Friday, December 31, 2010

Bible Reading Plans

Justin Taylor gives a lengthy list of plans of all shapes and sizes here. Most intriguing to me was the ESV audio bible listening plan in the form of a free podcast. Daily listening for 17 minutes equals the Bible in one year! Honourable mention goes to Professor Grant Horner, though his plan is only for he ambitious at ten chapters per day. If you need structure to help with consistency in personal devotions, why not check out Taylor's post and find that plan that is right for you!

Pastors and Vacations

Kevin DeYoung shares some excellent thoughts here.

Some of his key points:

I understand that some churches can’t pay their pastors as much as they would like to offer. We’ll save that for another post. But here’s the wonderful thing about vacation and study leave–it adds almost nothing to the church budget. At most it may cost an extra thousand dollars to pay for a few more weeks of pulpit supply. But what you’ll gain is worth so much more.

  • Your pastor will have more time away from the pressures of ministry. This will be good for the long term health of his marriage and family.
  • Your pastor will have time to think through that thorny congregational issues or complex theological conundrums. He may be able to hone his writing skills. He’ll have the energy to dream again. Or he may just have free time to read a book and go on a long walk with his wife. All these will benefit your pastor and your church.
  • Your pastor will come back rejuvenated. I’m told my best sermons are usually the first ones after I get back from a break.
  • You’ll get to hear other men preach. Even if you have John Piper or Tim Keller preaching to you, you’ll gain by hearing the same gospel message from other messengers.
  • A few extra Sundays without your pastor will allow other men in your church to exercise their teaching gifts. It might also give you the chance to hear from other pastors laboring in your city.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Still More ML-J

I've updated my original ML-J round up, but in case you missed it, here is a link to two more Martyn Lloyd-Jones audio sermons, though one is not yet uploaded by looks of things.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More ML-J


Thanks to a tip from an employee of the Master's College in California, here are nine more free Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons, for your streaming or downloading pleasure. They can be found here.

Wexford Carol

Written in the 12th Century. . .and performed more recently by Allison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma:



Find it on iTunes here.

HT: JT

Friday, December 17, 2010

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Round Up - Free (and not free) Audio


It's a shame if you ask me. (Un?)Arguably the greatest preacher of the 20th century, the last few decades of whose ministry were largely recorded, and it's hard to find a free download. One can order CD's from The Martyn Lloyd-Jones recording trust, and that is great. But given the web explosion of great, free preaching, it's a shame that ML-J is largely not available for free download. Someone needs to raise funds, hire the personal, and get a good free site going. If Piper and Mahaney and Carson and MacArthur are free, why not Lloyd-Jones? So how can we get our hands on ML-J? Here are some options:

693 of his sermons are available for download ($3 each) here.

Countless of his sermons are available to purchase in book, CD, or MP3 CD formats here. The problem here is simply this: who would be willing to pay $450 for 14 MP3 CD's of ML-J on Romans, when 224 Piper sermons on the same book can be downloaded for free?

Moving on to the free category, there is a free weekly radio program for streaming (and I think for download as well). If I remember correctly, each week features half of a sermon, bracketed by the comments of a guy with a British accent. It is found here.

Better still, nine of his sermons are available for free download here. These were delivered in Pensicola, Florida in 1969.

Finally, five of his regular sermons are available for free download here. The first one, entitled 'Mind, Heart, Will' is especially good. Start there!

I'll leave this with you: do you know of any free Martyn Lloyd-Jones audio download sites? Am I missing anything? Leave a comment and let me know! Or, do you want to donate large amounts of money to the Martyn Lloyd-Jones recording trust, to set up a free download extravaganza? Contact them and let them know!

Update: 3 more free downloads can be found: here.

Yet another update: 9 more free ones can be found here.

Still yet another update: 2 more free ones can be found here (one is not yet working, though).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

D.A. Carson: You Impart What You Are Most Passionate About


I appreciated this quote when I heard Carson make it, I appreciated it when I heard CJ Mahaney quote it in November, and I appreciated it again when I read it today. Consider. . .

If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.

If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.

Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow.

HT: CJ

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Shall We Say as We Conclude Six Years Together? A Farewell Sermon to Binbrook Baptist Church

Below are the notes I uses in my farewell sermon to the church family whom I've loved and served for six years. . .

