Wednesday, December 30, 2009

EDITORIAL: Obama is greater than Jesus

EDITORIAL: Obama greater than Jesus :

Wow. Somebody actually said it.

"Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus – if we have to play that absurd Christmas game. But it is probably more meaningful to insist that with today’s domestic triumph, that he has already assured himself a place in the history books – a space he has good chances of expanding considerably in coming years."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Memory from Kenny

A Christmas Memory « Thistletown Baptist Church:

"But here is what I do remember. I remember my mother and I waiting with anticipation as my father got up to enter the living room to begin the process of opening presents. And I remember the look on his face as he stopped in the doorway and stared at the fully decorated tree and the room all ready for Christmas.

And I will never forget his first comment. It was not some verse of Scripture, a prayer of thanks or a shout of praise. He was a very godly man but he was also a real man who was fully expecting Christmas to be less than what he had wanted. As he stood there the words that came out of his mouth were, “Well, there really is a Santa Claus”."

Stephen Gives Us a Peak Into Mark's Song Den

Ever wanted to watch a genius at work?

Then look past Stephen...


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, George Whitefield.

295 years ago today George Whitefield was born in Gloucester, the seventh child to Thomas and Elizabeth Whitefield of the Bell Inn.  As far as dead guys go, no one has impacted my personal life more than George. I thought I would share some more obscure but meaningful quotes from the man to encourage you:







“I love those that thunder out the Word.  The Christian world is in a deep sleep! Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.”

“Study therefore , brethren, your hearts as well as books.  Ask yourselves again and again, whether you would preach for Christ if you were sure to lay down your life for so doing.”

“I find the more I do, the more I might do for God.”

In reference to getting Christians of different denominational backgrounds to fellowship with each other: “Oh, that all who are truly spiritual kew one another!”

“If the Pope himself would lend me his pulpit I would gladly proclaim the righteousness of Christ therein.”

Writing on his 37th birthday: “I am ashamed to think I have lived so long and done so little...”

“The more we do, the more we may do; every act strengthens the habit; the best preparation for preaching on Sunday is preaching every other day of the week.” 

“I desire not only to do things for God, but to them in the best manner.”

All quotes taken from Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speaking of MANners... Have you see the new Dockers ad campaign?

Dockers® Store Online - Live Khaki

Good old Dockers is telling men to put on the pants. Here is the “Man-ifesto”

“Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never had to cross the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar, and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.”

"Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny." You gotta love that line!



All I gotta say is, "You go, Dockers!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The real inconvenient truth

The real inconvenient truth:

"Ironically, China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict."


In some ways it is nice when people just come out and say what they really think.

This little tidbit is, of course, quite old news. And I am glad that we have the Word of God to guide us in such matters.

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Should God permit the world's population to increase, He will also permit the scientific discovery to sustain life on the planet.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Charge of the Leaf Brigade

In emailing some "friends" today, I came to the conclusion that there are only 600 of us left who still cheer for the Blue and White...

And then I wrote this. With a little help from Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

----------------------------

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Leaf Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

2.

"Forward, the Leaf Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

3.

Bruin to the right of them,
Sabre to the left of them,
Hab in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

4.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Yankee and Quebecois
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

5.

Bruin to the right of them,
Sabre to the left of them,
Hab in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

6.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Leaf Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

General Life MANners

I have thoroughly enjoyed the lively discussion these suggestions have made on the blog and Facebook. Here are a few more. Am I a prude? A prig? An out-dated goody-two-shoes?

  • Opening doors for others. When going into buildings, allow women and elders to go first and open the door for them. When preceding others into a building, don't let the door slam in the face of those behind, but hold the door until the person behind can grab it. If someone holds the door for you, then remember to say "thank you." Elevators/Transit: allow those in the elevator/subway to exit first before entering. Same with buildings or rooms - if someone is exiting the building or room through the same door you are entering, let them exit first.
  • Remove your hat when sitting down to eat, at the playing of the national anthem or during prayer. Some men prefer to not wear hats indoors as a sign of respect.
  • Don’t phone before 7:00 am and after 10:00 pm [unless in an emergency].
  • When on the phone, don't talk with others in the room. Also, leave the room to talk in private if at all possible.
  • Clean up after yourself. Especially when you are visiting a friend’s home.
  • Smile. Your whole demeanor should be pleasant and well-mannered and respectful. Take your time and observe people – do they take their shoes off, then you probably should too.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Eating MANners

Here are some more MANners for you gentlemen to "chew on."  Not everyone has liked my suggestions so far, yet they don't seem to give a lot of reasons why in the comments.  Tell us why you think these are off-base.

  • Never talk when there is food in your mouth.
  • Avoid chewing your food with your mouth open.
  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  • At formal meals, stand whenever a lady sits or gets up from table.
  • Learn place settings. It is not that hard!
  • Simply use utensils in order as the meal is served.
  • Place your napkin on your lap.
  • Cut meat with your knife in your right hand and fork in left. Then transfer utensils to take a bite. (Reverse if left-handed.) There is some variance of opinion on whether or not one should cut all the meat at once and then eat, or cut one piece at a time.
  • Never use your fingers to push food onto your fork. That is what your knife is for.
  • Do not eat until the host has picked up her utensil. Also, do not begin to eat until you have been passed all of the food. Wait until everyone is served before eating.
  • Eat slowly and don't gobble up the food. Someone took a long time to prepare the food, enjoy it slowly. Slowly means to wait about 5 seconds after swallowing before getting another forkful.
  • When eating rolls, tear off a piece of bread before buttering. Do not cut your roll with your knife but break in pieces with your hands.
  • Don’t clear the dishes off the table until everyone has finished eating.
  • Don’t start eating your dessert until the hostess sits down and begins hers. This may mean you have to sit looking at an incredible piece of dessert for some time. Deal with this. :-)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Talking and Church MANners

Well, this may cause a storm of controversy. Here is what I suggested for MANners in church and in your normal talking to one another.


Talking
• Avoid talking longer than the person(s) you are talking to.
• Ask questions of others before launching out on a long description about you.
• Look the one you talk to in the eye, but glance away occasionally to break eye contact. The listener is expected to maintain eye contact and not glance away.
• Avoid the use of words like, suck, fart, crap, bull, pissed off, and other objectionable terms
• Never interrupt, but if you do, ask permission as you do it.
• Seek to use names often in conversation, especially with new acquaintances. Individuals more than ten years older than you should be addressed with Mr. or Mrs. and only altered by invitation.
• Say, "Please" and "Thank you" often. It shows respect and appreciation. In addition, if they are thanked, then say, "You're welcome".


Church manners
• Do not enter or exit the auditorium when the Bible is being read or prayer made.
• Offer your seat to a lady if there are no other seats available
• If two or more folks are talking together, wait to be invited in to the conversation. If you are standing to the side for more than 30 seconds without an invitation, this is a good clue that you not desired in the conversation.
• Go to new people and introduce yourself. Ask where they are from and seek out any ways to serve them.
• Sit in places where most folks don’t like to
• When you meet someone new be sure to introduce them to at least one or two others by name.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dress MANners

So, we had a great time thinking through those manners that are particularly necessary for men living in Toronto in 2009.

I began our time by listing some benefits for having and using MANners (some a little tongue-in-cheek).

You should use good manners for these reasons:
  • You will offend less people.
  • Women will find you more attractive if you are single.
  • Married women will not be so disgusted at you.
  • You will likely appear smarter than you really are and that may get you a raise.
  • It is a way to love others.
  • You will likely gain more opportunities for the Gospel.

The we looked at some manners for dress.

Dress
  • Dress suitable for the occasion. Funerals and weddings generally require jacket and tie. Your 1993 high school jacket is probably due for retirement.
  • Avoid wearing objectionable images on your clothing
  • Do not expose your underwear. The only one who finds your underwear-exposure or “plumber-butt” sexy is you. And that is disgusting.
  • Unless planning on completing some manual labour, why not dress like you would for a casual date with your lady.
What do you think?  Are we on the right track?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

MANners: What Men Do at GFC.

