Thursday, December 29, 2005

Your Lies Will Find You Out! - US bank robber turned in by sons

Police officer son spots Dad on bank surveillance tape - ends up exposing secret life of crime!

Human Cloning Data Exposed as Fraudulent - Hwang Disgraced and Hospitalized

BBC NEWS | Full Article is Here: "In May, Dr Hwang published a paper in the journal Science, saying his team had extracted material from cloned human embryos that identically matched the DNA of 11 patients.

It was claimed such a technique could be the key to providing personalised cures.

Last week the panel concluded that the data on nine out of the 11 stem cell lines were fabricated.

The panel now says all the data of the stem cell line were false."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

CBC Manitoba - University's Bible discovered to be rare first edition

CBC Manitoba - University's Bible discovered to be rare first edition: "Scholars have discovered an old Bible in the University of Manitoba's archives is a rare first edition, first printing of the King James Bible.

'We had hoped that it was going to be a first editing, first printing, but we couldn't confirm it until now,' said Dr. Shelley Sweeney, head of archives at the University of Manitoba Libraries.

'It's just amazing that something printed 400 years ago in England, it's the most popular book in on earth, essentially, more than 1 billion in print, and here is the first edition, first copy."


See some interesting photo's here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy this day, glorying in the God that became Man!

Delighting in Him with you... to His glory alone.

Paul

Friday, December 23, 2005

Apparently Wilkinson Ain't No Jabez

Wall Street Journal Article - In Swaziland, U.S. Preacher Sees His Dream Vanish

Okay, it is hard not to chuckle at this... but I am trying to feel pity on this poor guy.

HT: Darrin Brooker

Redeeming The Time: Questions About The Law

Kirk Wellum Begins a Response to Phil Johnson on the Law
If you have been reading Phil Johnson's blog lately, you will have observed him opening that great theological topic: the Law of God. Having recently preached Romans up to chapter 9 I am very curious to see how this discussion goes.
One of the most challenging thinkers in my life is Kirk Wellum. I like they way he keeps forcing the conversation back to Scripture. So I was most pleased to see him getting in to this debate.
I would encourage you to keep up with both Phil and Kirk. It should be very helpful and enlightening!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Josher Got Spotted

My pal Josh Robinson got blogspotted by my new pal Tim Challies today! Very nice.
Of course, I could say something about having linked to this same very fun post on December 20th... but that would be petty.

From Out of the "Carol Barrel" - #3

Much thanks to Justin Taylor for this hymn. I stole it right from his blog! You can download the score or a midi file from cyberhymnal.org. Links are provided.


Words: Hen­ry R. Bram­ley (1833-1917).

Music: “A Vir­gin Un­spot­ted,” tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish car­ol (MI­DI, score).


The Great God of Heaven
The great God of Heaven is come down to earth,
His mother a virgin, and sinless His birth;
The Father eternal His Father alone:
He sleeps in the manger; He reigns on the throne.

Then let us adore Him, and praise His great love:
To save us poor sinners He came from above.

A Babe on the breast of a maiden He lies,
Yet sits with the Father on high in the skies;
Before Him their faces the seraphim hide,
While Joseph stands waiting, unscared, by His side.

Lo! here is Emmanuel, here is the Child,
The Son that was promised to Mary so mild;
Whose power and dominion shall ever increase,
The Prince that shall rule o’er a kingdom of peace.

The Wonderful Counselor, boundless in might,
The Father’s own image, the beam of His light;
Behold Him now wearing the likeness of man,
Weak, helpless, and speechless, in measure a span.

O wonder of wonders, which none can unfold:
The Ancient of Days is an hour or two old;
The Maker of all things is made of the earth,
Man is worshipped by angels, and God comes to birth:

The word in the bliss of the Godhead remains,
Yet in flesh comes to suffer the keenest of pains;
He is that He was, and forever shall be,
But becomes that He was not, for you and for me.


HT: JT



Evangelism Gone Bad?

Yesterday three boys from a not-so-nice neighbourhood close to mine came by caroling. They come every year, singing and looking for cash! (I never quite made that connection in my mind... especially by the way they sing!)
Anyway, this year I gave them some money... and a gospel tract. Susan and I both tried to engage some conversation with them but they shot off down the driveway.
About an hour later, they came back - to steal my hockey stick.
No joke!
My eldest watched as the one kid ran off down our driveway, my stick in his hands!
Now, you have to know (derifter!) that stealing a man's hockey stick, to a Canadian, is, well, like stealing his dog or something!
I was on my way home in the car so I drove all over the neighbourhood looking for those boys, since I had something to tell them.
"Fellows, we have already proven the fact that you are thieves! You are not good. Do you know what God has done for people like you and me who are not good? He gave his Son! If you would have only asked me, I would have given you the hockey stick for free. If you only ask, God will give His Son for free, too."
10 minutes of searching and I was out of time. Never did find them.
But pray for those boys, won't you? They took a tract that told them essentially what I would have said to them anyway. May God use it to win them all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

From Out of the Carol Barrel - #2

Here is another great, yet oft-neglected Christmas carol.