As I began to prepare for this week’s sermon I realized that this is our last ‘normal’ Sunday together with me as your pastor.
Natalie and I will be here for one more Sunday, but next week is a special week. Instead of Sunday School we will have coffee, muffins, and fellowship. Instead of our regular morning service, we are having our Sunday School Christmas Concert. Lord willing, I’ll share a 15 minute evangelistic devotional at that morning service. Then next Sunday evening, instead of our regular Bible study, we are going to intermingle singing favourite hymns with simply reading the Christmas story together. We’ll end that night in prayer together.
So next week is my last Sunday, but today is my last normal Sunday.
What does one say at the end of six years as pastor of a people he loves? I considered sharing a thank-you message, from Natalie and I to you all, for the ways you have been a blessing to us. That would have been a very appropriate message, but in the end I became keenly aware that the last thing you would have wanted was to hear a sermon about yourselves this morning.
Instead, I decided to take my cues from the Apostle Paul.
This morning, we are capping off six years of gospel-centered ministry together, and in Romans 8:31-39, Paul is capping off eight chapters of what may be the richest, fullest, deepest, exposition of the gospel in all the Scriptures. After eight chapters of relentless gospel, Paul steps back and asks a question: “What, then, shall we say in response to this”?
This morning we are asking together, ‘what shall we say as we conclude six years of gospel ministry together?’
In light of the things we have talked about for six years, what shall we say?
In light of the bad news of the gospel - the fact that when we use the Bible to evaluate ourselves, we are far more sinful and hopeless than we ever dared to believe. In ourselves we are sinners who were born into sin. We have sinful natures and we are by nature under God’s wrath, and are storing up wrath for the day of judgment. We indulge in sin or self-righteousness, and our lives are an offense to God. We can’t make this up. In ourselves we are hopeless.
In light of the good news of the gospel - that while we were still sinners, God sent his Son, born of a virgin, born under the law, to perfectly fulfill the law for us. Then, Jesus, God’s Son died the death under the wrath of God that we deserved to die. While we are hopeless in ourselves to placate q’s wrath, Jesus has done it for us.
In light of the reality that becoming a Christian is a trust transfer - from trusting what I do to make me right with God, to confessing that I can’t do anything, but trusting that Jesus has done it for me. This is the heart of the gospel: justification by faith alone.
In light of the effect of the good news on our lives: we are given peace with God, reconciliation to God, the reign of sin is broken in our lives and we are given power to progressively overcome remaining sin in our lives. Our standing in Christ does not depend on our strong grip on him, but on his strong grip on us. The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in every Christian, every person who lays hold of Jesus by faith, and this Holy Spirit will raise every Christian to eternal life.
We groan for that day, but the Holy Spirit helps us, draws us close to God, intercedes in prayer for us.
Our sufferings in life are not worthy of comparing to the glory that is to come. God is a Father who orders the entire cosmos with an eye on blessing his people, who trust his son as Saviour.
Hardship in the life of a Christian is not punishment from God, but loving, fatherly discipline to bless them.
Those whom God foreknew and foreloved he also predestined, those who predestined he also called, those whom he called he also justified, those whom he justified he also glorified.
Our future glory is such a sure thing that God speaks of it in the past tense - because it is God who will bring us there, and God never lies and never fails.
These are the themes of Romans 1-8 and these have been our themes for six years together.
On this last Sunday morning together, let’s ask, then, with Paul, ‘What, then, shall we say in response to this incredible gospel?’
Let’s read together:
Rom. 8:31-39 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This passage begins with a question: ‘what then shall we say in response to this gospel?’ And it answers the question with another question: “if God is for us, who can be against us?’
The rest of the passage basically says something like, ‘actually, lots of things can be against us, but God is bigger than them all, and our salvation is more precious and sure than we ever imagined.’
As we conclude six years of gospel-centered ministry together, Natalie and I are stepping out into the unknown. Binbrook Baptist Church is stepping out into the unknown.
Romans 8:31-39 teaches that if you trust Christ as your personal Saviour, many things may be uncertain, but all of the treasures God has purchased for you are absolutely secure.
In the bit of time that remains, then, let’s walk through Romans 8:31-39 and notice two things about a Christian’s security in Christ:
1. Why Christians Are Secure in Christ
2. What Security in Christ Looks Like