Tonight will likely be the most fun Men’s Meeting we have had since, well, last month. We are devoting the year to the idea of Stewardship – How Men Should Wisely Use What God Has Given Them.

The first night was the easy one. We talked about money. The Bible has a lot to say about that and I will maybe post some of our notes from the meeting. More than listing Bible verses, we are trying to make things really practical.

Tonight we get to talk about MANners. Etiquette for men. You heard me. No more slobs. Manners don’t sanctify, but they may be the fruit of sanctification. We have a few things planned to make this an interesting night. I will post more later…

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Father's Whistle

My friend Michael Haykin is a poet. He writes things that you have to think really carefully about to understand.
I, on the other hand, sometimes find myself saying sentences with last words that rhyme. And for some reason I post them here once in a while. The example below is simply what popped into my head at the end of last Sunday morning’s sermon on Zechariah 10 and 11. I am never sure what to do with these little rhymes (most of which I write out and ignore) but the imagery of that passage was so unique I thought it a helpful way to pull together some of the big themes.
Anyway, here it is for free. I hope in some little way it points you to Jesus.

Behold the flock whipped along to what is certain slaughter
Behold the Father whistling clear for every son and daughter
Is it your name the Shepherd calls and invites to endless bliss?
Turn from the flock doomed to death, to heaven from the abyss.

He’s made a way for you to come, the price: his own Son’s blood
And all who venture faith on Him are met by mercy’s flood
Those worthless shepherds will yell and clutch and try to prove they own you
Just trust the Saviour, friend, and come; He never will disown you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

For Some Parents, Shouting Is the New Spanking - NYTimes.com

For Some Parents, Shouting Is the New Spanking - NYTimes.com:

"Many in today’s pregnancy-flaunting, soccer-cheering, organic-snack-proffering generation of parents would never spank their children. We congratulate our toddlers for blowing their nose (“Good job!”), we friend our teenagers (literally and virtually), we spend hours teaching our elementary-school offspring how to understand their feelings. But, incongruously and with regularity, this is a generation that yells."


And that is no surprise. When toddlers control the home and parents resort to threatening, repeating and attempting to reason with an unreasonable mind - they will more than likely lose it.

And yelling at your child is a far worse offense than any form of Biblical discipline. Even our own poets figured that one out when they coined the attempted rebuttal:

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me.

Which, of course, is an utter lie. Any guy who has been beat up at school will tell you that pummelling was easier to forget than what some girl called him one day. That is not any kind of endorsement of physical abuse, by the way. Just noting the fact that verbal abuse really does damage and a parent screaming at her kids is verbal abuse.

How much better to lovingly set clear boundaries with clear results for disobedience, then keep them. Of course, only Christian parents really get this becuase only Christian parents see their duty as shepherding a heart toward God, rather than creating trophies... or tragedies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Full Stretch

George Whitefield died in his 56th year. Only a few week before that transfer to heaven, he wrote the following to Charles Wesley back in England.

“O to be found on the full stretch for Him who was stretched for us!”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Red-nosed circus billionaire returns to Earth | U.S. | Reuters

Only in Canada...

Red-nosed circus billionaire returns to Earth | U.S. | Reuters:

"KOROLYOV, Russia (Reuters) - Canadian circus billionaire Guy Laliberte returned to Earth on Sunday wearing his trademark clown's red nose, landing as planned in Kazakhstan after a landmark space performance to highlight water scarcity.

A Russian Soyuz space capsule carrying Laliberte and a Russian-American crew touched down in the vast steppe near Arkalyk in northern Kazakhstan at 8:31 a.m. Moscow time (12:31 p.m. EDT)."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: A Description of How Alexander the Great Was Halted from Destroying Jerusalem

Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (ed. William Whiston, A.M.):

Although this bit of history is disputed by some, it is a rather remarkable description of what might have taken place. That Jerusalem was strangely spared in Alexander's march is indisputable - only God knows how that took place.

"So Alexander came into Syria, and took Damascus; and when he had obtained Sidon, he besieged Tyre, when he sent all epistle to the Jewish high priest, to send him some auxiliaries, and to supply his army with provisions; and that what presents he formerly sent to Darius, he would now send to him, and choose the friendship of the Macedonians, and that he should never repent of so doing. But the high priest answered the messengers, that he had given his oath to Darius not to bear arms against him; and he said that he would not transgress this while Darius was in the land of the living. Upon hearing this answer, Alexander was very angry; and though he determined not to leave Tyre, which was just ready to be taken, yet as soon as he had taken it, he threatened that he would make an expedition against the Jewish high priest, and through him teach all men to whom they must keep their oaths. So when he had, with a good deal of pains during the siege, taken Tyre, and had settled its affairs, he came to the city of Gaza, and besieged both the city and him that was governor of the garrison, whose name was Babemeses.

[321] ...Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddua the high priest, when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifice to God, whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage, and adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest should appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced, and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.

[329] And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha, which name, translated into Greek, signifies a prospect, for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the temple. And when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which the king's displeasure fairly promised them, the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, 'I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with his high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is that, having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the Divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.' And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him 1 wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended. And as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present; but the next day he called them to him, and bid them ask what favors they pleased of him; whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired. And when they entreared him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired. And when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army, on this condition, that they should continue under the laws of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Google Street View goes live in Canadian cites

Google Street View goes live in Canadian cites:

"Google Street View, a feature of Google Maps that shows high-resolution street-level images on the internet, has gone live in several Canadian cities.

The service is now available in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Vancouver, Squamish, B.C., Whistler, B.C., Ottawa, Kitchener, Ont., and Waterloo, Ont."


I found my neighbour working in her garden. Thankfully we were not home when the Google Gestapo drove by.... but my bride did spot them this summer. I just have to figure out where she was when they drove by!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

History of the Whole Church in a Saturday

An Old Kind of Christian

Nick has a link up to the No Other Foundation meeting with Dr. Michael Haykin in Ajax next week. Michael taught our church this seminar several years ago and it was a great blessing to us. If you live in the Toronto area, I highly commend it to you!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Why it is nice to not need relics to enflame faith - newsflash: the shroud is fake!

Italian scientist reproduces Shroud of Turin | Science | Reuters:

"ROME (Reuters) - An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ's burial cloth is a medieval fake.

The shroud, measuring 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches bears the image, eerily reversed like a photographic negative, of a crucified man some believers say is Christ.

'We have shown that is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud,' Luigi Garlaschelli, who is due to illustrate the results at a conference on the para-normal this weekend in northern Italy, said on Monday."

Who Would Have Guessed? My Prime Minister Sings...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Rate Your Pain...

My good friend Matt is getting his hip surgically repaired. It is a pretty gruesome process. His wife wrote on their blog today...

The nurses often ask Matt to rate his pain on a scale of 1-10. I think he's rating his pain too low. He said a ten on his scale would be for someone to rip his femur out of its socket and beat him with it.

Oh Matty. Made me think of this...


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Woman in a Basket

So there was this woman sitting in a basket with a leaden lid. Then this angel popped open the lid, pointed at her and said, “Her name is Wickedness.” Just when you thought it could not get any stranger, two stork-winged women grabbed the basket (lid closed!) and flew off to Babylon.
Such was one of Zechariah’s visions and in its context what a remarkable image it is of what God has done for us in Christ – He has taken our sins away. Our sins themselves, along with all our guilt for them have been “flown away.” Forever.
Last night we pondered that truth for a few minutes at our meeting to pray. I asked folks to think of their sins, then we took a few minutes to state to each other the following: “Jesus died to take away my __________...” and they would fill in their sin (pride, gossip, immoralities, anger, unbelief, etc). I even encouraged them to ponder some of those sin “grocery lists” you find in places like Romans 1 to properly identify their sin.
As one after another spoke I got happier and happier! It was, to press the analogy, like we were all dumping our wickedness in the basket that was soon to be flown away. I reminded our folks that this was not a rehearsal of failure, but a rejoicing in substitutionary atonement! Jesus died for real sins that we commit. But He died! The wrath of God against these wicked deeds was paid in full.
It sure is easy to pray to a Saviour like that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A New Poster-boy for Catholicism? Conrad Black: Why I became a Catholic

Conrad Black: Why I became a Catholic - Holy Post:

"As a nominal Anglican, I had always had some problems with Henry VIII as a religious leader. The Anglicans, moreover, have never really decided whether they are Protestant or Catholic, only that they “don’t Pope,” though even that wavers from time to time. Luther, though formidable and righteous, was less appealing to me than both the worldly Romans, tinged with rascality though they were, and the leading papist zealots of the Counter-Reformation.

