Saturday, October 25, 2014

Preaching - The "Grand Work of the Minister" (Mc'Cheyne)

The grand work of the minister, in which he is to lay out his strength of body and mind, is preaching. Weak and foolish as it may appear, this is the grand instrument which God has put into our hands, by which sinners are to be saved, and saints fitted for glory. 
It pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. It was to this our blessed Lord devoted the years of his own ministry. Oh! what an honour has he put upon this work, by preaching in the synagogues, in the temple, and by the blue waves of Galilee, under the canopy of heaven. Has he not consecrated this world as preaching ground? 
This was the grand work of Paul and all the apostles; for this was our Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel.” 
O brethren, this is our great work. It is well to visit the sick, and well to educate children, and clothe the naked. It is well to attend Presbyteries. It is well to write books or read them; but here is the main thing—Preach the Word. The pulpit is, as George Herbert says, “our joy and throne.” This is our watch-tower. Here we must warn the people. The silver trumpet is put into our hand. Woe be unto us if we preach not the Gospel.

R. M. McCheyne

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Country

It is often difficult to communicate to others what it means to be a Canadian. I was born here and have spent most of my adult life serving in this country, but I always thank God for my 8 years of life in America. There is nothing like being away from home that helps you to see home with new eyes.

Yesterday was a hard day for us. The flagrant disrespect of all the ideals we hold to so happily as a country. The offensive murder of a young man. And the near greater tragedy of a gunman loose in our seat of government. But God in His mercy spared us from so much. And in the process, so much of that Canadian-ness came solidly, and quietly to the surface.

That spirit was caught in images like these.
A woman trying to breathe life into a dying soldier.  Supposedly just a passer-by who remembered her CPR training and ran into a terrible situation.

The news that a scepter-carrying, traditionally-dressed, 58-year old retired police officer shot and killed the murderer with his 9mm. Who would have thought the Sargeant-at-Arms was actually armed?

Peter Mansbridge. He should be given a medal, then shipped down to the United States for one year to read their news for them. On every US network. Peter was like a wise father in a major crisis, speaking calm to the nation even when it was not clear we should be calm. And he refused to speculate or deal in anything that was not a verified fact. That took a different kind of courage.

The Prime Minister. Poor Stephen Harper is always getting criticized for his lack of emotion, but that emotion was clearly seen in his calm and deliberate speech to the nation on television and even more so in his parliamentary address today.

Kevin Vickers. That same retired RCMP officer who had never shot his gun at any human before was back at work today carrying his scepter and donning his funny hat. How remarkably Canadian to watch him humbly walk into the House of Commons to a thunderous, three-minute standing ovation.

My country is not God’s country or the perfect country or the best country or any nonsense like that. But it is my country. And I am proud to be her citizen today.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Let Dad Rule By Love

One of the requirements for any elder is that his children love, respect and follow him. In one sense, most guys can get their kids to do what they want when they are little, but eventually those little people will be big enough to fight back if they want.

How does a man raise his kids in a "dignified manner" so that they, in turn, love and support their dad?  I know this list is not exhaustive, but it covers some basics.

  • He does not dominate his children by force and intimidation, but leads them with love.
  • He does not shrug off the blatant disobedience of his children, but disciplines and instructs them in love.
  • He does not complain to others about "the lousy job the wife is doing with the kids," but he takes responsibility in his home to model and teach love.
  • He is not the typical absentee father, lost in his career, but he cultivates relationships with his kids so that they know, no matter what, Dad loves them.
  • He does not allow his home to be ruled and run by the loudest and meanest of his kids, but makes his home one ruled by love.

I think a dad that is able to get these five principles straight and worked out the majority of the time in his home will be go a long way in raising children that will not cause him shame in his later days. How we need the enabling grace of God!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Under the Book

We like to “interview” normal members of our church once a month in our Sunday evening service and I am still pondering a comment made by one of my sisters a couple of weeks ago.

Pastor Tim noted how her life displayed a strong commitment to the Word of God and a faithfulness to read it and to talk about it with others. He then asked something like, “Where does that come from in your life?”

She replied, “As a young woman, I was faced with the choice of whether or not I would live my life under the Book. And I decided, by God's grace, to do that.”

Now, she spoke to us as a woman of proven character. We know her life, including her trials and sorrows, and we could immediately testify, “Yes, she did and still does that very thing. She has put her life under the authority of God’s Word.” And she has proven that again and again.

Under the Book. That is where I want to be, too.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

He Will Hold Me Fast

We have really enjoyed learning and singing this hymn over the summer. It is an older hymn text set to new music written by Matt Merkel of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. (Matt also wrote the stellar third verse of text.)

In my mind, this text fills a void in most of our song repertoires and allows us to re-assure each other (and ourselves) with the promises of Christ. Most saints I know are deeply aware of their faults and failings. This text takes our eyes off us and puts them on Jesus who refuses to let us go.

