Sunday, April 16, 2023

Hymn: Closer to Me (Elizabeth Prentiss)

I was happy to stumble across this hymn by Elizabeth Prentiss today. I had never even heard of it before. I find it quite unique in that we are singing to one another an invitation from Christ to draw near to Him. So often our songs reflect our desire for Him to draw near to us (Prentiss herself wrote, "More Love to Thee"), but in this hymn, it is Christ speaking to us to draw near to Him. Press closer! 

Lovely words to meditate on at the end of lovely Lord's Day.


Press  close,  my  child,  to  Me; 

Closer  to  Me. 

Earth  hath  no  resting-place 

Ready  for  thee; 

Straight  to  my  bosom  flee; 

Press  close,  my  child,  to  Me, 

Closer,  closer,  closer  to  Me. 

Love,  pleasure,  riches,  fame, 

All  may  be  thine, 

And  thy  immortal  soul 

Still  will  repine; 

I  must  be  all  to  thee: 

Press  close,  my  child,  to  Me, 

Closer,  closer,  closer  to  Me. 

Life  may  for  thee  contend, 

Hard  toil  and  care 

Strive  to  divide  from  Me, 

Crowd  everywhere; 

Let  them  my  servants  be; 

Press  thou,  my  child,  to  Me, 

Closer,  closer,  closer  to  Me. 

Grief  of  thy  heart  may  make 

A  desert  drear. 

Yet  there  my  sufferers  learn 

My  voice  to  hear; 

Calling,  with  earnest  plea, 

Press  close,  my  child,  to  Me , 

Closer,  closer,  closer  to  Me. 

Come,  then,  my  child,  to  Me, 

Make  thyself  mine; 

I  give  Myself  to  thee, 

I  will  be  thine; 

Joy,  grief,  and  care  shall  be 

Ties  binding  thee  to  Me, 

Closer,  closer,  closer  to  Me. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Keep Your Sails Up

Here is a little bit of free advice from a pastor who has been “at sea” for some time. One of the great advantages to maintaining a weekly Prayer Meeting is that you will catch the Wind when it blows. 

A French Galleon Sailing In Calm Waters Photograph by Mark Stevenson - Fine  Art America

Just this past week, two of our pastors were down and out with sickness. While we were able to get through our morning duties, prudence suggested we recuperate in the evening. That left the Prayer Meeting to the last man standing. I might say that, at this point in our church’s life, even if all the pastors were out of commission, I am sure the Prayer Meeting would stand. We have learned how to pray in some measure. Praise God.

But it seems like this Prayer Meeting was one of those where the Lord particularly blessed. I have always said that the single most difficult area of church life to evaluate is her corporate prayer. How can we? Who are we to judge whether or not the Lord is listening, acting, enjoying, and responding to our prayers? There is a sense where only the Great Day will reveal that. But, for as much as we can tell, it seemed like the Wind blew on Sunday night. 

“The wind blows where it wishes…” To this we might add, it also blows when it wishes. And this is my point. 

Because we have a regular Prayer Meeting, our sails were up when the wind blew. Praise God. 

The days of calm waters come when we have to break out the oars and row hard to make any seeming progress. God has His purposes in this as well. But, even then, keep your sails up! You never know when the Wind will blow and, oh, the joy of sailing along with the Spirit’s help as we petition the throne of our King!

Monday, November 07, 2022

How to Wreck a Revival

In talking with some other pastors recently, I was encouraged to hear of a what appears to be a unique work among young adults in our city. Many of our churches have seen significant growth with this demographic, with many of these young folks becoming vital members of our churches. 

I shared some of this encouraging news with our own young adults and then gave them a bit of a heads up. If this is a reviving work of God in our city, we ought to learn from the past and avoid interfering with it or wrecking it! To that end, I told them to avoid three things.

1. Dangerous Ethics

Almost every revival has been sullied in some corner by those old sins of the flesh like gossip, unrighteous anger, quarrelsomeness, jealousy and general relational immaturity. Since the Holy Spirit is the Mover of authentic revival, it would make sense that our mistreatment of other believers would thwart or discourage His ongoing work. Why? Because anger, malice and slander of others grieves Him and we cannot conceive of Him blessing that which breaks His heart. 