The serious followers of Calvin, Dr Knox and Wesley were, to me, too puritanical, but also too barricaded into ethnic and cultural fastnesses, too much the antithesis of universalism and of the often flawed, yet grand, Roman effort to reconcile the spiritual and the material without corrupting the first and squandering the second. Fanatics are very tiresome, and usually enjoy the fate of Haman in the book of Esther; of Savonarola, Robespierre, Trotsky, Goebbels, and Guevara...

...Though there are many moments of scepticism as matters arise, and the dark nights of the soul that seem to assail almost everyone visit me too, I have never had anything remotely resembling a lapse, nor a sense of forsakenness, even when I was unjustly indicted, convicted, and imprisoned, in a country I formerly much admired."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Toronto Pastors Fellowship Ready to Go on Monday!

The best part of serving other pastors by hosting the Toronto Pastors Fellowship is that I get to read all the papers presented about one week before anybody else. I just finished David Robinson’s excellent work on, “The Pastor as Competent” and I am quite excited to meet with my brothers, hear this paper, and discuss the truths it contains.
I think we have a pretty cool line up this year. Our idea was to listen carefully to Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 and 4 and so we will take each section and unpack its relevance to us. David starts us off with a look at what makes us competent in our duties – the Word of God we preach.
As always, there will be some great coffee, singing, time to fellowship, pray together and sharpen one another in the things of God.
Does your pastor attend TPF? Some men say they can’t make it because they take Mondays as a day off. I do, too. But I have found over the last 14 years that “losing” part of my day off once a month to this kind of spiritual input bears greater fruit than gardening. Besides, most pastors have fairly flexible schedules and can probably take another day off, so tell your pastor to come. The Starbucks is free!
Looking forward to seeing you there. All are welcome.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Joy in God - Thanks Haggai!

We have been studying Haggai Sunday mornings at GFC and last week traced out the development of the temple theme in two directions: back to Eden and ahead to the New Jerusalem. What is dominant in that theme is the thought, “God dwells with man.”

Wednesday’s church meeting to pray usually includes some time to put the truth we are learning into action, so I asked our folks to list off everything they could think of about God. My premise was that being residents of this world tempts us to lose focus on the One who will dwell with us forever. We are prone to get more interested in our “paneled houses” than we are in God.

So, in the span of 4-5 minutes, folks just rattled off what they knew was true about God. And as we did that, I sensed our joy in Him getting elevated. I thought I would share with you what the GFC folks said – I was merely “the scribe.”

God is…
  • Faithful
  • He rejoices over His own
  • Love
  • Accepts sinners
  • Keeps all His promises
  • Just
  • Cannot be deceived
  • Sovereign
  • Unchanging
  • Patient
  • Holy majestic
  • Full of power
  • Complex
  • Answers prayer
  • Self-existent
  • All knowing
  • Provides all we need
  • Sustains the universe
  • Lives in us
  • The Breath of life
  • Victorious
  • Worthy of worship
  • Truth
  • Limited only by His nature
  • Puts away wrath and judgment
  • Loved us first
  • Provides the way of escape
  • Holy holy holy
  • Sends suffering for our good
  • Righteous
  • Restorer
  • Brings justice
  • Grace
  • Sanctification
  • Creator
  • Brings the dead to life
  • Knows all the deep thoughts of every person
  • Convicts of sin
  • Does all for his glory
  • Does not need us
  • Exercises steadfast love
  • Not clear the guilty
  • Our hope
  • Gives strength
  • Made the universe, not just the earth
  • Takes down His enemies
  • Compassion
  • Intentional, not arbitrary
  • Limits the sea and man
  • Lets Himself be known
  • A Person
  • Angry with the wicked
  • Owns everything

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Futility of Regret

Here is a chapter on "The Futility of Regret" from A.W. Tozer's "That Incredible Christian" that Paul McDonald referenced on his blog this summer. I had read it years ago and forgotten about it, but a fresh look increased my appreciation.

I think that many Christians slide off the narrow path into a sea of regret far too often. Ultimately, this reflects a poor grasp of the Gospel. I will be addressing this somewhat on Sunday night at GFC.

The human heart is heretical by nature.Popular religious beliefs should be checked carefully against the word of God, for they are almost certain to be wrong.

Legalism, for instance, is natural to the human heart. Grace in its true New Testament meaning is foreign to human reason, not because it is contrary to reason but because it lies beyond it. The doctrine of grace had to be revealed; it could not have been discovered.

The essence of legalism is self-atonement. The seeker tries to make himself acceptable to God by some act of restitution, or by self-punishment or the feeling of regret. The desire to be pleasing to God by self-effort is not, for it assumes that sin once done may be undone, an assumption wholly false.

Long after we have learned from the scriptures that we cannot by fasting, or the wearing of hair shirt or the making of many prayers, atone for the sins of the soul, we still tend by a kind of pernicious natural heresy to feel that we can please God and purify our souls by the penance of perpetual regret.

This latter is the Protestant's unacknowledged penance. Though he claims to believe in the doctrine of justification by faith he still secretly feels that what he calls "godly sorrow" will make him dear to God. Though he may know better he is caught in the web of a wrong religious feeling and betrayed.

There is indeed a godly sorrow that worketh repentance and it must be acknowledged that among us Christians this feeling is often not present in sufficient strength to work real repentance; but the persistence of this sorrow till it becomes chronic regret is neither right nor good. Regret is a kind of frustrated repentance that has not been quite comsummated. Once the soul has turned from all sin and committed itself wholly to God there is no longer any legitimate place for regret. When moral innocence has been restored by the forgiving love of God the guilt may be remembered, but the sting is gone from the memory. The forgiven man knows that he has sinned, but he no longer feels it.

The effort to be forgiven by works is one that can never be completed because no one knows or can know how much is enough to cancel out the offence; so the seeker must go on year after year paying on his moral debt, here a little, there a little, knowing that he sometimes adds to his bill much more than he pays. The task of keeping books on such transaction can never end, and the seeker can only hope that when the last entry is made he may be ahead and the account fully paid. This is quite the popular belief, this forgiveness by self-effort but it is natural heresy and can last only betray those who depend upon it.

It may be argued that the absence of regret indicates a low and inadequate view of sin, but the exact opposite is true. Sin is frightful, so destructive to the soul that no human thought or act can in any degree diminish its lethal effects. Only God can deal with it successfully; only the blood of Christ can cleanse it from the pores or the spirit. The heart that has been delivered from this dread enemy feels not regret but wondrous relief and unceasing gratitude.

The returned prodigal honours his father more by rejoicing than by repining. Had the young man in the story had less faith in his father he might have mourned in a corner instead of joining in the festivities. His confidence in the loving-kindness of his father gave him the courage to forget his chequered past.

Regret frets the soul as tension frets the nerves and anxiety the mind. I believe that the chronic unhappiness of most Christians may be attributed to a gnawing uneasiness lest God had not fully forgiven them, or the fear that He expects as the price of His forgiveness some sort of emotional penance which they have not furnishes. A our confidence in the goodness of God mounts out anxieties will diminish and our moral happiness rise in inverse proportion.

Regret may be more than a form of self-love. A man may have such a high regard for himself that any failure to live up to his own image of himself disappoints him deeply. He feels that he has betrayed his better self by his act of wrongdoing, and even if God is willing to forgive him he will not forgive himself. Sin brings to such a man a painful loss of face that is not soon forgotten. He becomes permanently angry with himself by going to God frequently with petulant self-accusations. This state of mind crystallises finally into a feeling of chronic regret which appears to be proof of deep penitence but is actually proof of deep self-love.

