Saturday, June 24, 2006

Toronto Glories in Sin

CTV Toronto - Pride Toronto's secret for success - CTV News, Shows and Sports -- Canadian Television:

This is Gay Pride Week in Toronto. It used to be just a parade...

Men will dress like Barbies and women will expose themselves so that the rest of us can learn to accept their normal behaviour. In the news piece I link to here, I read this new description... "... the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited (LGBTTIQ2S) community..."

Why not just call themselves the OAC (Overdone Acronym Committee)?!

We move closer to Corinth every year. That is why I am so glad I am here with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that says sexual perversion of any acronym is sin. And those who sin in this way (like the moralist who sins in his way) need to repent and believe on Jesus Christ. Once they do that, they will be justified forever and revel in the Apostle Paul's words, "such were some of you!"

Until then, sinners sin. They glory in their sin. And we Christians are given the great privilege to point them to the only One who can set them free from their bondage to iniquity. What a joy!

Do pray for my city, won't you?

[For more thoughts on homosexuality you can read this.]

Book Review: Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

Book Review: Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

(by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt, Crossway, 2006)

This book was one of the volumes given to us at the Together for the Gospel Conference and I have been looking forward to reading it since then. Let me be clear from the top that it was a gift from Lig Duncan, the co-author.

I suppose in light of that I will begin with a few shortcomings. First, I found the format of the book very difficult to follow. I am not sure if it was supposed to read as a conversation between Hunt and Duncan or what, but the flipping back and forth and the overall flow was confusing to me. This was almost enough to make me give up on it, but I was so impressed with Duncan at T4G that I knew there had to be some gold in there!

I was not disappointed. I thought the best part of the book came in chapter two in the section where Duncan defends the need for a woman’s ministry. It culminates with this thought:

“The crisis of womanhood is too critical for the church to be passive. Scores of evangelical women are functional feminists, because the world’s paradigm for womanhood is the only one they have heard. The church should lead the way in equipping God’s people to think biblically about all of life, including a biblical perspective of gender roles and relationships.

It is not sufficient for churches that hold to male headship simply to compile a list of things that are permissible for women to do. We must go to the Scriptures and determine what is needful for women to do” (42).

The rest of the book essentially attempts to flesh out a workable example of women ministering to women. I think elders and women beginning this type of ministry will certainly find some helpful material here – but don’t count on just this book. One should also perhaps be a little wary of the dominant covenant theology that shapes some of the practical ideas suggested. I did not find any of these suggestions unbiblical or wrongheaded, I just did not like with how they were reached.

Overall, Women’s Ministry is worth taking a look at along with other books that are written on this topic. The emphasis on getting more mature women to actively train younger-in-the-faith women is worth the price of the book alone. Which means even if I had paid for it, I would have been glad I bought it!

Odious Putt Putt

Please notice:

1. The muddle of clubs at the edge of the green - how many strokes did it take to get on?!

2. The shocking shirt.

3. The cramped stance.

4. Those revolting legs.

5. And the PINK ball...

[UPDATE: Compare the excellent form... (and ball colour!)]

Friday, June 23, 2006

J.C. Ryle on Fighting Christians

Thanks to Johnny Farese for this J.C. Ryle quote. The last paragraph is very powerful!

The true Christian is called to be a soldier and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must "fight."

With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. No doubt it may be absolutely needful sometimes to appeal to law courts in order to ascertain the right interpretation of a church’s articles and rubrics and formularies. But, as a general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another and spend their time in petty squabbles.

No, indeed! The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh and the devil. These are his never–dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world, he must either "fight" or be lost.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Andrew Coyne on Why hockey rules

Recent columns: Why hockey rules...

I don't like the subtitle, but this post is perfect other than that!

"The championship. There is no greater test of endurance in sports than the Stanley Cup playoffs -- four consecutive best-of-seven series, as many as 28 games, each one an all-out war. To be crowned NFL champion, you have to win at most four games, total: about 20 minutes work for the average team member, offensive or defensive, less for those assigned to the risible “specialty teams.”

Baseball players go through a similar process to reach the top, but, well, it’s baseball -- how hard can it be? Basketball? I don’t see any playoff beards on those pampered egomaniacs. The only thing I can think of that comes close is the Tour de France -- if there were hip checks."

Dad - Do You Love Your Kids?

Here is John Paton’s account of the day he left home to begin missionary training. Paton wrote this 40 years after the event...

"My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. For the last half mile or so we walked on together in almost unbroken silence — my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in later years white as snow) streamed like a girl's down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me; and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly and affectionately said: 'God bless you, my son! Your father's God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!'"

"Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him — gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I rounded the corner and out of sight in an instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for a time. Then, rising up cautiously, I climbed the dike to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dike and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face toward home, and began to return — his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me. I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as he had given me." (Autobiography, pp. 25-26)

Here is a son who loves his father. But what is even more striking to me, is the description of this father and his love for his son. Fathers, do you love your children? Do they know it? Do they feel it?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kwellum Komments on the Margaret Somervillle Silliness

Redeeming The Time: Somerville Controversy

"They were not protesting because Somerville is anti-gay (by her own admission she is not), but because she dares to thinks for herself and refuses to be pushed around by the politically-correct bullies of our day when she takes a position they do not agree with."