2. Doctrinal Error

A joy of true revival is to witness the new birth in many souls and the refreshing of the souls of those who already know God. Sometimes this excitement leads to a search for novel ideas. Sometimes it opens the door for unqualified teachers to have a platform. And if doctrinal error creeps into the movement, it will bring trouble. Good doctrine does not divide, it unifies. Thus, any time we suspect revival might be occurring in grand or localized ways, we do well to fight like crazy to keep the focus on the Gospel and getting everyone on board with who Jesus is and what He has done for us. 

3. Destructive Extremism

We are all pragmatists at heart and prone to believe that the things we are doing or saying are creating certain results. This can lead to placing an undue reliance on areas of Christian freedom. For example, demanding that only one form of courtship or dating is “Biblical.” Whenever a non-Bible issue is elevated to the place of Christian faithfulness, we promote hypocrisy and/or works-righteousness. And these things lead only to division, discouragement and despair. 

So, my counsel to our young adults was this. Let no one despise you for your youth, but rather in speech, conduct and purity show yourselves to be an example to the entire church. Walk humbly with your God and read your Bible a lot. Do not tolerate the sins of the flesh, but strive to grow in self-control. Yield your entire self to God. This is a unique season of life and there are trajectories to be set for the next 20, 40, 60 years. So, spend much time in prayer and keep looking to God to do good, to save many and to build His church. After all, in a little while you will all be the leaders and pillars of this family. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Through - a poem reflecting on Psalm 77

 Through (Psalm 77)

The lightening, thunder, whirlwind and rain

All of the trials causing me pain,

Tempt my weak faith to doubt You are there,

To think You’ve forgotten or become unfair.

Until I remember Your great deeds of old,

Your holy redemptions, dramatic and bold,

And get my poor heart and my eyes to agree;

You walk with me unseen THROUGH the deep sea

by Paul Martin

Monday, August 22, 2022

Christian Parenting Resources and... Opinions!

I have had the privilege of preaching, writing and collecting what I consider to be wise material on parenting for many years. One of my sabbatical projects has been working on a new parenting class I hope to teach in the fall. It is called something like, Pastor Paul's Parenting Opinions. The reason I am stressing opinions, is that the Bible actually has very little to say about the details of parenting. Wise parents will talk to those who have gone before them and collect (and evaluate) their opinions to chart their own course. 

However, that does not mean the Bible has nothing to say about parenting. So, here is some of the material I have been blessed by or preached on or written about over the years. I hope it is useful to you!

4 Things New Parents Need to Know and Seasoned Parents Need to Remember -  The Stone Foundation


Texts of Scripture you need to think hard about in order to be a faithful parent


by Jim Elliff 


“Well, well, well. It's been longer than a Hereford's tail since I wrote last and I am glad to get back to pen and pad. The colder weather makes sitting still a might easier to do, and all that time on the tractor this fall has filled my head with perhaps a couple good things to share with you. Mrs. Walter is all in a wonder that you would want to hear my babbling again, but what's a wife for if not to remind you that you're not half as good as you once thought you were!”


“Now, the Lord never gives anything that He doesn't include the instructions or resources for - but what I have always found peculiar is just how little he says about parenting. I recall those early days of our first little olive shoot (Ps 128:3), when we wondered when exactly it was we stopped being children and started having them!”


“Thanks for taking the time to read these letters. You've got more patience than a chipmunk stuck at a turtle-crossing!

Well, last time I wrote I tried to make clear that the most important thing for your family is a happy marriage. Husband and wife loving each other and living in unity will create a family bond stronger than duct tape and binder twine.

Today I want to move on to the role the husband plays in the family.”