Regret for a sinful past will remain until we truly believe that for us in Christ that sinful past no longer exists. The man in Christ has only Christ's past and that is perfect and acceptable to God. In Christ He died, in Christ he rose, and in Christ he is seated within the circe of God's favoured ones. He is no longer angry with himself because he is no longer self-regarding, but Christ-regarding; hence there is no place for regret.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Praying for More Than a Few Minutes

What makes a church like ours set aside a beautiful Saturday morning to seek God in five hours of prayer?

When Grace Fellowship Church began we were one dependent lot. We had no money, no building, no people, and no guarantee of success. Yet, reading of two personalities from the past had recently impacted me.

First, I read a description of the Week of Prayer held every year at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London under Spurgeon’s ministry. The author held up that week as one of the sweetest, most spiritually refreshing seasons of the calendar year. The week would begin with the elders leading in prayers of repentance “often in tears” and culminate in aspirations of great hope in the progress of the Gospel.

I also read how George Mueller started an orphanage, yes, to help the orphans, but more importantly, to launch an impossible ministry that would prove the sovereign God hears and answers prayer. If you read his autobiography you will laugh with joy at all the ways God did exactly that.

So, at GFC we started with a mid-week meeting to pray before we ever met for worship on Sundays. And after Sunday meetings began we kept it. Within a year or two we added a week of prayer in the New Year. Several years after that we started holding a second week or a day of prayer in September (the second new year!).

And all we do at these meetings is pray. Oh, we have little booklets to direct us and remind us of what we should be praying about, but there is no teaching, nor is there that bane of all lively prayer meetings – the 40 minutes of “prayer requests.” (It has always floored me that we can be so easily duped into talking about what we are going to pray rather than just praying!)

So, this Saturday will come, our fall day of prayer, and I will have feelings in the morning like, “Yawn, here we go again.” And, “Five hours on a Saturday sure is long!” Then I will put on my pastor game-face, show up at 7AM and by noon be thinking, “Does it have to end?”

You pray for us, won’t you? That the Lord will “come down” this Saturday and meet with His people. He has never missed an opportunity so far.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pure Church: Carey Conference Audio

Pure Church: Carey Conference Audio

He must have put this together while I was preparing his All-dressed chips. For somehow, Thabiti managed to piece together a nice post linking to all the audio from Carey Conference last week.

He missed his own messages though, and the two wonderful sermons he preached at GFC today.

Other than that, not a bad post!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Carey Conference 2009 and Thabiti Anyabwile

Well, just “one more sleep” until Carey Conference! Already things are looking grand. Registrations are high, the camp is ready, and we are delighted to add Thabiti Anyabwile to our own list of great preachers.

Speaking of Thabiti, you can pray for his safe and quick travel. Already they have experienced one flight cancellation and been delayed by about 2 hours. We are praying they get in easily tonight.

Thabiti is travelling from Grand Cayman. Yes, that Grand Cayman. So it is no small feat to get to Toronto from there. It really is remarkable that you can stick your toes in the warm Caribbean (thanks GT) in the morning and in Lake Ontario at night… all in the same day.

Cravings Underlie Conflict - Mahaney and Powlison

Sovereign Grace Ministries Blog - C.J. Mahaney's View from the Cheap Seats & Other Stuff:

"I asked David to elaborate on this quote:

I have yet to meet a couple locked in hostility (and the accompanying fear, self-pity, hurt, self-righteousness) who really understood and reckoned with their motives. James 4:1–3 teaches that cravings underlie conflicts. Why do you fight? It’s not “because of my wife/husband…”—it’s because of something about you. Couples who see what rules them—cravings for affection, attention, power, vindication, control, comfort, a hassle-free life—can repent and find God’s grace made real to them, and then learn how to make peace.

—Seeing with New Eyes (P&R, 2003), p. 151.

To hear David expand on this quote, download the 7-minute audio recording here (5.9 MB)"

Friday, August 14, 2009

The United Church's uncertain future - Holy Post

The United Church's uncertain future - Holy Post

It’s not the only religious organization in Canada to suffer from a lack of interest. But more than others, perhaps, the United Church has tried to find relevance and attract attention by offering what many complain is an all-inclusive, interpretive and “watered-down” brand of faith.

“People are leaving in droves because of it,” says Geoff Wilkins, a United Church member and reformist who lives in North Vancouver. “We have to get back to a church of substance. Essentially, what the church is saying now is come and join us, you can believe anything you like.”

At least one church has become a virtual no-God zone.

Gretta Vosper is the minister at West Hill United Church in Toronto and author of With or Without God: Why the way we live is more important than what we believe. She explains that she doesn’t refer to God anymore “because there is no single meaning for the word.”

The question is often raised: Why is Rev. Vosper, a self-described “non-theist,” in the United Church? Its leaders don’t consider her views as heresy. Perhaps not even strange.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Preaching Jesus in Rexdale

Steve and I had a great night tonight preaching Jesus in Rexdale. The local police division began an initiative several years ago with local clergy where they walk some of the more difficult areas of our neighbourhood with pastors. The idea is kind of a “we’re all in this together” thing.
Well, it is also a wonderful way to talk to folks about Christ.
Steve had a great conversation with a man tonight who was trusting in his own works. He was able to show the emptiness of works and point to the glorious work of Jesus. I was king of stuck listening to some others talk about crime in the neighbourhood, so I listened with half an ear and prayed for Steve.
Then we had a lot of fun with a whole whack of kids. After that, I was able to have a very direct conversation with two lovely young girls. Like so many in this world, it was clear their hope was not in Jesus alone. So, I told them how I had broken all of God’s commandments (they wondered how I could still be a pastor!) then I showed them how they had also. After that, we talked about the justice of God and how it would be unfair of Him to simply excuse us for crimes we had committed and then punish other people. So I told them of being in a court where the judge decides we are guilty and will go to prison for life… only to have another man, an innocent man stand up and say he will take my place. The crime is paid for, but I am free.
I told my 12 and 14 year old friends that is what they needed – a substitute. I think they understood that.
So we talked about how that Substitute can only be had by turning away from sin and putting faith in Him.
They promised me they would read the Gospel of John and I am going to pray that God saves both of them – to their surprise and His glory!

WWJT: What Would Jesus Tweet

Culturality & Missiology: Tweet Tweet

Even sadder is the growing number of young men and women who are wannabe’s. They actually seek counsel regarding how they can create and promote their personal brand. One young student recently asked me how often and what topics of his life he should tweet. Really?

Remember Jesus? I have tried to imagine Jesus tweeting and sending Facebook updates like many that I see.

“Just healed a blind man.”

“Lunching today with chief tax man in Jericho @Zacchaeus.”

“Walked on water this evening, disciples amazed I could calm a storm. lol.”

“Fed 5,000 men and their families with a boy’s lunch today.”

“Washed the disciples feet. Being intentional to exercise and model humility.”

“Check my reviews from the crowds last Friday. #Jerusalem”

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Elisha Foundation

Elisha Foundation

If you have sniffed around this blog long enough you will know of my love for Justin and Tamara Reimer and The Elisha Foundation. I was thrilled (yes, THRILLED) to return from my travels and find TEF has a new website that more than ever before communicates what they are about and how to help.

I plan to check out that donation page in a few minutes... maybe you could, too?

Mark Webb and Mike Bullmore sermons available for free download.

One of my true joys this summer was preaching at the Fort William Summer Bible Conference in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I was eager to see the work of God in that part of my country and desirous of getting to know more of the saints from the north.

The preaching at the conference by Mike Bullmore and Mark Webb was of the highest calibre. Mark’s last two messages from Galatians were of special notice as he clarified a couple of passages that always stumped me. And Mike brought a wonderful series calling on all to look to the one true refuge: God. If Mark’s strength in preaching is his penchant for captivating illustrations, Mike’s strength is the pithy phrase. The combination over 3 days was rich instruction!

I just checked and you can download these messages (I think for a limited time) from here. I highly commend them!

