Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Consider How Jesus Fulfilled These Old Testament Prophecies... (From A.W. Pink)

Had prophecy declared that he should be the “woman’s seed” ( Genesis 3:15): then he was “born of a woman” ( Galatians 4:4). Had prophecy announced that his mother should be a “virgin” ( Isaiah 7:14): then was it literally fulfilled ( Matthew 1:18). Had prophecy revealed that he should be of the seed of Abraham ( Genesis 22:18): then mark its fulfillment ( Matthew 1:1). Had prophecy made it known that he should be a lineal descendant of David ( 2 Samuel 7:12,13): then such he actually was ( Romans 1:3). Had prophecy said that he should be named before he was born ( Isaiah 49:1): then so it came to pass ( Luke 1:30,31). Had prophecy foretold that he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea (Micah 5:2): then mark how this very village was actually his birthplace. Had prophecy forewarned that his birth should entail sorrowing for others ( Jeremiah 31:15): then behold its tragic fulfillment ( Matthew 2:16-18). Had prophecy foreshown that the Messiah should appear before the sceptre of tribal ascendancy had departed from Judah ( Genesis 49:10): then so he did, for though the ten tribes were in captivity. Judah was still in the land at the time of his advent. Had prophecy referred to the flight into Egypt and the subsequent return into Palestine ( Hosea 11:1 and cf. Isaiah 49:3,6): then so it came to pass ( Matthew 2:14,15).
Had prophecy made mention of one going before Christ to make ready his way ( Malachi 3:1): then see its fulfillment in the person of John the Baptist. Had prophecy made it known that at the Messiah’s appearing that “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing” ( Isaiah 35:5,6) then read through the four gospels and see how blessedly this proved to be true. Had prophecy spoken of him as “poor and needy” ( Psalm 40:17 - see beginning of psalm): then behold him not having where to lay his head.
Had prophecy intimated that he should speak in “parables” ( Psalm 78:2): then such was frequently his method of teaching. Had prophecy depicted him stilling the tempest ( <19A729> Psalm 107:29): then this is exactly what he did. Had prophecy heralded his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem ( Zechariah 9:9): then so it came to pass.
Had prophecy announced that his person should be despised ( Isaiah 53:3); that he should be rejected by the Jews ( Isaiah 8:14); that he should be “hated without a cause” ( Psalm 69:4): then sad to say, such was precisely the case. Had prophecy painted the whole picture of his degradation and crucifixion - then was it vividly reproduced. There had been the betrayal by a familiar friend, the forsaking by his cherished disciples, the being led to the slaughter, the being taken to judgment, the appearing of false witnesses against him, the refusal on his part to make defence, the establishing of his innocency, the unjust condemnation, the sentence of capital punishment passed upon him, the literal piercing of his hands and feet, the being numbered with transgressors, the mockery of the crowd, the casting lots for his garments - all predicted centuries beforehand, and all fulfilled to the very letter. The last prophecy of all which remained ere he committed his spirit into the hands of his Father had now been fulfilled. He cried “I thirst” and after the tendering of the vinegar and gall all was now “accomplished”; and as the Lord Jesus reviewed the entire scope of the prophetic word and saw its full realization, he cried, “It is finished”!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Have You Prayed About the Money You Are Spending This "Holiday Season?"

Every Christmas I watch lots of people dive into the retail riptide and spend more money than they have. Reasons for being silly like this abound, not the least of which is a creatively nurtured guilt by advertisers that erodes our common sense into thinking that the people around us will not feel valued unless we buy them something. If we lived like this all year we would be bankrupt and hungry.
My friend Walter has lived a long time and written a few words on money and how it should be used. I was privileged to read his letter to the folks at Carey Conference this year and I recently noticed that the audio of that has been posted. So, why not download Ol’ Walt and give him a listen while you drive in circles trying to find a parking spot at the mall?

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Most Brilliant Hymn Ever Written (so far)

This could likely be the most brilliant English hymn ever written.

That is what I think, anyway.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

- William Cowper, 1774.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

John Knight on a good way to pray for a better theology of disability

Pray that our leaders would know AND love the truth « The Works of God:

"What is particularly frustrating about Dr. Otieno’s article is that it is very well written and she has clearly given this a great deal of thought. This article is full of scriptural references, and she has looked directly at some of the most difficult passages on disability in the Bible.

But it is not written from the perspective that this is God’s story, that he is a holy God, that he has sovereign authority over his creation, that he is entirely good, that he is completely merciful, and that anything that draws us closer to him and into treasuring Jesus above all things is better than anything in this life. Even a life full of suffering and exclusion because of disability – which he has ordained – does not compare to an eternity of increasing joy spent with Jesus.

And that is why we should pray for the gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society this week. Disciplined, smart people write articles about the Bible all the time – and get it wrong. It is God alone who gives new life, eyes to see, and a desire to make much of him."

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Not Many Christians Really Believe in the Resurrection

“There are very few Christians who believe the resurrection of the dead. You may be surprised to hear that, but I should not wonder if I discovered that you yourself have doubts on the subject.
By the resurrection of the dead is meant something very different from the immortality of the soul: that, every Christian believes, and therein is only on a level with the heathen, who believes it too. The light of nature is sufficient to tell us that the soul is immortal, so that the infidel who doubts it is a worse fool even than a heathen, for he, before Revelation was given, had discovered it—there are some faint glimmerings in men of reason which teach that the soul is something so wonderful that it must endure forever. But the resurrection of the dead is quite another doctrine, dealing not with the soul, but with the body. The doctrine is that this actual body in which I now exist is to live with my soul…
The spirit, every one confesses, is eternal; but how many there are who deny that the bodies of men will actually start up from their graves at the great day! Many of you believe you will have a body in heaven, but you think it will be an airy fantastic body, instead of believing that it will be a body like to this—flesh and blood (although not the same kind of flesh, for all flesh is not the same flesh), a solid, substantial body, even such as we have here.
And there are yet fewer of you who believe that the wicked will have bodies in hell; for it is gaining ground everywhere that there are to be no positive torments for the damned in hell to affect their bodies, but that it is to be metaphorical fire, metaphorical brimstone, metaphorical chains, metaphorical torture. But if ye were Christians as ye profess to be, ye would believe that every mortal man who ever existed shall not only live by the immortality of his soul, but his body shall live again, that the very flesh in which he now walks the earth is as eternal as the soul, and shall exist for ever.
That is the peculiar doctrine of Christianity. The heathens never guessed or imagined such a thing; and consequently when Paul spoke of the resurrection of the dead, "Some mocked," which proves that they understood him to speak of the resurrection of the body, for they would not have mocked had he only spoken of the immortality of the soul, that having been already proclaimed by Plato and Socrates, and received with reverence.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Did I Really Think That?

I faced a rather awful thought in my mind this morning. I won’t tell you what it was, but I after it reared its ugly head I wondered aloud, “Where did that come from?”

This reminded me of a passage that has intrigued me for years in The Pilgrim’s Progress. It comes from section IV, where Christian is making his difficult way through the Valley of the Shadow of Death:

One thing I would not let slip; I took notice that now poor CHRISTIAN was so confounded, that he did not know his own voice. And thus I perceived it: just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stept up softly to him; and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him--which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put CHRISTIAN more to it than anything that he met with before, even to think that he should now blaspheme him that he loved so much before! Yet could he have helped it, he would not have done it; but he had not the discretion neither to stop his ears, nor to know from whence those blasphemies came.

Sometimes I wonder if the awful thoughts come from a source other than that cesspool of remaining sin in our hearts. Bunyan captures the idea well here. I suppose we will never know exactly the source of these things, but in our self-examination, we do well to remember that there is an Enemy and that he does attack.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How Members Can Serve the Church on Sunday Morning | 9Marks

Here is a great little post on how you can serve your church tomorrow

At the Trellis and Vine Workshop in DC today, Colin Marshall shared ways that ordinary church members can serve the church on Sunday mornings.

Before the Service

* Read the passage in advance
* Pray for the gathering
* Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
* Think strategically about who you should sit with
* Arrive Early

During the Service

* Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
* Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
* Don’t be distracted
* Listen carefully
* Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the Service

* Connect newcomers with others
* Get newcomers information
* Start a conversation about the sermon
* Ask someone how they became a Christian
* Stay late

Friday, October 01, 2010 – Evolution: When Atheists and Baptists Agree? – Evolution: When Atheists and Baptists Agree?:

"There are few figures so influential in my own thinking as Augustine, and his wise counsel about allowing the plain texts of Scripture to interpret the more obscure is inherently healthy. But it is Rachel Held Evans who must bear the responsibility to explain how any acceptance of evolution can avoid “prejudice to the faith we have received.”

