As our nation reflects more on the nature of gratitude at this November, here are eight themes in thankfulness from the Psalms that guide us to a more God-glorifying gratitude:
We give thanks for who the Lord is. We give thanks “due to his righteousness” (7:17), “to his holy name” (30:4), “for your name is near” (75:1), “for he is good” (118:1), and “to the God of gods” (136:2). Do we know God’s name and his attributes? Grateful hearts do. Read more
Certain congregational songbooks use the word “Trinity” in their titles. For instance, there is the Trinity Hymnaland the Trinity Psalter. Yet how aware are we that the songbook found in the middle of the Bible, the Psalms, is filled with references and allusions to the Trinity? In one sense this should not surprise us, as they were authored by the Triune God (II Timothy 3:16; I Peter 1:20-21). However, if my own growing awareness and recent experiments pointing this out to students are any indication, many believers are missing out on this particular vein of richness in the Psalter.
My eyes were opened to this while sitting under the teacher of Robert Letham, author of The Holy Trinity. During this wonderful week of learning, Dr. Letham showed how the knowledge of the Trinity is present in the Old Testament but is veiled and only progressively revealed. For instance, do you know where in the Bible is the first place the Trinity is referenced? The first three verses of the Bible! God (the Father) is mentioned in verse 1, the Spirit of God in verse 2, and the Word of God (whom we know is Jesus) in verse 3. He then lead us through an exercise where we saw how the Trinity is abundantly present in the Old Testament, but then rightly showed how it is not until the New Testament that there is a virtual explosion of Trinitarian passages. From Jesus’ baptism to his discourse at the Lord’s Supper to the Great Commission to the apostolic epistles, seeing the fullness of Trinitarian doctrine growing and expanding through the Scriptures was a blessed experience. Read more
In this podcast it was our pleasure to speak with Dr. Rich Holdeman, pastor of Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church. Having been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Dr. Holdeman explores the challenges that come with battling cancer, as well as the grace and comfort the Lord gives His own during such trials.
It is sometimes the case that significant details are shared after the end of an interview. Instead of trying to splice those comments into the main body of the conversation, it seemed best to simply add another five minute file here. Let’s call it bonus material.
After classes, I’m racing off to Indianapolis next Friday, November 15th, to attend the conference “Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges” being held at the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church there. Two of our blogging friends, pastors David Murray and Tim Challies, will be addressing this topic.
Here is the description from the brochure:
Is a believer’s sanctification simply believing more in his or her justification? What place do effort and discipline have in this process? How can we focus on growing in Christ as we live in a fast-paced and distracted society? Through this conference, Dr. David Murray and Tim Challies will address these questions, focusing on four modern challenges to our sanctification and giving practical steps to overcome them so that we daily grow more and more to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. They will address the radical and extra-ordinary kind of life strongly advocated by many Evangelicals and look at the modern version of “let go and let God.” They will call us to live lives of focused godliness and pursue positive sanctification. In all, we will be strengthened as we seek to fight the “good fight of faith” and press on in righteous and holy living.
The conference is free of charge. A freewill offering will be collected to help defray expenses.
So let’s get this straight. It is a free conference on a much needed topic, two energetic kingdom thinkers are speaking, and there will be a Reformation Heritage Books book table available to boot. Why would you not go if you can? Hope to see you there!
In the previous entry, we considered Paul’s willingness to give up “whatever” in order to gain a right standing before God, a standing only attainable by faith in the risen Christ (Philippians 3:7-12). Now we consider the reason why Paul and every other believer in history is brought by God’s grace into that standing. Contrary to the impression unintentionally given by popular approaches to evangelism, gaining a proper standing before God is not the culmination of a person’s spiritual journey; it is the beginning. After all, the purpose of standing is not to stay still. We stand in order to walk. Paul’s having gained Christ prepared him for his pursuit of Christ, and made him willing to walk right into and through…whatever. Read more
What do you desire most in life? And how much are you willing to give up in order to gain it? Is there anything about which you’d say: “I would give whatever it takes, without condition, without exception. To get that, I would give, and I would give up… whatever.” Read more
I was interested to see, via Tim Challies, this article entitled “The Myth of ‘I’m Bad at Math‘” at The Atlantic. For just yesterday, in teaching on discipleship, I fell back on my experience as a math teacher and shared the following (you can ask my students!):
The word for “making disciples” is just one word in the Greek (matheteuw). It means to make learners, pupils, or students out of people. We get English words like man (so called because he is a “thinking” being), mind, and mental from this word. Yet it entails far more than mere mental understanding. That is why this word also gives us English words denoting fields of mental practice, such as ”medicine” and “mathematics” which are derived from it. To become a disciple means then that you put yourself under the correcting influence of another who will shape and mold your life, so that you “learn the practice.” Read more
Last Friday night, several of us were privileged to attend Barry York’s inauguration as professor of pastoral theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. Those who’ve known Barry for a while – and those who’ve been blessed through his writings on this site – are no doubt joyful in God’s clear providence, raising up Barry for this great work. As I reflected on this event, here are some things that stood out to me: Read more
The Reformation was a time of rediscovery. The church, in a sense, rediscovered justification by faith alone. The reformation also rediscovered biblical worship, and this was seen as the second pillar of the protestant reformation. As the church was freed from the bondage of a fear based religion, other blessings were brought forth.