This one was written by that most amazing poet, William Cowper and first published in John Newton's Olney Hymns. The Olney hymnbook has been reprinted (in original typeface) and is a beautiful companion in devotional times. Newton and Cowper could take simple spiritual thoughts and press them with great precision to the conscience. Cowper was certainly the better poet of the two, but where Newton's works lack poetic genius they more than make up for it in profound theology.

This carol could be sung to the tune “Walt­ham (Cal­kin),”by John B. Cal­kin (listen here.) This tune was written for the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."


Jehovah-Jesus
My song shall bless the LORD of all,
My praise shall climb to his abode;
Thee, Savior, by that name I call,
The great Supreme, the mighty GOD.

Without beginning, or decline,
Object of faith, and not of sense;
Eternal ages saw him shine,
He shines eternal ages hence.

As much, when in the manger laid,
Almighty ruler of the sky;
As when the six days’ works he made,
Filled all the morning–stars with joy.

Of all the crowns JEHOVAH bears,
Salvation is his dearest claim;
That gracious sound well–pleased he hears,
And owns EMMANUEL for his name.

A cheerful confidence I feel,
My well–placed hopes with joy I see;
My bosom glows with heav’nly zeal
To worship him who died for me.

As man, he pities my complaint,
His pow’r and truth are all divine;
He will not fail, he cannot faint,
Salvation’s sure, and must be mine.

William Cowper, Olney Hymns (London: W. Oliver, 1779), # 38. 8,8,8,8


For more carols click here or here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

From Out of the "Carol Barrel" - #1

One of the great things about Christmas is singing traditional Carols that we have grown to love over the years (and no, I don't mean Frosty the Snowman!). But did you know there were more than the 15 or so carols in your hymnbook? I thought I would post a few lesser known, but excellent carols as we approach the 25th. I will try to include a possible hymn tune as well.
One great advantage of singing unknown carols is that they grab our attention in a new way. Hopefully, some of these will become favourites for you in the coming years!

This first carol was written by Martin Luther and can be sung to OLD HUNDREDTH (the Doxology). I have modernized some of the terminology and changed the older English for more common usage. I think Luther would be okay with that!

Ponder these great words!

All Praise to You, Eternal Lord
All praise to You, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for Your throne,
While worlds on worlds are Yours alone.

Once did the skies before You bow;
A Virgin's arms contain You now:
Angels, who did in You rejoice,
Now listen for Your infant voice.

A little Child, You are our Guest,
That weary ones in You may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is Your birth,
That we may rise to heav'n from earth.

You come to us in darkest night
To make us children of the light,
To make us, in the realms divine,
Like Your own angels round You shine.

All this for us Your love has done;
By this, to You, our love is won:
For this we sing our joyful songs,
The shout of thanks to You belongs.

Words: Martin Luther, 1535 (Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ); translated from German to English by an unknown author in the Sabbath Hymn Book, 1858. Altered by Paul W. Martin.


Look for more in the coming days!


Son of Man: The Bottom 10

Christmas: The Bottom 10
Josh Robinson offers his list of the bottom ten things about "Christmas." Very enjoyable, especially his conclusion where he quotes that far too often missed verse from Wesley's "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
This guy should post more...

Monday, December 19, 2005

How Big is Your Church?

Disclaimer: I once joined a church that had over 5,000 members. Later I joined a church that had 120 members. Most recently I joined a church as one of 6 founding members.

Joel Osteen’s much trumpeted move into the former Compaq Center in Houston (with a seating capacity of 57,000) along with an old work associate’s move into the LA Forum have got me to thinking. Can a church get too big?

On the one hand, I pray for churches to get too big all the time! Big churches should be the result of many conversions, and what could be better than that?

On the other hand, I am increasingly chagrined by the value most North American’s place on size. There is an assumed belief that if something is big then it is right. Even amongst pastors, the question, “How is the work going?” is often nothing more than a veiled query as to the number of congregants.

I don’t think the Bible teaches a “target number” for churches, but I will offer my opinion. I think a better model than erecting stadium-sized churches is starting new smaller ones. Maybe I will defend that opinion in another post, but for now, I will just offer these questions to those of you in the mega-church.


  • Do you know everyone in your church?
  • Can you reasonably shepherd the soul of each member?
  • Is the money spent in development and maintenance of facilities more then the money spent in ministry?
  • Could some people in the church be better served by planting another church closer to their geographical location?
  • Does the congregation value a close walk with God evident by a deep, personal spirituality more than boasting in the size of the gathering?
  • Would the church last if the government took its facilities away from them?

