Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Poem: The Meaning of Christmas (at the Mall)

One way to understand a culture is to study the songs, poems and art that it cherishes. Some have argued that you cannot understand a culture until you can interpret its poetry...even write it. I took this challenge to heart this year in my effort to understand Christmas.
Although I was rather certain I had a good grasp of the meaning of this holiday, my recent study exposed some gaping holes in my knowledge. Thus, I took it upon myself to write a poem that reflected the true meaning of Christmas... from the perspective of mall music.
I am rather excited about it… even with the somewhat Puritanical Title…

The Meaning of Christmas
(or, a Reflective Sonnet Upon the Various and Sundry Nuances and Fancies of December in North America)
A long time ago in Bethelehem
In a winter wonderland
A little drummer boy drove into town
With Frosty the Snowman

Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up let’s go
They sang that midnight clear
And turned their headlights way down low
To avoid red-nosed Reindeer

The boy had five golden rings
Frosty, two turtle doves
And stuffed with figgy pudding then
They gleamed the light of love

They drove on city sidewalks (busy sidewalks!)
To a certain unstirring house
And met three wise men at the door
Of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus

A fat man wearing red underwear
Answered the door with a list
And elvish folk rocked ‘round the tree
Singing of their dental wish

Then someone called on Frosty’s cell
And said they would be home
The boy began to play his drum
The wise guys read a star tome

Parson Brown knocked at the door
Bearing awfully bad news
“Grandma was reindeer-trampled
After drinking too much booze”

So, Mrs. Klaus called the cop
To charge, he did not know
But then a thumpety-thump-thump
Was heard on hills of snow

For Frosty owned that herd of deer
And afraid it was his Cupid
He snuck off to retrieve his pet
But this, my friends, was stupid

For all the rest chased him far
And he started to perspire
Which when you’re made of snow and ice
Is like you’re eating fire

And so ‘neath lights of red and green
They chased him on the double
But when they caught the culprit snowman
He was nothing but a puddle

And so this cryptic story
Its message now construes...
And once I figure what that is
I’ll be sure to tell all of yous.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pastor, Love Your Wife! - Toronto Pastors Fellowship

Pastor, Love Your Wife! - Toronto Pastors Fellowship

My good friend, Tim Kerr, gave a compelling presentation to us this past Monday on both the need and the means to loving our dear wives.

You can download the audio (be sure to listen to the discussion period) and the written paper at this link.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


This prayer, written by Lady Jane Grey, is not available in many places. Therefore, I thought I would bless you with it here. She wrote this as a 16 year old prisoner of Bloody Mary in the Tower of London as she prepared to die by beheading.


"O Lord, thou God and father of my life, hear me, poor and desolate woman, which flieth unto thee only, in all troubles and miseries. Thou, Lord, art the only defender and deliverer of those that put their trust in thee; and therefore, I being defiled with sin, encumbered with affliction, unquieted with troubles, wrapt in cares, overwhelmed with miseries, vexed with temptations, and grievously tormented with long imprisonment of this vile mass of clay, my sinful body, do come unto thee, merciful Saviour, craving thy mercy and help, without which so little hope of deliverance is left, that I may utterly despair of any liberty.
Albeit it is expedient that, seeing our life standeth upon trying, we should be visited sometime with some adversity, whereby we might both be tried whether we be of the flock or no, and also know thee and ourselves the better; yet thou that saidst thou wouldst not suffer us to be tempted above our power, be merciful unto me now, a miserable wretch, I beseech thee, humbly desiring thee that I may neither be too much puffed up with prosperity, neither too much pressed down with adversity, lest I, being too full, should deny thee, my God, or being too low brought, should despair, and blaspheme thee, my Lord and Saviour.
Merciful God, consider my misery best known unto thee; and be thou now unto me a strong tower of defence, I humbly require thee. Suffer me not to be tempted above my power; but either be thou deliverer unto me out of this great misery, or else give grace patiently to bear thy heavy hand and sharp correction.
It was thy right hand that delivered the people of Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh, which for the space of four hundred years did oppress them, and keep them in bondage. Let it, therefore, likewise seem good to thy fatherly goodness, to deliver me, a sorrowful wretch, for whom thy son Christ shed his precious blood on the cross, out of this miserable captivity and bondage wherein I am now.
How long wilt thou be absent? Forever? Lord, hast thou forgotten to be gracious, and hast thou shut up thy loving kindness in displeasure ? Wilt thou be no more entreated? Is thy mercy clean gone forever, and thy promise come utterly to an end forever more? Why dost thou make me so long tarry? Shall I despair of thy mercy, O God? Far be that from me. I am thy workmanship, created in Christ Jesus; give me grace, therefore, to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works, assuredly knowing that as thou canst, thou wilt deliver me, when it shall please thee, nothing doubting or mistrusting thy goodness towards me: for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do: therefore do with me, in all things, what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt.
Only in the mean time arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armor, that I may stand fast, my loins being girded about with verity, having on thy breastplate of righteousness, and shod with the shoes prepared by the gospel of peace; above all things taking to me the shield of faith, wherewith I may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is thy most holy word, praying always, with all manner of prayer and supplication, that I "may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure, and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot be but well all that thou dost. Hear me, merciful Father, for His sake whom thou wouldst should be a sacrifice for my sins: to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory. Amen.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coalition Government or Not?

Politics is ugly. That said, Christians still need to think through the issues that face them in the world.
The political earthquake shaking up Canada is waking lots of folks up to the fact that this country does have a government and is forcing us to think through where our loyalties lie.
But that is the point that needs the most consideration.
I wonder if all those online forums and cyber petitions are full of the names of those who have thought through the issue at hand, or if they are just a representation of what we already believed. Christians, more than any other people, are able to think issues through without party loyalty, since our loyalty is first to Jesus Christ.
Have you?
Or are you merely toting the party line?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Really Bad Poetry

Last week one of my good friends, Tom Gee, replied to an email I sent out to all our small group members urging them to stay home if the weather turned foul. He replied in poetic form... which led to a poetic reply... which led to a poetic war! Of course, I am using the term “poetic” very loosely here.
So, for anyone who cares to eavesdrop on a series of flow of consciousness poetry between two friends (‘cause, you know, there are a LOT of people who scour the interweb looking for THAT...) here you go!

Tom is normal font, and I reply in italics: (context – Tom had been up the better part of the night working on a homiletics assignment)


Neither rain nor sleet nor hail nor gale
could restrain us in the swale,
for our vessel is sure and our snow tires are on,
our gunwhale fast and our ribs made strong,
We shall set sail for the blissful land
of the Martin's gospel band,
though our sheets be torn and our lines be ragged,
the rocks be bare and the reef be jagged,
For our courage shall sustain us,
our hearts will make us bold,
(unless it looks really scary out .... y'know, we're gettin' kinda old.)


With volcanic force
His mouth erupted
In a wild torrent
Of speech corrupted

Hours of sleeplessness
Took its toll
And Tomgee's words
Flowed like a scroll

Of endless verbiage
And wracked with poisons
From bitter wood

Why dost he speak?
And not lay down?
He seeks from Bob
The homiletic crown

Sleep, Tomgee, sleep
There's no better tonic
For your verbal blasts
Be they supersonic.


Wow! I am humbled.
To the very dust
Before the master's
verbal thrust.

With words well-chosen
and scansion keen
You make your point
Both neat and clean.

I want to walk
In your footsteps strong
Although your stride
Is much too long.

But it is all joy
To follow in your wake
Though a wobbly trail
I wobbly make.

And I have a habit
Between the lines
Of adding syllables
Which don't quite rhyme (or scan).

But I must return
To my labour sore
To continue writing
Where I was before.

For these Gospel giants
Wait for no man.
But boy could they preach!
And make you understand!

The peril of sinners
In God's angry hands
Brings chills to my spine
O, time's running sands!

But you're my favourite
Gospel preacher by far
So preach on, my brother!
...ok, I'm out of time. :-)


Tempted as I am to gain the last word
I yield to your needs, knowing if you heard
Yet another verse from my prose-laden lips
You'd feel compelled to give another rip!


Aha, now my printing's done!
The report is finished!
And now for fun!

