testament ethics, and knowledge of the Bible if […]

The Timid Sheep

It does not take much reading in the newspaper or media sites to realize that our culture is rapidly changing. I am not saying that our culture is going from Christian to secular (that’s another discussion);  but I do believe that we are seeing less toleration of Christianity, especially among the self-proclaimed tolerant.

Fear sets in, doesn’t it? Timidity replaces trust at times. Will the church press on courageously, trusting in Christ’s purposes or will we retreat due to the fear that overwhelms us?

This is going to prove to be a pastoral problem in the church. As the church faces this new age of forced-toleration, how ought we respond to those who who suffer under the fear and timidity that may plague our souls?

Martin Bucer (1491-1551), gives us wisdom here. He writes:

Those who become timid, so that the cross and tribulation become too heavy for them, must be addressed kindly and comfortingly, faithfully impressing on them the goodness of God and the salvation of Christ, so that they may recognize and believe that our dear God’s intentions towards them are entirely fatherly and faithful in all the sufferings he sends them. They are always to be dissuaded from thinking about their sins and […]

A Disciple of Mary?

I have often said that July is the best time to work through Jesus’s birth narratives. July is far enough away from December 25 that the emotional trappings of the day are not winning your heart. July is also far enough away from late September, when Costco starts to put out the manger scenes and yard Santas. July is perfect for studying the birth of Jesus! If I were a holy day keeping man (other than the Sabbath), I would propose July 12 as the Presbyterian and Reformed Birth Narrative Day of Remembrance and Cerebral Celebration through Pious Thoughts. But I am not a holy day keeper (other than the Sabbath), and this article is not a presbyteri-rant against the C-word.

In my family worship we have been begun studying the Gospel of Luke. What has impressed me as we have begun in the first two chapters is the faith and piety of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Luke 1:34-38 says,

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth […]

Vanity Fair: Just Passing Through

Vanity Fair “broke the internet” with a story of shock and shame. As the church reflects on the way in which the world has responded with glee, we must be mindful that we live in Vanity Fair. As Christians, we ought not to be surprised; we need to realize that we live in the midst of a world that is hostile to God and his glory.

The pretentious and wonderful Oxford English Dictionary defines Vanity Fair as “a place or scene where all is frivolity and empty show; the world or a section of it as a scene of idle amusement and unsubstantial display.”

As the world screams “wonderful” and the church groans in disgust, we must remember where Vanity Fair got its name.

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long. It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity, and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is […]

Ordinary Elders

When we think of the work of the elders of the church what are the primary duties that we consider? In the Book of Acts, chapter 6, the elders of the church are to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and to prayer. These are the two basic callings of those who minister in the eldership of the church.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to participate in the memorial service of a Christian woman from another congregation. There were a number of ministers who participated, all reformed in conviction. The son of the woman, who had gone to her eternal rest, gave me a gift for participating in the service. It was clear that he knew me very well. As he was going through his mother’s belongings he found Session Minutes from a church where one of his relatives had served as a ruling elder in the early 1900s. The Session Minutes were from Roseburg, Oregon Presbyterian Church and they were dated January 7, 1917. Accompanying the Minutes was an old photo of the church building.

J.G. Vos’s Temperate Views on Temperance

It is without doubt that JG Vos changed the RPCNA. Many will tell you of their experiences in his classroom at Geneva College and how they came to love the Word of God under his ministry. As the son of one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, he brought attention to the RPCNA at a time when it was often isolated from the greater reformed community. JG Vos popularized amillennialism in the RPCNA. He, along with Philip Martin, are credited by some for keeping the RPCNA from ordaining women elders. He renewed interest in the Scottish Covenanters through his writing. He renewed interest in confessionalism through the Blue Banner Faith and Life magazine. Many cite Vos’s preaching as the means of grace God used for their own conversions.

Today’s RPCNA would be quite different without JG Vos and his work. One area of change in the RPCNA that began with Vos is the RPCNA’s current view on abstinence from alcoholic beverages. Beginning in the late 1930s our Synod began a debate regarding the relationship between the Christian and alcohol, a debate that eventually led to a decision 60 years later to reverse its stand […]

Look! Look! Look!

I live in a diverse place. My neighborhood is made up of a number of Asian and Latino people groups, along with, like my family, those of European descent. A couple of blocks from my home is the largest concentration of Armenians outside of Armenia. There are so many Armenians living around me that one time my seven year-old son asked me if Armenian was the second most widely used language in the world.

We enjoy the diversity of culture that we get to experience from day to day. A number of months ago we were in a neighborhood not far ours where a sign read, “Korean Culture Days: Brought to you with help by the Armenian and Latino communities.” 

Elon’s (and Your) Historical Record: Date. Dash. Date.

As the ancient church historian was writing the book of Judges, he must have asked himself, “What do I know about Elon?” (Judges 12:11-12) The other historians around him must have scratched their heads, much like you may be doing as you secretly ask, “Who is Elon?” As the ancient historian summed up the whole life of a political and spiritual leader in ancient Israel, he came to the conclusion that not much was known about Judge Elon. His answer was that Elon lived. Elon worked. Elon died.

“After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.”

We might hope that an ancient historian would record more for us, but the fact is that every life on this earth will be summed up as Elon’s life is here summed. You live. You work. You die.

Apologetics for the Rest of Us

Evidentialist or Presuppositional? If you said Presuppositional, do you mean of the Van Til variety or are you a Clarkian?  If you said Evidentialist, do you prefer the ontological, teleological, cosmological, or some other argument for God’s existence? It’s enough to blow your epistemology, isn’t it?  Do you ever think that you need a seminary degree or at least college philosophy to discuss God’s existence? It can be discouraging, can’t it?

Last week Pastor David Reese (Colorado Springs, CO) spoke at a youth conference here in Los Angeles on the topic of “relational apologetics.” I recommend that if you want to defend your faith, but are frequently discouraged by the philosophical nature of apologetic discussions, you ought to begin with these messages.

They can be downloaded, free of charge, here.


A Cure for the Prayerless Heart

Are you having trouble in your prayer life? Do you feel as though your heart is hardened soil as you pray? Sing the psalms!  Wilhelmus a’Brakel gave this encouragement to his readers over 300 years ago when he wrote:

Singing will move a heart which frequently remains unmoved during prayer. It can be that while singing the tears will drip upon the book. Have you not frequently experienced this? Have not you been stirred up by hearing the singing of others? Others will therefore also be stirred up by your singing.

The Papists in France knew this, and therefore they strictly forbade the singing of psalms and meted out cruel punishment for this—even prior to massacring the church.

Therefore, no longer be silent, but lift up your voices—in spite of the devil and all the enemies of God—to the honor and glory of your God, as this has done you too much good already (and still does) than that you would refrain from thanking the Lord with songs of praise. You must furthermore do so in order that you might stir up others to serve the Lord with gladness. It will then become manifest to all […]