Her glib and superficial endorsement of evolution and its reconciliation with Christianity is all too common and all too irresponsible. If she is going to quote Augustine, she should deal with the consequences. How are we to reconcile the absence of an historical Adam, for example, with Paul’s very clear and unambiguous affirmation of Adam’s headship and its centrality to the gospel? The age of the earth is not the central question, though it is an unavoidable and important question.

Most of those who urge a reconciliation of evolution and the Christian faith do so at the most superficial level, without ever acknowledging the near-total transformation of Christian theology that must result if serious minds ask the serious questions and do the serious work of actually thinking seriously."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Church Plant Update: Meetings Begin!

Church Plant Update: Meetings Begin! « Julian Freeman:

Here is some great news from Julian....

We are very excited to announce that our church plant core group will begin meeting on the evening of Sunday, October 3, at 5pm!

Here are the details in a summary:

  • Where is it? The first two weeks (October 3 and October 10) we will meet at Julian & Stacey’s house. Subsequent weeks will be held at Nabil & Tania’s house. Contact us for addresses & directions.
  • When is it? We will meet at 5pm and hope to be done our official meeting at about 6:10. There will, of course, be time for fellowship after for as long as you can stay.
  • What’s the purpose? Three things. (1) We want to dive in to the Word of God together and ask, ‘What does God call his church to? What kind of church does he bless?’ We’ll be studying the book of Acts together. (2) We want to pray together. We want to make prayer instrumental, not supplemental to all we do as a church. (3) To get to know each other even better.
  • Can visitors come? Absolutely! This meeting is for everyone who is committed, but also for those who are just hoping to find out about us and to figure out if they want to join us.
  • What else is in the works? Lots of things! They will be announced as plans develop… but the best way to find out is just to come join with us!

Please contact me for more information.

See you Sunday night at 5pm, God willing!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Lumps: Further Thoughts on Sentencing

It was a joy to sit in a mutual friend's house last week and fellowship with Terry and Juanita Stauffer and their kids. They are, and I mean this in the best way, quite normal people. The fellowship was sweet and encouraging.

But this week was a big one for the Stauffers... the sentencing of their daughter Emily's killer. I can hardly ever think of this family without tears, sometimes for the sheer sadness of the whole event, but more lately for the humble and godly way they continue to live through it all.

Terry's latest post was just another example of this, as he seeks to express something of what the day of sentencing was like. Pray for my friends, won't you? And remember that even if we live long, life is still very short.

It is difficult to put yesterday’s sentencing of Emily’s killer into perspective. I thought that after sleeping on it, words might come more easily. It is not to be. It is hard to sum up yesterday, let alone the almost two years that preceded yesterday’s closure. I know that there are many people looking for a personal reaction on this blog, so I will share a few thoughts.

Read the rest of Terry's post here...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walter on Money - Some Advice to the Campers at Carey Conference 2010

I had the privilege yesterday of reading a letter Walter wrote to the campers at this year's Carey Family Conference. The morning sessions were looking at life topics through the lense of Proverbs and that, well, that is just up Walt's alley.

Several asked for a copy of the letter so I promised to post it here. It is longer than average, but your corn won't rot if you read it all.


Dear Friends at the Carey Conference,

Well, hello from here to there and welcome to my ramblings on money. I suppose Pastor Martin’s liquid spine is what caused him to ask me to write you since talking about money is like choosing paint colours for the church basement – everybody’s got an opinion!

My approach will be simple enough. I hope to remind you of what the wisest man on earth said about money and maybe point out a few observations I’ve made during my days under the sun. The stuff written by Solomon is worth heeding like a funnel cloud aimed at your barn. As for what I have to offer, remember an old horse will find his way home sooner than a yearling… the hard knocks of repetition can be a good teacher!

I suppose it is worth asking what money is? I accidentally left a $20 bill in my overalls last week and Mrs. Walter found it in 15 pieces after the rinse cycle. Now a Kleenex and money are both made out of paper, but my heart got a might more agitated over a torn twenty than a tattered hanky! Money gets all it’s power from what it does, of course. I can’t trade an envelope for a calf – unless it is full of the Queen’s pretty face. Only one kind of paper settles bills and bets in this country.

And I suppose that is the first thing we ought to learn about it – money gets its power from us. The more we love it, the more powerful it will become.

Money is Not Your God
Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13)

So, every son of Adam and daughter of Eve needs to work out in their own heart who it is they are going to love. Money is just a thing, really… not evil in and of itself. But it is death to the person who loves it.

Proverbs 23:1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
observe carefully what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to appetite.
3 Do not desire his delicacies,
for they are deceptive food.
4 Do not toil to acquire wealth;
be discerning enough to desist.
5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
for suddenly it sprouts wings,
flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Money is like cotton candy – it tickles the tastes buds but leaves you hungry. A man ought heed Solomon’s warning: “A knife to your throat” before falling in love with money!!

Some men love money so much they are willing to be wicked in order to get it. That wickedness may be fudging a number on a tax form or robbing a bank at gunpoint – I don’t suppose there’s a cartload of difference between the two in the Lord’s eyes. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6). Like the old King said:

Proverbs 10:2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 20:17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

I’ve known lots of men with a driveway-full of stones in their mouth. Sure, they seem to have all that the world offers – but the wicked only earn “deceptive wages” (Pr 11:18) and they will not deliver when needed most! I once waited in line for two hours to see The Happy Hands Fiddle Troop. Only, when I finally got to the theatre door, they turned me away! Seems they had sold too many tickets and mine was one of them. No matter how I pleaded, my ticket couldn’t get me in! That’s the problem with money, too.

Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.

“The emperor has no clothes,” as the saying goes. Lots of men feel and act powerful and fearless in life who will stand naked and helpless in death. If you gain more peace about your situation from your bank account than your bond to the Lord, Walter says, “Watch out!”

“Earthly treasures quick run away,
but heavenly ones eternal stay!”

Proverbs 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

If you worship it, money is like Baal of old – nothing. You may not dance and cut yourself to get it, but it will own just the same.

Money Comes By Work
Now once a man has got his loyalties settled, then he is set to ask, “How am I going to get some?”

Now here old Solomon left no doubts. IF you want to eat, you need to buy food. And if you want to buy food, you need to earn some money. And if you want to earn some money, you need to get a job.

Proverb 14:23 In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Whether he works 12 hours or 3, a man deserves to be paid at the end of the day and that is what we call his income. And most of us say, “Come in!” However, for many that income has an unfortunate outcome!

A clean barn means no cows (Pr 14:4). That might make a Mrs. Martha Stewart happy, but it’ll leave Mrs. Walter going hungry! No, hard work usually means a bit of a mess. If I look to the services of one of the men in town, one of the first things I do is look at his desk – too messy and he is probably incompetent…. too clean and he probably doesn’t do anything at all! Every trade has its tools and most of them involve sweat of one kind or another.

A good man learns to work when it is time to work.

Proverbs 10:5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.

Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard does not plow in the autumn;
he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

The man who works will know something of His Maker’s pleasure and part of that smile is almost always bread on the table and beer in the mug (or, Adam’s Ale if you prefer). That man will “know his flocks and herds” (Pr 27:23-27) and always have enough for his family and his church. He may not live in gold and thousands of square feet – but he’ll live with a content heart and clean conscience. That’s something all the gold in the Royal Mint can’t buy!

If a man paid more attention to what he learned in grade school, he might do some good in this world. I recall one little rhyme:

Work while you work,
Play while you play,
One thing each time that is the way!

All that you do
Do with your might
Things done by halves are not done right!

But we tend to have the equilibrium of a newborn calf. If it wasn’t so hard to stay balanced I am sure the Lord would have had less to say about staying square between our work and our play. One man never raises a finger and the other works his fingers to the bone.

The Sluggard Will Have No Money
There’s very little fast money in this world. The sluggard spends all day scheming how to get it and goes to bed hungry. Another man inherits a safe-full, and it’s gone as fast as it appeared.

No, the Bible way to gaining your riches is through regular hard work over time.

Proverbs 28:19 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

Uncle Lester worked hard but died poor. Why? Because his life was full of worthless pursuits. From magnetic pipe purifiers to baptized Ponzi schemes, he was always chasing easy money.