Because I also get to preach today
and to practice, my essay
(my manuscript) I did reduce
to bullet points, so I'll be loose
to speak more freely, less note-tied
so fewer people will run and hide
and snore and blink and nod and yawn
(and all other ways to carry on
when they are bored), instead they'll be
quite enraptured, I hope to see,
and if they sleep, then I'll abort
for if you can't be good, be short. :-)


Now this, by far, was your best work
Your meter did not go berserk
your adjectives were quite compelling
providing a descriptive shelling
like bombs exploding in the air
each one sharp and loud and fair
why not preach today in rhyme?
i think you'd have a lovely time
and Bob would never fall asleep
although your grade may end up deep


Not a bad idea, it might work well
But I'm afraid my conceit may swell
And before I know it, I'm preaching in rap

Cause y'know, bro', wats up wi' dat?
I don' think gettin' down at Jarvis St.
Would with T. T. Shields' approval meet,
An' he would frown, smile upside down,
An' glare upon my furry crown.
But Dr. Penhearow, he's flexible,
But he'd not be happy, gi' me trouble,
He'd say, "Hey homie, wat is dis ting?
And besides dat, where is your bling?"
With no sleep, my bling has fled.

So I'd better be good, then get to bed.


"And besides dat, where is your bling?""

YOU WIN!!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finding God's Will

SermonAudio.com - TPF - Pastor, Give Guidance in Finding God's Will

We had a great meeting of the Toronto Pastors Fellowship this past Monday. Stephen Kring gave a very helpful paper on how to help people find the will of God for their lives. The discussion period that followed was full of more excellent observations.
You can download a full audio recording for free from the link above. You can also download the paper as it was presented if you would like to follow along.

Friday, November 14, 2008

When You Just Don't Feel Like Being a Parent Anymore...

Nebraska fears rush to drop off kids before haven law change - CNN.com:

"Tysheema Brown drove from Georgia to leave her teenage son at an Omaha hospital.

'Do not judge me as a parent. I love my son and my son knows that,' Brown said. 'There is just no help. There hasn't been any help.'

Safe haven laws allow distraught parents, who fear their children are in imminent danger, to drop them off at hospitals without being charged with abandonment. Nebraska was the last state in the country to pass such a law. But every other state included an age limit.

The Department of Health and Human Services published a background profile on 30 of the 34 safe haven cases. The report found:

# Twenty-seven children have received mental health treatment;

# 28 children come from single parent homes;

# 22 children had a parent with a history of incarceration; and

# 20 of the 30 children are white; eight are black.

There are 6,600 children in state custody, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Per capita the figure is one of the highest rates in the country, Landry said."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Downloads for Pastors - Toronto Pastors Fellowship

Media Library - Toronto Pastors Fellowship

If you have not seen the growing library of sermons and lectures for pastors available at the TPF site you should click on this link and peruse! There is some great stuff there.

Be sure and tell your pastor of these resources and, if you live anywhere near Toronto, come and join us for our meeting this Monday morning, November 17, at 10AM. Pastor Stephen Kring will be teaching us how to teach our people to find the will of God. It is an excellent and timely topic.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Together for the Gospel Live CD

Together for the Gospel Live CD | Worship Matters

This is some great news. Bob is putting together a CD of the live recording from the 5900 men and 100 women at T4G! This is why we love you, Bob.

I will be buying one.

You can listen to a sample of, "A Mighty Fortress" on his blog.

Tim and Nick Challies blogging Compassion

I have to admit being very moved by both Tim's and Nick's posts on their experience in the DR with Compassion International. It is very worth the read to check them out.

Tim's thoughts here...

Nicky's here.

Lady Jane Grey... A GLARING Omission!

Trying to condense an entire life and martyrdom into one 45 minute paper is a bit of a task, but after delivering the story of Lady Jane Grey to GFC this past Sunday night, I observed one glaring omission.

Before Feckenham had his public debate with Jane, he had two other meetings. At the first meeting, arranged by Mary to convert Jane before her beheading, Feckenham made no progress. When he returned to inform Mary of this, he did indicate that with more time he might be successful. Thus, Mary delayed the execution by three days and to up the ante, offered Jane full reprieve if she would recant her evangelical views and return to the Roman Catholic Church.

When Feckenham rushed back to tell Jane this “good news,” he was stunned by the girl’s response:

“Alas sir, it was not my desire to prolong my days. As for death, I utterly despise it, and her Majesty’s pleasure being such, I willingly undergo it.
You are much deceived if you think I have any desire of longer life; for I assure you, since the time you went from me, my life has been so tedious to me, that I long for nothing so much as death. Neither did I wish the Queen to be solicited for such a purpose.”

The debate that followed (and that I quoted from in the paper) must be seen in this light. Heaped on to all the awful pressure of debating a skilled orator was the promise that a few little words of recantation would gain both her life and freedom. Not only that, her request for the beheading to proceed as planned on 9 February was now delayed until the 12th, with the Feckenham debate taking place on the 10th. Many thought she would wilt under the delay and finally give in. Of course, Jane held true to the Lord and lost her life.

How I left this out of the paper is a mystery to me! But, you get what you pay for!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Look at Me, I’m Ugly

I have been pondering lately what it means to live under grace, especially in comparison to living under the law (Rom 6.14). I have come to think of this as the “horrible wonderful.”
To be under grace means to be under its influence, sway and control. There is a readiness to identify sin, to confess sin, to focus on the cross and to fight for a stance of integrity in relationships that flees the bob-and-weave of hiding.
That means I expose more of who I really am to both myself and others – and leads to the horrible wonderful. My sins and the sins of my friends are much more obvious, so we become much less in each other’s sight. There is less energy directed to impressing them and they become, for lack of a better term, less impressive to me. I stop viewing people as a means to personal validation or as celebrities to emulate.
This would all lead to despair if not for the cross. Now that “horrible wonderful” of God dying for sinners dominates my horizon. I need a Saviour – not just once to “get me into heaven,” but I need an ongoing, life-giving, sin-forgiving, atonement-offering Saviour. And I see over and again how horrible my sin is in its nature as I consider the Crucified One bearing it and the Father’s wrath. And I start to feel how wonderful it all is, that without any drawing influence in me, Christ died for my sins.
I also begin to see people through the cross – they need a Saviour. And I don’t need them to be anything other than what they really are. My goal becomes to elevate Jesus when I am with them for I know that He is life.
All in all, fellowship changes colour – from “coffee after church” to sinners gathered; all equalized by debilitating sin, all guilty of the same sins (albeit in different expressions) and all looking to the same horrible, yet wonderful solution: the cross of JESUS.
Suddenly, the Holy Spirit becomes vitally important, moment by moment.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

More Lady Jane...

I am such a fan of Lady Jane Grey's life that I am unashamed to perform a little self-promotion here. The audio file is now up on the paper and the pdf version should be available later today. Have a listen and draw fresh courage and conviction from a life lived to the glory of God!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lady Jane Grey and Reformation Day...

Lady Jane Grey and Reformation Day

If God do help thee,

Hate shall not hurt thee;

If God do fail thee,

Then shall not labour prevail thee.

- Lady Jane[1]

On 24 June 1509, Henry of the Tudors became King of England, having been married 13 days before to Catherine, the first of his 6 wives.[2] Eighteen years-old and a well-educated renaissance man, Henry began a long and bloody 38 year reign that would extend to Ireland, Wales and Britain.

Two years before this, a monk had begun studying for the priesthood in Germany. It was a torturous experience for this honest man as he could not find peace for his soul in the confession box, the Hail Mary's, the prayers for the dead or in those awful indulgences. And so he studied his Bible and one day the Lord opened his heart to understand Romans 1:17 and justification by faith. Ten years later, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses (complaints) to a church door in Wittenburg and the Reformation was sparked.

As Luther continued to write, men in England were avidly reading contraband copies of John Wycliffe's (first printed in 1382) and William Tyndale's (first printed in 1526) translations of the Bible. This reading of the text of the Scriptures was creating an atmosphere ripe for change - men and women were tired of the intrusions of the Roman Catholic Pope and his bishops and now saw the need for personal faith in Christ alone for salvation by grace alone.

