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 […]


The Friendship Test

Is your loyalty as a friend being put to the test?  It might be, publicly, and you might have no idea it’s happening.  It could be happening right now as you read this!  Perhaps you’ve seen something like this in your Facebook feed, posted by one of your friends:  “I’m tired of people just pretending to be my friend.  So I’m going to see who among all my so-called ‘friends’ on Facebook really is one.  Whoever cares enough to take a few extra seconds – seriously, how hard is that?! – to read this ENTIRE post, please copy the last line and post it on your page.  Then, I’ll “like” it and know that your friendship actually means something.  Everyone else I’m just going to unfriend. I’ll leave this up long enough for my real friends to notice and to make themselves known.  You have one day.  Go.”  


Raising Up Encouragers

Three days ago, I remembered my friend and mentor Dave Long who has just passed into glory. He was a great encourager. When I was in college, he had our Men-In-Training group do a character study of Barnabas. That study ultimately gave rise to the following article on Barnabas and growing in encouragement that I posted four years ago. If the Lord has taken one great encourager from the earth in the last week, then surely he wants to raise up many more among those who remain. So, read and be encouraged to look around today for someone to encourage.

Some people in the church seem to have the spiritual gift of discouragement.  It’s all that guy can do – discourage others. Truthfully, we are all “that guy” far too often. We find it far easier to complain and view circumstances negatively than positively. So, when a person embodies encouragement, we notice. The apostles took note of a such a man named Joseph. They recognized that he was no ordinary Joe. They called him Barnabas instead, which translated means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

The church and her saints grew quickly when Barnabas encouraged people. We know from 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 that […]


3GT Episode 9: Trump Card

Not going to lie. We haven’t been very consistent with our release schedule. But as with all New Year’s resolutions, we’re ready to commit ourselves afresh to 2016. Two episodes a month!  Hold us to it!

In this latest episode, we chomp into MacArthur’s message on the wise men, touch upon Trump’s bold immigration proposals and explore some potentially significant changes in Barry’s life. And it’s all set to a new, jazzy groove. Listen in to hear more.

Just go to www.3GT.FM

Or Download here.


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 […]


David W. Long (1955-2016) – My Friend and Mentor

David William Long is now absent from the body but is at home with the Lord having died yesterday at age 60 after battling melanoma. Dave served as pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lafayette, Indiana for 31 years. He ministered deeply to me as he mentored me and others. My reflections here in the midst of my grief are in no way a complete reflection of his life, but they are some of the ways he so deeply touched me. He was not perfect by any means, but I am so grateful that the Lord put him in my life.

My first memory of Dave is not particularly warm. Our church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lafayette was without a pastor, and as a seven year-old, I liked the slow delivery style and gentle manner of the man who filled the pulpit frequently. As a boy, I didn’t understand that he was not a candidate, and so I was rather disturbed when I overheard my mother tell someone else that it looked likely that we would call a certain young man out of seminary – Dave Long. He had been to church to preach, but I had no idea […]


Grasping Grace at the Means of Grace

I think one of the great problems in the church is that we fail to get grace—oh we understand it for salvation, but I’m less convinced that we get it for living the Christian life. We believe we are saved by grace, but live like we are saved by works. The outcome? Legalism, lack of assurance, and above all, miserable Christians—saved by grace but living under a burden of failure, not grasping God’s delight in them.

There are many ways to counter this—things we can do for ourselves, eg. preaching the gospel to ourselves, relishing the love the Triune God has for us. But there are regular God-appointed events for the refreshing and refuelling of Christians. Theologians call them the ‘Means of Grace’—Preaching, Lord’s Supper, Baptism, Prayer.

Christ has placed these pipelines of his supernatural, Spirit-imparting, soul-refreshing, sin-defeating, doubt-scattering grace running into the church. We know what they are—like the pipes running into our house, they have been there as long as we can remember—but I’m not sure we know best how to drink from these fountains of grace.

A couple of friends of mine drill wells in east Africa. They go into villages with their drilling rig, and down they drill. Then […]


A Plea for Poets, Plumbers, Philosophers, and Physicians

Over a lunch of Lebanese shish and tabbouleh, I had a conversation with a young man training at a well-known and respected university to be a medical doctor. During that discussion he mentioned that he hoped he could train at a school that viewed patients as more than research subjects. He longed for his university to understand the biblical view of man. His desire is to serve in his chosen field as a servant of God working from a biblical worldview. The Image of God and a biblical anthropology were important to this future physician. This young man is right.

The 1967 Geneva College paper called Foundational Concepts of Christian Education says, “Man’s fall into sin affected not only his moral nature, but also his intellect, thus making him prone to error, and requiring divine revelation to determine ultimate standards and values in all fields.”

Divine revelation.

In all fields. 


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.


What Happens When We Forget The Future

It seems on almost every page the Psalms are reminding us to remember, to not forget:

“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you…” (42:6)

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord…” (77:11)

“…they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God…” (78:7)

“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles…” (105:5)

To remember God’s gracious and powerful acts is to honor Him; to forget is to dishonor Him. While we seem to know this intrinsically in our relationships with others – how do you feel when someone seems to forget or ignore all that you’ve done for them? – we struggle to remember all that God has done. And so we read our Bibles, we worship weekly, never tiring of reminders, so that we might honor God rightly.

But it isn’t just the past that must be remembered.