Adult Stem Cells Promise Arthritis 'Cure' in 10 years

National Post Article here
"Scientists are predicting a "cure'' for arthritis within the next decade after they successfully grew human cartilage from a patients' own stem cells for the first time."
This is the kind of news that MSM routinely ignores. If you are unfamiliar with the whole stem cell debate, you can look here for basic information.
What it really boils down to is this. Why even attempt to "harvest" cells from a baby when the person in need of those cells can provide his own? "Harvesting embryonic stem cells" is just a clinical term for killing a baby that ought to be in a womb in order to get its very vibrant and alive stem cells. Adults are able to provide their own stem cells from their own body.
All the research money is directed toward embryonic stem cell research... I wonder why? From what I have read, there has been much success like this London story of similar to better results using adult stem cells - only it is routinely ignored. I could not even find this article on the BBC!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pastor Jack Layton


I am not terribly interested in blogging about politics, but while watching the leader's debate last night, I could not help but think how great it would be if Jack Layton (leader of the socialist New Democratic Party of Canada) were the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Then I thought - even better, what if Jack were a preacher of the Gospel!
In my mind, he is the only one of the four who knows how to communicate by connecting with people. He's got the gift of the gab... with Duceppe a few paces behind and the other guys not even in the running!
Speaking of Jack, I walked right past him this past June, right in the middle of the same-sex marriage bill - or was that the first run of a non-confidence vote? Either way, there I was with a group of Grade 7/8's and Jack strolled by. I was so shocked that he was just "out for a walk" around Parliament all by himself, that I didn't say a word. By the time I came to my senses, I ran after him past the West buildings... but he ducked into a door and I chickened out following after him.
Opportunity missed!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hoogly

I always wanted a word that would express repugnance, disagreement, even mild disgust in the face of something obtuse or just plain wrong. There are not many words out there (for Christians!) with which to do this and being a fan of words I determined to create my own. One of my pre-requisites was that this word would have good onomatopoeic qualities about it.

You will find that my word “hoogly” fits all of these characteristics wonderfully!

Things to which you would cry “hoogly” are ideas or statements that are goofy, silly, inane, absurd or just plain dumb. Interjecting a “hoogly” while discussing these kinds of things gives the speaker a fine sense of satisfaction as the guttural, yet razor-sharp declaration flows from the mouth.

So, you may be talking about some false theology that follows no rhyme or reason... and in the midst of your description ask a rhetorical question that requires a negative answer. Rather than allow the listener to fill in the blank, you do it for him. “Hoogly!”

Your kids may watch a movie that is full of some self-esteem whacko nonsense about their innocent inner-person. You just look at them seriously and calmly say, “Hoogly.”

You may be in a discussion with someone wherein they make grandiose claims about something they know nothing about. You dead-eye them and utter, “Hoogly.”

In case you are worried, I have done some research and it appears that hoogly has no untoward meaning associated with it in any language. There is a Hoogly River in India, a Hoogly district and even some Hoogly temples... but these are geographical identifications (sometimes spelled Hooghly, although I much prefer my own spelling).

Other than that, the word is used as a surname (that must be painful in Junior School!), a ship’s name(no less painful - "On the good ship, 'Hoo-oo-gly!") and in combination to form the far less superior expression, “hoogly-boogly” (the meaning of which is beyond me).

So, I now offer my word to the world. Please be sure to use it correctly and with the proper pronunciation. If you are having trouble with the latter, it is something like “Who Glee.” You will find this word a ready friend in those times of utter exasperation. Use it economically, and it will become a secret and disarming weapon in the battle for Truth!

Higher Voltage - new blog

New GFC Blog...
Jim Stowe (who ministers with his wife to youth on Wednesday nights at our church - even though he is not a youth pastor - see post below!) has started a new blog. Post away Jimmy! I am waiting for some more, "Sorry for blowing up the living room, Mom!" stories!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No More Youth Pastors!

The title of this post was meant to catch your attention... apparently it worked! This is not a post attempting to slam anyone involved in youth ministry... at least not directly.

One of the alarming trends in the Canadian medical establishment is the high number of new physicians who are avoiding a general practice and specializing. Specialization has many benefits... work in the area of medicine you enjoy, make more money, avoid the repetitive nature of cold and flu diagnoses, etc.

We need specialists in medicine, don’t misunderstand me, but one problem we face are too many specialists and not enough GP’s. The result? Not enough family doctors for the population base.

It seems to me that a similar trend is manifesting itself in most seminaries and Bible colleges. Perhaps it is motivated out of a desire to attract new students? Regardless, now you can “specialize” your degree and gain similar benefits to those listed above (except the money!).

The result is a dearth of good old pastors. Pastors that study and pray and preach and counsel and marry and bury and write letters and help churches along. I have spoken to a lot of young men who shudder at that kind of boring life and thus launch off on the specialization path to find some meaning or excitement. Most of them think the best route would be some form of youth ministry.

After 5-10 years of that though... (and lets face it, who could last much longer!)... they feel “called” to take a “real” church and be a “senior” pastor.

Hoogly.

Paul told the Corinthians to “act like men.” If I had the opportunity to preach in every Bible college across North America, that would be my text.

Where are the men who are willing to lay down their lives in obscurity ministering to God’s elect? Where are the men who seek to be “all things to all people” in order to win a few? Where are the men who gladly deal with the same marriage, family, single, financial, etc. etc. counseling issues year after year?