1. Why Christians Are Secure In Christ - vv. 32-34
When I was a kid the idea of an all-powerful God was absolutely terrifying to me, and so was the idea of eternity. I went to church, I had a concept of God and eternity, but I didn’t have any way of knowing how I stood with this God. Intuitively I didn’t think my standing was very good.
We’ve seen in Romans that my intuition didn’t nearly plumb the depths of how hopeless my situation was.
When we talk about God we are not talking about our buddy, or the spiritual being we dream up. We are talking about the Lord of the Universe! This is scary business!
Every one of us here will stand before this God one day.
But if you are ‘in Christ’, if you trust Jesus as your personal Saviour, your entire standing with this God has changed!
Verse 32 - he didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.
It was God the Father who sent Jesus to die for you, to bear the wrath that your sins deserved, to transfer you out of death to life.
The same God who is big and all-powerful and scary, this God is the one who sent his son to die for you.
How will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
The God we worship this morning is a God who loves to freely give good gifts. If the ultimate gift of all time was the gift of God’s Son, how will he not also give you and I all things?
But what about my standing with this God? How can I be sure I will hear a ‘well done’ by this God on the day of judgment?
At Hughson St. Baptist Church’s Christmas supper last Sunday night, Dwayne shared the story of visiting a dying man in the hospital. He said, ‘Dwayne, I’m scared’. Through the conversation Dwayne emphasized that if you trust Christ alone you have no reason to be scared. If you rely on your goodness, you have every reason to be scared.
So what about the day of judgment. What about charges being brought against you or I on that great and terrible day? What about those hidden sins from our past. What about the thought-life that only you and God know about?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. In other words, the very God who judges sinners is the same God who justifies sinners. And we’ve seen in Romans that this justification, this ‘not guilty’ declaration made by God towards sinners is a free gift. All we need to do is trust what God has done for us in Jesus.
On the day of judgment, the same God who provided for your justification, will pronounce you ‘not guilty’, not if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, but because Jesus’ sacrifice was his idea, and it was made for you!
V. 34 - who is the one who will condemn sinners on that day. The terrible truth is that at the final judgment a multitude of people will hear ‘get away from me, I never knew you’.
How do you really know that you will not hear those words?
Well, the same Jesus who will be the one who condemns also: 1) died for sins; 2) was raised to life for our justification; 3) is reigning at the right hand of God in power today; 4) is interceding for us.
If you trust Christ as Saviour this morning, right now, Jesus is showing his wounds to God the Father, and praying for you. He’s saying, ‘look at my completed work, my Father. I have paid for all of their sin. Treat John Penner with grace. Treat Ian Vaillancourt with grace. Treat Phil Cline with grace. Treat all who trust in me with grace, because I have purchased their eternity.
Why are Christians completely secure in Christ? Because the gospel was God’s idea, and Jesus, who condemns, is the very one who also died, was raised, reigns, and intercedes for every one of his own. What an amazing gospel!