Now, as for work itself – it’s not that bad! At least, Walter doesn’t think so, but I have known many who do not share my convictions! The Bible talks a lot about the sluggard and I don’t know if the two words go together, but I have seen how fast a slug moves… and what they are good for!

I have known men who can spend heaps of energy figuring out how not to work that, had they just put the same into a shovel for an hour, could have dug 4 miles of ditch. Some men move so slow you’d think their wife fed them led pancakes for breakfast and poured concrete in their shoes! The sluggard gets himself to the table, but never gets his hand from the bowl to his mouth – that’s too much work! (Pr 19:24; 26:15). He squeaks like a rusty hinge, but for all his noise he only goes back and forth, never forward (Pr 26:14).

Solomon said, the “idle suffer hunger” (Pr 19:15) and “hunger drives a man to work” (Pr 16:26), but the sluggard would rather sleep with a growling stomach than work for a full one. If Saul had ten excuses for not destroying the Amalekites, the sluggard has 100 for not going to work. The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (Pr 26:13). And I know that lion’s Latin classification: labour avoidest

O, he is always full of grand ideas and elaborate schemes of how he is going to pay the bills and feed the family, but in the end he will be shown for what he is. The man committed to sleep over work will wake up poor and lonely one day. That’s what wise Solomon said:

Proverbs 24:30 I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
32 Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.

What I’ve never been able to figure though, is how they can stand looking at themselves when they shave in the morning? Always craving more and in love with pleasure, they get neither (Pr 21:25-26)! These men are the most foolish of all, I think, for they try to live contrary to nature – to the way God made them. The ant must have a small brain seeing how small in stature he is, but at least he does what he was made to do – “Go to the ant, O sluggard!” (Pr 6:6-11)! A man who does not work is worth nothing and should be avoided like an angry skunk.

The Overworker Will Have No Life
On the other hand, there are some men who just work too much! Even the ant stops and rests once in a while from his steady trek back and forth. I am sure that some men overwork partly because of nature – rabbits like to hop, cheetahs like to sprint and some men aren’t happy unless they are busy at something! But my guess is that the brunt of over-workers are merely coveters-in-disguise. Once a dog tastes blood, there’s no way to keep him away from your sheep. Some men turn into pit bulls once they taste a little money. You all don’t need me to tell you what that will get you. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes did just that when he wrote:

Ecclesiastes 2:18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.

Slow and Steady, Eddie
No, I say the best way to live is to get up regular every morning and do the tasks God has given you. I liken my prayers after Agur, son of Jakeh:

Proverbs 30:7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 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.

Now there was a fine bit of wisdom! Some men get rich too fast and find they spend it just as fast. Gern Housely inherited 1 million dollars once – and spent it all in two years with nothing to show for it but a nice car. Mind you, he soon had to sell the car as he had no money to pay for the insurance! I am not opposed to being taken care of and even having a few loonies in the bank, but I’d rather mine came slow and steady than fast and furious. Haste makes waste as they say, or as Solomon put it:

Proverbs 13:11 Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

The Curse of Riches
Now, as I said, wealth is all fine and good and makes a man’s days seem brighter, but riches bring with them their own snare. Many a rich man in hell is regretting the comfort he felt on earth!

So, money is just a thing to be used this side of glory, and it is good to work for it, but not to live for it. But what if there are always seems to be more month than salary?

It seems to me that one of the simplest lessons the simple never learn, is that you have to spend less than you earn. Cars don’t run on fumes. Cows don’t live on air. Yet, lots of folks try to live on less than either! No, a man or woman has to learn to always have a little left over at the end of the month. If I’m set to run 300 feet of fence I’ll be sure to buy 350 feet of wire – things always seem to cost more then you plan.

The leeches daughters will always be crying, “Give! Give!” (Pr 30:15) and a man has to have some defense against it. I know of a Christian lawyer (yes, both they and puffins really exist) who makes more money than could fit in my silo, but lives in a tiny house, drives an older car and wears suits off the rack. He decided early on what his standard of living would be and everything past that he gives away. Well, did you know that this man just keeps making more and more money! Now, who is in charge of that? Why, the Lord, of course! Seems to me that the Lord is just directing what belongs to Him to that man since that man is faithful to give it to those who need it!

Proverbs 13:7 One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

Proverbs 28:22 A stingy man hastens after wealth
and does not know that poverty will come upon him.

It takes a truckload of godliness and discernment for a man to live rich and stay godly. Not too many can handle lots of money. That’s why old Walter says… “Better a little!” Yep, that’s my motto and I’ll stick by it!

Proverbs 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.

I say a man ought to take a step back and ask what he wants to live his life for. Sure lots of folks are living for money… but are they happy? My god isn’t my happiness, at least I pray not, but it strikes me that only the man who is not living for money is able to enjoy the money he actually gets – whether it be lots or little.

Sins and Debts
Now, one other thing. Mr. Spurgeon said, “Sins and debts are always worse than we think.” And I agree with him 100%.

Nothing builds a fence between friends like a debt not paid. I was anxious to get Mrs. Walter out for a date once and had nothing in my wallet. I knew my pay was coming, but not for another week so I borrowed $20 from Steuben McGillicut. But did you know I forgot all about that loan – and after several months asked Stubby why he seemed so cool and distant. He quietly reminded me of my debt and Old Walter felt 2 feet tall and 3 feet thick. I learned then, better to go without than go in debt.

Some smart person told me if you total up what everybody in Canada owes on a credit card and average it out per person, then every one of us owes more than we make in a year. There are 74 million credit cards in Canada - three for every Canadian over the age of 18. Well, all I can tell you is that there is one credit card in Walter’s wallet that gets used very little and paid every month. Did you know nearly half of Canadians don’t even know how much interest they pay a month on their credit! The same folks gripe for an hour about HST while they are blindly paying twice that much on their credit cards!

If a man has trouble using too much plastic I hand him a pair of scissors. You don’t give free cocaine to a drug addict so why give what feels like free money to a man in debt. There’s always a way out of debt for a man or woman willing to work hard and live light. It may not be the most comfortable life, but they’ll sleep sound with a good conscience at night.

Proverbs 16:16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Used furniture, old clothes, fruits and vegetables are the way to get rid of debt. You may not be as good-looking or well-fashioned as the next lady, but it would shock you to know how little she really owns anyway. There’s nothing so freeing as a debt paid. Just think of when you came to Christ and your most unpayable debt was taken away… how light and joyful you felt! Well, to some degree that’s what you’ll feel when the credit card says zero! Debt is a four-letter word and ought to be avoided like a sinkhole on the highway. Pay off that debt as fast as you can and never get in it again!

That goes for the spiritual also! If your sins still have you in debt to God, then run to Jesus Christ who can erase what you owe in less than a second. If you think an earthly debt is hard to pay off, then I have news for you about your eternal one. We used to sing by the campfire,

He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sin away.
And now I sing that brand new song, Amazing grace (all day long)
My Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

I can’t help but wonder if He has paid yours? Once He has, then this verse will make more sense than a shovel in winter:

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

A person, who gets their money under control, might find it helps them in other areas of life too. Most of our over-spending is just giving way to our lusts and sinful pleasures… so spending less than you earn will help check those excesses. Not that a frugal man is a sinless man! A man can err just as severe on the other side by hording and lusting like Scrooge in the story. Better to be a man who chases hard after godliness in all areas.

Putting Others Into Debt
When it comes to putting others into debt, I agree with Solomon:

Proverbs 17:18 One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.

Do not lend what you’re not willing to lose. I’d sooner give my neighbour a shovel than have him borrow mine. I’d rather make him a dinner than lend him the money to buy it. I’d rather have him stay under my roof than loan him my tent. Those in need are usually the worst borrowers – until a man learns to take care of himself he probably won’t take care of your stuff. I once leant a great deal of money to a friend that I totally trusted. He was going to pay it off in a month! Well, over a year later I had most of it back again. He and I both would have been better off had I given him what I could’ve spared.

And I suppose having a little to spare is a good plan.

Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

If I can die with a little for my kids and grandkids, I will be a happy man. I once saw a flyer for a company that would help you to die poor – spending all your money in a content retirement so that your bank account and heart would expire at the same moment. Well, I never did figure how they could time those things so right without a needle or a hammer, but never mind, because the goal was all wrong. Money is just a tool to live by, and if a little more might help my kids, than I am happy to leave it for them.

I say, learn to spend less than you earn and most of these things will take care of themselves. Then, once you have a little in the bank, be willing to give it away to whomever needs it if the Lord should lay that on your heart.

To Whom Shall I Give?
But even that can be a tricky thing.

