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!