2. What Security in Christ Looks Like - vv. 35-39
So, what does it look like to be completely secure in Christ?
The reality is, we live in a world full of suffering.
1) We have sin that remains in us that wants to pull us away from Christ. 2) The world around us opposes Christ and righteousness. 3) The devil is a real being with a legion of demons who work against God and the gospel. The world, the flesh, and the devil all mitigate against Christians.
As Paul continues in Romans 8:35-39 he paints an incredibly realistic picture of life in a fallen world.
What can come against us in this life?
Trouble, hardship - like when work is oppressive or uncertain.
Persecution - like when your life or health is in danger because you love Jesus.
Famine or nakedness - you may go hungry or unclothed in this life. Around the world this happens every day.
Danger or sword - wars, random acts of crime, terrorism, hate acts against Christians.
All of this can happen.
Then Paul quotes the Old Testament: 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
With the Old Testament Psalmist, Paul says that Christians, people who are justified by faith in Christ, who are totally secure in Christ, live in tension. Today is not pleasant, but eternity will be.
But in the face of this he concludes: we are more than conquerers, we are completely victorious, through him who loved us.
This is incredible. If you are not a Christian, you are completely dependent on luck and circumstances for security. Those odds are not good at all. Even if life does go smoothly, what will happen when you do finally die?
But if you are a Christian, in the face of radical suffering in this life, you are completely victorious. Through whom? Through him who loved us! The same God who sent his son to die, the same son who died, rose, reigns and prays for you today, this same God is the one through whom you are completely victorious.
If you are a Christian, nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice that Paul continually brings this back to ‘in Christ Jesus’. Your security is not in you. It’s not even in your strong faith. Its in God’s faithfulness to you in Jesus.
So, death or life - flip a coin. Whichever comes, you are secure.
Angels and demons - whether angels protect you or demons assault you, they can’t pry you out of God’s grip.
Present or future - Whatever is in your life now and whatever is to come, none of these things can take you out of the grip of Christ.
Any powers, height, depth - no spiritual being in the Universe, whether high or low, can take you out of God’s hands.
Anything else in all creation - since God is the creator of all, he is over all. There are a lot of big, nasty things out there, but none of them can separate you from God’s love for you.
As we read this list, remember that the Apostle Paul was not a casual commenter who lived in the midst of ivory towers. He writes of his own sufferings this way:
2 Cor 11:23b-28 I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
This was Paul’s life.
And the Roman Christians to whom he was writing were about to experience their fair share of suffering. Emperor Nero was about to begin an all-out assault against Christians, a few short years after they received this very letter from Paul. They would be torn apart by wild animals in the colosium, as a sort of sick entertainment for the watching crowds, they would be lit on fire and burned alive, human torches for the twisted Emperor Nero as he enjoyed entertaining at parties. They would be driven from their homes, jobs, security, familiarity.
How precious would these words in Romans 8 have been to them as they faced these things.
In the light of six years of gospel ministry together, and in the face of an uncertain future, it is my temptation to stand here and tell you that life is going to be a hammock by the beach for us all because we have Jesus. But Paul says to us, ‘suffering and hardship may come, but nothing can take you out of the hands of your God and Father’.
The absolute worst thing that can ever happen to a person is to have the Sovereign, mighty, God of the universe against them.
Paul says here that if you trust Christ, no matter what comes your way, whether it is death or life or divorce or marital bliss or peace or conflict, nothing can take you out of the hands of your God!
If the worst thing that can ever happen to a person is to hear ‘I am against you, says the Lord,’ and if that can never happen to a believer in Jesus, then what do you and I really have to fear?
The great preacher from the 1700‘s, George Whitefield once expressed his confidence in God this way:
“God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and let men or devils do their worst”.

As Natalie and I move out into the unknown, and as Binbrook Baptist Church moves into a time of transition with supply preachers and pulpit committees, may God give us the gift of this kind of confidence! God is faithful; he will do it.
Let’s pray to close. Sing: In Christ Alone

Friday, December 10, 2010

Whitefield Quote


This Sunday I'm preaching on Romans 8:31-39. As I studied and wrote and prayed and reflected this amazing quote from George Whitefield came to mind:

“God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and let men or devils do their worst”

(as quoted by Michael A.G. Haykin in 'The Revived Puritan, the Spirituality of George Whitefield', pg 11).

May God give all Christians this kind of confidence!

CJ's Christmas Gift Idea

I appreciated this post by CJ Mahaney on thinking through how to bless others this Christmas.

Here is his introduction:

Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity to give gifts to those I love. I enjoy doing all I can to surprise them with a particular gift. I am sure you do as well.

But here’s what I’ve come to realize: too often I can put more thought into the gifts I buy them than I do the content of my conversations with them at Christmas. In fact the content of my conversation can be a gift of greater substance and of more enduring value.

Here is his conclusion:

So here is my point. Buying the appropriate Christmas gift for someone requires that we know and study them. But this is no less true of our conversations.

So as you consider certain individuals, and seek to buy meaningful gifts for them, also consider how you can give them grace through your words.

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christian Audio - Free Book For December


Admittedly, I prefer interviews, panel discussions, sermons, lectures, and music, to audio books. Most books (the Bible excluded), were written for the eye and not the ear. I sometimes find it hard to keep my mind from wandering when listening to a book. I've done it and benefited, though, and this is mostly thanks to Christian Audio's free download of the month. I've listened to all of Francis Chan's 'Forgotten God' and lots of John Piper's 'Desiring God'. I was excited to see that this month's free audio book is on Handel's Messiah. This is probably my favourite piece of music, and now I get to learn about it. If you are interested in this free audio book for download, go here.

