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Archive | Musings

“How Are You?” – and other declarations of malice

Imagine that you’re severely stressed.   Maybe that’s not too much of  a stretch for you right now.  If you’re anything like me in tense times, then in addition to stress-pounding Skittles to cope, you develop an irrational suspicion of other people’s motives when they encounter you in your turmoil.  Someone asks “How are you?”  But the inquirer seems afraid, and you interpret the nervous eyes to say:  “The answer to my question is any number of positive words, followed by your grateful acknowledgement of my asking.”  If you do give an upbeat answer, no matter how dishonest, and you follow it up with your thanks, no matter how insincere, you think you spy in their smiling response not only happiness, but relief.  And that makes you boil.  Or, someone just looks at you in your stress but doesn’t ask how you’re doing, and you get mad about what seems to be an obvious lack of concern and you suspect that they’re silently condemning you.  Either way, they can’t win.  Stress and the charitable judgement of others are not natural friends.

Stopping by Foggy Books on a Spring Day

Having just briefly dipped into B.B. Warfield’s ancient tome, on ‘the Inspiration and Authority of the Bible’, eager to glean some tips on ‘God-breathed’, otherwise affectionately known as ‘Theopneustos’, I thought I would pen a few random thoughts on the difficulty of reading highly-technical scholarly works.

Being a pastor with a side-interest in languages, and having a certain familiarity with Hebrew, Greek and Latin, I have to confess to being a little overwhelemed at the depth of linguistic knowledge required to decipher one of the chapters.

This work, brothers, frankly, is seriously heavy going; the material Warfield covers is beyond the competence of most pastors; without languisic accumen the arguments are difficult, if not impossible, to follow or carefully weigh; yet, as most recognise, this also is an important book [at least in it’s day] – this stimulated me to muse on the vital importance of godly bible scholars.

It is much to be lamented, and dangerous for the Church, if she does not seek, by all means in her power, to remedy the longterm, slow decline in ‘classical’ education. The study of ancient cultures and languages have long proved a safeguard against the intrusion of serious error into the Body of Christ.

Certainly not […]

A Brief Reflection on Ephesians 2:7

“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

————–

One of the astonishing things to be observed in Ephesians 2:7 is its future scope. Our being raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places is designed to show forth the immeasurable riches of God’s grace. But note when this will be manifested. Paul declares that this will occur “in the coming ages.”

What is it about the riches, nay, the immeasurable riches of God’s grace that will be more clearly manifested in the future? Hasn’t such grace already been made plain?

It no doubt has. So in what way will it be made to shine more brightly?

Perhaps this is simply a matter of our more adequately apprehending its depths. Maybe once we are transformed in the twinkling of an eye, and once we behold […]

What Are We To Do?

What are we to do? I suspect that’s a question many Christians have been asking lately. The rapid sexual descent of our culture either has or will force every Christian to seriously ask it–Christians who might otherwise be content to play the part of the ostrich with their head stuck firmly in the sand. It is remarkable to me that less than ten years ago a presidential candidate couldn’t run on a platform that endorsed same-sex marriage and today there is an all-out societal celebration of sexual immorality. Bob Dylan, who was not, according to my knowledge, a prophet or the son of a prophet was, nevertheless, quite right: “The times they are a-changin’.”

What is a helpful Christian response? Should we stop baking cakes and taking wedding pictures? Should we sign petitions and organize boycotts? Should we position ourselves on the nearest picket line and protest? Should we sit and reminisce about the good ole days? Should we board up the doors and windows of our church building and fearfully hide in our corners? Without deciding the merit of these responses it does seem, at least to me, that many ordinary Christians have found themselves completely unprepared for this cultural […]

Of Burner Phones and Busy Lives: Making the Best Use of Time

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a cell phone store and said,  “I would like to trade in my iPhone 6 for a dumb phone.” Puzzled, the clerk asked why I would do such a thing. I told him I longed for the simplicity of the 2000s. The look of puzzlement continued as I described why I only wanted talk and text: I am tired of the media access on my phone. It’s a time vacuum.

He consulted with another employee and then informed me that they no longer sold dumb phones and said I would have to buy a “burner phone” to avoid media. I could try CVS or Target. All phone plans now carry a media charge; it cannot be avoided.

I went home disappointed, but as a small victory in the media-fatigue battle I deleted my Facebook app. I love you all, but you don’t need to join me on coffee dates with my wife and you don’t need to accompany me to the park with my children. I don’t need to see your vacation pics while I’m waiting for the light to change. There are better ways for me to use my time.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, gives a […]

A GenRef Update

Though we basically like to blog rather than blog about our blogging, every now and then we like to update you about things going on behind the scenes here at Gentle Reformation. Here are a few items to share.