Having money in the bank brings with it its own set of troubles. I’m too old to have taken French in school, but I am guessing “entourage” must be the French word for “blood-suckers.” I see these rich athletes and rock stars on the news never going anywhere without their little group fawning and following after and fleecing them. Well, these poor fellows ought to mind the words of the King:

Proverbs 19:6 Many seek the favor of a generous man,
and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.

Money will always buy companions, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Pr 18:24) and He won’t be bought. When money leaves, so do the bloodsuckers! So Solomon warns the rich who might be tempted to think that their money has nothing to do with their popularity:

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth brings many new friends,
but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
Proverbs 19:7 All a poor man's brothers hate him;
how much more do his friends go far from him!
Proverbs 14:20 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.

What’s more, some of my wealthier friends have the regular trial of deciding who to help. Everybody figures some of that wealth ought to come to them – and that they would be quick to do likewise had they the same. A rich man has to say, “No” sometimes, and that may be harder than pulling stumps in a muddy field for some people. I say, leave the rich alone and let them trust the Lord for where their money ought to go. If a wealthy Christian hears by providence of some particular need, he’ll be more than happy to help.

Not that a man ought to hate money. “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich” (Pr 10:22). The church can use some money to do the will of God and so the Lord often blesses some folks with more than they need. The trick is what you do with it!

Jesus told the story of a man who looked at all his great wealth as his own – for himself (Luke 16). He built bigger barns instead of a bigger treasure and died without hope of heaven. If the Lord prospers a man, it is more than likely so the man can take care of some of the Lord’s needy ones.

Proverbs 11:24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed.

Proverbs 28:27 Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Proverbs 21:13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.

Remember Paul’s warnings to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Well, there was more than you bargained for – kind of like trying to run into one store at the mall with your wife. Have fun talking about all this together… I wish I could be with you!

Your Brother,


P.S. Please tell Pastor Muller I got his letter and we will mail down the rest of his cow come September.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Video for The Elisha Foundation

It was a joy to watch this.

I know all of these people and can testify to the truthfulness of everything they say.

The Elisha Foundation from The Elisha Foundation on Vimeo.

Friday, July 23, 2010

He makes the clouds his chariot

The Martin Family is playing hot potato with a nasty cold virus and it was my turn this week. That enabled two things. First, I took two days off in a row. Second, I looked at the clouds a lot.

Last Saturday my body was shutting down from this virus, but I thought it was just the heat. A very hot and humid day, I was digging a hundred foot trench with my neighbour and four hours into thought I was going to keel over. That led to me sitting in my back yard and looking up.

I had been looking down at the ground for so long, pick-axing my way through Rexdale clay, that the sudden image of sharp blue sky and brilliant white clouds above me arrested my attention. “There is a God,” I said.

This reminded me of something John Piper had preached or written once – I have no idea of the context now – in which he suggested a great tool in fighting sin is to get outside and look up! So, every day for the last week, and in particular the last two sick days, I have been purposefully casting my eyes heavenward.

Have you ever thought how much of our lives are spent looking down? Down at the ground to plan our next step. Down at the television (unless yours is wall-mounted). Down at a book. Down at your computer monitor. Or, we may get our eyes up to the horizon – looking where we want to go, observing our neighbour’s property, watching the car in front of us.

When is the last time you looked up?

Looking up means you have to stop. It is not advisable to look up when driving 100 km/h on an highway. Nor can you look up in a building. You can’t look up while you walk down a busy street. You have to stop.

And when you stop and look up and all around – what do you see? “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” In fact, you cannot help but “hear” it. “There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard” (Psalm 19). Spurgeon said, “ Sun, moon and stars are God’s travelling preachers…”

The sky is always there to be observed, but Canadian winters do a lot to hide it and make outside viewing uncomfortable. So I suggest you get out every day for one week and just look. Let the expanse of His creation expand your heart a little and call to mind the One who not only made all these things, but sustains them. Rest in the “bigness” of God for a few minutes – then tell somebody else about Him.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How God Saved a Boy (Part Two) - An account by Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Mr Bonar of Collace often visited him, and these were sweet visits to little James. One day when Mr Bonar had been opening up some Scripture to him, he said, " Do you know what I am saying, Jamie ?" James, " Yes, but I canna get at it (I cannot feel its power); I see it all." Mr B.," I think there would be a pleasure in seeing the people drink when Moses struck the rock, even though one did not get a drink themselves." James, "Ah, but I would like a drink."
One of the loveliest features in the character of this little boy was his intense love to the souls of men. He often spoke with me on the folly of men living without Christ in the world. I shall never forget the compassionate glance of his clear blue eye, as he said, " What a pity it is that they do not a' come to Christ—they would be sic happy." He often reminded me of the verse, " Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God." 1 John iv. 7.
One Sabbath evening I spoke to the scholars in the Sabbath-school about him. When the school was over they all came in to his cottage to see him. The little throng stood silent round his bed, while he spoke to them with great solemnity. " You all know what I was. I was no better than you 8 but the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and I saw that I was on the very brink of hell. Then I cried to Jesus to save me, and give me a new heart; I put my finger on the promise and would not come away without it; and he gave me a new heart; and he is as willing to give you all a new heart. I have sinned with you, now I would like you to come to Christ with me. You would be far happier in Christ than at your play. There are sweeter pleasures in Christ. Here are two awful verses to me :—

" There is a dreadful hell,
And everlasting pains;
There sinners must with devils dwell
In darkness, fire, and chains.

Can such a wretch as I
Escape this cursed end ?
And may I hope, whene'er I die,
I shall to heaven ascend !"

