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 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.


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."

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!