“Besides climbing up a greased fireman's pole backwards and blindfolded with your arms tied behind your back, there are few things more difficult in life than being a mom.“





Let's Just Parent Like Christians

October 17, 2021 Speaker: Paul Martin Series: Let's Just Act Like Christians

Topic: Expository Preaching Verse: Ephesians 6:4–6:4 

1. Do not exasperate your kids

2. Lovingly stop and correct bad behaviours in your kids

3. Teach and urge compliance to the truth in your kids

Family Dynamics (Part 1) 

November 22, 2015 Speaker: Paul Martin Series: Be Wise, Young Man, Be Wise

Verse: Proverbs 1:1–31:31

1. The Kids
          Proverbs 10:1; 28:7; 17:21, 25; 20:20; 30:17; 23:22-25

2. The Parents
          Proverbs 22:6, 15; Romans 1:16-17; 10:9-11

Family Dynamics (Part Two): Parenting

December 6, 2015 Speaker: Paul Martin Series: Be Wise, Young Man, Be Wise

Verse: Proverbs 1:1–31:31

1. The state of the child

          a. Behaviour is an overflow of the heart

          b. Every heart is full of folly

2. The duty of the parent

          a. Model

          b. Teach

          c. Discipline

Gospel-centred Parenting 

Being a Gospel-centred Kid

The Elements of the Internal Call to the Ministry - Wilhelmus √° Brakel

 The Elements of the Internal Call to the Ministry

This commission is both internal and external. An extraordinary, divine declaration is not an element of this internal commission. God does not do this, or does so only on very rare occasions, and thus one need not wait for this. There are other matters by which one may be assured of his internal calling.

To these belong, first of all, a knowledge of the office. One must know what it means to be a servant of Christ, to be the mouth of the Lord, to proclaim that great gospel, to teach ignorant men the way of salvation, to be instrumental in delivering men from the devil, and to lead them to Christ. One must know that it consists in comforting those who mourn, stirring up the indolent, bringing back those who have strayed, exposing hypocrites and temporal believers to themselves, defending the truth against error, rebuking the ungodly, helping to keep out or expelling from the church those who lead offensive lives, and adorning the church, so that by the holiness of those who profess the truth she would bring glory to Christ. One must know that it consists in being an example and in being able to give an account of the souls entrusted to him. How can he who is neither thoroughly acquainted with these matters, nor perceives the weightiness of it all, nor takes this to heart, have intentions to be faithful? All of this must be known, considered, and experienced in order to be conscious of ones calling.

Secondly, there must be some knowledge of ones aptitude for this work. A fundamental knowledge of divine truths and thus being satisfied with a speculative knowledge of these is not sufficient. Rather, one must experience the power of these truths in his own heart, having been converted thereby. He will thus be able to speak from his own experience. He must also have the aptitude to clearly express his thoughts, and must have a voice which is capable of being heard by others. Even though the most qualified person must say, “Who is sufficient for these things” (2 Cor 2:16), one must nevertheless be conscious of some aptitude. Shortly we shall consider this aptitude more comprehensively. 

Thirdly, there must be an extraordinary love a) for Christ and a desire to make Him known; b) for the church to present her as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor 11:2), and to cause her to shine forth with light and holiness to the honor of God; c) for the souls of the unconverted to snatch them from the fire, as well as of the converted to strengthen, comfort, and continually provide them with spiritual food.

Fourthly, one must be willing to deny all that is of the world, such as honor, material goods—yes, even life itself. If someone is of low social status and wishes to become someone of renown or to acquire material goods by way of the ministry, his objective is entirely wrong. He would be much happier as a shoemaker, for in my opinion there is no man more abominable than an unregenerate minister who uses the holy things of God to his own advantage.

Fifthly, there must be a great desire for this work (1 Tim 3:1). There must be continual stirrings to give oneself to the Lord by way of this work, and there must be a concern about whether or not one is called. There must be anxiety when ulterior motives are perceived in the heart which in turn causes one to entertain the thought to refrain from this work; or when the heaviness of the task, and a sense of inability causes one to look up against this work, engendering a desire to be relieved from this work, as with Moses and Jeremiah. The stirrings will nevertheless persist and overcome the objections. This in turn will give him more liberty before the Lord and he will find himself more willing than beforehand because by the objections he will have a clearer view of the motives of his heart. Then his heart does not condemn him, but rather convinces him of his sincerity in this matter.