The Cowboy reviews Planting Missional Churches

Cowboyology: Rain, Rain, Go Away So I Can Finish My Book

I always appreciate the even-handed and thoughtful treatment my friend Clint gives to things. This review of Stetzer's "Planting Missional Churches" is no exception.

This book, Planting Missional Churches, is the kind of manual that would have been helpful for me to be exposed to in seminary. It offers practical advice about how to proceed in all of the logical necessities of church planting. Financial controls, child care set up, and facility usage are shown to be the regular residue under the church planter's fingernails. Stetzer provides guidance in these wisdom issues that keeps a weary planter from the burden to re-invent everything from taking the offering to taking out the trash.

But I'm also glad that I wasn't exposed to it in seminary. The mass of information on methodology, practicalities and do's and don'ts of church planting can easily give a distorted picture. A green seminary student could easily think that the weight of church planting is bound up in these things, and not in clear, gospel priorities.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Here is an EXCELLENT blog to add to your reader....

Good News for Toronto:

Read about our summer intern Paul McDonald's experiences evangelizing in Rexdale, downtown Toronto and Markham.


"I asked him, “have you ever lied?” He seemed stunned by the question, “What?” I asked him, “have you ever lied?” Apparently he had not. I ask him if he had ever stole. He spoke about his religious upbringing. At one point I asked him, “have you ever sinned? Have you ever done anything bad? Have you ever had to confess to a priest?” He was silent, but responded by shaking his head no. Then I asked him if he had ever committed adultery. At this point he went on to tell me of many television programs that he has access to. I think he meant that he can learn about religion from Catholic sources on television, and that I do not need to worry about informing him of religious things.

He keep reassuring me, “Don’t worry, it’s ok.” Throughout our talk he often said, “Come and go.” He used this phrase to speak of how life is to be lived – you just come and go, do this and that, be busy, help people, do good, don’t worry about thinking of serious things like death and the afterlife, just “come and go.” He is 87 and dead in his sins."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

John Bell writes at challies.com concerning evangelism in the gay village

"I began this ministry two years ago while working as an intern in a downtown Toronto church. I was told that part of my internship duties would involve three hours of evangelism every week in a coffee shop or pub. This was not happy news. To be honest, I find this kind of evangelism very intimidating. “Cold call” is not my style; I’m too polite!"

Read the whole great story here!:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Dad - Some refections from Pastor Ken Davis

Read the entire article here...

"I said in a devotional the other day that fathers should do their devotions with their doors open so that their children could see them at it. This was what I grew up with. My father kept a study in our home where he prepared sermons and did his reading. I can remember as a young boy walking past that study and seeing my father on his knees praying. I remember him taking me to pre-service prayer meetings at the church he pastored in Sackville New Brunswick and hearing him pour out his heart to the God he loved. Years later I sat in a prayer meeting with him as a fellow pastor and marvelled at the sense of the presence of God in the room when that man prayed. He was conversing with Someone he knew deeply, personally, intimately. To see that 6′4″, 250 lb. frame, full of arthritis, creek down to its knees and talk to his Friend was a gift from the perfect Father to me so that I could see what grace can do in a man. My father was told by the leaders of his church once that he was not welcome any more as their pastor because he had said in a sermon: “Instead of sitting on your fannies you should be on your knees in prayer.” I am so glad that he said that, that he meant it, and that he was not making demands on his people that he was not making of himself."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whatever Happened to John Hinckley Jr.?

Judge Gives Reagan Assailant Longer, More Frequent Visits:

"Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 @09:24am CST

(Washington, DC) -- The man who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981 will be allowed to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Virginia more often and stay there for longer periods of time.

That was the ruling announced by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman yesterday.

Judge Friedman said the 53-year-old John Hinckley Jr. can obtain a Washington, DC driver's license and denied only a few requests.

Hinckley's stays at his mother's house will be extended from six to nine nights per visit.

Hinckley will also be able to work as a volunteer near the house.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the Reagan shooting and was ordered to become a patient at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in the nation's capital."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Christian Woman's Pregnancy hoax revealed

Pregnancy hoax revealed

A 26-year-old Christian who claimed on her Internet blog to be carrying a terminally ill baby has apologised after it was revealed her pregnancy was a hoax.


Beccah Beushausen of Mokena, Illinois, had almost a million hits on her blog when she began writing about her desire to give birth to “April Rose.” For two months she blogged about how she would go full term with the baby and refuse to get an abortion because of her Christian faith.


On June 7, she said she had given birth and was pictured with her “baby.” But her ruse was discovered when one of her readers recognised the “baby” as a doll.


Events like this one always make me thankful for the local church. I wonder how many readers of Beushausen's blog bothered to query her church concerning the verity of her situation and need? To be honest, this is the first I heard of this story, but in the age of instant attention via blogs and web pages, Christians would be very wise to operate through the authority structures God has ordained.

What of you? Ever met someone in great need and gone to their church/elders only to discover it was only a hoax, or at least greatly exaggerated?


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hypocrisy by Another Name?

Orthodox Jews launch 'kosher' search engine - Holy Post

Religiously devout Jews barred by rabbis from surfing the Internet may now “Koogle” it on a new “kosher” search engine, the site manager said on Sunday.

Yossi Altman said Koogle, a play on the names of a Jewish noodle pudding and the ubiquitous Google, appears to meet the standards of Orthodox rabbis, who restrict use of the Web to ensure followers avoid viewing sexually explicit material.

The site, at www.koogle.co.il, omits religiously objectionable material, such as most photographs of women which Orthodox rabbis view as immodest, Altman said.

Its links to Israeli news and shopping sites also filter out items most ultra-Orthodox Israelis are forbidden by rabbis to have in their homes, such a television sets.

“This is a kosher alternative for ultra-Orthodox Jews so that they may surf the Internet,” Altman said by telephone.

The site was developed in part at the encouragement of rabbis who sought a solution to the needs of ultra-Orthodox Jews to browse the Web particularly for vital services, he said.

Nothing can be posted on the Jewish Sabbath, when religious law bans all types of work and business, Altman said. “If you try to buy something on the Sabbath, it gets stuck and won’t let you.”


There is a corner of the human heart that will justify anything. Jewish Rabbi's are not the only ones guilty of this, but so much of modern orthodoxy bleeds this sad hypocrisy.

Do we really think we are fooling the One who sees every intention of the thoughts of the heart?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's ID Day: New border rules in effect - The Globe and Mail

It's ID Day: New border rules in effect

Don't forget you need a passport now if you want to get in to the US.

Getting a passport in Canada is really quite easy... if you are a Canadian! We got the whole family done in a few hours total. You can download the application, then take it in to your local passport office so they check it over (saves them sending it back with a sticky note). The passports arrive by mail within 10 days or so.

This Looks Pretty Great! Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp

What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp

Click on the link to get a video preview.

Hero Worship and Holy Emulation :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

Hero Worship and Holy Emulation :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library:

"Here is one small contribution. In spite of all the legitimate warnings against hero worship, I want to risk waving a flag for holy emulation—which includes realistic admiration. Hero worship means admiring someone for unholy reasons and seeing all he does as admirable (whether it’s sin or not). Holy emulation, on the other hand, sees evidences of God’s grace, and admires them for Christ’s sake, and wants to learn from them and grow in them."


I have been thinking about this issue for some time now and am thankful that Piper addressed it. What his post omits though, is a consideration of whether or not the very forms and forums these celebrity pastors are using might be one of the primary contributing factors to celebritiism?
Whitefield drew enormous crowds, but there was no glamour to it. Listening to him often meant hours of arduous travel and standing in the rain. I am amazed at the expectation level we often bring to conferences, videos, etc. Maybe I am mixing up the issues though.
At the very least, I think we need to carefully consider if we find more joy in being close to some celebrity or being close to our Lord.

Another Reason to Use Pre-natal Screening Very Carefully

Remembering… « Beautiful Work

Make sure you read to the end of this article!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

TPC 2009 in the Books

By God’s grace, the Toronto Pastors Conference is now complete. Time will provide a more accurate assessment, but it sure seems as though the Lord was at work and doing good things. The teaching was full and practical, there was much heart-felt worship in song and the mutual encouragement of brother pastors seemed grow as the days increased.
Thanks for praying for us. I am off to meet my family again.
If you want to listen to main sessions you can download that audio for free off gfcto.com. And I think there will be video available soon.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Amazing Conference in Toronto Underway!