Where are the men who bless a newborn, teach him in Sunday School, help him through High School, baptize him after his conversion, marry him to his bride, bless his children, help him through his marriage problems, bury his father, encourage him in his job loss, rebuke him in his covetousness, mentor him in ministry, ordain him to the eldership and die?

Maybe we do need specialists... specialists in an “all-round ministry.”

If you think the Lord is calling you to be a “youth pastor,” I challenge you to do three things:

1. Show me anywhere in the Bible such a ministry is modeled.

2. Tell me why you think the church is in need of a specialist to minister to this tiny group.

3. Answer this question: Has God called you to be a pastor?

Son of Man: What I Don't Love About Christmas (part 1)

What I Don't Love About Christmas (part 1)
Josh Robinson does some exegetical work on the literature concerning Rudolph and his nose...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weighing The Word: Why? To Display the Riches of His Glory! (Romans 9:19-23)

Weighing The Word: Why? To Display the Riches of His Glory! (Romans 9:19-23)

Series Explanation...

Note:This is a somewhat technical sermon and I hope to make the full manuscript available on www.gfcto.com soon. Until then, here is a little synopsis. The full sermon can be heard here.

God’s mercy and hardening are based entirely in Himself. He works all things after the counsel of His own will and seeks His own glory in all that He does.

This means that his choice of anyone is not based on their foreknown or actual actions or thoughts or anything else.

Now we come to the one great objection against such a conclusion. How can God blame someone for not believing in Him (not repenting and “faithing”) if their unbelief was determined by God before the creation of the world? Stated another way – how can God hold any sinner morally culpable/responsible? They didn’t have a choice! IT IS NOT FAIR!

This is a very real question! There are two ways to consider it. One is to wag a finger at God... the other is to quietly ask... then listen. Paul is answering the first kind of questioner in :20-21. I think he moves on to the second kind of questioner in :22-23.

I. Before you condemn the nature of the way God deals with mankind, consider Your own nature! (9:20-21)

O man, so then indeed, who are you – the one replying against God!

The molded thing will not say to the one having molded it: “Why did you make me thus?” Or, has not the potter authority of the clay to make out of the same lump, on the one hand what [is] a vessel unto honour and on the other hand what [is a vessel] unto dishonour?

“O Man!” – These two words fall first in the sentence to emphasize them in comparison to the last two words “to God.”

If your attitude to this question is that somehow you must understand everything and God must justify His actions to you and that you will not accept this teaching unless you can work out all the details of it to your satisfaction... then to you I say: O man, so then indeed, who are you

I shall tell you who you are... You are dust! You are the created!

Not only are you just a man, but you are a fallen man! You are a sinner! And your comprehension of God apart from the work of divine grace is totally askew. You are bent on making a God in your own image (Romans 1:18 )

Having considered who God is, you are now prepared to hear what God says.

II. The bottom line motivation behind all of God’s dealings with man is “to make known the riches of His glory.”

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

Some Textual Notes

The first thing to note about this long sentence, is that the word “what” does not appear in the original... and I don’t think it should appear either. Paul has a habit of starting sentences and not finishing them. We do the same thing in English in order to emphasize what we are saying or to leave to the mind of the hearer the duty of filling out the implications. It is a refined form of communication, and Ithink that is the type of thing Paul is doing here.

The second thing to note is that some versions, like the NASV, insert the word “although” before “desiring.” This is quite bad! In fact, as Piper notes, it turns the verse upside down and makes it say the opposite of what it says! I would translate these verses this way:

And if God ([because he is] the one willing to show forth the wrath and to make known his power) endured in much patience vessels of wrath having been prepared unto (eis) destruction, in order that also (kai ina) he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, whom he prepared beforehand unto glory...

That is a little cumbersome, but it gets across the idea Paul wants to communicate. I have inserted the words “because he is” before “willing” since most commentators (and rightly so) take the participle to be causal. In this rendering there is no question implied (hence remove “what”) but there is an answering “then” clause implied.

What does all this mean?

Paul gives God’s ultimate reason for why He does what He does how He does it!

in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy

In that sovereign act of election and the immediate consequence of reprobation, God was ensuring that His glory would be made manifest. In fact, the idea here is not just “God punishes the wicked so that us saved ones can appreciate His mercy all the more.” That may be true. But what Paul writes is that God is doing all of this so that His wrath would be shown forth and so that His power would be made known and so that His glory would be made known. He says, “made known upon the vessels of mercy.” It is not so much that they gain a cognitive knowledge of His mercy as that they, by being mercied, have God’s rich glory put on them for all creation to see.

