Saturday, March 25, 2006

Walter on Fault-Finding...

My old pal Walter wrote a pithy little letter not too long ago on fault-finding and how to fix it. You can read the whole thing here, but I thought I would offer this small sampling for a Saturday afternoon. Good preparation for all you GFC folks for our Fellowship Lunch tomorrow!
One of the funniest things about being human, however, is that we tend to discover these mistakes very quickly in everyone but ourselves. Most men are like children standing in front of a carnival mirror – yet the distorted picture they see is one of near-perfection, not sinful silliness.

Jesus said it this way:

Luke 6:41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

Most of us are running around with cedar fence-poles sticking out of our eyes while we hunt for a fleck of lint in our brother’s ocular apparatus. Let it be stated, you’ll never get close enough to a man to really see him if you’re sticking a fence-pole into his forehead! Let it also be stated that lint leaves faster than lumber! It takes no scientist to see at least a part of what Jesus was getting at is that we ought to pay a might more attention to our own stuff than we normally do… and not worry so much about the stuff in our neighbour.

Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam have this in common – an inborn ability to think too high of themselves. Show me a critical and fault-finding woman and I’ll show you a woman who’s never seriously looked in the mirror of Truth. Open your mouth and all looks fine – until the dentist shines his bright light in there to find holes and stains galore. There are far too many denture-Christians, running around like they had Robert Redford’s teeth when the fact is 18 years of coffee-drinking has done its damage. We were born damaged, and years of sin (as an unbeliever or a believer) means we have faults-a-plenty to contend with – most of them entirely unseen by us. It might surprise the average person to have everyone in the room write down one constructive criticism of them. Why, a whole book with multiple chapters, an index and colour illustrations could be written in an hour! That’s why the Lord said through Solomon:

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, / but love covers all offenses.

Or, as Peter said in the New Testament:

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

The best way to handle another’s faults is to soak them in a bucket of love. The worst medicine doesn’t taste too bad in a glass of milk. Surround your liver and onions with some good old mashed potatoes and it’ll go down a tad easier. Put some love into every relationship and you’ll find you can bear more than an elephant.

If we thought more about what was good in others instead of what was wrong, we’d find life a tractor-load more pleasant and perhaps load up on a few good friends along the way. Some people are drawn to failings in others like sharks to fresh blood. The old shark wondered where all his friends had disappeared to… he should have looked in his belly!

Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Have a fantastic day today loving your neighbour!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Reform the Seminaries: Part Two

Reformation 21 » Non-Ministerial Seminaries

Apparently he didn't read my post, but I see that Rick Philipps over at Reformation21 blog has some similar things to say regarding making the seminary a seminary, not just a theological education production mill.

I especially like his comments concerning camraderie. This was something I was trying to get at in the comments section of my post.

I point this all out as a humble service to my regular readers to show that if you really want cutting edge stuff first - check here often!

Why Digging Hard in Romans is Worth It!

Because then you can sing this with all of your heart AND all of your mind! (Man, this is an excellent hymn!)

Fountain of Never-Ceasing Grace
Fountain of never-ceasing grace, Your saints' exhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise, essentially supreme;
We bless You for the glorious fruits Your incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes, and faith alone receives.

Slaughtered for sin was the Divine - Whom heaven’s Host adores!
The guilt, O Lord, was wholly mine, the punishment was Yours!
God in the flesh, to set us free, was manifested here;
And meekly bore our sins that we, His righteousness might wear.

Guilty by imputation then, Our Substitute was made,
That we the blessings might obtain, for which His blood was shed:
Himself He offered on the cross, our sorrows to remove;
And all He suffered was for us, and all He did was love.

In You we have a righteousness, by God himself approved;
Our rock, our sure foundation this, which never can be moved.
Our ransom by Your death was paid, for all Your people giv'n,
The law You perfectly obeyed, that they might enter heav'n.

As all, when Adam sinned alone, in his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of one are sinners justified;
We to Your merit, gracious Lord, with humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored, in You alone complete.

Our souls His watchful love retrieves, nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us He gives, and takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in His right, adopted and forgiv’n,
His merit is our robe of light, His death the gate of heav’n.

Text: Augustus M. Toplady, 1774. Altered and modernized by Paul W. Martin.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

MLJ: Why "Dialogue" is a Waste of Time and Preaching a Must! (Sorry ECM!)

Came across this remarkable quote this afternoon reading Martin Lloyd-Jones on Romans 11:33-36 from a sermon preached sometime around 1965...