HT: Challies

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curtis Allen Live!

Not to brag, but I saw it live. And you have missed out, until now. Now you get to watch the video. Who else would rap about the Heidelberg Catechism? (You should have seen Kevin DeYoung's face during this performance. . .it was priceless!!)

Heidelberg Catechism (Live) from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tim Keller: Plant Churches in Cities (how, why, what, etc)

I love Tim Keller. I almost never agree with everything he says and does, but I'm almost always thankful that I took the time to listen to him. He's thought-provoking and insightful, and I believe he's a 'must-listen' for Reformed Church Planters, because he combines rigorous Biblical theology with rigorous contextualization and strategy. I often wish he would say less or more. In the following talk on strategically reaching people in cities through contextualized church plants, etc, I wish he at least began with a disclaimer that our greatest need is men and women of God who are earnest for holiness and desperate in prayer. Maybe I'm nit-picky, but maybe not. Isn't it the tendency of the human heart to omit these and move on to strategy? The latter is certainly much easier, and it can be masked as piety when it is engaged in church work. But having said that, if holiness and worship and prayer are one's foundation, Keller's voice must be listened to, with discernment. He has shaped me as much as my other hero, John Piper. Take 17 minutes and be spurred on in your love for, and your ability to, engage the city with Christ's gospel!

Tim Keller Argues For Churches In Cities [Lausanne] from Kenny Jahng on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Favourite New Song

My favourite new (to me) song from the Sovereign Grace Ministries' Pastor's Conference. . .



I was glad to find it on iTunes - search for Aaron Keyes. The song is called 'Psalm 62' and is found on his album entitled, 'Not Guilty Anymore'.

Funny



HT: DeYoung

Friday, November 19, 2010

The New, Updated, NIV Bible, 2011

The NIV Bible is about to change. This is no surprise. The one you have on your nightstand is a 1984 revision of the original (from around '78 or so?). Over time language changes and develops and new translations are needed. A few years back the TNIV was introduced, not as a replacement but an alternative. It used gender inclusive language, and it was a bit smoother than the NIV, but a bit less literal. Last year it was announced that the TNIV would be discontinued and the NIV would be completey revised. But like the 1984 revision, the 2011 NIV is intended as a replacement. In other words, in a few months you will only be able to buy NIV Bibles like the one you own at second hand bookstores and clearance shelves. In a few years your Bible will be a relic.

Again, this is needed (theoretically, anyway). Language changes and develops over time. But this new NIV Bible will force a decision, because it's going to use gender inclusive language. John Dyer put together the following graphic, outlining words omitted from the 2011 NIV (the bigger the word the more it is omitted):
A study of verse comparisons is also helpful (and also provided by Dyer):

This is not meant to be alarmist or anything. I'm simply trying to point us to a fact. The entire flavour of the NIV will now be different. The following is a sample of comparison texts from John 1 (again, Dyer is my man):

Aside from the fact that a whole lot of your memorization is going to go down the drain (ha, ha), these changes are going to force us all to make a choice: is a gender-neutral Bible the most faithful bridge between the original and the current culture/language? It seems clear that this new NIV will force a polarity of sorts. I predict that more people will go to the ESV, with its relative readability and gender specific language, or the NLT, with its amazing readability and gender specific language. It seems bound to happen. Trevin Wax agrees with me (and puts it much more eloquently):
The problem I see with the NIV 2011 is that the publisher (Zondervan) seems to be putting churches and church leaders in a position where they are forced to make a choice. A few years ago, upon considering the resistance from some evangelicals toward the TNIV, Zondervan assured Bible-readers that the 1984 NIV would remain available. But no such assurance is given now. In fact, the publisher has expressly indicated the desire for the NIV 2011 to replace both the original NIV and the TNIV.
Anyway, the new NIV is now on-line at BibleGateway. If you choose the NIV in your search, the 2011 version is what you are searching in. If you go to the menu you'll see that 1984 NIV is also still an option.

Having said all that, I'm excited to buy and read a print version of this new NIV. I love the way the current NIV reads and I always like the way a new translation gives a fresh perspective on an old passage. I tend to steer clear of the NIV when I'm doing in-depth study or meditation. The ESV is far superior for that. But when I'm reading large chunks of God's word the NIV is far less clunky, and I'm guessing that the new NIV will be even more smooth!