My point here is that God acts for the highest reason of all – that His glory be made manifest. Not, ultimately so that we could appreciate Him, or come to know Him or see Him or obey Him... He acts in mercying and hardening so that His glory would be made known. Made known to the heavens and earth, the angels and fallen angels, and all else that God has made.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Running Well: More From Andrew Bonar's Bible

Running Well: More From Andrew Bonar's Bible
The fountain of good things is flowing over at Running Well!
Be sure to view the two pictures Darrin has posted from Bonar's Bible - remarkable!
Keep this up, Darrin!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Running Well: Andrew Bonar: Minister of the Gospel

Running Well: Andrew Bonar: Minister of the Gospel

You simply must read this little treasure posted by Darrin Brooker over at Running Well. It is a delightful list of instructions to pastors found in the inside cover of Andrew Bonar's Bible - of which Darrin just came into possession and freely posted for us all!

[Edit: fixed Darrin's last name and came into possession of a dictionary...]

Haykin on Benjamin Keach

Thanks to Michael Haykin for linking to this post on Benjamin Keach's Christmas Carol. I realized that not many know about Keach, so I have pasted in here a brief article by Dr. Haykin describing some of Keach's sufferings for Christ.
There is not much web info on Keach, but one great introduction is Haykin's little book entitled, "Kiffin, Knollys and Keach: Rediscovering our Enlglish Baptist Heritage" by Carey Publications (1996).
This article is taken from fontes, the web site of many of Dr. Haykin's writings.


Benjamin Keach (1640-1704)

Benjamin Keach found himself in trouble with the state on more than one occasion. For instance, in 1664 Keach was arrested on a charge of being “a seditious, heretical and schismatical person, evilly and maliciously disposed and disaffected to his Majesty’s government and the government of the Church of England.” It appears that a children’s primer which Keach had written containing reading lessons, simple instruction in punctuation and arithmetic, and lists of words of one, two, or three syllables had been read by the Anglican Rector of Stoke Hammond, Thomas Disney, and reported to the government authorities as not only unfit for children, but positively seditious. No copies of this primer exist today. At the time of his trial all copies of it were destroyed; though we are told Keach rewrote it later from memory and published it as The Child’s Delight: or Instructions for Children and Youth. The original primer was deemed heretical especially because of references to believer’s baptism and Keach’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Put on trial on October 8, 1664, Keach was found guilty, imprisoned for two weeks and fined £20, a considerable amount in those days for a poor Baptist preacher.

In addition to these punishments, Keach had to stand for two periods of two hours each in the pillory, a wooden framework that had holes for the head and hands of the person being punished. Generally the pillory would be placed in the town or village square where the offender could also be subjected to various forms of public ridicule. On this occasion, however, Keach took the opportunity to preach to the crowd that gathered around. “Good people, “ he began during his first time in the pillory, “I am not ashamed to stand here this day, … my Lord Jesus was not ashamed to suffer on the cross for me; and it is for his cause that I am made a gazing-stock. Take notice, it is not for any wickedness that I stand here; but for writing and publishing his truths, which the Holy Spirit hath revealed in the Holy Scriptures.” At this point a Church of England clergyman, possibly the local minister, sought to silence Keach by telling him that he was in the pillory for “writing and publishing errors.” Keach, recognizing a golden opportunity for public debate and witness, quickly replied, “Sir, can you prove them errors?” But before the clergyman could respond, he was rounded on by others in the crowd, who knew him to be a drunk. Keach proceeded to speak in defence of his convictions despite a couple of further attempts by the authorities to silence him. Eventually he was told that if he would not be silent, he would have to be gagged. After this he was silent except for his quoting of Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’s sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

On another occasion, when Keach was apprehended in the act of preaching by a troop of cavalrymen, four of them were so enraged with him that they swore that they would trample him to death with their horses. He was accordingly bound and forced to lie on the ground. But just as they were about to spur their horses down upon their victim, their commanding officer arrived and prevented them from harming Keach, who almost certainly would have been killed


If anyone knows of some excellent on-line bigraphy of Keach I would be most interested in linking to it!

You can also purchase this book on Keach from Joshua Press.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Running Well: Prominent Emergents Move Their Ecumenism Forward

Running Well: Click here for full post by Darrin Brooker at Running Well: "Emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Tony Jones continue their assault on the exclusivity of Christ and the gospel by announcing their involvement in a new ecumenical 'dialogue' which they hope will cause Christians and Jews to work together to help 'God's dreams come true'."

A Good Baptist Christmas Carol!

For all my reformed and baptistic brothers...

The following Christmas hymn was written by Benjamin Keach (1640-1704... the first pastor to introduce the regular singing of hymns into corporate worship... wrote over 400 hymns and published two hymnals!). It gets way too little attention, so I thought I would highlight it here and you could use it in one of your services this month! (Sorry, it is the Worship Professor in me coming out!)


Awake, My Soul, Awake, My Tongue!
Awake, my soul, awake, my tongue,
My glory wake and sing,
And celebrate the holy birth,
The birth of Israel’s King!

O happy night that brought forth light,
Which makes the blind to see,
The Dayspring from on high came down
To cheer and visit thee.

The careful shepherds with their flocks
Were watching for the morn,
But better news from Heav’n was brought;
Your Savior now is born!

In Bethlehem the Infant lies,
Within a place obscure,
Your Savior’s come, O sing God’s praise!
O sing His praise fore’er.