Now that is the trouble with the modern man. It is that man, by nature, is sinful, has got a carnal mind, hates God, and the devil whom he unknowingly serves, has blinded the minds of them that believe not. It does not matter how clever or able he is. The devil has blinded his mind ‘lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them’. That, according to the Apostle and according to the whole of the scriptural teaching, is the one and only explanation as to why men and women do not believe. Therefore what have I to learn from such a man? What has a man who is blinded by the devil got to tell me about these matters? Why should I have a dialogue with him? No, no, I am sorry for him. The man is blinded, he is ignorant, he knows nothing. I have the knowledge which alone can help him. It is not mine, it has been given to me, it has been revealed to me, and it is my duty to tell him. I am doing him a disservice by letting him talk. He is not capable of expressing an opinion. He is in the dark, ‘dead in trespasses and sins’. That is the whole of the scriptural teaching.
But, the modern teaching denies this utterly and absolutely, and this is the spectacle by which we are confronted, that the modern church is paying compliments to the unregenerate man and says, ‘Now we must preach less to you, we have been speaking too much, let us sit down, you talk, I want to listen, I want to learn from you’. I do not hesitate to assert that that is a denial of Christ. Not only do I not learn from the natural unregenerate man, I do not learn from the Hindu or the Muslim, the Confucian or the Buddhist; they have nothing to tell me. The Bible, and the Bible alone, contains the knowledge and it is given by God. And it is our business to call upon the natural unregenerate man to be silent, to listen, to learn. We are to say to him, ‘Hearken unto me’. ‘Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you’. The greatest need in the world tonight is the authoritative proclamation of this one and only gospel.

Cited from Romans: To God's Glory, Banner of Truth, p. 270.

Oversight of Souls: Pastoral Plagiarism

Ray Van Neste Writes a Shocking Report Here!

"This article is a brazen argument for pastors to quit trying to produce their own sermons and instead simply preach the material of others- even word for word! Sjogren argues that laboring to prepare a sermon yourself is silly, stating: “stop all of this nonsense of spending 25 or 30 hours a week preparing to speak on the weekend.” As a positive example he cites Paul Cho, pastor of supposedly the largest church in the world in Korea, who said:

'Honestly, I have never given an original message in all my years of ministry here at Yoido Church. Each week, I preach word-for-word messages from either Billy Graham or W.A. Criswell from Dallas First Baptist Church. I can't afford to not have a home run each weekend when we gather. I don't trust my own ability to give completely original messages.'"

CBC News: Military operation frees 2 Canadian hostages in Iraq

CBC News: Military operation frees 2 Canadian hostages in Iraq: "Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were freed along with Briton Norman Kember, 74. All three were members of the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an international peace activist group.

They were abducted in November in Baghdad with American Tom Fox, who was later killed. His body was found March 10 with gunshot wounds to his head and chest."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

John Bunyan on His Unjust Imprisonment

Bunyan was, of course, arrested for preaching Christ. It is good to read his account of the matter and see his incredible wisdom in dealing with his enemies and his confidence in his God. I include a quote here that recounts his reaction after the first 5 days of imprisonment when news arrived that he would not be released through the efforts of good friends:

"... I was not at all daunted but rather glad, and saw evidently that the Lord had heard me; for before I went down to the justice, I begged of God that if I might do more good by being at liberty than in prison, that then I might be set at liberty; but if not, His will be done; for I was not altogether without hopes but that my imprisonment might be an awakening to the saints in the country, therefore I could not tell well which to choose; only I, in that manner, did commit the thing to God. And verily, at my return, I did meet my God sweetly in the prison again, comforting of me and satisfying of me that it was His will and mind that I should be there.

When I came back again to prison, as I was musing at the slender answer of the justice, this word dropt in upon my heart with some life, FOR HE KNEW THAT FOR ENVY THEY HAD DELIVERED HIM.

Thus have I, in short, declared the manner and occasion of my being in prison; where I lie waiting the good will of God, to do with me as He pleaseth; knowing that not one hair of my head can fall to the ground without the will of my Father, which is in heaven. Let the rage and malice of men be never so great, they can do no more, nor go any further, than God permits them; but when they have done their worst, We know all things shall work together for good to them that love God.


From, A Relation of My Imprisonment in the Month of November 1660, by John Bunyan (emphasis mine). You can read the entire booklet online here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Being gay, Christian and African

Click here for BBC article...

Although I have never been there, I have a certain love for Africa - especially due to one dear brother and his family. That is why this article caught my attention and my sorrow. It seems that Western norms are continuing to creep into Africa, and as is often the case, it is our worst that is exported most effectively.
One homosexual, Kenyan man wrote to the BBC about the liberation he experienced while studying in the UK...

"Although there are laws against sodomy in Kenya, there is a secretive gay scene in Nairobi - certain pubs and clubs.
However, because my faith is so pivotal to me, I've chosen to be single and to be celibate. I can't say I've always been successful - I am a human being, not perfect.
For the last two years, I've been studying in the UK and the church in the West is a lot more accepting and has taught me to accept myself for who I am...

It has been easier to come to terms with being gay in the UK because Nairobi is a much smaller society and people talk - the stigma associated with homosexuality does cut.
I really hate the way people run to the Bible just to justify their biases and fears. If they knew more about Christianity they would accept homosexuals or anyone else for who they are."

Things You Should See...

Scouring through some fave blogs today I came across the following:

Be sure to read Tim Challies post as he reflects on a few sentences written by John Piper in "God is the Gospel."

Michael Haykin offers some excellent balance
to my post on Reform the Seminaries!

Darrin Brooker is back after a week's vacation (hurray!) with some timely advice on how to speak to error - from his pen and that of his dead pal, Horatius Bonar.

Julian has a very funny post on that most hideous Toronto landmark... the FAN!

And if you are really brave you could try reading about Josh's love for Edna St. Vincent Millay! (But I mean... REALLY brave!)