Then, pointing to the fire, he said, " You could not keep your finger long there, but remember hell is a lake of fire. I would give you all a prayer to pray to-night. Go and tell Jesus that you are poor, lost, hell-deserving sinners, and tell him to give you a new heart. Mind he's willing, and oh, be earnest—ye'll no get it unless ye be earnest."
These were nearly his very words. Strange scene ! a dying boy speaking to his fellows. They were impressed for a time, but it soon wore away. Several Sabbath evenings the same scene was renewed. The substance of all his warnings was, " Come to Christ and get a new heart." He often told me afterwards that he had been inviting them to Christ, " but (he added) they'll no come."
One evening during the week, a number of the children came in. After speaking to them in a very solemn manner, he took from under his pillow a little book, called " A letter about Jesus Christ." He turned up the part where it tells of six boys laying their finger on the promise, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, and pleading for its fulfillment. He was not able to read it to them, but he said he would give it to them ; and each boy should keep it two days, and read it, and do the same. The boys were much impressed, and agreed to the proposal.
One day during his illness his sister found him crying very bitterly. She asked him what ailed him. He said, " Do you remember when I was at the day-school at the time of the Revival ? One day when we were writing our copies, one of the boys had been some anxious about his soul; he wrote a line to me on a slip of paper, ' Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Te James Laing. Pray over it.' I took the paper, read it and tore it, and threw it on the floor, and laughed at the boy. O Margaret, if I hadna laughed at him, maybe he would have sought Christ until he had found him. Maybe I have been the means of ruining his soul to all eternity " In how touching a manner this shows the tenderness of his care for the souls of others; and also how a rash word or deed, little thought of at the time, may plant a sting in the dying pillow.
One night I went with my little cousin to see James. I said, " I have brought my Jamie to see you." He took him kindly by the hand, and said, " We're twa Jamies thegither. May we both meet in heaven. Be earnest to get Christ. You'll no get Christ unless you are earnest." When we were gone, he said to his sister, " Although Jamie bides with the minister, unless the Spirit open his eyes, he canna get Christ."
His knowledge of the peculiar doctrines of the gospel was very wonderful. It was not mere head knowledge—it came fresh and clear from the heart, like spring water welling up from a great depth. He felt the sovereignty of God very deeply. Once I quoted to him the hymn,
" Chosen not for good in me." He said, " I am sure it was for nothing in me. I am hell-deserving sinner." Often, when speaking of the great things God had done for their family, he would say, " Ah, Margaret, I wonder that Christ would look in here and take us." Once he said, " I wonder how Jesus died for such a sinner as me. Why me, Lord, why me ?"
The greatest want in the religion of children is generally sense of sin. Artless simplicity and confidence in what is told, are in some respects natural to children; and this is the reason why we are so often deceived by promising appearances in childhood. The reality of grace in a child is best known by his sense of sin. Little James often wondered " how God sent his servant sic often to him, such a hell-deserving sinner." This was a common expression of his. On one occasion, he said, " I have a wicked, wicked heart, and a tempting devil. He'll not let me alone, but this is all the hell that I'll get. Jesus bore my hell already. O Margaret, this wicked heart of mine would be hell enough for me though there was no other. But there are no wicked hearts in heaven." Often he prayed, " Come, Holy Spirit, and make me holy—make me like Jesus."
The way of salvation through the righteousness of Christ was always sweet to him. He had an uncommon grasp of it; Christ crucified was all his salvation and all his desire. One day his sister said to him, "You must meet death in Jesus, and go to the judgment-seat in Jesus, and spend eternity in Jesus. You will be as hell-deserving in yourself when you stand before the throne as now." He smiled sweetly, and said, " O Margaret, I see it must be all Jesus from beginning to end."
Another time a little boy who was in concern for his soul came to see James, and told him how many chapters he had read, and how often he had prayed. James did not answer at the time, but a little after he said to his sister, " David was here, and told me how many chapters he had read, &c. I see he's upon the working plan; but I must tell him that it's no his reading, nor yet his praying, but Jesus alone that must save him."
Another day he said, " The devil is letting me see that this word and another word in my prayer is sin, but I just tell him it is all sin. I bid him go to Jesus, there is no sin in him; and I have taken him to be my Saviour."
He had a very clear discovery of the dead and helpless condition of the carnal mind, and of the need of the holy Spirit to convert the soul. Telling me once of the boy under concern, and of what he had been saying to him, he added, f But it is nonsense to speak of these things without the Holy Spirit." At another time I was speaking on John xiv. 1. He seemed to be thinking about something else, and suddenly said, " When we lose our first love, it's no easy getting our second love; only the Spirit of God can give it."
Often when he saw the family preparing to go to church, he would pray that I might be filled with the Holy Spirit in speaking, so that some sinners might be caught. " I mind often sitting on the pulpit stairs careless; I would like if I had that place again. If I had but one sermon I would not be so careless now." He often wished to be carried to the church, but was never able to bear the exertion
He was no stranger to temptations from the wicked one I scarcely ever visited him but he spoke to me of these. Once he said,." The devil often tempts me to think upon good people, but I tell him it is Christ I want." Another time," What do you think ? The devil now tempts me to believe that I'll never be saved, because I have repented on my death-bed." Often when tempted, he would cry, " If I perish, I'll perish at Christ's feet." A few days before he died, he said, " I am afraid I will not be saved yet, for the devil will catch my soul as it leaves my body. But Jesus says, ' Ye shall never perish.' If I am in the hand of Jesus, the devil cannot pluck me out there."
Once I found him kneeling on a pillow by the fire ; he complained of great darkness, and doubted his interest in Christ. I told him that we must not close with Christ because we feel him, but because God has said it, and that we must take God's word even in the dark. After that he always seemed to trust God in the dark, even at times when he had no inward evidence of being Christ's. At one of these times, a believer, who is often in great darkness, came in, and asked him, " When you are in darkness, Jamie, how do you do? Can you go to Jesus?" He answered, in his own pointed manner, " Annie, woman, I have no ither get to gang."
The last text I explained to him, was 2 Tim. iv. 7, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.'' I was wonderfully helped in showing him that, from conversion to coronation, the life of a believer was one continued fight. He said, " Would you not think that the devil would let a poor young creature like me alone? but he's an awful tempter."
He had a mind that loved to think on the deep things of God. One day a believer called and prayed beside his bed, asking for him that he might be " filled with all the fulness of God." The same person came another day, and before praying, enquired, " What shall I ask for you?" He said, " You mind what you sought for me the last time. You prayed that I might be filled with all the fulness of God: I canna get any more than that, but dinna seek any less today."
A dear Christian lady used to bring him flowers. She spoke to him of Christ being " the lily of the valley," and on one occasion brought him one. He asked her to pick it out from the rest, and give it into his hand. Holding the gentle flower in his pale wasted fingers, he looked at it, and said, " This might convince the world that there is a God, though there were nothing else. Aye, there is a God—there is a heaven—there is a hell—and there is a judgment-seat— whether they will believe it or no." He said this in a very solemn way, pausing between every member of the sentence.
He loved singing praise to God, though not able to join in it himself. He frequently made us sing beside his bed, and often bade them sing the 23d Psalm. " I have no strength to sing here (he would say), I have a heart, but not strength; when I get to heaven I'll be able to sing there." Sometimes he would bid them sing these words, " I'm not ashamed to own my Lord." He often repeated that hymn, and he left it in charge that it should be sung by the scholars on the night of his death. The 65th Paraphrase was also precious to him, especially that part, " Hark how the adoring hosts above." He loved these verses, and often wished that he were among that praising company.
My sister once sent him a hymn, " The fulness of Jesus." He said he liked it all, but he liked the last verse best.