Henry and the Reformation

At first, Henry was an enemy of Luther and the Reformation.[3] But circumstances would change his mind. When Catherine could not produce the male heir Henry so desperately desired, he sought to have the Pope annul the marriage that he might try to have a son with another woman. The Pope, however, refused; and thus converged a host of political, selfish, sensual and monarchial motives to one common point. The opportunistic Henry knew that the only way to lose Catherine and gain her maid-of-honour Anne Boleyn[4] as his new wife, was to have the first marriage annulled. Since the Pope refused to do this, he began a process of systematically cutting off ties to Rome and to poor Catherine who would die lonely and still in love to her King in 1536... the very year Henry and Frances Grey would welcome their first daughter into the world: Lady Jane Grey.[5]

Meanwhile, the more upset Henry became with Rome, the more the Protestant clergy were able to further their cause. He needed to lose Roman Catholicism in order to divorce Catherine. Of course, this was good news for the reformation in England but it must not be forgotten that Henry was a friend of the Reformation not as a Protestant believer, but out of necessity or expediency. As we will see, many held to the Reformed faith for the same reason - it got them what they want.

The Young Lady Jane and a Future King

As Henry continued to go through wives like some people go through money, Lady Jane Grey was being brought up in slightly uncommon manner for aristocratic women of the day. Henry and Frances were not good parents. They were far more interested in their leisure, money and personal social advancement than in their three daughters. And they began to see that one of those daughters might become very useful in meeting their aspirations to greatness.

In all, Henry had given birth to three mostly-legitimate children: Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. Before his death, he had arranged to bypass the first two girls and ensure that Edward would be his replacement. All of this was concocted through acts of parliament and so was common knowledge.[6]

The Greys looked at this like the nasty stepmother in Cinderella... if they could get the future King Edward to take Lady Jane as his wife, then they would be elevated to some of the highest social positions of the day. Thus, Jane was assigned a tutor and prepared to become the next queen of England.

In the providence of God, that tutor was a protestant believer by the name of John Aylmer. The twenty year old Cambridge graduate was to prepare the Grey girls for court life and at the age of six, Jane was learning Greek, Latin, French, Spanish and reading her Tyndale English Bible.[7] Jane was not an ordinary learner, and thus, she was introduced to court with some attention.

Not three years later, her parents decided that her prospects for marriage would greatly increase if she were to remain permanently at court. Thus, at the tender age of nine, Lady Jane was offered to Henry's sixth wife Catherine Parr as a maid-of-honour.[8] What a remarkable providence of God this turned out to be!

Whenever she was able... Jane Grey would join a number of others who, like Katherine herself, were sincere Christians gathering together regu­larly to study the Scriptures. Whatever ulterior motives her parents may have had for placing Jane in the royal Court at this time, a divine purpose transcended any human arrangements. During this period of her life the teachings of the Bible, carefully inculcated by John Aylmer, became regenerating truth in the child's heart. Forgiveness of sin and acceptance with God, not through any acts of merit on the part of the sinner, but through the grace and mercy of God in Christ, became a felt experience for Jane as she found in the Son of God both a Saviour and friend. Now prayer was no mere formality but a path to personal communion with God.

Historians, with little understanding of true heart-religion, and with an accompanying measure of prejudice against any for whom faith in God is an all-consuming dedication, use such words as ‘fanatical' and ‘extreme' when they speak of the reli­gious zeal of Lady Jane and of Prince Edward. The truth remains that these children had been caught up in an astonishing work of God, loosely called the Reformation - one that brought spir­itual renewal to generations of men and women and which would affect the whole course of world history.

And God was marvellously at work in Edward. Surrounded by such men as Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the heir to the throne was graciously saved by God at a young age and full of zeal for that heavenly Kingdom.

Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547, when Edward was only nine, but he ascended to the throne with a sense of calling that he was to rule before God first.

This was a little tricky to do as the actual reigning was accomplished through a council until the boy reached maturity. At least, that is the way it was supposed to be!


To understand what happened to King Edward and Lady Jane, you must understand something of the culture of England at this time. There was a definitive aristocracy that controlled land and money - and that smallish group had no intention of sharing. Thus, the average Brit lived a very difficult life and had no hope of "moving on up."

Most of the rich had servants to do all their work, so parents like the Greys could spend endless hours gambling and sporting while their money only made more money. All of that money and the jockeying for position, combined with a view of marriage that was for economic or prestige sake only led to a culture ripe with intrigue, gossip, lies, maneuvering, betrayals, deception and even murder. As much as the Reformation was making inroads into England, this was the ethos of the ruling class, including those closest to the boy King Edward.

Thus, upon Henry VIII's death, Edward Seymour (the boy's uncle) quickly assumed custody of his nephew. This was a shrewd political move, for the country was to be governed under Edward as a figurehead, by a regency of 16 men. By assuming custody, Edward Seymour essentially took control of the 9 year old Kind Edward and thus the country. His interests were not pure. Neither were his brother's, Thomas Seymour, who spent the rest of his earthly life trying to usurp his brother and gain control of the king... a scheme that resulted in his harsh death.

Thomas Seymour and The Grey Family

To get to King Edward, Thomas Seymour had been working his angles with the Grey family, holding out a promise of marriage for Lady Jane to the King. This was not entirely out of the question as King Edward and Lady Jane had spent significant time together, were intellectual peers and shared a similar love for Christ. Thus, Thomas Seymour convinced Henry Grey to essentially sell him Jane for 2000 pounds.

Thomas Seymour had also married Catherine Parr - the widow of King Henry.[9] This was the same Catherine that Lady Jane had served as a maid of honour. Now Jane was happily reunited with this Christian woman and became a ward of the Seymours. But Thomas Seymour's intentions were duplicitous. He wanted Lady Jane in order to wrest control of King Edward out of his brother's hands. By offering her to the boy King in marriage, he would take the place of influence as "father" of the bride. But his plans failed and in desperation he attempted a bizarre kidnapping of King Edward. It likely would have worked if not for Edward's dog that fended off Seymour at the door until it was shot and killed by the intruder. But the sound of the pistol alerted Edward's guards who rushed in and arrested Seymour. Yes, boys, poor Edward lost his dog... but Thomas Seymour lost his head!

Not long before this incident, Seymour's wife Catherine had died from complications in childbirth. The lone official mourner at the funeral of the former queen was the 11-year old Lady Jane. Thus, Jane lost her guardians and was returned to her unpleasant parents.

The Fox: John Dudley

Lurking in the background through all this intrigue was John Dudley. This member of the council had decided to let the two Seymour brothers destroy each other then move in to control the King. Essentially, that is what took place.

While Edward and Thomas Seymour wrestled for control, Dudley earned the confidence of the King and convinced the Greys to allow him to become Lady Jane's new guardian. Why he desired control of Jane will become clear in a moment. But with events transpiring so that Edward Seymour was also put to death, Dudley effectually became the most powerful man in the country.

Life for Jane

Jane's family life was no picnic, but her privileged position opened remarkable doors for her. She had begun to correspond (mainly in Latin and Greek) with some of the leading reformers of the day; men such as Martin Bucer[10] and Heinrich Bullinger.[11] Not only that, her studies had been greatly helped by more evangelical tutors like Miles Coverdale, William Tyndale's former assistant. In other words, her faith was growing at an incredible pace. Add to this her natural giftedness in learning, and one can understand how Jane could grasp so much of the Gospel and communicate it so effectively in such spiritually dark and politically uncertain times.

Meanwhile, John Dudley had been made Duke of Northumberland. He had also finagled his way into being one of King Edward's trusted counselors.[12] Since Dudley was privy to the King, he was one of the first to realize that Edward would not live out his 16th year. Tuberculosis was slowly killing the young Christian King and Dudley began to put his plan into action. His plan was to marry Lady Jane to his own son, Guilford. This would bring his family into the Tudor line and open a very possible door for the big prize.

Since King Henry had declared his first two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth) illegitimate, they were not (theoretically at least) in line for the throne. Moreover, as Dudley told the sickly King Edward, if either of them were to become Queen, they would undoubtedly return the country to Catholicism. It was probably this point that most provoked King Edward to write, by hand, the "Devise for the Succession."[13] In it, he excluded Mary and Elizabeth from the royal line and identified Lady Jane Grey as his immediate successor. Although this plan made some sense it was met with great anxiety and angst by the King's Privy Council and advisors. In the end, either through Northumberland's threatenings or mere pity for the dying boy, over 100 nobles signed the document as witnesses.

