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Stepping Stones to Covenant Baptism

Last night we watched from western Pennsylvania via Skype as our grandson, Max Mann, was baptized way out in Manhattan, Kansas. Though we wish we could have actually been there to be with and hug our daughter, her family, and the congregation, we are grateful we could witness it, see a congregation surrounding them with prayer and love, and know that other family was there with them. For instance, his namesake, his great-grandfather Max whose birthday it happened to be, was present, adding a special touch to the night. The minister of the church plant our daughter and her husband attend, Pastor Jonathan Haney, did a tremendous job of explaining the powerful promises the Lord gives us regarding baptism and preaching the gospel to all attending, including the children. Afterward, we enjoyed close-ups of Max and visiting with Will, Lindsay, and others gathered there.

Miriam and I found tears rolling down our cheeks during the service, but not only because of the separating distance. We heard God’s covenantal promises read and proclaimed, and were experiencing them in real time! From the simple promise of Psalm 128 to “see our children’s children” to the profound ones of the Lord promising to establish an everlasting covenant […]

Browse Worthy: In the Trenches of the Cultural War

Ashers’ Daniel McArthur Speaks Outside Court

A bakery in Northern Ireland owned by a Christian family has been sued by homosexuals for refusing to bake a cake with Bert & Ernie on it promoting gay marriage. Listen to the faithful testimony of the MacArthurs, members of the congregation where fellow blogger Warren Peel is the pastor. You can read more about the case here and Pastor Peel’s thoughts about this subject here.

Yet Another Planned Parenthood Video

Watch more footage on how Planned Parenthood deceives as it deals in the murder of the unborn and the selling of body parts. Two of the people from the Center for Medical Progress who made the videos have been sued by Planned Parenthood and indicted by a grand jury in Texas.

Counseling Wives of Addicts

I listened this week to an excellent and compassionate podcast by the folks at Mortification of Spin on pornography addiction. They interviewed Ellen Dykas of Harvest USA, and her counsel combined with that of the hosts offers a great deal of wisdom in a short amount of time on handling issues of pornography, adultery, and care for victims.

Sex, Sin, & Salvation

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary are hosting a conference April […]

Children at the Lord’s Table?

Frequently I am asked by seminary students or pastors about the question of children and the Lord’s Supper. Several years ago, after some members asked questions about the teaching dubbed “paedocommunion” (the practice of allowing baptized children to come to the Lord’s Table without a necessary profession of faith), I sought to find help from others on the subject.  I encountered an abundance of materials by those promoting paedocommunion, with titles such as Feed My Lambs or the even more emotively-labeled Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated?  Often those producing and promoting these books and messages were associated with the aberrant teachings of the Auburn Avenue Conferences and Federal Vision Theology.

At the time, all I found on the historic, Reformed practice of requiring profession of faith before admission to the Lord’s Table were a few passing references in the confessions and theological books, and a helpful though somewhat poorly recorded tape series by Kenneth Gentry.  Thankfully, Dr. Cornelius Venema’s scholarly yet accessible work Children at the Lord’s Table? Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion does much to stand in the gap, providing a Biblically-grounded and confession-honoring answer to those who espouse a hyper-covenantal theology that promotes this practice.

In this book Dr. Venema poses and answers this question: “Does […]

Prayer Societies

Encouraging God’s people to pray is one of the pastor’s most trying jobs. Three reasons exist for why this is so.

First, pastors often approach this difficulty mechanically. We find a passage on praying, talk about how God desires us to be praying, then tell people to get to praying. Then we get discouraged over the lack of response. We need to recognize the problem is not in making known the duty. Every Christian knows he should pray. Simply urging the church to pray more usually results in condemnation about our prayer life rather than consecration in this holy duty.

Another great struggle in praying, as one of my mentors regularly reminds me, is scheduling it. We simply do not make it the priority it should be. Sadly, the church does not always help its folks in this regard. Often the church has one weekly, corporate prayer meeting that can conflict with the full schedules of its members.

A third obstacle to prayer is that the motivation to sacrifice our own interests to pray is usually lacking. Note how when crisis strikes, people more naturally pray. Yet in seasons of congregational comfort, prayer usually lags in intensity. E.M. Bounds says, “Prayer is the oral expression of […]

Seeking His Spirit

Lately I have been reflecting on the prophets’ visions of revival. Many of the wondrous things they see in the days of Christ and promises they extend have to do with fuller manifestations of the Spirit of God. For three familiar examples:

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army…And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:9-10, 13-14)

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the […]

Monday Mourning Musings

No, the title is not a typo. It’s just what I’m doing today as I still am reeling over the loss of Dave.