He delighted in secret prayer. In weakness and pain, yet he spent hours upon his knees, communing with, an unseen God. When unable for the outward part of the exercise, he said, " O Margaret, I prayed to Jesus as long as I was able. But now I'm not able, and he does not want it from me; but I'm just always giving him my heart." Many a night he got no sleep. I asked him if he wearied during the silent watches. He said. " No; his left hand is undo my head, and his right hand doth embrace me." God gave this dear boy a very calm and cheerful spirit in the midst of all his trials. Neither bodily pain nor the assaults of the devil could sour his temper, or ruffle his placid brow. At any time when his pain increased, he would say, "It is the Lord, let him do. what seemeth him good." One time in deep darkness, he cried out, " Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." Again, when his soul was more in the light, he would say, " I long to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better;" " but then I'm willing to wait the Lord's time; good is the will of the Lord." Again he would say, " I long to be with Jesus. I long to see Jesus that died for me. If I am spared to go out again, I must just go leaning upon these words, ' My grace is sufficient for thee.' They will be sure to mock me, but they mocked Jesus before." Once he said to me, " I wondered when I have heard you say that Christ was sweet, but now I feel him to be sweet, sweet." One time I spoke of the fulness that is in Christ; he said afterwards, ' I just think that I am lying with my mouth at Christ, drawing from him."
On the last day of 1841, he said to his sister, " I will tell you what I would like for my New Year (Gift). I would like a praying heart, and a heart to love Christ more." Next day a woman came in, and said, " Poor Jamie ! you'll get no fun this New Year's Day." James said, " Poor body, she thinks like as I care for the New Year. I have far "better than you have, though you had the whole world. This is the happiest New Years Day that ever I had, for I have Christ." She was very deaf, and did not hear what he said; but he often pitied that woman and prayed for her.
At an-ther time his father said, " Poor Jamie !" He replied, " Ah, father, don't call me poor, I am rich; they that have Christ have all things."
A little after the New Year, he said, " Margaret, I am not to die yet, for I have mair to suffer; but I am willing, though it should be for years.' On one occasion when he was suffering much pain, he said, " Five minutes in glory will make up for all this suffering."
When Margaret had to go out with her father's dinner, she used to lock the door, leaving James alone within. On returning, she asked, "Were you wearying, Jamie ?" His reply was, “Oh no, Jesus takes care of me when you are out" One of his country friends came in one day to see him, and said, “I am sure you have a weary time of it, Jamie." He said, "Oh no, I never weary; Christ keeps me from wearying."
After a very happy communion season in April, I went to visit him, and he spoke in a most touching manner. " I was not sorry on Sabbath that all the people were sitting at the Lord's Table, and me lying here, for I thought I would soon be at the table above with Christ, and then 1 would be far happier."
In a season of great darkness, ho said, " Margaret, give me my Bible" (meaning a little book of texts, called Dew Drops); when he had got it, he sought out the verse, "The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him." He said, " Margaret, 111 trust in him, though I cannot see him. I will lie down upon that verse." When his bed was made at night, he would take another verse to lie down upon, as he called it; so he was fed by the dew and the word.
A young woman who lived in the same lane was awakened to deep concern the same winter that James was brought to Christ. Before her concern she never came in to see James, though her mother often advised her to do so. But when she was brought to feel her sin and misery, she came in every Sabbath night, and was always tenderly kind to James. " How are you to-night, Jamie? (she would say) you are well off when you can say, I have found Christ." Early in spring, this young woman evidently found the true rest for her weary soul in Jesus. She became a candidate for the Lord's Table, and was to have been admitted, but God called her away to sit at the table that can never be drawn. She died full of joy, with the praises of God upon her lips. Margaret had been present at this interesting death-bed, and when she returned home she told James. He answered with great composure, " I wish I had been away with her; but I must wait the Lord's time. Betsy is singing now, and I will soon be there too."
James used to take the bitterest medicines without any reluctance. He folded his hands, shut his eyes, and asked God to bless it to him. "Ah! Margaret, if God do not bless it to me, it will do me no good." Often she asked, " Is it not bitter?" He would say, "Yes, but Jesus had a bitterer cup to drink for me."
In the summer of 1841, another remarkable boy, named James Wallace, had died in the Lord. He was one whom God taught in a wonderful manner. He had a singular gift of prayer, and was made useful to many, both old and young James Laing had known him well in former days. In 1839, a younger brother of James Laing, named Patrick, had died also, not without pleasing marks of having undergone a divine change. It is needful to know these things, to understand the following dream of our little pilgrim.
A short time after he believed, he said, " Margaret, I will tell you my dream." Margaret was afraid of some fancy leading him astray, and asked what it was. James, " I thought there was a ladder, the foot of it on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. I thought it was heaven I saw. There was a great multitude of people, but I knew none of them but Patrick and Jamsie Wallace. When I was standing on the first or second step of the ladder, Jamsie Wallace looked down and said, ' Aye, here's another one coming stepping up.' " He explained it by referring to Jacob's ladder, and that Jesus is the ladder. Margaret said, " Aye, and you are just on the first step."
He was very fond of the life of John Ross, and nearly had it by heart. He said he was in the same mind. Another little book he loved was, " A Dying Thief and a Dying Saviour." He left it to his father. The hymn at the end of it, " There is a fountain filled with blood," often fed his soul.
He could write a little, and, like John Ross, he used that talent in writing down precious sentences: one of his little papers is now before me. " Stand fast in the Lord. Be ye faithful unto death. Abide in him, abide in him. Pray without ceasing. This is the end."
In the latter part of his illness he was used as an instrument in awakening another boy, whose impressions I earnestly hope may never wear away. D. G. had been a very wild boy—so much so, that he was expelled from the Sabbath-school. He found his way into James' cottage, and there saw exemplified the truths he would not listen to in school. From that day till James died, David regularly visited him, and learned from him with deepest interest the things that belonged to his peace. James often prayed with him alone. Sometimes both prayed at the same time for a new heart. Margaret was always made to withdraw at these times. He pleaded with this boy to seek Jesus when young, " for it's easier to find Jesus when we are young. Look at Annie (a grown-up person, who had been long under concern), she has been long in seeking Christ, and she is long in finding. Mind what I told you, for I will soon be in heaven." Boy," Will you get to heaven?" James, " O yes, all that believe in Christ get to heaven, and I believe that Jesus died for me. Now, David, if I see you on the left hand, you will mind that I often bade you come to Christ." Boy, " I'll have naebody to pray with me, and tell me about my soul, when you are dead." James, " I have bidden Margaret pray for you, and I have told the minister; and go you to our kirk, and he will tell you the way to come to Christ."
Three times a-day did this anxious inquirer seek the prayers and counsels of his youthful instructor, till James' strength gave way, and he could talk no more. The day before he died the boy came in; James could hardly speak, but he looked steadily at him, and said, " Seek on David."
The last visit I paid to this young Christian was on the Tuesday before he died, in company with Mr Miller of Wallacetown, and Mr Smith, one of our Jewish missionaries at Pesth, who was that same day to sail from his native land. After speaking a little we prayed, and I asked what I would pray for him. James said, “Dying grace.” He shook hands with us all. When the missionary held his hand, he said, "God's people have much need to pray for you, and for them there." When we had gone out he said, "Maybe I'll never see the minister again."
On the Thursday he said, "Ah! Margaret, mind it's no easy to die. You know nothing about it. Even though you have Christ, it is dark." The same day he bade her give D. J. his Sunday trowsers, and new boots, that he might go to the church. He gave his father "The Dying Thief;" and said, " I am going to give Alick my Bible," (meaning Dew Drops). There was a piece of money under his pillow. He said it was to buy Bibles to them that never heard of Jesus.
His aunt came in on the Friday morning. He said, "Oh, aunt, don't put off seeking Christ to a death-bed, for if I had Christ to seek to-day, what would have become of me; but I have given my heart to Christ." Margaret asked him, "What will I do? I will miss your company in the house.” James answered, " You maun just go the mair to Jesus. Do not be ill about me now, when I am dead, Margaret. If I thought that, I would be sorry, and more than that, God would be angry at you; for I would be far happier. It is better to depart and be with Christ. Ask grace to keep you from it."
All that day he spoke very little. In the evening he grew much worse. His sister wished to sit up with him that night, but he would not allow her. She said, "These eyes will soon see Him whom your soul loves.” James said, "Aye." After midnight Margaret, seeing him worse, arose and woke her father. She tried to conceal her tears; but James saw them, and said, with a look of solemn earnestness, "O woman, I wonder to see you do the like of that." He spoke little after this, and about one o'clock on the Saturday morning, 11th June 1842, fell asleep in Jesus.

From this affecting history, all Children, and especially the dear children committed to my care, should learn an impressive lesson. What is said of Abel is true of this dear boy, "He being dead yet speaketh." He warned many of you when he was on his dying bed; he prayed for you, and longed for your conversion; and now that he has gone to the world of praise and holiness and love, the history of his dying hours is a warning and an invitation to each of you. You see here that you are not too young to have the Holy Spirit striving with you. You are not too young to resist the Holy Ghost. You are not too young to be converted and brought to Christ. If you die without Christ you will surely perish. The most of you are wicked, idle, profane, prayerless, ungodly children. Many of you are open Sabbath-breakers, liars, and swearers. If you die thus, you will have your part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. You will see this little boy, and others whom you know, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. O repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. You may die very soon. O that your latter end may be like his!

Parents also may learn from this to seek the salvation of their children. Alas! most parents in our day are like the cruel ostrich in the wilderness, " which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust; and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may bieak them : She is hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers." Job xxxix. 14-16. How many of you hold up your children before God and the congregation, and solemnly vow to bring them up for God, to pray for them and in your family with them, and then return to your house with the guilt of perjury upon your soul! Alas, are not the family altars of Scotland for the most part broken down, and lying desolate? Is not family government in most of your houses an empty name? Do not family quarrels, and unholy companies, and profane jests, and sordid worldliness, prevail in most of your tabernacles t What can you expect but that your children shall grow up in your image, formalists, sacrament breakers, loose livers, fierce, incontinent, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God? O that God would touch your hearts by such a tale as this, that you may repent and turn to the Lord, and yearn over your children in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Would you not love to see them fall asleep in Jesus? Would you not love to meet them at the right hand of the Judge? Seek their conversion now, if you would meet them in glory hereafter. How will you bear to hear their young voices in the judgment, saying, " This father never prayed for me ; this mother never warned me to flee from the wrath to come ?"

Dear brethren in the ministry and labourers in the Sabbath-school, suffer the word of exhortation from one who is "your brother and companion in tribulation." May we not learn from this to be more earnest both in prayers and labours, in seeking the salvation of little children. We have here one bright example more in addition to all those who have been recorded before, that God can convert and edify a child with the same ease with which he can change the heart of a grown man. I have with religious care refrained from embellishing, or in any way exaggerating, the simple record of God's dealings with this boy. We must not " speak wickedly for God, nor talk deceitfully for him." All who knew him can bear witness that I have spoken "the words of truth and soberness." Indeed the half has not been told.

How evident is it, then, that God is willing and able to convert the young! How plain that if God give grace, they can understand and relish divine things as fully as those of mature age! A carnal mind of the first order will evermore despise and reject the way of salvation by Christ; but the mind of a child, quickened by the Holy Spirit, will evermore realize and delight in the rich and glorious mystery of the gospel. "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." Let us awake from an unbelieving dream. Let us no more be content to labour without fruit. Let us seek the present conversion to Christ of our little children. Jesus has reason to complain of us that he can do no mighty works in our Sabbath-schools because of our unbelief.
" Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen "

Friday, July 09, 2010

Getting Ready to Die Soon

We are preparing to send Julian out to start a new church in the 401/DVP area of Toronto. It is an interesting time in our church.

We have asked all our members to consider going with him, which means I might need to go back to running photocopies at the steel plant! I am praying the Lord leaves us enough people to keep things moving here and I suspect that He will. But seasons like this force you to look at everything with an open hand. That can be hard.