Guilford and Jane were married on May 25 1553. The marriage was not consummated as Dudley desired to keep annulment an option should the king live. But he need not have worried. After a long and tortuous battle, King Edward was picked up in the arms of his lifelong friend, Sir Henry Sidney, where he died on July 6 1553. His last words were, "Lord, have mercy upon me - take my spirit."

The Dominoes of Death

Dudley ordered silence concerning the King's death. He also ordered the immediate removal of Lady Jane from her home to London. What a shock it must have been for her to enter Syon House and to have Dukes and Duchesses stoop to kiss her hand or bow before her. Guilford was also there and Dudley began a lengthy speech in which he disclosed to all gathered how King Edward had both died and named Lady Jane his successor.

At this point the Duke turned to Jane, doubtless expecting some grateful response, and spoke to her directly,

‘Therefore you should cheerfully take upon you the name, title and estates of Queen of England, France [England still had possession of several French towns], and Ireland.'

It was all too much. The grievous news of her cousin's death and the even greater shock that the crown had been left to her, was more than the girl could sustain. The colour drained from her cheeks as she swayed and fell to the floor in a dead faint. It seemed that no one moved to help her. Moments later she came round, and still those silent figures stood there watching her. Terror overwhelmed her and she burst into tears: tears first of all for Edward... ‘so noble a prince', she managed to sob. Then controlling herself as she had long learnt to do in her difficult childhood, she spoke clearly and deliberately: ‘The crown is not my right and pleaseth me not. The Lady Mary is the rightful heir"[14]

The entire crowd began to chastise her for this response (after all, their collective good depended on her ascent to the throne) and Lady Jane tried to take it all in. Finally, while still on her knees she said, "If what hath been given to me is lawfully mine, may thy divine Majesty grant me such grace that I may govern to thy glory and service, to the advantage of this realm."[15] But the repulsion Lady Jane felt for this office was a clear foreboding of what was to come.

Lady Mary

Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, had been doing everything in his power to keep the news of Edward's death from reaching Lady Mary. He was also trying to capture her in order to prevent her from attempting a counter-claim to the throne. He was unsuccessful in both attempts.

Mary heard of Edward's passing and immediately went into hiding. As Lady Jane went to her coronation, Mary was gathering troops and preparing for war. She knew Jane was a mere pawn of Northumberland and she was equally sure she was the rightful heir to the throne. Most of the common people of England agreed with her. So nine days after Queen Jane had begun her reign, Mary arrived in London and demanded the throne. Queen Jane gladly removed her crown and told her women, "I am glad I am no longer Queen."

London rejoiced at their new Queen Mary, who in her speech to the masses promised a return to freedom of religion. She also sought to act kindly toward Jane, imprisoning her with the intention of release in later days. Northumberland would be killed for treason and like so many of that day, re-converted to Catholicism before his death. More than likely he thought this would buy him his life. He told Catholic Bishop Gardiner: "I would do penance all the days of my life, if it were but in a mouse hole. Is there no hope of mercy?" But he who loved his life did not find it when the spiteful Gardiner replied, "I think you must die." As Lady Jane watched his death from jail, she was heard to remark: "I pray God that I, nor no friend of mine, die so."

With Northumberland gone and the balance of power firmly shifted into Queen Mary's control, it seemed like there might yet be good for Lady Jane. She was kept imprisoned in the Tower of London but given special privileges to dine with the Gentleman Jailor and his wife. Guilford was also held in the Tower and after some time the two were allowed to occasionally see one another. But while life somewhat eased for the prisoners, the outside world was reeling with changes.

Many of the men who had supported the Reformation in England now renounced the "new faith" and returned to Rome. Dr. Harding, one of Jane's former family chaplains and a highly regarded evangelical ran back to Catholicism. Once Jane heard of this she wrote a long letter to him that ended:

"Last of all, let the lively remembrance of the last day be always before your eyes, remembering the terror that such shall be in at that time, with the runagates and fugitives from Christ, which, setting more by the world than by heaven, more by their life than by him that gave them life, did shrink, yea, did clean fall away, from him that forsook not them: and, contrariwise, the inestimable joys prepared for them, that fearing no peril, nor dreading death, have manfully fought, and victoriously triumphed over all power of darkness, over hell, death, and damnation, through their most redoubted Captain, Christ, who now stretcheth out his arms to receive you, ready to fall upon your neck and kiss you, and, last of all, to feast you with the dainties and delicates of his own precious blood: which undoubtedly, if it might stand with his determinate purpose, he would not let to shed again, rather than you should he lost. To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, praise, and glory everlasting. Amen.

"Be constant, be constant; fear not for any pain:

Christ hath redeemed thee, and heaven is thy gain."[16]

Her own parents effectively disowned her and pledged allegiance to Mary. Not even when Jane was finally brought to trial did they come to visit her.

Judge Morgan presided over the trial in which Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Lady Jane, Guilford, and his two brothers were charged with treason. All but Cranmer plead guilty and after a brief trial all were sentenced to die. Still, most believed Queen Mary would pardon the 15 year old Jane.[17]

Jane wrote a prayer at this time, part of which read:

Give me grace, therefore, to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works, assuredly knowing, that as thou canst, so thou wilt, deliver me, when it shall please thee, nothing doubting or mistrusting thy goodness towards me; for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do: therefore do with me in all things what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt. Only, in the mean time, arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armour, that I may stand fast, my loins being girded about with verity, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and shod with the shoes prepared by the gospel of peace: above all things taking to me the shield of faith, wherewith I may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is thy most holy word: praying always with all manner of prayer and supplication, that I may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure, and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot be but well, all that thou doest. Hear me, O merciful Father! for his sake, whom thou wouldest should be a sacrifice for my sins: to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory. Amen.

Wyatt's Rebellion

It is here our story takes its saddest turn. Henry Grey had reportedly bought his freedom from Mary by abandoning his daughter and returning to Catholicism. Not long after that, he was swept up into what is called Wyatt's rebellion - an attempt to dislodge Mary and return Jane to the throne. It was a failed attempt that ended in the death of many and the final arrest of Jane's father.

It also put Queen Mary into a very difficult position. No doubt there would be others who would not appreciate how she was restoring England to Roman Catholicism and they would also seek to revolt. As long as Jane and Guilford lived, they would remain a threat to her reign because of their claim to the throne and their evangelical beliefs. Thus, with some measure of reluctance, she signed their death warrant.

Feckenham, a respected Catholic priest was sent to Lady Jane to tell her the news and to attempt to convert her. He was an accomplished orator and debater and was fully confident he would win the girl's soul before the axe fell. Their private conversations seemed to make no progress, but Feckenham did manage to convince her to join him in a public debate on the next day. One wonders if he regretted this in the end, for Jane was no easy prey. The exchange went on for quite some time and was recorded. Here is a sample:

Feckenham.-"How shall we love our neighbour?"

Jane.-"To love our neighbour is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to give drink to the thirsty, and to do to him as we would do to ourselves."

Feckenham.-"Why? then it is necessary unto salvation to do good works also, and it is not sufficient only to believe."

Jane.-"I deny that, and I affirm that faith only saveth: but it is meet for a Christian, in token that he followeth his Master Christ, to do good works; yet may we not say that they profit to our salvation. For when we have done all, yet we be unprofitable servants, and faith only in Christ's blood saveth us."

Feckenham.-"How many sacraments are there?"

Jane.-"Two: the one the sacrament of baptism, and the other the sacrament of the Lord's supper."

Feckenham.-"No, there are seven."

Jane.-"By what Scripture find you that?"

Feckenham.-"Well, we will talk of that hereafter..."

Like the martyrs before and after her, Jane was also questioned on her understanding of the Lord's Supper. The denial of the doctrine of transubstantiation, where the bread used in the rite supposedly becomes the actual body of Jesus was a test case for Catholic orthodoxy. So the questioning continued:

Feckenham.-"Why? what do you receive in that sacrament? Do you not receive the very body and blood of Christ?"