If you are not singing this yet, then you should be! Go to this page to get free downloads of the music, lyrics and an audio file of the hymn being sung at CHBC.


He Will Hold Me Fast
Lyrics vv. 1-2 Ada Habershon (1861-1918), Public Domain;
Alt words vv.1-2, lyrics v.3, and music: Matt Merker, © 2013

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold;
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Saviour loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight,
Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight,
He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost;
His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost,
He will hold me fast.

For my life He bled and died,
Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied;
He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life,
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight,
When He comes at last!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It is Good to Be Near God

But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
(Psalm 73:28 ESV)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV)

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?
(Deuteronomy 4:7 ESV)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalm 145:18 ESV)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
(James 4:8 ESV)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
(Revelation 21:3 ESV)

The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, ‘The LORD Is There.’”
(Ezekiel 48:35 ESV)

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.      

(1 John 3:1-3 ESV)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Book Review - - Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents by Mark Sakamoto

Mark Sakamoto is a Canadian of Japanese and Scottish descent and that means everything in the true story he tells. Sakamoto’s maternal grandfather was captured and imprisoned for five years by the Japanese in World War II. His paternal grandparents, including his Canadian citizen grandmother, were detained by the Canadian government after the attack on Pearl Harbour and placed into an “internment program” until four years after the end of the same war. All of their belongings and property were sold in order to fund the program.
In other words, both sets of parents experienced unjustifiable hardship.
And then their children fell in love.
You must imagine what it would be like to have your daughter bring home someone of the same race that tortured you not twenty years earlier. You must imagine what it would take to allow a white Canadian girl into your family when it was her race that had abused, stolen from and strongly urged you to leave your country of birth.
There is really only one option to finagle your way out of this situation: forgiveness. And according to Sakamoto, that is exactly what his grandparents decided to do. They forgave. 
Although it is not explicit on the Sakamoto side, it was the Bible that prompted Ralph MacLean to forgive. After getting a Bible sent to him in a Red Cross care package, he took to heart the words of Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Now as a Christian reader of this book, it was at this point I felt the story needed much more development. In fact, the remarkable meeting of the MacLean and the Sakamoto parents gets barely a few pages of description. The author alludes that very little was ever spoken between them about the past, but there remains so much more to be told. How exactly did the relationship flourish? Were there ever any faltering’s? Did MacLean’s spiritual motivation stem from an authentic religious experience? Was he a faithful churchman? So many questions.
Sakamoto (the author) chooses to conclude the book with a description of his own life, which centered very much on the downward spiral of his alcoholic mother. In the end, we presume, it was the model of forgiveness seen in his grandparents that helped him to forgive her.

This is a wonderfully written book and captures much of what it means to be a Canadian. It opened my eyes more to the suffering of the Japanese in Canada during the war and increased my fondness for those who served my country in the past. My only hope is that Sakamoto will consider writing more about the unique relationship of his two sets of grandparents.

Monday, July 14, 2014

To Kindle or Not To Kindle: That Is My Question

I am getting ready to do some summer reading on vacation and wondering about buying a Kindle. I currently read my Kindle books on the free iPhone app, but I have been wondering about buying the $79 machine for a larger screen experience.

Do you own and use a Kindle? How would you compare it to reading on your iPhone or iPad?

Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

For Your Faith: Why George Muller Built an Orphanage

"I longed to set something before the children of God, whereby they might see, that He does not forsake, even in our day, those who rely upon Him... 

It needed to be something which could be seen, even by the natural eye. Now, if I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an Orphan-House, there would be something which, with the Lord's blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted, of the reality of the things of God.This, then, was the primary reason for establishing the Orphan-House. I certainly did from my heart desire to be used by God to benefit the bodies of poor children, bereaved of both parents, and seek in other respects, with the help of God, to do them good for this life; -- I also particularly longed to be used by God in getting the dear orphans trained up in the fear of God; -- but still, the first and primary object of the work was (and still is:) that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith without anyone being asked by me or my fellow-laborers whereby it may be seen, that God is FAITHFUL STILL, and HEARS PRAYER STILL. 

- George Muller, Autobiography, Chapter One.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Danger of Trusting Your Own Good Life

"My Brothers and Sisters, it is a grand thing to have led a virtuous life. It is a matter for which to praise God to have been kept in the very centre of the paths of morality. But this blessing may, by our own folly, become a curse to us if we place our moral excellences in opposition to the righteousness of our Lord Jesus and begin to dream that we have no need of a Saviour! If our character is, in our own esteem, so good that it makes a passable garment for us and, therefore, we reject the robe of Christ's righteousness, it would have been better for us if our character had been, by our own confession, a mass of rags—for then we should have been willing to be clothed with the vesture which Divine Love has prepared!"
- C.H. Spurgeon, from a sermon entitled,  A Business-Like Account (Volume 23, 1877) (Italics mine.)