Guardian Angels

When Peter was in prison awaiting his execution that was to take place the next day, we read in Acts 12 that the church conducted an all-night prayer service for him.  God responded, sending an angel to release him from his imprisonment. When Peter showed up at the door of the house where the prayer meeting was taking place and knocked to come in, the servant girl Rhoda was so astonished at his appearance that she left him there and ran to tell the others.  In a rather ironic moment in redemptive history, we are told the very people praying for Peter’s release denied it could be him.  “You’re out of your mind,” they told her (Acts 12:15).

In reading this, we might be tempted to shake our head at their unbelief.  Yet we ought to do so humbly rather than condescendingly if we do.  For what they said next is especially fascinating.  “When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’” That the early church would rather think it was an angel at the door than Peter himself shows an acute awareness of the spiritual realm that they had which we moderns often lack.  Then, notice the […]

The Kingdom of Donkeys and Pachyderms

This week the United States saw a major shift in the political landscape of the nation. The Democratic blue has faded to Republican red as Republicans celebrate victories in the House, the Senate, and in gubernatorial mansions across the nation.

Does this mean that the nation is becoming more conservative? Maybe. Does it mean that people are tired of the liberal rhetoric of the past six years? It could be. Does it mean that our nation is on its way to seeing hope and change? That may be the case. Does it mean that we find ourselves under the gracious blessings of Jesus Christ?

In that last question stands the warning.

The Reformed Presbyterian Testimony wisely warns: “We deny that simply having a democratic or republican form of government insures God’s approval and blessing (RPT 23.10).”

There is great wisdom in this statement.

Over the past decade the United States of America has moved the furthest away from biblical ethics that it has ever been. Although the pendulum swung right again on Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ must not allow that to be seen as a victory for biblical Christianity.

It […]

Praying for Home-Grown Laborers

Instructive words for our own day from B. W. McDonnold’s History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church:

“There is a wonderful difference between the growth of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the two States to which this chapter is devoted. In Indiana there are now (1885) but three presbyteries; in Illinois there are ten. There is one thing indicated both by recent statistics and by this early history which may help to explain the difference. In Illinois from the beginning there was a vigorous struggle to raise up a home supply of preachers. Fast-days were appointed on which all the congregations joined in prayer that God would call and send forth men of his own choosing to preach the gospel. God answered these prayers, as he will do today in all our frontier presbyteries if, instead of clamoring for more preachers to come from the older States, they will ask God to call their own sons into the work.”

Historical note: The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was formed in 1810 by Presbyterians ejected from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in the Cumberland River valley of Kentucky who loosened the requirements of subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. In particular, the denomination effectively rejected the reformed […]

Browse Worthy: Challies on How to Get Things Done

Tim Challies is running a helpful series called “How to Get Things Done.”  As I’m finding the need to be more organized and productive in handling the various responsibilities the Lord has given to me, I’m thankful for posts like these that give helpful advice to that end.

Tim says that “productivity depends upon four tools: information tools, scheduling tools, task management tools, and communication tools.”  Here are his first eight columns.  Clearly more columns are yet to follow, but wanted to point you to this help now!

1) Productivity

2) Areas of Responsibility

3) Time, Energy, & Mission

4) Tools

5) Organization & Systems

6) Task Management

7) Information Management

8) Using Your Calendar Effectively

Don’t Drive Like My Brother

I hope you don’t think worse of me, but I’ve never been upset by a celebrity’s death. A movie star wrecks a Porsche? A comedian commits suicide? Doesn’t seem to bother me at all. Not that I’m glad about it or don’t understand why their families are grieving, but I’ve got a lot more hurt a lot closer to home without worrying about someone else’s tragedy.

That’s why I was surprised at my sadness yesterday to find that Tom Magliozzi died.

The Unimaginable Excellencies of Eternity

The last paragraph in C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, contains a thought so heart-shatteringly wonderful, it causes the human mind to shut down… or skip… or erupt in worship soaked adoration.

The children in the story have just learned that they are dead. There was a railway accident. Aslan is with them though, and that is all they really want. With words of comfort, the Lion tells them, “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

C.S. Lewis then concludes by writing the following,

“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on […]

Bittersweet Battle

In the woods behind our home here in western Pennsylvania, we have found another menace in the forest besides the deer ticks.  Actually, it is a menace to the forest.  It is Celastrus orbiculatus, or “oriental bittersweet.”  This Asian vine was introduced in the United States back in the mid-19th century for ornamental purposes, but like the kudzu vine of the south has spread in an invasive fashion in northeastern states.  Though bluebird watchers and fall wreath makers may disagree, the beauty of the vine is no substitute for its insidious ways. Like a slow-moving army of orcs from Saruman, the bittersweet is killing the woods.

With ropes anywhere from pencil thin to two inches or more in diameter, the bittersweet sends its vines spiraling up the tree trunks of the pines, walnuts, oaks, and maples, reaching heights of thirty feet or more.  Shoots branch out, twirling around and smothering branches and limbs.  The trees groan under the weight of the bittersweet’s canopy, and the thick, twisting tendrils around the trunks seem to squeeze the life right out of the trees.  Along the ground, many places have tangled webs of the vine that have choked out native plants, and they block the ability to either walk […]

Weekend Quote: Luther on the Word’s Reformation Power

From Martin Luther’s Works, Vol. 51, 77:

I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.

In the Praise of Protestantism

Sometimes I want to protest Protestantism. Well, to be fair, at least how Protestantism is now. There’s a lot to be discouraged about. But on this Reformation Day I want to put my discouragements aside and praise Protestantism. You may know that on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther famously nailed his 95-Theses to the door in Wittenberg, Germany. While the fire of the Reformation had been burning for some time, this event, no doubt, accelerated what would become the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was one of the greatest workings of the Holy Spirit since the beginnings of the New Testament church and the days of the Apostles.

To be sure, reality calls us to recognize that the bright sun of Protestantism has been largely eclipsed. The Marburg Colloquy, which first challenged the possibility of a united Protestant church, only stands at the head of what is quite literally a thousand fractures. While this is a sad truth, especially in light of our prayers for the “peace of Jerusalem” (Ps 122:6), I’m not naïve enough to think that the unity for which Jesus prayed when he said, “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11), is achievable on […]

Browse Worthy: Reformation Day

As today marks 497 years since Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg Chapel door, why not take a few minutes to reflect on God’s use of that wondrous act by taking a look at the posts below?

What is Reformation Day All About? – Here’s a clear, concise answer to that question by Robert Rothwell.

Calvin on Why God Raised up Luther to Reform the Church – Justin Taylor shows how one great reformer viewed another in this short but insightful post.

Trick or Treat? It’s Martin Luther – Here is an interesting perspective on the connection between Halloween and Reformation Day.

What was the Protestant Reformation? – A slightly longer development of the necessity of the Protestant Reformation.

John Knox 500 – This Scottish Reformer had his 500th birthday this year, and  some people will enjoy a great celebration next week!

Reformation Heritage Books – If you want to read more, here are some good book deals on the subject!