Jane.-"No surely, I do not so believe. I think that at the supper I neither receive flesh nor blood, but bread and wine: which bread when it is broken, and the wine when it is drunken, put me in remembrance how that for my sins the body of Christ was broken, and his blood shed on the cross; and with that bread and wine I receive the benefits that come by the breaking of his body, and shedding of his blood, for our sins on the cross."

Feckenham.-"Why, doth not Christ speak these words, Take, eat, this is my body? Require you any plainer words? Doth he not say, it is his body?"

Jane.-"I grant he saith so; and so he saith, I am the vine, I am the door; but he is never the more for that the door or the vine. Doth not St. Paul say, He calleth things that are not, as though they were? God forbid that I should say, that I eat the very natural body and blood of Christ: for then either I should pluck away my redemption, or else there were two bodies, or two Christs. One body was tormented on the cross, and if they did eat another body, then had he two bodies: or if his body were eaten, then was it not broken upon the cross; or if it were broken upon the cross, it was not eaten of his disciples."

By the end of the debate, Feckenham was heartbroken. He had grown to genuinely appreciate the remarkable Lady Jane, but was convinced she was a heretic.

Thus he left her saying, that he was sorry for her:

Feckenham.-"For I am sure," quoth he, "that we two shall never meet."

Jane.-"True it is," said she, "that we shall never meet, except God turn your heart; for I am assured, unless you repent and turn to God, you are in an evil case. And I pray God, in the bowels of his mercy, to send you his Holy Spirit; for he hath given you his great gift of utterance, if it pleased him also to open the eyes of your heart."

Feckenham was so moved by his time with Lady Jane that he offered to accompany her as a friend to the scaffold where she would die. Forbidden from having any Protestant clergy with her, she accepted this offer.

To the Scaffold

The nine day Queen, spent the next hours preparing for death. She wrote evangelistic letters to family,[18] gave away her few remaining possessions, and tried to encourage, by a brief note, her 17 year old husband, Guilford.

Guilford was to be beheaded on the same day as Jane and she watched as he marched behind the axe man past her window. What thoughts went through that 16 year old girls' mind as her husband walked away to his death? It was not long until the horse cart carrying his lifeless body and severed head drove past. And Jane waited in her room for a knock on the door.

It soon followed and Lady Jane made her way to the scaffold. After mounting it she asked permission to speak to the small crowd allowed to witness her death. Here is how John Foxe recorded the sad event:

"Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact against the queen's Highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but, touching the procurement and desire thereof by me, or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day:" and therewith she wrung her hands, wherein she had her book. Then said she, "I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I do look to be saved by no other mean, but only by the mercy of God, in the blood of his only Son Jesus Christ: and I confess, that when I did know the word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world; and therefore this plague and punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God, that of his goodness he hath thus given me a time and respite to repent. And now, good people, while I am alive, I pray you assist me with your prayers." And then, kneeling down, she turned her to Feckenham, saying, "Shall I say this psalm?" And he said, "Yea." Then said she the psalm of Miserere mei Deus [Psalm 51] in English, in most devout manner, throughout to the end; and then she stood up, and gave her maiden, Mistress Ellen, her gloves and handkerchief, and her book to Master Bruges. And then she untied her gown, and the hangman pressed upon her to help her off with it; but she, desiring him to let her alone, turned towards her two gentlewomen, who helped her off therewith, and also with her frowes, paaft, and neckerchief, giving to her a fair handkerchief to knit about her eyes.

Then the hangman kneeled down and asked her forgiveness, whom she forgave most willingly. Then he willed her to stand upon the straw; which doing, she saw the block. Then she said, "I pray you despatch me quickly." Then she kneeled down, saying, "Will you take it off, before I lay me down?" And the hangman said, "No, madam." Then tied she the handkerchief about her eyes, and feeling for the block, she said, "What shall I do? Where is it? Where is it?" One of the standers-by guiding her thereunto she laid her head down upon the block, and then stretched forth her body, and said, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit..."[19]

With a stroke, swift, sharp and terrible Jane's short life was ended. Like the Apostle Paul, she had fought a good fight, finished the course and kept the faith. Henceforth there was laid up for her a crown of righteousness - a crown that none could take from her.[20]

Lessons from the Lady

What do we learn from the life of Lady Jane? I can think of seven things:

1. The inestimable value of doctrine. Jane knew her Bible and what her Bible taught. She was able to withstand the intense questioning of accusers and give a solid testimony to the Lord's providence in her life even though, like Joseph, she had suffered much at the hands of her family.

How well do you know your Bible? Is it your tendency to call a pastor in trials or do you reflect on Truth? Jane had no one to turn to and such may be the case for you one day. Are you prepared to keep your membership covenant and "if called upon by my Lord, to hazard my life for the gospel's sake?"

2. Young does not necessitate stupid. There is no doubt Lady Jane Grey was uniquely gifted, yet her life demonstrates that a young teenager is capable of doing a lot more than yawning through High School and text-messaging. Your mind is a gift from God that is to be developed and used to His glory. What of you teenagers at Grace Fellowship Church? Are you studying hard, not for grades but for learning? Are you using all that energy and vigour and insight God has blessed you with to pursue Truth deeply? Don't waste your mind!

3. Be prepared to die for your faith. In her short five year reign, Bloody Mary killed 282 Protestant men, women, and children. Another 800 left the country for safety. Our lives are easy in 2008 in Canada, but things can change. Are you prepared to be killed for loving Jesus?

Many people around Jane renounced their faith at the end of their lives in either the hope that it would save their lives or save their souls. One of the most amazing things about Jane is her resoluteness even in the face of death. What of you teenager? Are you willing to die for what you believe about Jesus?

4. Speak the truth forcefully while submitting to your superiors willingly. Jane was a model of this! This was more than "the way things were back then." For a woman to speak with such clarity and force was unheard of and is indicative of her sharp mind. Thus, her careful obedience to her authorities was all the more remarkable. She knew full well their shenanigans, yet willingly followed.

5. Trust in the mystery of God's providence. The Lord speedily advanced the Reformation by putting godly Edward on the throne only to allow him to die at a young age. Then he had the equally godly Jane ascend the throne only to be quickly tossed aside. And then Mary came to the throne in an attempt to undo all the progress that had been made and hundreds were killed. And in all of this, we know that for those who loved God and were called according to His purpose, He was working together all things for good. His ways are not our ways, but we can utterly trust Him!

6. Delight in God. Jane wrote a prayer shortly before her execution:

"O merciful God, consider my misery, best known unto thee; and be thou now unto me a strong tower of defence, I humbly require thee. Suffer me not to be tempted above my power, but either be thou a deliverer unto me out of this great misery, or else give me grace, patiently to hear thy heavy hand and sharp correction... Give me grace, therefore, to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works, assuredly knowing, that as thou canst, so thou wilt, deliver me, when it shall please thee, nothing doubting or mistrusting thy goodness towards me; for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do: therefore do with me in all things what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt. Only, in the mean time, arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armour, that I may stand fast... that I may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure, and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot be but well, all that thou doest. Hear me, O merciful Father! for his sake, whom thou wouldest should be a sacrifice for my sins: to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory. Amen."

These are the words of a woman delighting in God, to His glory and for the good of all people. Could they be your words?

7. God glorifies Himself through women as well as men! The dignity and grace with which Jane offered up her life was a distinctly feminine. Preparing to be burnt at the stake a year later, Hugh Latimer would turn to Bishop Ridley and in a distinctly masculine way encourage, "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." Today's semper reformanda needs masculine men and feminine women to glorify God in their bodies - even to the laying down of their own lives. Ladies, are you in particular, prepared to follow Jesus even unto death in ways that befit a woman of God?

‘To mortals' common fate thy mind resign

My lot today, tomorrow may be thine.

- Lady Jane (Scratched into her prison wall in Latin)

[1] Much of this paper is indebted to Faith Cook's excellent biography, Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England (Webster, NY: Evangelical Press, 2004). I have footnoted direct quotes, but almost all of the content of this paper is summarized from this work.