Man, the Toronto Pastors Conference is off to a wonderful start! And every indication is that it is only going to get better.
If you are a pastor in the GTA and you are not here, then you need to get yourself down to Richview Baptist Church tomorrow. And if you would really like to hear some great preaching, then join us tomorrow night. The 7PM session is free and open to the public. Dr. Mark Dever will be preaching.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

T-Minus 2

You’ve got until Monday!

If you are planning on coming to the Toronto Pastors Conference on June 1,2,3, then don’t forget to register by Monday. That’s when we close off registrations.

In fact, here it is, a lovely Saturday, where you have lots of free time… why not take the 2 minutes to register now!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Calvin on Why it is Okay to Remedy Sickness (Sometimes)

Calvin takes a moment in his commentary on John 18:11 (“...shall I not drink the cup that Father has given me?”) to remark on the appropriateness of seeking medicinal help to our physical afflictions. It seems to me the same principle applies in some measure to how we handle persecution, especially of the physically abusive sort.

“...fanatics should not be heeded, who assert that we must not seek remedies for sicknesses or any other kinds of affliction, lest we reject the cup which God holds out. We know that we must die once and we must be prepared for death. But because the time of our death is unknown to us, the Lord allows us to defend our life by the aids which He Himself has appointed. Diseases must be patiently borne, however grievous they be to our flesh; but while they are not yet certainly fatal we should seek alleviation of them. Only we must be careful not to attempt anything but what God’s Word permits. In short, provided it remains always fixed in our hearts that the Lord’s will be done, we are not failing to drink the cup which He has given us, even when we seek deliverance from the evils which press upon us.”

Evangelizing Children (Part 1)

Evangelizing Children (Part 1)

The Shepherd's Fellowship blog has a great article detailing how we ought to evangelize our children.

The process of evangelizing one’s children, however, can be a daunting task. For many parents, the questions are as practical as they are disconcerting: How should I present the gospel to my children? What’s the best approach to take? How do I know if I’m doing it right?

Pitfalls, both real and imagined, intimidate virtually every parent who contemplates this responsibility. On one hand, there’s the danger of leading children to think they are saved when they are not. On the other, there’s the risk of discouraging children who express a genuine desire to follow Christ.

How, then, should we evangelize our children?


The elders of Grace Community Church began to answer this question by noting what child evangelism should NOT be... that list includes


1. Oversimplifying the Gospel of Christ

2. Coercing a Profession of Faith

3. Assuming the Reality of Regeneration

4. Assuring the Child of Salvation

5. Rushing the Ordinance of Baptism


Everyone should read the whole article since the application extends beyond our own families into the life of the church and our evangelism of adults.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Toronto Pastors Conference (June 1,2,3) - Registration About To CLOSE!

There are only a few more days left to register for this year’s Toronto Pastors Conference! Registration CLOSES on May 25… and space may fill up before then. I guess I am not the only one who tends to register for things last minute!

Anyway, you would be wise to drop what you are doing and get yourself registered right now! No guarantees we will have a spot for you on Monday. And it is going to be, Lord willing, an excellent time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nancy Gall on the appalling lack of coverage given Canada's March for Life

Nancy Gall: March for Life coverage conspicuously absent - Holy Post

Let me get this straight: 5,000 Tamils block a few lanes of Toronto traffic and it’s all over the news. Heck, a mere 50 Tamils demonstrate in front of the American Consulate in Calgary and we hear about it.

But when 12,000 people showed up Thursday on Parliament Hill to demonstrate their support for life from conception to natural death -- something that affects us all -- it’s not worth a picture? Twenty seconds of airtime? A paragraph at the bottom of Page J20?

You’ve got to wonder how many people have to show up before the annual March for Life is deemed coverage-worthy by the mainstream media.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

36 Hours in Toronto - NYTimes.com

36 Hours in Toronto - NYTimes.com

The NYT did a little profile of my city. I learned some things...

AS one of the planet’s most diverse cities, Toronto is oddly clean and orderly. Sidewalks are spotless, trolleys run like clockwork, and the locals are polite almost to a fault. That’s not to say that Torontonians are dull. Far from it. With a population that is now half foreign-born — fueled by growing numbers of East Indians, Chinese and Sri Lankans — the lakeside city offers a kaleidoscope of world cultures. Sing karaoke in a Vietnamese bar, sip espresso in Little Italy and catch a new Bollywood release, all in one night. The art and design scenes are thriving, too, and not just on the bedazzled red carpets of the Toronto International Film Festival, held every September. Industrial zones have been reborn into gallery districts, and dark alleys now lead to designer studios, giving Canada’s financial capital an almost disheveled mien.

51% identify as 'pro-life' in U.S. - Los Angeles Times

51% identify as 'pro-life' in U.S. - Los Angeles Times:

"For the first time since it began asking the question in 1995, Gallup reported Friday, a majority of adults questioned for its annual survey on values and beliefs -- 51% -- said that when it comes to abortion, they consider themselves 'pro-life'; 42% consider themselves 'pro-choice.' (The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.)"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mohler on the Ministry

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory:

"Jesus Christ calls his ministers from the ranks of the incompetent, so that He will show his singular competence through them. He uses earthen vessels to demonstrate his own life in us. He confounds the wisdom of the wise by using the unworthy to demonstrate his worth."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And... We Have a Winner!

Julian and I are pleased to announce the winner to our FREE REGISTRATION contest for the Toronto Pastors Conference. First, you can read his winning entry!

Years ago, the leaders of the church of which I was a member were fasting (I do not remember what the issue was that had caused the fast to be called). At a meeting of the church a set of scales was placed on the platform and the leaders took their turns being weighed to see who had lost the most weight and was therefore “best faster.” Each weigh-in was accompanied by appropriate boos or cheers depending on the result. Didn’t Jesus say something about how we should fast? (Matthew 6:16-18)


Yikes!

Thanks to all of you submitted entries. It was quite remarkable to read them.

As our winner, Ken Davis receives a full registration to the conference and the thrill of knowing that he experienced the strangest church business meeting known to man.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Carey Registration Open and Contest About to Close!

Great news! The Carey Family Conference has opened their online registration site. It takes less than 3 minutes and you are in like Flynn!

Also, don't forget to send me your stories of strange things from church business meetings. We have some doozies already, but no sure winner yet. Winners will be announced on Monday if I can get to a computer.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

FREE REGISTRATION for the Toronto Pastors Conference!!

We are just a few weeks away from the Toronto Pastors Conference and thought it might be fun to give away a free registration. This contest is open to everyone, even those already registered (we will reimburse you if you win).

All you need to do is send me an email (the[dot]kerux[at]gmail[dot]com) or leave a comment describing the strangest thing you have seen or heard in a church business meeting. (No names permitted and do your best to protect the "innocent.")

My best story is the one about the two deacons who decided to “take it outside” and finish their argument in blows on the front porch of the church! (This did not happen at Grace Fellowship Church!!)

Tell us your story and whichever one Julian and I think is best we will reward with a free registration to the TPC featuring Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker. You have until Sunday night!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mine that Bird - The Remarkable Finish of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Winner

I don't bet on horse races by conviction. But I love a good race, and I love it when the underdog wins. To say that this year's Kentucky Derby was a good race with a dramatic finish is remarkable understatement.
I watched the race the day after and tried like crazy to find a way to use it as an illustration in my Sunday sermon... but it just did not fit anywhere.
So, here is the clip. It is worth watching to the end. What a story!

Monday, May 04, 2009

My Sister is Featured in the Toronto Star for Martin's Flowers

TheStar.com | GTA | Flower shop still here a blooming century later!

Okay, I like to brag. My big sister is featured in today's Toronto Star in an article highlighting the 110 years of "our" family business. You can read all about the place I spent every Saturday and every Christmas and every Mother's Day and every Valentine's Day... etc.