By these and similar arguments one can ascertain his internal calling.

From, The Christian's Reasonable Service, Volume II, 122-123.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Why I Plan to Go to the Last “Together for the Gospel”

When the fella’s announced the first Together for the Gospel (the conference not yet known as T4G), I decided to travel down with my pal, Challies, to see what was up.

I recall being pretty surprised at a guy named Mahaney. Those were some long introductions! Dever with his book endorsements and crowd surveys was as expected. I had not heard Mohler before, nor Duncan. Both were a delight. But, the real joy was when the four dudes would sit together right after somebody preached and talk about the sermon. They were modelling something quite wonderful… taking the Word and, as the Puritans put it, “improving upon it.” Not so much making the sermon better, but helping the truth to settle by pondering and discussing it. 

T4G podcast

Also, the chairs were too close together. And does anybody have footage of Sproul going to town on the dude from Australia that took a picture of him with a flash only one minute after someone had just announced no flash photography?

The highlight of that first trip was the 25 Canadians standing around a room in the Galt House introducing ourselves to each other. That was a first meeting for many relationships that last to this day. And that little gathering of Canucks grew into something we really looked forward to at each conference. T4G was always great at finding us a spot to meet and we were delighted to make introductions. There were hundreds of Canucks at our last breakout. 

Two years after that first conference we were back and things had gotten quite larger. One thing I always appreciated about this meeting was that numbers were not announced. I have no idea how many people were at anything. It didn’t matter. That was not the point. The point was to gather together with Gospel-believing brothers and sisters from across the globe in order to build relationships, be strengthened in our faith and to try and keep the main thing the main thing. 

Mark Dever is a friend of mine. I love him a lot. And his gregarious, open-handed approach to this conference (and life!) were so shaping. With that openness came risk and sometimes things did not go as planned, but that is fine. Unless you are the kind of person who has to control everything. 

Every two years I would hem and haw about going back. It is a bit of an ordeal to cross the border, arrange accommodations and pay for it all in American dollars. We are not a huge church and I am cautious about using money saints have donated to pay for things like this. Still, the Lord seemed to make a way to go back every year. I have been at every one. 

The 2020 T4G was supposed to be the first father-son conference for me and my boy. He had been asking to come for years and we gave him that trip as a Christmas present. Yeah, that Christmas. The one right before COVID. So, Will and I watched T4G ’20 from our basement. Not quite the same thing. But, it was something. 

When Mark and Lig announced 2022 would be the last conference, I was of mixed emotions. At first, I was quite sad at the thought. So many good connections made, so many relationships strengthened, so many good conversations and wonderful preaching moments… I hated the thought of losing that. 

But, then I was relieved. Not for me, more for the guys. For whatever reason, it seems like everybody and their brother hates “Big Eva” and somehow lops T4G into that… whatever that is. 

If one was able to simply take this conference for what it said it was - a gathering of people who love the Gospel - there was so much to be gained from it. The celebriti-ism and nonsense that marks so much of evangelicalism was always pushed back. I mean, guys like me want to hear Piper and Sproul and MacArthur. But, we are also thrilled to listen to the Ed Moores and Bobby Scotts of the world, those faithful pastors of smaller works who are little known outside of their local churches. In fact, some of the greatest blessings to my own soul have come from the unlikeliest of sources. 

So, why I am planning to go back for the last one? Not for the nostalgia. I mean, it doesn’t take much to make me cry anymore, so I will likely weep like a baby at the last song. But, that is not why I plan to go. 