[2] Henry claimed that this lack of a male heir was because his marriage was "blighted in the eyes of God." Catherine had been his late brother's wife, and it was therefore against biblical teachings for Henry to have married her (Leviticus 20:21); a special dispensation from Pope Julius II had been needed to allow the wedding in the first place. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England

[3] Henry's Catholicism was secure: in 1521 he had defended the Catholic Church from Martin Luther's accusations of heresy in a book he wrote, probably with considerable help from Thomas More, entitled The Defence of the Seven Sacraments, for which he was awarded the title "Defender of the Faith" (Fidei Defensor) by Pope Leo X. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Reformation

[4] Anne had come to court in March 1522. She was the sister of Mary who was involved in an extramarital affair with Henry at that time.

[5] Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Lady Frances Brandon.

[6] These various acts declared the first two daughters illegitimate by reason of the marriages to their mothers being illegitimate.

[7] Part of her zeal for learning might have been her home life: "I will tell you a truth which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that God ever gave me is that he sent me so sharp and severe parents and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in the presence of Father or Mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them), so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time comes that I must go to Mr Aylmer, who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing while I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping because whatsoever I do else but learning is full of grief, trouble, fear and wholly misliking to me." (1550).

[8] Maids of Honour were the junior attendants on a Queen in the royal households of England and later of the United Kingdom. Traditionally, a Queen regnant had eight Maids of Honour, while a Queen consort had four. A Maid of Honour was a maiden, meaning that she was unmarried, and was usually young. Lady Jane Grey, for example, served as a Maid-of-Honour to Queen Katherine Parr in about 1546-48, when Jane was only about ten to twelve years old. Maids of Honour should not be confused with Maids of the Court. Maids of Honour were almost always in their sixteenth year or older. Under Mary I and Elizabeth I, maids of honour were at court as a kind of finishing school, with the hope of making a good marriage. Some of the Maids of Honour were paid, while others were not.

[9] Interestingly, Thomas Seymour's sister, Jane Seymour, was the third wife of King Henry and also the mother of the soon-to-be King Edward.

[10] The pastor who attempted to forge an understanding between Luther and Zwingli in the area of the Eucharist by arranging for a meeting between the two.

[11] Replaced Zwingli after his death in Zurich.

[12] Henry Grey was not doing so badly himself, having also become a Duke through the death of an older relative.

[13] See appendix for a photograph of this document.

[14] Cook, 126.

[15] Cook, 127.

[16] These and any quotes that are not footnoted are taken from Foxe's Book of Martyrs - multiple editions.

[17] Morgan wrote that Lady Jane looked him full in the face as he announced his verdict. He went mad 6 months later and died crying out in despair, "Take the Lady Jane from me!" He could not erase the image of that innocent face from his mind.

[18] It is interesting to me that several of these letters contained the phrase, "Live still to die..."

[19] Foxe, Book of Martyrs. Multiple copies.

[20] Cook, 201.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Man, These Are Great Lyrics!

You know, there are just not many people writing songs with as theologically adept words as there used to be. Joseph Hart wrote many wonderful hymns, but I was just listening to IG's version of, "Come, Ye Sinners" while I was studying and was arrested by this verse again:

Come, Ye Sinners (Jordan):

"Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you,
'Tis the Spirit's rising beam."

There is such wonderful hope in the Gospel!


A few years ago I developed a strong urge to incorporate a final benediction into our meetings for corporate worship at Grace Fellowship Church. This had never been a part of my ministry, probably out of reaction to some of the rote renditions I had lived under in the past.

It is now a great joy to me to speak one of these blessings over the sheep allotted to me each week. It is exciting to read them with meaning and to bless my people with the very words of Scripture.

I got to wondering. Do you have a benediction at church? And are there any we have missed on our list?

Just reading this list will bless you...

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Now to him who is able to strengthen you
according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations,
according to the command of the eternal God,
to bring about the obedience of faith
— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

May the God of peace be with you all.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority,
before all time and now and forever. Amen.

And my God will supply every need of yours
according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith,
from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all... so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

May... our God may make you worthy of his calling and may [He] fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lady Jane Grey and Reformation Day

For the first time in my annual Reformation Day series I am going be delivering a biographical sketch of a woman. Having already taught on Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and Hubmaier, I thought it would be great to see what role women played in this movement of God.
A month or so ago I emailed my friend Michael Haykin to ask his suggestion on who that study should be on. His reply? "Oh Lady Jane Grey. No doubt about it."
So I did what you are about to do and ran over to Wikipedia to find out who that was!
After lots of reading I cannot wait to share her life with the folks at GFC on Sunday night. I will try to post the paper here afterwards if I can. I have a terrible time posting Word files to this blog though.

Monday, October 27, 2008

For My Friends in Louisville, Kentucky

Williams Syndrome Web Watch: Louisville Benefit for Williams Syndrome Association:

"'Check your diets at the door and enjoy a sampling of 10 desserts to raise funds for the Williams Syndrome Association. The all-day benefit will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday at Sweet Surrender Dessert Cafe in Crescent Hill.

Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by physical and developmental disabilities. It occurs in about one out of every 7,500 births.

During the day a 10-inch cake and other prizes will be raffled, with proceeds to benefit the association.'"

Friday, October 24, 2008

For the One Trying, Not Trusting

For the One Trying, Not Trusting
Sin enslaved me many years,
And led me bound and blind;
Till at length a thousand fears
Came swarming o'er my mind.
Where, I said in deep distress,
Will these sinful pleasures end?
How shall I secure my peace,
And make the LORD my friend?

Friends and ministers said much
The gospel to enforce;
But my blindness still was such,
I chose a legal course
Much I fasted, watched and strove,
Scarce would show my face abroad,
Feared, almost, to speak or move,
A stranger still to GOD.

Thus afraid to trust his grace,
Long time did I rebel;
Till, despairing of my case,
Down at his feet I fell:
Then my stubborn heart he broke,
And subdued me to his sway;
By a simple word he spoke,
"Thy sins are done away."

Originally entitled: “The heart healed and changed by mercy.”
By William Cowper. Hymn 63 in Olney Hymns.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Over the Hill?

Last week I completed our Sunday morning sermon series on the core values of Grace Fellowship Church. It was joy to study and preach through these with Julian and you can access the messages here.

This week I am back in the Gospel of John after a long hiatus and it is like sitting down for coffee with an old friend. I was quite timid to preach John as I think it is one of the most layered and profound books in the Bible. Even though it is narrative, it almost carries a sense of the wisdom literature genre to it – for the careful reader. But initial fear, as is so often the case, was soon replaced by excitement. The only Gospel I have yet to preach through verse by verse is Matthew – and the beauty of each is that it teaches you Christ.

I recall someone coming to me early in the John series and saying, “When you announced John I was a little let down. We had already heard lengthy series on Mark and Luke. But once we got going it enflamed my love for Jesus like never before! I just cannot get enough of Christ!” My thoughts run parallel. The Christian never tires to hear of His Lord (even though the preacher might get tiresome).

So, it is finally back to some routine. I have a set text to study each week, instead of a topic like the Core Values series and that is fine with me. It has been a long and weary sprint from Labour Day to this week!

We have also begun a new evening series we call “26 Questions (You Should Be Asking).” Lots of folks have asked me for that list of questions and I am happy to share it here:

  1. How Can I Know What is True?
  2. Who Is God?
  3. How Many Gods Are There?
  4. Where Did the World Come From?
  5. Is The World Spinning Out of Control?
  6. What is prayer and What Does it Do?
  7. Are There Other Spiritual Beings?
  8. Why Are We Here?
  9. Is There Any Difference Between Men & Women?
  10. What is Sin and What Difference Does it Make?
  11. Who is Jesus?
  12. Why Did Jesus Die?
  13. Where is Jesus Now?
  14. What is the Gospel?
  15. What Does it Mean to Be Born Again?
  16. What Can I Do About My Guilt?
  17. Will My Life Ever Get Better?
  18. Can I Lose My Salvation?
  19. What Happens When I Die?
  20. Who is the Holy Spirit?
  21. What is the Church?
  22. What is Baptism?
  23. What is the Lord's Supper?
  24. Where Do I Fit in the Church?
  25. What Will Happen at the End of Time?
  26. What is the 'After-Life'?

Some of those questions might get tweaked a little as we move on, but they give you the general feel. I am really excited about this series especially as it falls on the end of our Core Values. Not only do we want to answer these questions, but we also want to show how these answers contribute to our Core Values. I think it will be a great series taught by a number of our gifted men.