I was happy to read this yesterday in The Trellis and the Vine:

Gospel growth… “means we must be willing to lose people from our own congregation if that it better for the growth of the gospel. We must be happy to send members off to other places so that the gospel may grow there as well. And be warned: this will happen if you take gospel growth and training seriously. If you pour your time into people, and mentor and train them, the consequence will often be that some of your best people – in whom you have invested countless hours – will leave you. They will go the mission field. They will join a church-planting team in another part of your city. They will take a job in a different part of the country because the gospel need is so great there. They will undertake further training, perhaps at theological college or seminary. A commitment to the growth of the gospel will mean that we train people towards maturity not for the benefit of our own churches or fellowships but for the benefit of Christ’s kingdom.”

In the last few months, we have
  • sent one man hundreds of miles away for further training
  • sent one couple to the opposite side of our city to help plant a new church
  • sent one newly converted student back to her home country to evangelize friends and family there
  • one man and his family to the other side of our province to work in an existing church
  • one man and another family to our downtown church plant
  • one family to Romania to work with orphans
  • and as of this Sunday another young man to pastor a small church two hours north of the city.

And now we prepare to send off the man who has been my Caleb/Jonathan/ Timothy for the last ten years.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Gospel growth always requires death. Bring it to us, Lord… but stay close by our side!

How God Saved a Boy

Talking with a brother the other night after prayer meeting reminded me of a wonderful story of conversion found in M'Cheyne's Memoirs.  James Laing died at 14 years old, but not without first giving convincing testimony to God's saving work in his life.
I am going to post this story in two parts. M'Cheyne had it published shortly after Laing's death.
Here is part one...

“My beloved is gone down into his garden to gather lilies.”—Song of Solomon 6:2
As written by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

God loves his mighty works to be remembered. We easily forget the most amazing displays of his love and power, and therefore it is right often to set up a stone of remembrance. When Israel passed over Jordan on dry land, God commanded Joshua to take twelve stones out of the dry bed of the river, and to set them up at Gilgal for a memorial, " That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty;" Joshua iv. 24. Whenever the children of Israel looked upon these massy stones, they would remember how God brought their fathers through the swellings of Jordan.
God has done great things for us in this corner of his vineyard, whereof we are glad. The word has often grown mightily and prevailed. Many old sinners and many young ones have given clear evidence of a saving change. And though we cannot say that "the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved," yet we can say that from the first day until now he has never left himself without a witness.
We have done little in the way of making known the doings of the Lord. The record of many a saved soul is on high, and many in their heavenly walk amid a polluted world are living monuments of what a God of grace can do. In this little narrative we would raise up an humble stone to the memory of a dear boy who now sleeps in Jesus, and to the praise of that God and Saviour who planted, watered, and gathered his own lily.

His Story
JAMES LAING was born on 28th July 1828, and lost his mother before he was eight years old. Of the living members of the family I do not mean to speak; they have not yet finished their course, but are still in the valley of tears, and trials, and temptations. This only must be noticed, that not long after God took away the mother, he dealt so graciously with the elder sister that she was henceforth fitted to watch over the other children with a mother's tenderness.
James was seized with the same fever as that of which his mother died, and he never enjoyed good health afterwards. He was naturally a very quiet and reserved boy, not so rough in his language as many of the boys around. One day when he was lying on his dying bed, I was asking his sister what kind of boy he had been. She said that he was as wicked as other boys, only he did not swear. After I was gone, he told his sister that she was wrong. He never used to swear at home, because he was afraid he would be punished for it; hut when among his companions he often used to swear. "Ah!" added he, " it is a wonder God did not send me to hell when I was a swearer." Another day, hearing some boys swearing near his window, he said, "It is a wonder God did not leave me to swear among these boys yet." Such was the early life of this boy. He did not know the God who guided him, and in whose hand his breath was; and such is the life of most of our children—they "cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God."
The Holy Spirit strives even with children. And when they grieve him, and resist his awakening hand, he suffers long with them. The first time that James showed any concern for his soul was in the autumn of 1839. It was a solemn time in this place; St Peter's was like Bethel. The divine ladder was set down in the midst of the people, and its top reached up to heaven, and even strangers were forced to say, " Surely God is in this place." O that these sweet days would come back again ! His elder brother, Alexander, a sailor boy, was at that time awakened, and the same glorious Spirit seemed to visit James for a time. One evening their sister Margaret, returning home from a meeting, found her two brothers on their knees earnestly crying for mercy. She did not interrupt them, but Alexander afterwards said to her, "Jamie feels that he needs Christ too. We will easily know if he be in earnest, for then he will not need to be bidden to pray." The test was a trying one; James soon gave up secret prayer, and proved that his goodness was like a morning cloud and the early dew which goeth away. This is the mark of the hypocrite laid down by Job, “Will he always call upon God ?" Job xxvii. 10.
Another night Margaret observed James coming from the prayer-meeting in the school in great distress. He kept close by the wall of the church that he might escape observation. He was much concerned that night, and, after retiring to rest, said to his sister, in his own Scottish dialect, “There's me come awa' without Christ to-night again."
One Thursday evening he attended the weekly meeting held in the church. The passage explained was Romans iv. 4-6, and sinners were urged to receive the " righteousness without works." Many were deeply affected, and would not go away even after the blessing. James was one of those who remained, and when I came to him he was weeping bitterly. I asked him if he cared for his soul: he said, "Whiles." I asked if he prayed: he said, "Yes." He was much concerned on his return home that night both for others and for his own soul. But these dewdrops were soon dried up again.
He attended the Sabbath-school in the lane where their cottage stands. Often when the teacher was reading the Bible, or some awakening anecdote, the tears flowed down his cheeks; but he tried to conceal his emotion from the other boys lest they should laugh at him. He afterwards said in his last illness, “O that I had just another night of the Sabbath-school ! I would not care though they should laugh at me now.” Sometimes during the reading and prayer in the family, the word of God was like a fire to him, so that he could not bear it, and after it was over he would run to his wild companions in order to drown the cries of his awakened conscience
In July 1841 he went up to Glammiss for his health. I was preaching in the neighbourhood, and he wished much to go and hear, but was not able to walk the distance. One night he heard Mr Cormick of Kirriemuir preach in a cottage on John vii. 37. He felt it deeply, and wept bitterly; but he remarked that none of the people wept. He knew well when people showed any concern for their soul; and he often remarked that to be anxious is not to be in Christ. When he came home he spoke much of the carelessness of the people where he had been. "Ah ! Margaret, there was no Bible read yonder. The people a' went to their bed just as if there had not been a God." What a faithful picture is this of the state of many of our country parishes!
One night after his return a neighbour was sitting by the fire reading the work of an old divine. It stated that even carnal men sometimes receive a conviction they never can forget. She turned to James and asked him if he had never received a conviction that he could not forget. “Yes,” he said, “I can never forget it; but we cannot seek Christ twice.” Thus did the long-suffering of God wait upon this little boy; the good Spirit strove with him, and Jesus stood at the door and knocked; but he would not hear.
The day of Immanuel's power, and the time of love, was however near at hand. As the cold winds of October set in, his sickly frame was much affected; he became weak and breathless. One Tuesday, in the end of October, he turned decidedly worse, and became intensely anxious about the salvation of his soul. His lamentable cry was, "Oh, Jesus, save me—save me!" Margaret asked if his concern was real, for he had often deceived her hopes before. He wept, and said "Yes." His body was greatly pained, but he forgot all in the intense anxiety for his precious never-dying soul. On the Saturday I paid a visit to their humble cottage, and found the little sufferer sitting by the fire. He began to weep bitterly while I spoke to him of Jesus having come into the world to save sinners. I was enabled in a simple manner to answer the objections that sinners make to an immediate closing with Christ. Margaret wondered; for the minister could not have spoken more to the case of her brother if he had known it; and she inwardly thanked God, for she saw that he was directing it James spent the rest of the day on his knees in evident distress of soul. O how little the most of those called Christians know what it is to pass through such deep waters! Margaret asked him if he was seeking Jesus: he said, “Yes.” She asked, “If he would like anything—a bit of bread?” he said, “No; but I would take a bit of the bread of life if you would give it me." She replied, " I cannot give you that; but if you seek it you will get it." He remained alone till evening, and was never off his knees. Towards night he came to the other end of the cottage, and put this question—" Have I only to believe that Jesus died for sinners? Is that all?" He was told, “Yes.” “Well, I believe that Jesus died for me, for I am a poor hell-deserving sinner. I have been praying all this afternoon, that when Jesus shed his blood for sinners, he would sprinkle some of it upon me, and he did it." He then turned up Rom. v. 8, and read these words, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” His sister wept for joy, and James added, “I am not afraid to die now, for Jesus has died for me.” Often after this he bade his sister read to him Rom. v., Psalm ciii., and Psalm cxvi. These were favourite portions with him.
From that day it was a pleasant duty indeed to visit the cottage of this youthful inquirer. Many a happy hour have I spent beneath that humble roof. Instead of dropping passing remarks, I used generally to open up a passage of the word, that he might grow in knowledge. I fear that, in general, we are not sufficiently careful in regularly instructing the sick and dying. A pious expression and a fervent prayer are not enough to feed the soul that is passing through the dark valley. Surely if sound and spiritual nourishment is needed by the soul at any time, it is in such an hour when Satan uses all his arts to disturb and destroy.
One Thursday afternoon I spoke to him on Matt, xxiii. 37, " How often would I have gathered your children." He was in great darkness that day, and, weeping bitterly, said, " I fear I have never been gathered to Christ; but if I have never been gathered, O that I were gathered to Christ now!" After I was gone he said, " It would give me no peace though the minister and every body said I was a Christian, if 1 had not the sense of it between God and myself."
He was very fond of the Song of Solomon, and many parts of it were opened up to him. One day I spoke on Song v. 13, "His lips are like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh."
told him that these were some of the drops that fell from the lips of Jesus—" If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." " I came to seek and to save that which was lost." " Wilt thou be made whole?" " I give unto them eternal life." He said solemnly, " That's fine."
Another day, Song i. 5, " I am black, but comely," was explained. He said, "I am black as hell in myself, but I'm all fair in Jesus." This was ever after a common expression of his. Another day I spoke on Song v. 15. " His legs are like pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold;" and showed the almighty strength of the Lord Jesus. The next day when I came in, I asked him how he was; but, without answering my question, he said, "I am glad you told me that, about Jesus' legs being like pillars of marble, for now I see that he is able to carry me and all my sins."
On one occasion, he said, " I am glad this psalm is in the Bible." " What psalm ?" He answered, " Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale.'- " He Las promised to be with me, and God is as good as his word."
At another time I read to him Isaiah xliii. 2. "When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee;" and explained that when he came to the deep, deep waters, the Lord Jesus would put his foot down beside his, and wade with him. This often comforted him, for he believed it as firmly as if he had seen the pierced foot of Jesus placed beside his own; and he said to Margaret, " If Christ put down his foot beside mine, then I have nothing to fear."
One Sabbath I had been preaching on Caleb following the Lord fully (Numbers xiv. 24), and had stated that every sin committed after conversion would take away something from the believer's weight of eternal glory. Alexander, his brother, was present, it being his only Sabbath on shore. He was much troubled, and said, "Ah, I fear mine will be all lost." He told the statement to James, who was also troubled. Alexander said, " You don't need to be troubled, Jamie ; you are holy." James wept and said, " I wonder to hear you speak." Alexander said, "Ah, but you are holier than me."
In the same sermon I had said, that if believers did nothing for Christ, they would get in at the door of heaven, but nothing more. The sailor-boy told this to his brother, who wept again, saying, " I have done nothing for Christ." Alexander said he had done less. James added, " I would like to be near Jesus. I could not be happy unless I was near him." Speaking of those who had gone to glory long ago, James said, that " those who died in Christ now, and did most for him, Jesus would take them in by (that is near to himself), though they were late of coming."
How lovely this simple domestic scene ! Happy families; but, ah! how few where the children fear the Lord, and speak often one to another. Surely the Lord stands behind the wall hearkening, and he will write their words in his book of remembrance. " And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."
Some of my dear brethren in the ministry visited this little boy, to see God's wonderful works in him, and to be helpers of his joy. It is often of great importance in visiting the dying, to call in the aid of a fellow-labourer. Different lines of testimony to the same Saviour are thus brought to meet in the chamber of sorrow. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. Mr Cumming of Dumbarney, visiting him one day, asked him if he suffered much pain James, " Sometimes." Mr C, " When you are in much pain, ran you think on the sufferings of the Lord Jesus?" James, " When I see what Jesus suffered for me it takes away my pain. Mine is nothing to what he suffered." He often repeated these words, " My light affliction, which is but for a moment."
At another time Mr Miller of Wallacetown called with me, and our little sufferer spoke very sweetly on eternal things. Mr M., " Would you like to get better?" James, " I would like the will of God." Mr AT, " But if you were getting better, would you just live as you did before?" James, "If God did not give me grace I would." During the same visit I was asking Margaret when he was first awakened. She told me of his first concern, and then of the first day I had called. James broke in and said, " Ah, but we must not lean upon that." His meaning was, that past experiences are not the foundation of a sinner's peace. I never met with any boy who had so clear a discovery of the way of pardon and acceptance through the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus laid to our account. One time I visited him, I said, " I have been thinking of this verse to-day, ' The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake.'" Isaiah xlii. 21. He said, "Explain that to me, for I don't understand it." I opened it up to him, but I feared he did not take up the meaning. Some days after he said to his sister, " Margaret, I have been thinking of a sweet verse to-day." She asked what it was; but it had slipped from his memory. M., " Was it about Christ?" James, " Aye." She quoted one. James, " No that's not it," At length she quoted, " The Lord is well pleased," &c. "Ah, that's it (he said), I was thinking, it's no for my righteousness' sake, but for his righteousness' sake." This showed how fully he embraced what so few comprehend, the way of salvation by "the obedience of one" for many. Surely God was his teacher, for God alone can reveal the sweetness and glory of this truth to the soul of man.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Protesting as an ‘extreme sport’

