Tuesday, February 25, 2014
A few weeks back one of my former professors, Jerram Barrs, was speaking down in Birmingham. My oldest daughter & I got to enjoy dinner with Jerram & then got to enjoy his first lecture. Both were wonderful.
I'd love to effectively introduce you to Jerram and tell you what kind of man he is... but let's just say that out of all the professors I've ever had, he's the only one I call by his first name. And there's nothing special about me doing so. Everyone does.
He's a wise, gracious, loving, humble, brilliant, extraordinary man.
He himself would be uncomfortable reading that, and not out of any "false" humility. He knows his sin. As he himself has written: "Pride takes our whole lifetime to die." But anyone else who read the sentence above would say that I stopped way too early.
Here's a quote from one of his books:
“Instead of judging those outside the church, Jesus calls us to imitate Him by loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who mistreat us, doing good to those who hate us. Rather than becoming involved in a war of words against the unrighteous and the ungodly, we are to give ourselves for them, just as Jesus did.
We are called to bear His grace into the world, not His judgment. The time will indeed come for Him to judge, but that is His task and not ours. Our task is to be messengers of His mercy and love into the world, even to those who are our enemies or who are the enemies of the Gospel of Christ and hostile to the commandments of God.”
The lecture we heard was Jerram speaking of his new book, Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts.
It's a beautiful book, dealing with arts in general & then specific literary works and themes dealt with by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, & Jane Austen.
The reason we love the books these people have written? Because of the "echoes of Eden" that we find in them.
The Heart of Evangelism
Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts
Learning Evangelism from Jesus
Through His Eyes: God's Perspective on Women in the Bible
The Heart of Prayer
Delighting in the Law of the Lord: God's Alternative to Legalism and Moralism
Freedom & Discipleship: Your Church and Your Personal Decisions
Shepherds & Sheep: A Biblical View of Leading and Following
Who Are The Peacemakers: The Christian Case for Nuclear Deterrence
Being Human: The Nature of Spiritual Experience
Francis Schaeffer: Life and Theology
Peace and Justice in a Nuclear Age: Christians and Pacificism
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Take 12 & a half minutes to enjoy a fascinating interview... about words & other important things...
Doug Wilson & Propaganda. Two gentlemen you need to know better.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
He wasn't really a Rabbi. He was a 19th century Presbyterian pastor & theologian in Scotland. But he got the nickname "Rabbi Duncan" through his love for the Hebrew language and the Jewish people.
He was born on earth in 1796, and he was welcomed into heaven on February 26, 1870.
Enjoy some of his wisdom:
Who was he, and in what order?...
- "I am first a Christian, next a catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth a paedobaptist, and fifth a Presbyterian. I cannot reverse this order."
Speaking to a church member who was not wanting to take communion because of her sin, even though she had truly repented...
- "Take it, woman, it’s for sinners!”
Referring to a pastor who seemed to have a poor grasp on the gospel...
- "Robertson believed that Christ did something or other, which, somehow or other, had some connexion or other with salvation."
About Plato & the mind of man & the moral law...
- "Platonism is the grandest effort of the unaided mind of main; but truth, according to Plato’s loftiest conceptions, was only an abstraction, a thing... Revelation introduces us to One who can say, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.' Platonism has to do with it — Christianity with Him."
- "The Christian Fathers found salvation only in Christ; but they had a bleeding heart for Plato, whose philosophy one of them called ‘a sigh for Christ.’"
- "My heart bleeds when I think of Plato. God keeps in the consciences of men a knowledge and feeling of obligation to moral law, in some much more than others. And so such heathen philosophers were God’s scavengers to keep God’s prison-house clean — ‘My prison-house is not to be allowed to be so dirty as you would make it.’"
About Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism...
- "Hyper-Calvinism is all house and no door; Arminianism is all door and no house."
About sin & the curse & salvation...
- "Sin is the infinitely horrible, the Curse is the infinitely terrible, and salvation from that horrible is not enough without salvation from that terrible, while deliverance from that terrible is impossible without salvation from that horrible."
Comparing the New Testament to the writings of the early church...
- "It is a grand evidence for the inspiration of the Apostles, that the theology of the post-Apostolic fathers is so puerile. That cannot be accounted for on any other principle than the inspiration of the Apostles. God created the world, and infant philosophy began; God created the Bible, and infant theology began."
A family conversation...
- [Duncan speaking to his 9 month old grandson] “You are a little sinner.”... another family member: "He is not responsible.”... Duncan: “He is responsible, but I hope he has a Sponsor.”
- "Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable."
On the Psalms...