I will be preaching elsewhere this week, but am happy to leave my pulpit to Tom Gee and Julian Freeman. It is a Fellowship Lunch Sunday at GFC, so after our morning meeting we eat lunch together and move right from that into a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Our whole family hates to miss that, but such the schedule dictates!

So, it appears the gallop has settled back down to a trot. We are over the hill and await a new one.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pastor, Remember the Spiritual Disciplines: Past Practice, Present Imperative

SermonAudio.com - TPF - Pastor, Remember the Spiritual Disciplines: Past Practice, Present Imperative

We were delighted to sit under the ministry of Dr. Michael Haykin yesterday at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship. Michael gave a wonderful presentation on early Baptist spirituality and filled the time with numerous examples and observations of how men of old developed depth in their relationship with the Almighty. In an age that runs to labyrinths and coffee houses to "find God," it was wonderfully refreshing to hear a renowned scholar promote those time-tested spiritual disciplines like the public reading of Scripture and prayer. Some of his conclusions might even shock you.

If you follow the link you can download the entire audio from the day, including the discussion period which followed. You can also download a pdf version of the paper. What a great resource!

A huge thanks again to all those volunteers brewing coffee, setting up, handing out copies, running the registration desk and all that. You folks are awesome!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MLJ on The Non-use of an Altar Call

"That is why I never try to frighten people into the kingdom of God. I do not even call people forward at the end of a service. I know that when the Spirit of God has dealt with them, has changed them, and has given them new minds and hearts, they will come and tell me or tell somebody else. I do not want an immediate decision because I know that even I can produce decisions. A man’s eloquence or the use of lights or music can produce decisions. But I do not do that. I simply put the truth before people, and it is the Spirit of the living God alone who can apply that truth, and He does."

- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Courageous Christianity, 299.

Toronto Pastors Fellowship - Getting Ready for Dr. Haykin on Monday!

It seems like more than one month has passed since our last meeting which makes me all the more eager to see you on Monday at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship.

Dr. Michael Haykin has prepared an excellent paper examining the lives of some of our forebears in the ministry. In his study he has sought to pull out the spiritual disciplines practiced by these men with an aim to fortifying our own personal godliness. I am confident you will be deeply blessed and encouraged by the fruit of his work.

We were pleased to receive some very helpful suggestions from several brothers on how to improve our time together and hope to implement many of these next week. And, like last month, we have some nice things to give you and a little Starbucks ready to brew.

As I mentioned at our first gathering, one of our intentions for this meeting is to get brothers in the Lord in southern Ontario relationally connected. We think it is vital we know each other, pray for each other and support one another as much as possible. So, perhaps today would be a good day to invite a pastor-friend to join with you on Monday. Just be sure to have them register on the website in advance so we can have a really nice name tag for them!

Looking forward to seeing you!

Spurgeon on the Need to Preach Jesus

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
- Spurgeon At His Best, compiled by Tom Carter, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991 reprinted edition, first published 1988), 67.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sermon Quotes: Matthew Henry on Eden

Matthew Henry describes man’s condition in Eden before sin:

“We may well suppose [it] to have been the most accomplished place for pleasure and delight that ever the sun saw, when the all-sufficient God himself designed it to be the present happiness of his beloved creature, man... No delights can be agreeable nor satisfying to a soul but those that God himself has provided and appointed for it; no true paradise, but of God's planting. The situation of this garden was extremely sweet. It was in Eden, which signifies delight and pleasure.

It was beautiful and adorned with every tree that, for its height or breadth, its make or colour, its leaf or flower, was pleasant to the sight and charmed the eye; it was replenished and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste and useful to the body, and so good for food. God, as a tender Father, consulted not only Adam's profit, but his pleasure; for there is a pleasure consistent with innocency, nay, there is a true and transcendent pleasure in innocency. God delights in the prosperity of his servants...”

Friday, October 10, 2008

Canada rated world's soundest bank system

Canada rated world's soundest bank system: survey | U.S. | Reuters

I guess this is good. As long as anybody has any money left to put in a bank!

Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

ESV Study Bible Now Available!

Westminster Bookstore - Reformed Books - Low Prices - Flat Fee UPS Shipping - ESV, English Standard Version Study Bible (Hardcover) 9781433502415

Westminster Books has copies of the brand new ESV Study Bible available for $28.49. Too bad they only ship to the US!

For members of GFC, you will be glad to know we are getting a shipment in soon. If you did not pre-order, please see Tim Challies after a service on Sunday. We ordered a limited number of extras - first come, first served.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Getting Ready to Die

There is a Land of Pure Delight
There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.

There everlasting spring abides,
And never-withering flowers;
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heavenly land from ours.

Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand dress'd in living green:
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan roll'd between.

But timorous mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea;
And linger shivering on the brink,
And fear to launch away.

Oh! could we make our doubts remove,
Those gloomy doubts that rise,
And see the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes!

Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o'er,
Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood,
Should fright us from the shore.

-Isaac Watts

Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why Della Reese Really Shouldn't Preach - Exhibit 1

Sunday Sermon 8/3/08 - Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, Christ Jesus (part 2) « The UP Church Blog:

"Why did Jesus come?

He came to show us the attaining the Christ consciousness is possible for all of us. He came to awaken us to the possibilities of our own nature. He came that we might have life and that more abundantly through the piece of God in us already. He gave us the attitude of being. Instead of ‘thou shalt not’ he said, ‘blessed are they that.

When it is written that Jesus went up into the mountains, it means that he went to a higher level of thinking, a higher level of attitude, a higher level of consciousness. He had to go to the Christ inside of him to be buoyant over the water. You have to do the same. Before you do whatever you have to do, speak to God first. You can’t have a better partner."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Remember to Pray for the Stauffers Today

Hundreds expected at slain Alta. girl's funeral

EDMONTON - A teenage girl who loved God, her family and photography will be buried Friday in Edson, Alta., as RCMP continue their manhunt to solve a murder case that touched hearts and outraged Canadians from coast to coast.

More than 1,000 mourners are expected to attend the funeral for 14-year-old Emily Stauffer, who was attacked and killed on a walking trail last week.

Stauffer's funeral service will be held in the gymnasium of the Yellowhead Koinonia Christian School in Edson at 11 a.m. and it is open to the public, said Brian Thebeau, chairman of the Edson Baptiste Church's board of deacons. Terry Stauffer, Emily's father, is the church's pastor.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tony Campolo on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos

Tony Campolo on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos

So, Tony was back on George's show last night. You can watch the 12 minute interview via the link above.

Tony said that Christianity's "core obligation" was to "reach out to the poor and oppressed." In the context he was speaking of the physically poor.

Hmmm. I checked the red letters in my Bible and found this: "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” Seems to me like that summary message of the Saviour's ministry is a lot more accurate than what Tony suggested.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things That Make Absolutely No Sense to Me

Science News / Largest Known Prime Number Found:
"Here’s a number to savor: 243,112,609-1.

Its size is mind-boggling. With nearly 13 million digits, it makes the number of atoms in the known universe seem negligible, a mere 80 digits.

And its form is tidy and lovely: 2n-1.

But its true beauty is far grander: It is a prime number. Indeed, it is the largest prime number ever found."

Um. Great!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Life of Lloyd-Jones

The Life of Lloyd-Jones

A host of back issues of the Themelios Journal have been made available by The Gospel Coalition... for free.

There were some questions raised concerning D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship on Monday and so I am pleased to commend this little biographical sketch to you if you are unfamiliar with "the Doctor's" life.

The article was written by D. Eryl Davies on an unspecified date.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Toronto Pastors Fellowship - Reflections on Meeting One

The first meeting of the Toronto Pastors Fellowship took place yesterday – what a great day! We were delighted with the large and diverse population of attendees and thankful that so many found encouragement in the meeting.
I anticipate everything only “getting better” as we move along, especially as our rotation of speakers significantly improves from this point forward. Dr. Michael Haykin has graciously agreed to join us next month to discuss Christian, pastoral, personal spirituality and especially what we can learn from men of the past. I am personally thrilled Michael is able to come and look forward to correcting him (an inside joke for those who made the first meeting!).
We also have more things scheduled to give away (since we think pastors deserve encouragement) and another surprise we are working on. So, if you missed the first meeting, you will not want to miss the second.
The highlight of the day from my vantage point was watching all the folks from GFC quietly and happily serving. A number of them took time off work to be there and do everything from direct parking or make coffee or sit at the information desk. A close second to that sight was the mingling of men who were meeting for the first time... how I pray these relationships will be fortified and used of God to advance His work!
Please add TPF to your prayer list. It will be of no value if the Lord is not in it. The testimony of the men yesterday indicated He has been so far. Praise the Lord.