Words: Benjamin Keach, Spiritual Songs: Being the Marrow of the Scripture (London: John Marshal, 1700). Keach was a godly pastor in the late 1600’s who helped to write our 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Scotsman.com News - Scotland - one in three clergy believe in damnation

See full article here:

"The survey, 'Hell in Scotland: A Survey of Where the Nation's Clergy Think Some Might Be Heading', was conducted by Dr Eric Stoddart, a lecturer in practical theology at St Andrews University.

The divinity scholar canvassed the views of 750 clergy from the Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist and Scottish Episcopalian churches, as well as other Presbyterians and the Salvation Army, to find out what constituted a modern Hell.

Stoddart said: 'The fire and brimstone may largely have been extinguished but the beliefs that many Scottish clergy hold concerning the potential horrors that await 'the lost' continue to be dark and forbidding. All will not be well, if the majority of Scotland's clergy are to be believed.'"

HT: Steven Lee

[Edit: I changed the title to be less offensive - I did not check the original title before posting directly from scotsman.com]

On Being Paul Martin

For my American friends: Imagine your name was George Bush.

You have now entered my world.



The Prime Minister of Canada is a man by the name of Paul Martin. He was groomed for this position for years, and back before his first election, I wrote a piece that got published in our national news magazine, Macleans.

I am linking to it here for these reasons:
a) There is now a new election under way... and Paul Martin wants to be PM again.
b) I really don't want Paul Martin to win.
c) I thought it was at least mildly funny and you might enjoy it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

BreakPoint | Scary Science - Weeding Out the Unwanted (in the Womb!)

BreakPoint | Scary Science:
"Through a socially acceptable form of killing, we would take the opportunity to eliminate an entire group of people in order to spare ourselves from having to deal with their differences—because that’s what it really comes down to. "

Thanks to Chuck Colson for posting this.
As the father of a disabled son (whom I love like crazy) these kinds of events have taken on new meaning to me. My boy is different - but he is my boy!
We were given certain indications early on (pre-birth) that not all may be "normal." I still seeth (sorry!) when I think of the way the "health care professionals" showed us a video of drooling, dopey eyed "retarded kids" next to "normal kids" so that we could make an informed decision as to whether or not to carry on the pregnancy. Thankfully, termination was never even the slightest bit of an option for us.
Oh, where would I be today without my boy!?! My 4 kids are one of the greatest joys of my life.
The disgusting self-interest that drives selective parenting has never looked so awful to me. And the revolting attack on parents by some relationally-unconnected geneticist suggesting to them to kill their own children - when those parents are at their most vulnerable - is downright criminal in my mind.


Well, I wasn't going to write all that... but wrong is wrong.

Have your baby! Life will not be easy... but God will be glorified and you will know Him like never before and you will love that person with all of your heart!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Weighing the Word: Romans 9:17 and Hardening

Weighing the Word: Romans 9:17 and Hardening

Link to audio version of sermon

What is the "Weighing the Word Series?"

Lloyd-Jones says of God’s hardening sinners: “There is nothing, I imagine, in the whole range of the scriptural teaching which causes such offence to the natural man and to many uninstructed Christians...”

God is infinitely committed to sovereign election as one means of the display of His glory. He is equally committed to sovereign hardening.

All men are born sinners and stand guilty before God. If God were only “just” we would all be in hell! But God is able to make a way to Himself that does not contradict His justice.

Hardening is an action by God that renders a person insensitive to God and His Word. It is theology, not philosophy, and this is proven by Paul always quoting Scripture (OT) to prove the point.

Pharaoh is the proof of God’s hardening work and Paul brings him into his discussion in order to argue from the greater to the lesser.

God does not say to Pharaoh, “For this purpose I created you...” but “For this purpose I raised you up,” that is, installed you in the office of Pharaoh.

This was God’s action (hardening), prophesied in advance to Pharaoh, yet in total agreement with Pharaoh’s own choice. God pro-actively hardened Pharaoh in order to display His Name and His glory. He did this in a manner which removes all guilt from God and maintains all responsibility for Pharaoh. God cannot be tempted nor does He tempt anyone to sin (James 1:13).

The right question to ask in response to this is not, “Am I hardened?” but, “How can I be saved?”

[Edit: 12/5 Added link to audio version of sermon and link to series explanation. Thanks to Running Well (Darrin Brooker) for the suggestion to link to audio. Audio version should be available some time today or tomorrow. I will fix link to go directly to that sermon then. I finally beat the amazing Dorin!]

[Edit: 12/6 Link to audio version of sermon updated.]

New Feature: Weighing the Word

Introduction: This is an experiment. Tomgee had what I thought was a good idea – start a discussion each week where folks can interact with the preached Word. As I mulled this about, my mind was drawn to 1 Corinthians 14:29 where the prophets are instructed to “weigh what is said” by the other prophets. The Puritans called this kind of thing “improving the Word,” not so much the idea of taking a bad sermon and making it better, but dwelling on the Truth together to improve our grasp of it and our delight in its Author. So, at least for a few weeks, I will seek to put in post form a small summary of my message from Romans and open it up to any dialogue, discussion, questions and yes, even disagreements!