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Our modern tendency regarding death is to do what we might call “grieve and run.” We rush to the visitation and/or funeral, then rush right back into our normal activities. When Jacob died, even the Egyptians wept for him for seventy days (Gen. 50:3).  If the deaths of family and close friends have taught me anything in recent years, we need to make time for grieving and not expect it to end for a great while. Some quiet periods of reflection are going into my schedule.

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A week ago Saturday, I received the news that Dave was in ICU and not doing well. Miriam and I wrestled and prayed over whether I should jump in the car and drive out to Chicago to be there. Yet we concluded that his family and pastors were there, and it would be best to remain here and pray. After a quiet morning, I grew restless. Miriam encouraged me to go out and work on a tree that my son-in-law and I had felled over […]

Preparing for Our Heavenly Union with God

In his beautiful tribute yesterday, James shared the news that a dear friend to a number of us at Gentle Reformation, Pastor David Long, passed into glory on Saturday evening. When I received the news, I had just said “Amen” following a quiet, tearful time of singing and praying with my family for Dave and Jenny and their family. Dave, my spiritual father, is now with the God he knew so well, served so faithfully, and told others of so sincerely.

At a conference last fall at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary on “Experiencing the Fullness of Our Union with Christ,” providentially I gave the final talk on preparing for heaven. At the start of my message and in the journal being published this week, I dedicated this talk to Dave as follows.

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At the time of my study and writing of this article, I have been emotionally walking with a lifetime friend and mentor as he fights a battle against a serious form of cancer. Observing someone close to you preparing to meet God moves a discussion such as this one out of the realm of the merely academic and speculative to that of pastoral and personal. So this article is dedicated to Pastor […]

Browse Worthy: Relationships

Several helpful articles on relating to others.

Pushing Back the Darkness – Kara Dedert at En Route continues to share heart lessons the Lord has taught their family in having a child severely affected by a virus during her pregnancy.

Loneliness as Deadly as Lack of Exercise – David Murray demonstrates statistically what the title asserts then offers positive encouragements as well.

Burning and Yearning – Tim Challies makes the helpful and heart-searching distinction between pure and sinful sexual desires in this article. “Burning is desire perverted and unrestrained. Yearning is desire surrendered.”

Before You Read Another Book on Marriage – More good advice from Mr. Challies on how to approach the plethora of marital books out there in a strategic way.

Across the Race Divide – Kevin DeYoung has written a lengthy piece reviewing and interacting with David Kennedy’s insightful book Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.

Monday Morning Musings

From the text in Romans 9 that quotes God from the Old Testament passage saying “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” the preacher said yesterday that the gasp should not come after the second phrase but the first. The wonder is not that God hates hell-deserving sinners, but that he chooses to love any of them.

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We enjoyed getting to know our new grandson Max over the holidays. When our rather petite daughter delivered this big 9 lb. 10 oz. boy, our youngest commented, “After that, Lindsay is going to be all Maxed out.”

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Put a bunch of Yorks, eight Nerf guns, and eighty darts in a room. Now you know why I haven’t felt the need to see the new Star Wars movie.

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God promised Isaac that “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven…and in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” One reason the Lord gave for these great blessings was “because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (see Genesis 26:4-5). Do we live considering how our obedience to the Lord today will impact our grandchildren and even other nations […]

Passing through the River

As the new year approaches, many will look ahead to 2016 and make resolutions. They will want to make changes to make this coming year a better one. Yet as this year ends, what about a sober reflection that truly looks ahead and plans for the future? How about a few resolutions that prepare you for the inevitability of your death?

Being the holiday season, some will view this as morbid, I know. Yet have you not seen one of those lists of celebrity deaths of 2015 that appear in the magazines? Seeing the passing of people who in your mind’s eye seem forever young, such as Kevin Corcoran, the child star of the movie Old Yeller, reminds you of how fleeting this life is. If we packed for a trip this holiday season, should we not also get ready to leave this earth?

John Bunyan reminds us in vivid ways in The Pilgrim’s Progress of the journey those in Christ are on. We travel through the difficulties of this world, headed ever onward toward the Celestial City. However, as Christian and his companion Hopeful found, one great obstacle to arriving there is a deep river, with no bridge to cross it – Bunyan’s picture of death. Christian […]