Be sure to read his whole post. Great stuff.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thoughts for Graduates...

I was humbled to be asked to preach at my daughter's Grade 8 graduation tonight. Here is the text from which I preached.


Faculty, Staff, Students, Parents, Grandparents, Graduates...

Thank you for the honour of opening the Word of God for you tonight!

I graduated from Grade 8 some 27 years ago. That about made my heart stop when I thought about it! It seems in many ways like just a few months ago...

I don’t remember everything of that day, but one thing in particular sticks out. A girl that I will call Stella.

I had known Stella for many years and Stella was... ugly.

Bad ugly. Make her mother weep ugly.

A repulsive personality and an unattractive appearance – Stella was ugly.

But that night of graduation – a transformation of epic proportions occurred! It what can only be described as a miracle, she showed up to our celebration as Stella the Beautiful!

I spent the whole night staring – not because I was attracted to her! Because I was absolutely stunned! How could this be? How could she have been so beautiful and hid it so well!?

It was as if she had been ashamed of her beauty.

Graduates – thankfully, none of you are ugly. But I want to speak to you tonight. In particular, I want to address those of you who are Christians. Those who have repented of their sin, put their faith in Christ alone and been born again.... saved! Those who give evidence of this relationship with God through Jesus Christ by a love for God and His Word, and his people.

You are about to make the transition to High School – Christian, public, private... and you will be faced with this question: Will I pull a Stella?

What do you mean? I mean too many teens that are Christians do all they can to hide it – just like Stella hid her beauty.

They put on the ugliness of sin because they are ashamed of the Gospel.

Here is what the great man of God Paul wrote about the Gospel:

Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The Devil has many tricks. One of them is to whisper in the ears of teenagers thoughts like this:

“First make some friends, then you can slip in the part about Jesus”

“You need to build relationships first. Stay quiet about your love for Christ until you earn respect.”

“Work on fitting in with everyone, don’t make any waves!”

I would suggest to you this is the exact opposite of how you ought to approach your High School days!

Jim Elliot, the missionary speared to death by Auca Indians in 1956 wrote a letter to his sister as she prepared to start High School. In that letter he urged her to boldly name Christ, to pray openly in front of others and to evangelize right from the start! Why? His reasoning went like this: Whatever standard you set at the start, is the standard you will keep to the end. Start low and it will be an uphill battle to live for Christ from then on. Start bold, and even your unbelieving friends will keep you to that standard!

Christian Graduates – Be Bold for Christ! Purpose in your heart tonight, to live this summer and all your days in High School and all the rest of your life for Jesus Christ!

Decide from the start to be resolute, determined – regardless of the kind of school the Lord takes you to.

You can be sure of this – our enemy will not be happy with you. The more you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus the more you will be persecuted. But if you love Jesus Christ, even though this sounds quite scary, the fact is, in your heart, you know you are willing to suffer for His Name. Even though we are terrified of failing – there is a spark there that says, “I want to follow Christ, even to the death!”

Jim Elliot was described by one of his friends as a man with his face to the wind! He looked for the opposition and took it face first! Stared trouble in the face! Will and I do that on windy days – face to the wind – because I want him to grow up to be a Christian man who doesn’t back down in opposition.

Let’s be frank – “being cool” is most often a code for “caving in to sinful desires.”

And “going with the flow” when deciphered means “being swept along by every wind and doctrine.”

How then are you going to leave this school and venture forth in faith and boldness?

Let me suggest two things:

1. Acknowledge your embarrassment. I don’t know if Stella had emotional problems or what? But apparently she never faced the fact that she was ashamed of her beauty.

There will be times you are ashamed of Christ (imagine!). Own it. Confess it! Repent of it! But take courage – even the great Timothy needed support:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began...” (2 Timothy)

2. Keep studying and thinking on and glorying in what Christ has done for you! Your boldness in the Gospel will be fed by your knowledge of the Gospel. That is why Paul says this:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

- the power of God

- for salvation

- to everyone

- the righteousness of God revealed

This man had no shame of Christ since he knew so well what Christ had done for him!

So study the Gospel. Ask the hard questions! Read your Bible! Listen to preaching! Stake your ground early for Christ at school, in clubs, choirs and congregations!

Ugly Stella? She wasn’t so ugly after all. She just took too long to let her beauty be seen.

You graduates. Set your heart on the Lord Jesus now and the attractiveness of His presence in your life will be evident to all.

But only if you belong to Him. You cannot fake the Christian faith – you can try. But if Jesus is not yours, then do what teenagers like you have been doing for 2000 years. Repent from your sinful ways and Rely on Jesus Christ alone to be your Saviour forever. You will be transformed like Stella – only into a new person on the inside, not the outside. A young man or woman set apart by God to love Him with all your heart all of your days. May He make it so!

To Him alone be the glory. Amen.