As I close I'll point to this post, where my friend Darryl Dash interviews Douglas Moo, who is the head of the translation committee. Moo is a solid evangelical and one of the premier Bible commentators alive today. His commentary on Romans has been my constant companion since labour day and I'm loving every minute of it!

The Six Second Kiss

Excellent counsel from Jani Ortlund. It begins this way:

What can six seconds do for you? Woman to woman, let me encourage you that just six seconds a day can help safeguard your marriage.
You can read the rest here.

HT: (who else?) Challies

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tim Kerr - The Prayer For Power

One of the many joys of attending the Sovereign Grace Ministries' Pastor's conference on November 2-4 was getting to hang out a bit with some other Canadians who also made the trip down to Maryland. One of those Canadians is a Toronto Pastor named Tim Kerr. I've only heard Tim speak a few times (at a pastor's fellowship I attend), and I don't know him well, but he's respected by so many of my friends that there was a very quick 'trust' (on my end anyway).

Anyway, at the conference last week I learned that Tim would soon be traveling from his church of 100 in Toronto, to preach at Covenant Life Church (5000 on a given Sunday), and I've been praying for him ever since. I just saw that the audio for this very message is up and running here. I have not yet listend to it, but if it's anything like his Toronto Pastor's Fellowship messages, it will be very powerful!

Again, give it a listen here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

CJ Mahaney - Pastoral Wisdom From Jude

It's hard to believe that over a week has passed since the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastor's Conference in Maryland. My wife and I came home very refreshed spiritually, even if we were physically weary. I just saw that the conference audio is now posted here. Below is a full-length video of CJ Mahaney's message from tuesday night. I'd love to report that it was the best one of the conference, but every message was a 'home run' of sorts. If you are involved in church life at all, I highly recommend this one and all the other messages!

Pastoral Wisdom from an Obscure Place from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maple Leaf Dejection


We all had our hopes up. Actually, we all knew it would end soon and the fall would be rough. A few weeks ago I posted this quote from tsn.ca:

The following are factual statements: the Toronto Maple Leafs are in first place in the Eastern Conference, they've scored twice as many goals as they've allowed, their penalty killing is at 90 percent and Clarke MacArthur is on pace for 109 goals this season.
But here is today's latest from the same site:
Michael Frolik had a goal and two assists Wednesday to help the Florida Panthers beat Toronto 4-1 and extend the Maple Leafs' losing streak to seven games. The Maple Leafs' losing streak is their longest since opening last season at 0-6-1. They have lost 10 of their past 11 games and are 3-for-39 on the power play in their last 10 games.
Ouch. I guess the only thing worse than opening the season in seven games without a win (last year), is this year's trick of acting like the Oilers of the 80's for a little while and then tearing the big 'S' off their chests to expose the reality that it was all just a cheap Halloween costume. Why do I endure as a fan?

Lecrae

The verdict is in: my wife and I love to listen to the rap music of Lecrae Moore. In fact, my kids love it too. He'd theologically deep, and he's also a great musician. His latest album, Rehab, reached #3 on iTunes album downloads, which means that for at least a while he was the third most popular album download in America (all categories combined). I highly recommend you take the plunge and buy and enjoy. Here's a video of one of our favourite songs:



HT: JT

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Curtis Allen Raps the Heidelberg Catechism


One of the many high points of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastor's Conference this past week, was getting to hear Curtis 'Voice' Allen Rap. Below is a blog post by CJ Mahaney explaining the origin of the song, complete with free stream or download, and lyrics. My wife and I really enjoyed this MP3 during the 10 hour car ride home.

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On a stage in front of 2,800 attendees at the 2010 NEXT conference, I called out my friend Curtis Allen.

Kevin DeYoung was speaking at the conference, and the focus of his newest book was the Heidelberg Catechism. He called it The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody, 2010). So at NEXT 2010 I challenged Curtis (aka Voice) to write and record a rap song to promote Kevin's book and the catechism.

Curtis delivered.

On Friday, this is what he sent me:


(Note: if you dont see the player, go here to listen. Download the song here.)

Yep, Curtis Allen is the best.