  • I plan to go so I can see old friends, in particular, fellow pastors who stay faithful in the ministry. (Ask any guy who has been pastoring for as long as me how much it means to have long friendships with faithful fellow pastors!) So, I will try to connect with guys like Wiley, Trent, Mez, Clint, Steve, Ryan, Justin, Mark, Dan and a gazillion others. 
  • I plan to go so I can be refreshed in my love for God. As a pastor, few things are as encouraging to me as sitting under the Word of God and taking in all the hard work of another servant of the King. I will go eager, ready to be rebuked, encouraged, edified and strengthened. 
  • I plan to go so I can be sung to. I love the gift of singing and I will admit to finding special encouragement from thousands of voices declaring the Truth around me. It is difficult to put into words how meaningful this is.
  • I plan to go in order to sing. See above. I want to do my part to bless the brothers and sisters around me.
  • I plan to go so I can have more fellowship with my staff. They will be there and we will be able to debrief sermons, peruse the bookstore together and enjoy some good food. 
  • And I plan to go because I want my son to know what all of this is like. God willing, he will come with me and we will do all of it together

Nobody asked me to write this post. I am not trying to convince anyone else to do something they do not want to do. But, I am happy to stand with many others and say how much this conference has blessed my soul and helped my ministry. And I am happy to stand with all who are there, together, for the Gospel. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Grace Fellowship Church Fall 2021 Pastoral Internship

Grace Fellowship Church is now accepting applications to our second pastoral internship. Unlike our first class (held over five months through the brunt of the COVID-19 lockdowns), this session will run from September 13, 2021 to December 6, 2021. We are accepting two interns for this 12 week session and applications must be submitted by July 31, 2021. Accepted applicants will be notified by August 13, 2021.

Interns are required to meet on site at Grace Fellowship Church on Monday mornings, plus Tuesday through Friday workdays (9-5). In addition, interns are required to attend all the public meetings of Grace Fellowship Church and other evening and weekend meetings connected to their internship as assigned (hospital visits, counselling sessions, etc). 

The internship includes personal mentoring plus ministry involvement and exposure. However, the brunt of the internship consists in assigned readings in the areas of pastoral ministry, spiritual development, Baptist church life (ecclesiology) and Bible proclamation (preaching). The interns will submit a written paper each week interacting with these readings. These papers form the basis of a weekly group discussion on the topics assigned. 

Applicants should be men who have or are nearly completed seminary training and intend to pursue full-time pastoral ministry. They will demonstrate good leadership skills, a wide and warm-hearted Christian love for others and a zeal for the people of God. Existing pastors looking for a useful sabbatical program might also consider applying. There are no age restrictions. 

Applicants have until July 31, 2021 to apply.

More Details:

  • The interns will meet on Monday mornings (9AM-1PM) with the staff elders of Grace Fellowship Church to review the previous Sunday gatherings, work through a particular text together, consider various pastoral situations and discuss their reading from the previous week. These sessions are led by Pastor Martin. 

  • Interns will join the staff meeting on Tuesday mornings, as well as the regular Elders' Meetings, as observers. 

  • On Friday afternoons, the interns will meet with the staff elders for the weekly sermon preview, service previews and final preparation for Sunday.

  • Much of the other office time through the week will be devoted to reading and writing. Weekly papers must by submitted by 5PM each Friday. 

  • Interns are expected to apply for membership at Grace Fellowship Church (if not members already) and attend all services of the church. They will also be invited to attend certain other meetings as observers

  • Each intern will be assigned certain ministry leaders or members of the church to interview and learn from. 

  • Each intern will be remunerated (a stipend paid out over the course of the internship) and supplied with books for the assigned readings. 

More details can be sought by contacting Pastor Steve Kim

Friday, March 05, 2021

The Blank Card

He would have turned 21 today. Assuming I had remembered, he would be opening a blank birthday card from me in his dorm room. 

It started when he was around 14 years old. Back then I used to write every kid in the church on their birthday. Just a little note to tell them I loved them and prayed for them and to urge them to believe the Gospel and trust in Christ. He had gotten a bunch of those in his life, but that year I sent the best one of all. 

Somehow I ended up slipping a blank note into the pre-addressed envelope. It was the nothing card. It could not have gone to a better kid. 