A few guidelines: I am not looking for kudos, so you can save all that. Also, please keep your posts on topic. I am not too interested in getting into the finer points or details of things as much as dealing with the big picture ideas. I think the minutiae should be reserved for in-person conversations.

The setting: I am anticipating that these conversations (if they take place at all!) will be primarily for the folks of GFC, but if you want to listen to the message and jump in on the discussion that would be great, too. You can download mp3’s of the message from sermonaudio.com.

One last thing: You have to remember that I have been preaching Romans for well over one year now, from chapter one verse one. I have to assume a motherload of content from these chapter in these posts. That will leave some gaping holes.

With those introductory thoughts in place, I will now make our first post...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Site Redesign (minor)

I was struck today by the number of brothers in my church who are now blogging - and well! I like to read all their blogs - they have great stuff (even if Son Of Man, JLF81 and I am Batman all have some conspiracy to blind me by their hideous white font on black background!) So, I began a new little section on my sidebar ----> highlighting these blogs from the rest.
And I don't think I am just being some kind of a homer... these guys are all writing good stuff! You will be blessed!

Renaming the GTA Blogger Brunch

Blunch anyone? Huh?!!?? - The Twin Towers of Faith!
Dave and Ken have a great idea here!

Friday, December 02, 2005

What "the Doctor" Has to Say About This Sunday at GFC

"Now here we really are looking at one of the most difficult problems that can confront anybody who ever reads the Bible, even more difficult than that of our last study. There is nothing, I imagine, in the whole range of the scriptural teaching which causes such offence to the natural man and to many uninstructed Christians as this very statement: ‘For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore’ — the general conclusion to the two cases — ‘hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. ‘ It is the ‘hardening’ that is the rock of offence."


- Martyn Lloyd-Jones commenting on Romans 9: 17-18 (the topic of our Sunday morning sermon this coming weekend, d.v.!)


The Point? Pray!

O Christmas Tree: The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree: The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree

One pastor's research on that fine-smelling balsam fir in my living room!

Toronto Baptist Seminary Book Sale

Redeeming The Time: Toronto Baptist Seminary Book Sale
Kirk Wellum gives a helpful heads up to the approaching Toronto Baptist Seminary Book Sale!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Toronto Evangelical Bloggers Brunch

Toronto Evangelical Bloggers Brunch
The fisherman (a.k.a. Ian Hugh Clary) has posted an invite to all Toronto-area evangelical bloggers to meet for brunch on Saturday, January 21st. He suggests the Burlington/Oakville area... hmmm, not so sure how G T A that is... but I will defer!
All you GTA bloggites will hopefully be there!!
Tim Challies and Michael Haykin are scheduled to say a few words. Ian might get a full GTA Bloggers Store set up by the sounds of it, too!
See you there, d.v.!!

Chruch Planting - Not an Option (Part III)

Part Three: Some practical suggestions

1. Begin with prayer

· Perhaps small Bible study too... but you must build “dependence” into the warp and woof of the church from the start

2. Focus more on supplicating than advertising...

· Learn to pray about very specific needs and desires and catalogue how the Lord answers those prayers. (Eg: we needed another elder)

3. Make glorifying God the main priority

· Teach yourself and the people of the church that bringing God glory is more important than results, accomplishments, etc

4. Solid worship needs to be the priority, not programs for every age

· Somehow maintain a steady course of study and preaching – preach Acts! Then preach a gospel. Save Romans for later...

5. Expect great things – attempt great things.

· Do not have committees. Just take one thing at a time, involve others in decisions where that is prudent, commit matters to much prayer, be willing to be wrong and to be corrected, and do something! Don’t just talk about doing things – try to do them!

6. Use many different means of evangelism

· Church website

· Flyers door-to-door

· Give everyone in church business cards with service times and location on it

· Get involved in community events where prudent

· Teach your people how to share their faith (wayofthemaster.com)

· Don’t over-committ to one methodology – did Paul the apostle?

· Knock on doors

7. Train those who come to speak to others about Jesus

· Model and train personal evangelism

8. Don’t try to do all things for all men – know who you are as a church (strengths and weaknesses) and stay focused

· There is a temptation when you are small to cater to the loudest voice so that you will not lose people... you need to know who you are and that generally begins with the pastor.

9. Shudder at sheep-stealing and avoid at all costs

· Make it hard for people to leave their own church to come to you

· Demand a letter from or meeting with church they are leaving – church plants attract grumpy sheep!! Beware!

10. Protect your pastor

· Enormous amount of stress

· Begin plant with a promise of a sabbatical at 5 year mark

· Be willing to do more than you have ever done in church before to take some of the pressure off

· Ensure your pastor has deep relationships with other pastors who will hold him accountable and encourage his soul

11. Make use of the mother church

· Try to facilitate fellowship between congregations

· Pray for one another

· Depend on their years of experience and do not be afraid to ask for advice

12. Get free from mother church

· I think a church should be self-sufficient within 5-7 years max

· Work with supporters to develop a schedule of decreasing support so all parties are aware

13. Avoid programs for church planting

· Far too much uniqueness in each work – focus on Biblical mandates

14. Make all your plans movable!

· God may have you go another direction in a heartbeat and you don’t want to be stuck going off on your own tangent!

