Saturday, September 22, 2007

Book Review: A Foundation For Life (Michael A. G. Haykin, editor)

There are some books that are worth keeping a few copies of on your shelf. A Foundation for Life is one of those books. Edited by Michael A. G. Haykin the book is a collection of short chapters on key Christian doctrines. But far from a mere theological treatise, this book seeks to concisely present the doctrine while at the same time pointing to how it changes the way we live.
This is a great book for pastors to have on hand to give to those new to the doctrines of grace. It is also an excellent title to keep close by for quick references to various Scriptures and helpful explanations. Joshua Press has done the evangelical world a service by providing this needed volume – I highly commend it! sells this book here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Toronto Baptist Seminary Convocation... Tonight!

Toronto Baptist Seminary Convocation

with Dr. Larry E. McCall

at 7:30 p.m.

"Excellence in theological education for the church"

A formal reception in the concourse will follow.

Please join us for Toronto Baptist Seminary’s annual Convocation service. Encourage the faculty and students by your presence and support on this special evening!

Location: Jarvis Street Baptist Church (beside TBS)

DR. LARRY E. MCCALL (D.Min. TEDS) has been the senior pastor of Christ’s Covenant Church of Winona Lake, IN, since 1981. Dr. McCall also serves as a conference speaker and has written a number of articles appearing in Christian publications and is the author of the book, Walking Like Jesus Did.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

3 : 1 6

I have not read it, but I see that Max Lucado is about to take the Christian publishing industry by storm with his new book on John 3:16. The marketing campaign is already in full swing with the promise of "gift books, music, DVDs, evangelism booklets, greeting cards, small group studies and even a church musical!" (The Christian Herald)


I have never been a huge fan of Lucado's work (marketing campaign or not). Sorry. Just one of those authors that says too little for my taste. (Although Tim wrote a rather favourable review of the book here.)

But I did find these little treasures on the Desiring God site not long ago. So, if you are really interested in what John 3:16 is all about, why not give a listen / read?

The Danger: Perishing
John 3:16
December 4, 1994

The Design: Love
John 3:16
December 11, 1994

The Destiny: Eternal Life
John 3:16
December 25, 1994

The Duty: Faith
John 3:16
December 18, 1994

Shut Them Out - They'll Make Much of You

“They want to shut you out that you may make much of them.” – Galatians 4:17

Paul captures a universal truth – men are always seeking to shut others out in order to gain control of them. Such habits begin in the nursery and crawl into the playground. Little Johnny finds that by sharing his candy with Tom, and only Tom, many other boys grow jealous and want some. In fact, these other boys invite Johnny into their games, offer him treats of their own and lavish whatever attention on him they think will gain them a bite of that candy.

Psychologists sometimes call it co-dependency, when really it is just pride and lust. Johnny likes being “made much of” and has learned that excluding others will provoke that response. Why do they make much of him? Because their lust for candy is so strong. But like all lusts, it is never satisfied. Before that candy is finished lust is crying out “It was not enough,” and it begs for more. And so the cycle runs.

What happens on the playground eventually walks into the office, the government, the family reunion and the bedroom – usually in a much more refined way. Exclusion is used to direct the lusts of those the excluders want to control. O, to be on the inside!

Christians must never play this game.

The Bible is overflowing with references to freedom. Freed from sin and its dominion, we are free to live as weapons of righteousness. The Spirit is given to us freely and He enables us to live free from every fear and worldly influence.

If we are making much of someone in order to “get in,” then we are not walking by the Spirit. Christians, of all people, are freed to look at all men equally.

Paul illustrates this idea in the same letter when he refers to those pillars of the church, the Apostles. In describing his visit with them he keeps referring to them as “those who seemed influential.” And this statement is qualified by the very plain, “what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality!”

Just as we must never fall prey to “making much of someone” in order to “get in,” so we must never “shut others out” so that they will “make much of us.” Those who follow Jesus must remember these words:

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Need a New Church

Things have been getting bad at Grace Fellowship Church lately. I never thought it would come to this... but the fact is, I need a new church.

There is just no more room left in the gym. We love meeting at the Christian School, but space has become a precious commodity!

So, what I need is a new church. Okay, not a new bunch of people – I mean, I love these ones WAY too much! But a new place for us to meet.

I see two options for this:

1) Some church in Toronto has a building that they no longer fill. They want to see a Gospel witness remain in their community and not watch their church meeting house turn into a mosque, community centre or bar (all of which I have witnessed on many occasions in this city!) So, they will call us up and say, “Come have our building, please.” And we will come.

2) Somebody will really want a new church to begin in downtown Toronto and they will buy us or give us a meeting place for free. We will send out a bunch of people to start a new church. And then we will have some space again at the school.

Either way, I want a new church.

Feel free to help out where you can!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Justified Does Not Equal Qualified

We were delighted this week to affirm three more men to our deaconate. The process we follow in this matter is very simple. As elders, we identify men we believe fit the role and calling of a deacon. We approach those men privately and ask them to evaluate their lives in comparison to the Word of God and the qualifications listed there in Acts 6, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
If these men affirm a desire to serve as deacons, we then inform our members and ask them to take an unspecified amount of time to evaluate their character and potential calling. This evaluation period is consummated in a two-week period where members are urged to deal with any objections they might have with the man in private. If this does not satisfy them, members are asked to speak to an elder.
A previously scheduled Members’ Meeting concludes this intense evaluation period with a secret-ballot vote of approval. If this vote is affirmative, then the man will be installed in his office “forthwith” during a morning worship service.
That was for free.
My point in this post, however, is to highlight the fact that just because God saves a man and utterly justifies him does not mean he is qualified to serve as a church officer. The Bible is clear in drawing a non-salvific line through the midst of genuine Christians – teaching that some men are to serve in some offices… and others are not. In 21st century, democratic Canada that point deserves some thought.
The qualifications for deacon are not “warm and breathing.” Neither are they “a person who regularly shows up on Sunday,” or “women who organize things well.” The list of qualifications is actually quite long, specific and pokes around in the most private areas of a man’s life. And this list constructs a very high standard that distinguishes some men from others. Not all Christians are called to a church office.
Right away, we see that, in those who are called, this must be all of grace! If a man is qualified for a church office it is only and always because of God’s grace! These men are no better than others, nor are they to receive glory for their work – they are simply one more gift of grace from God to His bride.
Thus, pray for your leaders! Thank God for them and spend your life seeking to quietly become the man of God described in His Word.