He was sharpening his sarcasm skills at a young age and when he got it and figured out what his lame pastor had done, he thought it was hilarious. So, he said nothing, waited a few months until my birthday, then mailed it back to me. Envelope and all! Thus began a little tradition. That card travelled a lot of miles back and forth over the years. You should have seen his beaming smile the Sunday morning after my birthday. Prankster. 

It is hard for me to write about him. People likely don't realize how attached a pastor becomes to the souls under his care. I had prayed for him regularly for many years. Seen him converted. Watched him spread his wings and step out of boyhood into manhood. He had served our church as an intern, coming back from seminary a new man — we all saw it — growing in his confidence as he dutifully took on hard things. We loved having him around. We were seeing a future ministry taking shape before our eyes. As one of the sisters here said, “He was one of the sons of the church.”

I thought about posting a picture I took of him the summer he was our intern. But, I think I will keep that one for me. In some ways it captures him. Occasionally he would arrive at the church building before any of us got there in the morning. He never used the bench. He just sprawled out that lanky frame on the sidewalk as he read a book. Funny how one little picture can capture so much of a person and yet so little.

Even now it is hard for me to believe he is gone. I was a part of all the things that must go on when a member passes away, but there are days I have to ask myself if it really happened. Like his dad, he was doing everything in life at double speed. Finishing seminary early. Engaged to be married early. Living like a man early. I suppose he even got to glory early, too. 

And for that we should be happy. Of course we are. But life under the sun is a confusing place. As much as we wait patiently for our future reality, we still have to get up in the morning. And this morning when I got up, I was thinking about him. I miss him. Not as much as his family or his fianc√©, but he had a place in my heart, too. The son of my friend. A son of the church. A son in the ministry. 

If he was here he would be smirking as he opened my card. He would have known what was in it long beforehand. How much greater was his joy when he opened his eyes and saw the Lord? Certainly he knew beforehand what was coming. But now He sees. And that is the joy that will never end. 

So, I think I will finally fill in that card... 

Happy birthday, Nicky. I miss you. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Announcement: The Grace Fellowship Church Pastoral Internship

Grace Fellowship Church is pleased to announce we are opening our pastoral internship starting on February 1, 2021. Details are below, including a link to the application page. 

We were preparing to launch this program right when Covid hit. It does not appear much will be changing in the very near future, so rather than wait for that, we have adapted our original plan to fit our new circumstances. Truth be told, we think these new circumstances have sharpened our vision for the internship. 

We will be accepting two interns for this initial run. They will need to be available on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons (February through June, 2021), as well as having several more hours during the week to work from home. The internship will focus primarily on Baptist church life (ecclesiology) and Bible proclamation (preaching). We have long held that the strength of a church starts with her pulpit. 

Applicants should be men who have or are nearly completed seminary training and intend to pursue full-time pastoral ministry. They will demonstrate good leadership skills, a warm-hearted Christian love for others and a zeal for the people of God. 

Applicants have until January 20, 2021 to apply. Interns will be chosen by the Grace Fellowship Church elders and notified by January 24, 2021.


  • The interns will meet on Monday mornings (9AM-1PM) with the staff elders of Grace Fellowship Church to review the previous Sunday gatherings, work through a particular text together, discuss various pastoral situations and discuss their reading from the previous week. These sessions are led by Pastor Martin. 
  • On Friday afternoons, the interns will meet with the staff elders for our weekly sermon preview, service previews and personal mentoring with Pastor Kim. Some of their office time on Fridays will be devoted to reading and writing. Weekly papers must by submitted by 5PM each Friday. 
  • Interns are expected to apply for membership at Grace Fellowship Church (if not members already) and attend all services of the church. They will also be invited to attend certain other meetings as observers and be assigned to interview certain ministry leaders or members of the church. 
  • Each intern will be remunerated (a stipend of $2900 paid out over the course of the internship) and supplied with books for the assigned readings (approximate value of $300). 
  • Besides the time in office, each intern should expect anywhere from 2-10 hours of reading/writing time (depending on one’s speed at these things). 

More details can be sought by contacting Pastor Steve Kim.