First, if you want a good reminder of why we chose the name, please read Tim Challies’ excellent article “The Character of the Christian: Gentle.” We do not lay claim to being fully gentle as described here but we are striving toward it on this blog. Tim asks in the self-evaluation section of his article, “Do you like to play the devil’s advocate? Do you like a good argument? What would your social media presence indicate?” We try to ask ourselves questions like these before we publish. Numerous times one of us will submit an article to another for feedback before publishing or even accept a veto and not publish. We will not hesitate to address difficult issues, but hope to do so in a gentlemanly manner that promotes the peace and welfare of the church.

Second, it is no secret to many of our readers that most of the writers here are from the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Though we have no stated policy to limit our authors to this branch […]

A Game Recommendation. A Conference Recommendation

Two recommendations today. One is for all you gamers out there. The other is for all of you.

First, the gamers.

I love a good thinking game. Portal and Portal 2 certainly come to mind. So does World of Goo. One can’t forget the old classic, Myst, either. Well, I am happy to report that there’s another heavy hitter in town. It’s called The Witness.

While I’m not yet finished, I can say in all candor that the design is pure genius. Pure genius!

You emerge on a colorful island full of intrigue and mystery.  No people.  No critters.  Just plants, water, and themed locations (like ruins, sunken ships, etc.).  But embedded all throughout the land are a variety of puzzles that share a common thread. You have to draw lines on computer screens scattered about the island in the correct order. Sounds easy enough. Except that you have to also figure out what the puzzle requires of you; what the rules of game actually are.

As I write this, I realize how lame it sounds. But what can I say? It’s awesome.  It’s not annoying.  Though it will hurt your head.

So, yeah, if you have $40 burning a hole in your pocket, and you […]

Our Judge Is Jesus Christ

Since the earliest centuries the Christian church, in accord with the teaching of Scripture, has confessed with united voice: “He will come to judge the living and the dead.” But what good is a creed if we merely profess it and do not believe it? Let it not be so! After all, it is foundational to what we believe and a part of the very gospel the Apostle Paul preached. As one old writer put it, the judgment of Christ is “the anchor of Christian hope, a powerful antidote against carnal security.”

I thought of that this evening as the news outlets began reporting on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In the coming days and weeks it will be fascinating to read more on his life and legacy. In this election year his death occurs at a pivotal time and will, from a human perspective, have seismic effects. Scalia led the conservative renaissance on the court with consistency, wit, and—whether you agreed with him or not—a giant intellect. But now he is dead and he will judge no more.

It seems his gavel has hardly been silenced and the mayhem has set in. Some who opposed his decisions have […]

For Beauty and Glory

Why do I love the way that Vermeer painted yellow? Can I describe the joy produced by concentric circles on an Art Deco water pitcher? What attracts people to spend thousands of dollars on an Eames designed Herman Miller chair? Why does the Chrysler Building’s crown make me smile? What accounts for the sensation produced by the visual elegance and dramatic displays in a Bierstadt painting of Yellowstone or a photograph of Yosemite by Ansel Adams? Why do lines on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air produce happiness?

There are so many beautiful things in this world.

You may believe the answer to these experiences of joy and satisfaction are the product of an un-sanctified worldly-mindedness. You may call for the repentance of one who places value on such earthly things. But what if enjoyment of beautiful things is part of our sanctification as believers? What if the appreciation of beauty, design, and craftsmanship is a reflection of something heavenly, and in itself is a reflection of God’s character?

Though Dead He Still Speaks–C.H.S

Hanging on my wall just to the left of my desk is a small framed sheet of paper. The fragile paper is the palette upon which in faded purple ink are scribbled the almost unintelligible handwritten notes of a sermon entitled, “The Joyous Return.” Everything about it bears the marks of age. And rightly so! For the sermon was preached on March 1, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. The name and influence of Spurgeon has attained near ubiquity among contemporary preachers and students of preaching—and that’s to say nothing of the impact he has had on thousands who have read his sermons. It’s probably not advisable to try and quantify who is or is not the greatest preacher, but I don’t think it’s overly ambitious to agree with the consensus of many that he remains the Prince of Preachers.

It was a little over ten years ago that I was first introduced to Charles Spurgeon. At a very pivotal and difficult time in my life my brother recommended that I try reading some of his sermons. I quickly began to devour them as I read under the conviction of sin, the joy of […]