MLJ on the Authority of the Holy Spirit

“There was an old preacher in Wales about one hundred and fifty years ago who was invited to preach at a preaching convention held in a little town. The people had already assembled, but the preacher had not come. So the local minister and other leaders sent a maid back to the house where the preacher was staying to tell him that they were waiting for him and that everything was ready. The girl went and when she came back she said: ‘I did not like to disturb him. He was talking to somebody.’ ‘Oh’, said they, ‘that is rather strange, because everybody is here. Go back and tell him that it is after time and that he must come.’ So the girl went back again and again she returned and reported, ‘He is talking to somebody.’ ‘How do you know that?’ they asked. She answered: ‘I heard him saying to this other person who is with him, “I will not go and preach to those people if you will not come with me”.’ ‘Oh, it is all right’, replied the ministers. ‘We had better wait.’
The old preacher knew that there was little purpose in his going to preach unless he knew of a certainty that the Holy Ghost was going with him and giving him authority and power. He was wise enough, and had sufficient spiritual discernment, to refuse to preach until he knew that he had his authority, and that the Holy Ghost was going with him and would speak through him. You and I, however, often preach without Him, and all our cleverness and learning, and all our science and all our apologetics lead to nothing because we lack the authority of the Holy Ghost.”

Authority, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 88

The book contains the substance of lectures MLJ delivered in Ontario in 1957.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Toronto Pastors Fellowship

We have almost reached our maximum for the first TPF meeting. Well, we have a lot more room in the building, but we are giving out a free gift to the first 60 to pre-register. I think we have 3 spots left at this point (Friday at 3PM). It you were wondering why we are asking folks to register the short answer is that it allows us to print name tags and buy enough coffee.
All that to say, even if you have not yet registered, you still can. And if someone does not show up who registered before you, you can have their gift after the meeting! There is no registration fee and we do not collect any money - this ministry is a service of Grace Fellowship Church and the Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada.
We have some other exciting things to give you who make it to the meeting, but I won’t go into that now.
It is a joy to see all the different men who have registered so far. Pray with me that the Lord uses TPF to advance the cause of Christ our Saviour in Toronto, southern Ontario and the world.

Tedd in the Hornet's Nest

Local News | Spanking advocate whips up furor in Seattle area | Seattle Times Newspaper

One of the largest churches in the state — Mars Hill Church — is bringing in a Christian parenting author whose advocacy of spanking young children is creating a stir.

The author, Tedd Tripp, says in his book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" that "God calls parents to spank their children."

Tripp will speak at what is being billed as a biblical parenting conference tonight and Saturday morning. His workshops will be held at Mars Hill's Ballard campus and simulcast to four of its six other campuses, in West Seattle, Lake City, Shoreline and Bellevue.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Richard Baxter on Delighting in God

Richard Baxter wrote a treatise entitled, The Character of a Confirmed Christian. In it, he lists 60 characteristics of true Christianity. He describes the true Christian experience of such, then describes the weak Christian’s experience of it, and finally the false professor’s (“Seeming Christian”) experience of the same. All 60 characteristics are considered under each of these three headings (the True Christian, the Weak Christian, the Seeming Christian).

Below is his description of the True Christian's experience of Delight in God (#23). Is this true of you?

XXIII. 1. A Christian indeed daily delights himself in God, and finds more solid content and pleasure in his commands and promises, than in all this world ; his duties are sweet to him, and his hopes are sweeter. Religion is not a tiresome task to him, the yoke of Christ is easy to him, his burden light, and his commandments are not grievous. That which others take as physic, for mere necessity, against their wills he goes to as a feast, with appetite and delight; he prays because he loves to pray; and he thinks and speaks of holy things, because he loves to do it. Hence it is that he is so much in holy duty, and so unwearied, because he loves it and takes pleasure in it. As voluptuous persons are oft and long at their sports, or merry company all because they love them, and take pleasure in them: so are such Christians oft and long in holy exercises, because their hearts are set upon them as their recreation, and the way and means of their felicity. If it be a delight to a studious man to read those books which most clearly open the most abstruse mysteries of the sciences, or to converse with the most wise and learned men: and if it be a delight to men to converse with their dearest friends, or to hear from them and read their letters, no marvel if it be a delight to a Christian indeed, to read the gospel mysteries of love, and to find there the promises of everlasting happiness, and to see in the face of Christ the clearest image of the eternal deity; and foresee the joys which he shall have forever. He sticks not in superficial formality, but breaking the shell, doth feed upon the kernel. It is not bare external duty which he is taken up with, nor any mere creature that is his content; but it is God in creatures and ordinances that he seeks and lives upon ; and therefore it is that religion is so pleasant to him. He would not change his heavenly delights, which he finds in the exercise of faith, hope, and love to God, for all the carnal pleasures of this world ; he had rather be a door-keeper in the house of God, than dwell in the tents or palaces of wickedness. A day in God’s court is better to him than a thousand in the court of the greatest prince on earth. He is not a stranger to the joy in the Holy Ghost, in which the kingdom of God in part consists. ‘In the multitude of his thoughts within him, the comforts of God delight his soul. – His meditation of God is sweet, and he is glad in the Lord.’ The freest and sweetest of his thoughts and words run out upon God and the matters of salvation. The word of God is sweeter to him than honey, and better than thousands of gold and silver. And because his delight is in the law of the Lord, therefore he meditates in it day and night, he sees great reason for all those commands, ‘rejoice evermore, let the righteous be glad, let them rejoice before God, yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy all that are upright in heart.’ He is sorry for the poor unhappy world, that have no better things than meat, drink, clothes, house, land, money, lust, play, and domineering over others, to rejoice in; and heartily he wishes that they had but a taste of the saint’s delights, that it might make them abandon their luscious, unclean, unwholesome pleasures. One look to Christ, one promise of the gospel, one serious thought of the life which he must live with God for ever, doth afford his soul more solid comfort than all the kingdoms on earth can afford. Though he live not continually in these high delights, yet peace with God, peace of conscience, and some delight in God, and godliness, is the ordinary temperature of his soul, and higher degrees are given him in season for his cordials and his feasts.

From: The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Baker (714-715)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Have You Registered?

Registrations for the Toronto Pastors Fellowship are coming in fast and furious. One of the goals for this fellowship is to help pastors get to know each other, so we are asking all who attend to register online. That lets us keep a little database that we can sell to aggressive telemarketers. Not. It allows us to know how to spell your name right and identify you with the correct church family.
It also lets us buy enough doughnuts and brew enough coffee – and for some of you that is very important!
So, to entice you to register, we have a very nice gift to give you if you are one of the first 60. And yes, this includes you have been coming for a long time – we need you to register. Want to know what that gift is? Ahhhh. Who doesn’t? But you will have to come to the meeting to find out what it is and to get it! Space is filling up quickly so take a second to register today if you have not already. (And no, Kenny, you cannot register twice to get two presents!)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Deceptive Fruit - Ryan Freeman

Deceptive Fruit - Ryan Freeman:

My nephew, Ryan (he of many secret blogs!) has a great post here on how easily we are deceived even by our own hearts. Read the whole thing or enjoy this outtake...

"Approximately three hours and three large and heavy bundles later, I had a different perspective. What had appeared to be a reasonably healthy tree was in fact mostly dead (but not all dead - no looking for loose change yet!) and heavily infested. In working on the tree I clipped off all the dead branches I could reach, pulled many large weeds and small trees from around the base, removed several large branches that had snuck through the fence from neighbouring trees, and washed out all the accumulated sawdust and soil from the ant infestations. The remainder is a barely recognizable trunk and a few branches that still bear green leaves.

How had I been so fooled? How did I not see the tree was so close to death? The reasons are many, and they spoke directly to my heart:

* The decay happened gradually
* My expectations were lowered
* The rot was hidden
* The damage was camoflauged"