Other aspects of the reformation affected the life of the church and had profound implications on a developing Christian society. One such blessing in the rediscovery of biblical religion was the Christian home and the Christian marriage, which brings us to Psalm 128.
There are three kinds of righteousness, or at least three kinds of righteousness which bear that name.
There is inherent righteousness, of which we have none.
There is imputed righteousness, which is all our justification.
And there is imparted righteousness. when God the Spirit makes us new creatures, and raises up in the heart that “new man, which after God” (that is, “after the image of God”) “is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
When the Lord said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” he did not mean only an external righteousness wrought out by his obedience to the law for them, but an internal righteousness wrought out by the Holy Spirit in them.
Every preacher who stands behind a pulpit or on a street corner should desire to preach with authority. He should hope that when people hear him that they are rather hearing God speaking to them through him. He should long for his preaching to be effectual, moving people into obedient response to the Word of God.
For this is how Jesus preached. Following one of his sermons, this is the description of the response: ”When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).
So how does one preach with authority? Certainly the preacher should pray that God would bestow authority upon him as he proclaims the gospel. Yet are there principles he can follow so that when he preaches he just does not sound like he is just attempting to be authoritative, but actually preaches with authority? I believe so, especially if we remember the context where this statement regarding Jesus’ preaching was made. The crowds were amazed at the teaching of Jesus as they heard the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Read more
As a number of men have recently blogged on the plague of pornography, and offered help for protecting your family and redeeming your life from it (see Tim Challies, “The Porn-Free Family“; Eric Simmons, “I Hate Porn“; John Piper, “Pornography: The New Narcotic“), I thought I would join with these other brothers and offer another piece of arsenal in the fight. Below is a re-posting, slightly edited, of a piece I wrote a while back that employs the strategy of prophets like Isaiah who used satire to try to help people see their sin. Only as men see pornography for the false worship it is and turn to the living God will they find freedom and life.
Modern man thinks he does not worship idols, which only proves that he does. How so?
Consider for a moment the current epidemic of pornography. The pornography industry was put into check somewhat by the morality movement during the 1980′s that led a few national chains to quit carrying obscene material. Yet, with the advent of the Internet and personalized computers, pornography has returned with a vengeance. Some of the facts: Read more
In the Reformed Presbyterian Church where I serve, over the last decade or two we have seen congregations adding multiple pastoral staff. For instance, nearly twenty years ago the congregations in the state of Indiana where I was located all had just one pastor per congregation for the most part. Today as I write, two-thirds of the organized congregations there have more than one man serving in the pastorate. Many other denominations have been experiencing similar trends.
Though we long for empty pulpits in congregations to be filled; we recognize not every context or occasion calls for or can sustain more than a singular pastor; and certainly there are difficulties and dangers that can arise in congregations where there is more than one pastor, overall this is a good trend. As Martin Bucer said in Concerning the True Care of Souls, “Therefore, since the pastoral office involves such a great and important work, and one which so long as we live here is unending, that of presenting the church of Christ in all its members without fault, without stain or wrinkle, this office requires many sorts of ministry and work.” Read more
Christian young people in North America who sense a long-term call to the mission field in developing countries are often ready and willing to give up most of their material possessions. They are willing to go with the clothes on their back and eat beans and rice to tell about Jesus. The problem is that the citizens of those developing nations might be eating only beans or rice. Thus, the native people often perceive that the most materially advantageous job to have is one connected with Christian ministry. Read more