That little shop on Dundas St W has been used of the Lord in some pretty remarkable ways over the years. Some day I think I will blog about that. For now, read about my sis!

- Proud Little Brother

Friday, April 24, 2009

Carey Family Conference Site Launched!!

I was thrilled to see the new website for the Canadian Carey Family Conference www.careyconference.net.

On the new site, you'll find details of the upcoming 2009 conference, taking place August 22-29 at the Braeside camp in Paris Ontario. Our plenary speaker for 2009 will be Thabiti Anyabwile speaking on Questions For Jesus.

In mid-May, the 2009 brochure will be available for download from the site. And... for the first time, online conference registration will open when the brochure is released.

In addition, all audio messages from the 1986 - 2008 conferences are available for FREE download. There is information "About" the Carey, an online photo album and lots of other great stuff.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poem: AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. MR. GEORGE WHITEFIELD. (Part Four)

But shall my partial, fond presumption dare
A stripling with apostles to compare?
Their powers miraculous he dared not claim,
Though still his gospel, and his God the same.
Commissioned by his God, the word of grace
(Where’er the Lord an open door displays) 270
Freely as he receives, he freely gives,
And daily dying, by the gospel lives;
Renews his strength, renews his prosperous toil
In every corner of our favoured isle,
And publishes salvation to the poor,
And spreads the joyous news from shore to shore.
For when the rich a proffered Christ reject,
And spurn the preacher with his odious sect,
Out of their temples cast, he strait obeys,
Goes forth to all the hedges and highways, 280
Arrests the most abandoned slaves of sin,
And forces the poor vagrants to come in,
To share the feast for famished souls designed,
And fill the house enlarged for all the sinful kind.
How beauteous on the mountain-tops appear
The feet of God’s auspicious messenger,
Who brings good tidings of a world forgiven,
Who publishes a peace ’twixt earth and heaven,
And cries to Zion, “He that purged thy stains,
Thy Saviour-God and King forever reigns!” 290
Soon as he thus lifts up his trumpet-voice,
Attentive thousands tremble, or rejoice:
Who faithfully the welcome truth receive,
Rejoice, and closer to their Saviour cleave:
Poor Christless sinners, wounded by the word
(Lively and sharper than a two-edg’d sword,
Spirit and soul almighty to divide)
Drop, like autumnal leaves, on every side,
Lamenting after him they crucified!
While God inspires the comfort, or the dread, 300
Wider, and wider still the cry is spread,
Till all perceive the influence from above,
O’erwhelmed with grief, or swallowed up in love.
What multitudes repent, and then believe,
When God doth utterance to the preacher give!
Whether he speaks the words of sober sense,
Or pours a flood of artless eloquence,
Ransacks the foul apostate creature’s breast,
And shows the man half devil, and half beast;
Or warmly pleads his dear Redeemer’s cause; 310
Or pity on the poor and needy draws:
“The deist scarce from offering can withhold,
And misers wonder they should part with gold:”
Opposers struck the powerful word admire
In speechless awe, the hammer and the fire,
While Whitefield melts the stubborn rocks, or breaks,
In consolation, or in thunder speaks,
From strength to strength, our young apostle, goes,
Pours like a torrent, and the land o’erflows,
Resistless wins his way with rapid zeal, 320
Turns the world upside down, and shakes the gates of hell!
Such for a length of years his glorious race
He ran, nor e’er looked back, or slacked his pace;
Starting afresh, on this alone intent,
And straining up the steep of excellent,
Forgetting still the things already done,
And reaching forth to those not yet begun,
Eager he pressed to his high calling’s prize,
By violent faith resolved to scale the skies,
And apprehend his Lord in paradise. 330
Through his abundant toils, with fixed amaze
We see revived the work of ancient days;
In his unspotted life with joy we see
The fervors of primeval piety:
A pattern to the flock by Jesus bought,
A living witness of the truths he taught,
Meek, lowly, patient, wise above his years,
Redeemed from earth, with all their hopes and fears,
Not to the vain desires of men he lived,
Not with delight their high applause received, 340
But praised the Lord for what his grace had done,
And simply lived to serve his will alone.
The heavenly principle of faith within,
The strong divine antipathy to sin,
The Spirit’s law, the meek ingrafted word,
The vital knowledge of an heart-felt Lord,
The nature new, th’ incorruptible seed,
Its power throughout his life and actions spread,
And showed the man regenerate from above,
By fraudless innocence, and childlike love. 350
For friendship formed by nature and by grace,
(His heart made up of truth and tenderness)
Stranger to guile, unknowing to deceive,
In anger, malice, or revenge to live,
He lived, himself on others to bestow,
A ministerial spirit, while here below,
Belov’d by all the lovers of his Lord,
By none but Satan’s synagogue abhorred.
Nor did their fierce abhorrence always last:
When on the right the gospel-net he cast, 360
The powerful charms of soft persuasion tried,
And showed them their Redeemer’s hands and side,
Love irresistible they could not bear,
Or stand against the torrent of his prayer,
By bleeding love their hatred he o’ercame,
And seized the lawful spoils, in Jesus’ name.

Youth Ministry Rock Stars

This video reminded me of this post... :-)


Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.


[Much delayed hat tip to the Honourable Nick Coller of Down Under.]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Friend Habib, Great Days and Grace Chapel in Markham

If you live in the Markham area it would be great to meet you this weekend at Grace Chapel. GC is a plant of Grace Fellowship Church pastored by Habib Sakr who will be set aside to the Gospel ministry this Sunday.

For information on service times and location, see below:

Services:
• Sunday Morning 10:30 am (Sunday School is available for children.)
• Sunday Evening 6:00 pm
• Wednesday Prayer Meeting 7:00 pm

Place:
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
7095 Woodbine Avenue
Markham, ON
L3R 1A3

Click here for Map and Custom Directions!

Poem: AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. MR. GEORGE WHITEFIELD. (Part Three)

How blest the messenger whom Jesus owns,
How swift with the commissioned word he runs!
The sacred fire shut up within his breast
Breaks out again, the weary cannot rest,
Cannot consent his feeble flesh to spare,
But rushes on, Jehovah’s harbinger:
His one delightful work, and steadfast aim
To pluck poor souls as brands out of the flame,
To scatter the good seed on every side, 200
To spread the knowledge of the crucified,
From a small spark a mighty fire to raise,
And fill the continent with Jesus’ praise.
What recompense for all his endless toil?
The Master pays him with a constant smile,
With peace, and power, and comforts from above,
Grace upon grace, and floods of rapt’rous love.
When often spent and spiritless he lies,
Jesus beholds him with propitious eyes,
And looks him back his strength, and bids arise, 210
Sends him again to run the lengthened race,
Prospers his work, and shines on all his ways.
The man of God, whom God delights t’ approve
In his great labours of parental love,
Love of the little ones—for these he cares,
The lambs, the orphans, in his bosom bears;
Knowing in whom he trusts, provides a place,
And spreads a table in the wilderness,
A father of the fatherless, supplies
Their daily wants—with manna from the skies, 220
In answer to his prayer so strangely given,
His fervent prayer of faith that opens heaven.
What mighty works the prayer of faith can do!
The good of souls, and Jesus in his view,
He sees the basis sure, which cannot fail,
Laid by the true divine Zerubbabel;
The rising house built up by swift degrees,
The crowning-stone brought forth with shouts he sees:
The Lord hath finished what his hands begun,
Ascribe the gracious work to grace alone. 230
The house is built; and shall not God provide?
Plentiful help pours in on every side,
From hearts inclined the hungry lambs to feed
By him, who satisfies the poor with bread;
Whose blessing makes the earth her riches yield,
The wilderness become a fruitful field,
Bids golden harvests round his house arise,
And turns a waste into a paradise.
With heart enlarged, with confidence increased,
In all his purposes and labours bless’d, 240
The steward wise, and faithful to his trust,
Gives God the praise, and sinks into the dust,
And cries, o’erwhelmed his Master’s smile to see,
“O when shall I begin to live for thee!”
More grace is on the humble man bestowed,
More work on him that loves to work for God;
By whose supreme decree, and kind command
He now returns, to bless his native land,
(Nor dreads the threat’nings of the wat’ry deep,3
Or all its storms, with Jesus in the ship) 250
To see how the belov’d disciples fare,
Fruits of his toil, and children of his prayer,
A second gospel-benefit t’ impart,
And comfort, and confirm the faithful heart.
So the first missioners in Jesus’ name,
Went forth, the world’s Redeemer to proclaim,
The crucified, supreme, eternal God,
The general peace and pardon in his blood;
From clime to clime the restless heralds run,
To make their Saviour through the nations known, 260
Planted in every place, to serve their Lord,
A living church, and watered by the word,
While heaven was pleased their ministry to bless,
And God bestowed the thousand-fold increase.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Toronto Pastors Fellowship on Monday!