· Acts 16:6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul [3] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.


15. Be willing to let it fail

· Not every evangelistic endeavor by Paul succeeded – if we place more emphasis on success than the glory of God we are laying a faulty foundation

16. Only send proven pastors to the work of church planting – it is no place for a novice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nikopedia: Enjoying Witnessing Lately?

Nikopedia: Enjoying Witnessing Lately?
i am batman has a new blog that looks great! You will want to see for yourself. Nick is a part of our church and was used by the Lord to help me in my own evangelism. He asks the million dollar question in this post, but I would suggest you look through all his posts as they are all quite helpful.
Way to go, Nick!
Keep preaching Jesus and modeling it for us!!

Church Planting - Not an Option (Part Two)

Part Two: Planting churches in our context

(By context I mean 2005 North American, post-modern culture)

1. The culture does not change the method

  • Seeker-sensitive
  • Emergent
  • Purpose-driven
  • All are essentially attempts to adapt our message (or the God-ordained method) to our culture. Will not take the time to refute each individually other than to say that my belief is that the Gospel message and method are the same today as they were in the days of Jesus.

2. Central to planting is preaching

· Evangelism and Proclamation mark the effective church plant

  • Acts 8:1 And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

3. Prayer is instrumental to everything

  • Ephesians 6:18 To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

4. An emphasis on developing the genuine relationships described in the NT

  • See every NT epistle! At least one third is dedicated to “how to live” instructions...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fair is Fair? Where the Logic of Civil Unions or Same-Sex Marriage Must Lead

Fair is Fair? Where the Logic of Civil Unions or Same-Sex Marriage Must Lead: "Like it or not, this is where the logic of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage inevitably leads. If marriage rights are divorced from heterosexuality and procreation, a refusal to accept virtually any formalized relationship anounts to just another form of discrimination." Such is the conclusion to Al Mohler's brief piece on the trajectory of same-sex unions that many of us have been pointing toward for years (always with the pat reply: "you're just using a red herring!"). In this case, the "Couple" is a non-homosexual, non-incestuous mother and daughter who just want the same tax and social benefits offered to the two women down the street.
There is a similar, albeit more twisted article in this week's Maclean's. Here we are told that "polyamory is not to be confused with polygamy..." To the uninitiated, polyamory is the desire to have a girlfriend, tell your wife about it and carry on both relationships simultaneously. The Bible has another word for this!
The article ends with this not surprising comment:

"Another worry, however, stoked partly by the legalization of gay marriage in Canada, is that polyamorists will push for group marriage. On this issue, Luc, who started Polyamory Canada in 2002, seems to reflect another popular sentiment among polyamorists: "Social unions are possible without marriage." He says he's not aware of any campaign for group marriage in Canada. But there has been some discussion among polyamorists about creating a system of legal contracts around issues such as child custody and family rights."

One man and one woman until separated by death is the only right relationship. Everything else is a perversion.

Church Planting - Not an option!

I was delighted to present a workshop on Church Planting at our recent Sovereign Grace Fellowship General Assembly. In conversations with Kirk Wellum before the time, we realized that much of our material was pointing in the same direction, thus we decided to combine our workshops rather than run them opposite to one another (Kirk taking personal evangelism and me taking the actual planting of a church).

There was a great deal of interest sparked by this limited look at fulfilling the Great Commission, and the ideas and discussions generated by it were very exciting. For every 3 points I covered, there are 30 more that could be added, but I thought it might generate some thinking on the part of my bloggish friends (see tomgee – I didn’t’ write “blogosphere”) if I were to post the raw outline of the presentation here.

I will post in several parts, the largest of which will be this first one:



Part One: The Biblical Model

An opening text: Acts 13:1-12

1. Proven Men

· “Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul”

2. Already qualified as pastors

· “prophets and teachers”

3. Sent by one local church in agreement with the Holy Spirit

· “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit...”

4. Traveled to areas where the gospel was not known

· Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis...”

5. Preached using various means

· “they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews”

· “‘And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

· Acts 13 “46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”

· Acts 17: 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus

· Acts 19: 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.


6. Stayed for varying lengths of time

· Acts 14:3 “they spent a long time there” (Iconium)

· Acts 16:11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.

· Acts 18:11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Corinth)

· Acts 19:10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Ephesus)

7. Eventually established a church and appointed leaders

· Acts 14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

8. Moved on to plant other works

· Acts 20:2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.

9. Returned to visit the planted church and encourage them and unite them to other believers

· Acts 14:24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled.

· Acts 16:5 “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

· Acts 18: 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. (3rd missionary journey)

10. Reported back to mother church

· Acts 14:27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.