Protesting as an ‘extreme sport’ | Posted Toronto | National Post

A little snippet of how some of the worst rioting in Toronto last weekend got started and who the tough guys were....

The hoodie people weren’t just small in number, they were also small in stature. A lot of skinny white boys. And white women. (Some skinny, some really not). They looked like the kind of people who spend a lot of time playing video games in their parents’ basements. Or the graduating class of an art college. They were not marauding toughs. More like marauding geeks. Geeks marauding in a spontaneous yet carefully choreographed manner.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Live So As to Be Missed: The Life and Impact of Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Noticed that the audio for my TPC talk on M'Cheyne is now posted, as well as a pdf of the paper so you can read along.  All yours free for the taking (or downloading, as the case may be)!

Hope it is a blessing to you.

“It is not great talents that God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”

God Saves Whom He Wants

“He would stop at Rotherham, however, because the insults he had formerly received there, had tempted him to return no more. Then, he thought no good was done. Now, he found the chief family of his " bitter persecutors" converted to God, and ready to welcome him under their roof. He became their guest. Rotherham had signalized itself by hostility to Whitefield. Both his person and character had been assailed there; and by none more than the late Thorpe of Masborough, then a young man. He was in the habit of meeting his boon companions in the alehouse, to mimic Whitefield, and turn religion into mockery. One evening Thorpe and three others laid a wager, which of them could imitate him in the highest style, at an off-hand sermon, from the first text which should turn up on opening the Bible. The buffoonery of the three soon failed, and Thorpe sprung on the table, saying," I shall beat you all hollow." The Bible was handed to him. He opened it at random. His eye fell on the words, " Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." He uttered them without fear or hesitation. But that moment his conscience smote him. It burst into flames. It compelled him to preach repentance to himself and all the club. He went on in spite of himself, until his own hair stood on end with horror, and all the bacchanals (drunks) were blanched with terror. Not a word was said of the wager when he came down. He walked out in awful silence. Soon after this he joined the Wesleyans, and was sent out by Wesley himself as a preacher, who wisely stationed him at Rotherham. He afterwards became an independent.”

From Robert Philip’s Life and Times of George Whitefield (1838).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Keeping Christ Central: Toronto Pastor's Conference 2010. . .Audio Downloads

Keeping Christ Central: Toronto Pastor's Conference 2010

Pastor Ian Vaillancourt posts some reflections on his time at TPC 2010. This was my favorite part:

- The Serving Team - Simply put, Grace Fellowship Church excels at serving. During the sessions, teams of people were preparing the next snack, or the next meal, or cleaning to make the next break more comfortable. In the men's washroom I bumped into a man in rubber gloves with a spray bottle in one hand and a paper towel in the other. When I met him a few years ago he was an unbeliver who had just started attending GFC through the witness of a co-worker. Now he is a Christ-like servant who was cleaning the bathroom on his day off to make my conference all the more enjoyable. This is one story of many!
Praise the Lord!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bullmore on Marriage

Another great interview with Mike Bullmore on how the Gospel connects to your marriage.