- “We may in the Church have need of a few hymns to bring out the facts of the New Testament; but certainly for the elements of personal religion in all respects, there is nothing to be compared to the Psalms of David. There, there are outbursts of Divine seraphic love; there [are] moanings of distress, the deep groans of penitence; there we trace a wonderful susceptibility of what they beautifully call ‘the light of Jehovah’s face’: how they wail when it is hid, rejoice when He causes it to shine on them, how they improve it, and how they give thanks for it. Every one of these notes was, in the ground-work, prepared in the Torah … I am more inclined than I once was, to admit the utility of our having a few Hymns, for expressing the clearer objective revelation of the great facts of Christ’s history and work. But no Hymn-book I have seen gives every phrase of subjective religion with the fullness, distinctness, and appropriateness of the Psalms. Whether it be the celebration of the Divine excellences, or the deep-toned voice of penitence, or the longing of the soul after God, the rejoicing in the light of His countenance, or thanksgiving for His mercies – in short, every emotion of the renewed heart Godwards, finds adequate expression in the Book of Psalms.”
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Psalm 92 -- the Psalm with the heading that very significantly says "A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day." -- begins this way:
It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
At DPC we've started a monthly evening service called "Devotion." We meet this coming Sunday night, in fact!
Consider Tim Challies thoughts on the benefits of opening and closing the Lord's Day in worship:
Why I Love an Evening Service
by Tim Challies
Of all the casualties the church has suffered in recent decades, I wonder if many will have longer-lasting consequences than the loss of the evening service. There was a time, not so long ago, when many or even most churches gathered in the morning and the evening. But today the evening service is increasingly relegated to the past.
At Grace Fellowship Church we hold on to the evening service and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It is a commitment, to be sure—a commitment for the pastors to plan a second service and to prepare a second sermon, and a commitment for the members to give the church not only the morning but also the evening. But these are small costs compared to the great benefits. Here are a few things I love about an evening service.
IT BEGINS AND ENDS THE DAY WITH GOD
We begin the Lord’s Day in worship and close it in worship. That’s a beautiful thing.
Perhaps the best part of having an evening service is that, just as the morning service allows you to begin the day worshiping God with his people, the evening services allows you to close the day worshiping God with his people. As a church we love to sing the song “We Are Listening” which proclaims, “Morning and evening we come / To delight in the words of our God.” And with an evening service, we are able to do exactly that: We begin the Lord’s Day in worship and close it in worship. That’s a beautiful thing.
IT SANCTIFIES THE TIME BETWEEN
If beginning and ending the day in corporate worship is an obvious blessing of an evening service, a less obvious but still important benefit is that having these bookends around the day encourages the best uses of the Lord’s Day while discouraging the less significant uses. Knowing that you will have to leave the house before the football game ends does wonders to uproot any real desire to watch football (or, over time, to even care about football, as I have discovered!). Conversely, knowing that you have four or five hours between services helps you spot a perfect window for extending hospitality. There is no better or more convenient time to open your home, especially to those who drive from a distance, than between the morning and evening service.
IT PROVIDES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
I grew up in the Dutch Reformed tradition where the evening service was considered an integral part of any Christian’s duty. The morning service was set aside for verse-by-verse preaching through God’s Word while the evening service was set aside for advancing question-by-question through the catechisms and confessions. Even if your church will not use an evening service for teaching the catechism, it does offer an opportunity to teach something else, perhaps a second book of the Bible or a topical series. It also affords a natural context to integrate new or young teachers, to give them a place to grow in their ability to teach and preach.
IT PROVIDES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WORSHIP
Just as an evening service opens up more time for teaching, it also opens up more time to sing. I often come to the end of our morning service wishing I could sing more than the five or six or seven songs we sing there. There are so many great songs to sing! The evening service gives us another chance to encourage and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs—those great songs of the faith.
IT PROVIDES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE
There are many people in our church who are eager to serve and to serve regularly. With only one service each week, these people would be serving very irregularly—there simply would not be enough ways for all of them to serve the church on a regular basis. However, the evening service immediately adds many more places to serve—we need more people to greet at the door, more people to lead us in song, more people to care for the young children, and on and on. If there is joy in serving one another, our evening service increases our joy by increasing the ways in which we serve.
IT GIVES MORE TIME WITH PEOPLE I LOVE
I love my church family; there is no group of people I would rather spend time with. And, frankly, Sunday morning and Wednesday evening just isn’t enough. As a pastor I want more time to be with the people I serve, to get to know them, to hear from them. As a church member I want more opportunities to fulfill all those “one another” commands with them and to have the other members fulfill them with me. An evening service is yet another opportunity to be with people I enjoy so much.
IT IS COUNTERCULTURAL
An evening service counters our culture’s obsession with convenience and low commitment in matters of family, life and religion. It can be downright difficult to get the family out the door once on a Sunday, not to mention twice and your neighbors will be convinced that you’re crazy for doing it. Let them! The evening service also counters our Christian culture of expecting little from people and, for that reason, being intimidated to ask much from them. Experience shows that when a church sets the expectation for the evening service, the people rise to it and soon wouldn’t have it any other way.