Preaching God « Julian Freeman

Julian has a great little run-down on Monday's TPF along with a teaser from Dr. Darryl Dash's paper.

I have also read the paper, and as I wrote to Darryl this afternoon, was both humbled and encouraged by it. This is one not to miss!

By the way, registrations are really starting to fill up for this year's conference with Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker. If you have been procrastinating, I suggest you take a second today to register online. It won't take you more than 3 minutes and you will reserve your spot.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Share Your Faith or Preach Jesus?

I don’t like to be picky about words and phrases, but lately I have come to deplore the terms, “share your faith” and “outreach.” I cannot find any Biblical reason to use them and can think of many ways in which they are unhelpful.

First off, read through the book of Acts some day and see how many times words like preach, teach and proclaim are used in reference to the Gospel. There is a reason for that. The Gospel is news, but it is also a message to be obeyed. When we say we are going to “share our faith” it sounds like a) it is one faith among many that we want others to appreciate and b) that it is a uniquely personal religion (“my” faith). True Christianity is neither one among equals nor something that gets to be defined by the user. And the message of the Gospel, since it is both correct and intrinsically demands a response, must therefore be proclaimed... not just shared like a cup of tea.

Secondly, I don’t even know what “outreach” is supposed to mean? If it means, “reach out to people,” well, okay. But that is not evangelism. And I fear that our “reaching out” with gifts and services may start to feel like we are meeting our evangelistic obligation.

So, Resurrection Sunday is here! (Do you even know what the actual word “Easter” means?) And that makes a great time to preach Jesus.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Poem: AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. MR. GEORGE WHITEFIELD. (Part Two)

Here is another section of Charles Wesley's poetic eulogy of George Whitefield. You can read part one here.

Yet soon he bows before the will divine
Clearly demonstrating its own design,
Called by a prelate good, no more delays
T’ accept with awe the consecrating grace,
And offers up, through the Redeemer’s blood, 120
His body, spirit, soul, a sacrifice to God.
He now begins, from every weight set free,
To make full trial of his ministry,
Breaks forth on every side, and runs, and flies,
Like kindling flames that from the stubble rise,
Where’er the ministerial Spirit leads,
From house to house the heavenly fire he spreads,
Ranges through all the city-lanes and streets,
And seizes every prodigal he meets.
Who shall the will and work divine oppose? 130
His strength with his increasing labour grows:
Workman and work th’ Almighty hath prepared,
And sent of God, the servant must be heard,
Rush through the opening door, on sinners call,
Proclaim the truth, and offer Christ to all.
“Sound an alarm, the gospel-trumpet blow,
Let all their time of visitation know;
The Saviour comes! (You hear his herald cry)
Go forth and meet the friend of sinners nigh!”
Roused from the sleep of death, a countless crowd, 140
(Whose hearts like trees before the wind are bowed,
As a thick cloud, that darkens all the sky,
As flocking doves, that to their windows fly,)
Press to the hallowed courts, with eager strife,
Catch the convincing word, and hear for life.
Parties and sects their endless feuds forget
And fall, and tremble at the preacher’s feet,
Pricked at the heart, with one consent inquire
What must we do t’ escape the never-dying fire?
Made apt to teach he points them out the way, 150
And willing multitudes the truth obey;
He lets his light on all impartial shine,
And strenuously asserts the birth divine;
The Spirit freely given to all who claim
That promised Comforter in Jesus’ name;
The pardon bought so dear, by grace bestowed,
Received through faith in the atoning blood.
While yet he speaks, the Lord himself comes down,
Applies and proves the gracious word his own,
The Holy Ghost to thirsty souls imparts, 160
And writes forgiveness on the broken hearts.
But lo! An ampler field appears in view,
And calls his champion forth to conquests new:
Nor toils, nor dangers can his zeal repress,
Nor crowds detain him by his own success:
In vain his children tempt him to delay,
With prayers and tears invite his longer stay,
Or ask, as sharers of his weal or woe,
To earth’s remotest bounds with him to go:
He leaves them all behind, at Jesus’ word, 170
He finds them all again in his beloved Lord.
See, where he flies! As if by heaven designed,
T’ awake and draw our whole apostate kind!
He takes the eagle’s with the morning’s wings,
To other worlds the great salvation brings,
As sent, with joyful news of sins forgiven,
To every ransomed soul on this side heaven!
With ready mind th’ Americans receive
Their angel-friend, and his report believe,
So soon the servant’s heavenly call they find, 180
So soon they hear the Master’s feet behind:
He comes—to wound, and heal! At his descent
The mountains flow, the rocky hearts are rent;
Numbers acknowledging their gracious day
Turn to the Lord, and cast their sins away,
And faint and sink, beneath their guilty load,
Into the arms of a forgiving God.
His Son revealed, they now exult to know,
And after a despised Redeemer go,
In all the works prepared their faith to prove, 190
In patient hope, and fervency of love.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Questions for Fellowship

Once a month our men and women meet separately on a Wednesday night to study and pray and encourage each other in manly and womanly kinds of ways. Last night I distributed this sheet that is a re-formatting of what we elders use to guide our Elder Visits. I encouraged every man to meet with another man and work their way through the questions. The ladies did likewise.
If fellowship is the sharing of lives, then that demands we learn how to ask questions - the right, god-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered questions.
It was a great night for us so I thought I might share the joy!


Your Spiritual Life

1. Describe your spiritual health (growing, stagnant, stuck, joyful, strong, etc).
2. Are you reading the Bible? What are you currently reading?
3. Are you regularly praying? Do you pray for the members (use the directory)?
4. In what areas have you discerned God’s grace changing you?
5. Are there particular sins you are finding it difficult to repent of or that seem to keep tripping you up?

Your Life in the World, but Not of the World

1. Are you handling your money in a way that glorifies God?
2. How is your time management? Too busy? Lazy?
3. Are there any New Testament commands that you know you should obey but you are not?
4. Has anyone addressed sins in your life recently? How did you respond? What changes have taken place in your life since then?
5. When is the last time you evangelized someone?
6. Have you been guilty of sins like gossip, outbursts of anger, lying, cheating, or taking pleasure in evil?
7. If you work outside of the home, would your co-workers consider you to be just, honest, faithful, God-glorifying and hard working?
8. Are you living the life of a good citizen; paying taxes, fulfilling societal obligations, serving your neighbours, etc?

Your Life at Home
1. Describe your home life. Is it a happy place to be? What changes would improve your home life?

Husband:
1. Are you leading your wife? Are you romancing her and wooing her? Are you loving her as Christ loved the church?
2. Have you been leading your wife/family in some form of devotions?

Father:
1. Do you know the spiritual condition of your children?
2. Are you shepherding their hearts?
3. Are you teaching your children the Gospel and calling them to turn to Jesus?

Wife:
1. Are you following your husband in everything?
2. What are some areas that you find it difficult to submit to him?

Mother:
1. Do you know the spiritual condition of your children?
2. Are you shepherding their hearts?
3. Are you teaching your children the Gospel and calling them to turn to Jesus?

Singles:
1. Are you content with being single?
2. Do you have any habits or living patterns that are not conducive to spiritual growth?
3. How are you building strong Christian friendships with others?
4. If you desire marriage, how are you preparing for that gift now?