Lyrics

Verse 1

Yeah I'm on a mission like a couple spies, and that guys is the reason why I catechize. The good news we almost forgot I recognize, Heidelberg rediscovering the gospel prize. It's not scripture but the truth in it will mention he, introduction hide and seek the 16th century. Written in a time when your mind was the weaponry, this document is back into the populace shouts to Kevin D. Better than you think not as bad as you remember, purpose driven truth, from Frederick the elector. He would initiate, the 129 questions to illustrate truths like Christ propitiates. All in a document, whose purpose was to teach children, a guide for preachers, and confessions in a church building. And this is all fact The Heidelberg Cat has been around but now it's seem like it is coming back.

Hook

We believe in the cross, believe in his life,
We believe in his death, believe he's the Christ.
We believe that he rose from grave yes it is him
And we read the Heidelberg Catechism

We believe in the after life and we believe nothing's after Christ, so we stand our ground, cuz the truth's been around from the word to the Heidelberg.

Verse 2

Year of the Heidelberg resulting in renewed passion, and we could see it in our lives lights camera action. Let's take a gander and address a few questions from Heidelberg document then look at the answers. But before that make sure that, you know how it's broken down, in a Q & A format, a few sections. Suggestions how to read this not to sound promotional, but Kevin put it in his book to make it a devotional. Each question each answer has a bit of commentary, so the application of it is not some involuntary. Mystery, the history screams through rings true but I'll just leave that up to God, cuz that's between you. to believe, but to believe you gotta read you and then you meditate on all the truths that the Heidelberg will illustrate. What's that the catechism homey where you been the good news we almost forgot let's get it in!

Verse 3

From the word to the Heidelberg, we see that what's the comfort of life should come first. And in death that I with, body and soul but belong to the savior, commentary from me man, tell this to your neighbor. Moving on, how many things are necessary for thee, enjoying this comfort, to live and die happily? Three, my sin's misery, deliverance from sin, and gratitude for God is how the answer ends. Let's stretch it out the Lord's day 23 the grandaddy of them all, questions 59 and 60. What good does it do to believe in all this? In Christ I am right heir to the promise. Paraphrase, anyways I'm kinda limited I'm just trying to say a couple things my man Kevin did. On the Heidelberg, go and get you one, and by the way CJ homey this was fun.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Night of Weeping


D.A. Carson's 'How Long O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil' is an excellent theology of suffering (at least the chapters I've read are). But in his introductory remarks Carson refers to his book as a preparation for suffering, rather than a book to read while in acute suffering. In other words, 'How Long O Lord?' is meant to give Christians the theological underlay to respond to future suffering with a Biblical world view in tact. But it is not so much a soothing book for the present sufferer.

Horatius Bonar's 'Night of Weeping: When God's Children Suffer' is both. It is a theology of suffering and it is also a book to sooth those who are presently suffering. When a friend of mine was sick and unable to get out of bed for an entire year, this was the only book, aside from the Bible, he read and it gave him hope to carry on. I've heard story after story of such comfort from this little book. Bonar speaks specifically to Christians who suffer and he offers 15 short chapters of Biblical comfort and encouragement to them. His pastoral heart and his Biblical wisdom are on full display in this excellent little book. Here is a favourite quote of mine:
"God cannot trust us with success till we are thus laid low. We are not fit to receive it; nor would He get the glory. Therefore He sends sore and heavy trials in order to make us vessels fit for the Master's use. And oftentimes we see that the heaviest trials are forerunners of our greatest usefulness. When we are entirely prostrated and crushed, then it is safe to grant us success, for God gets all the glory. And oh, what wonders has God often done by bruised reeds! Yea, it is the bruised reed that is oftenest the instrument in his hand for working His mighty signs and wonders. What consolation is this! Suffering is stripped of half its bitterness if it thus brings with it a double portion of the Spirit, and fits for double usefulness on earth" (pg, 149).
Canadians can find the book here.
Americans can buy it here.
Or, the Kindle edition is $0.99 here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dead Sea Scrolls. . .on Google

From Justin Taylor's Blog. . .

The technology giant [Google] and Israel announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to give researchers and the public the first comprehensive and searchable database of the scrolls—a 2,000-year-old collection of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek documents that shed light on Judaism during biblical times and the origins of Christianity. For years, experts have complained that access to the scrolls has been too limited.

Once the images are up, anyone will be able to peruse exact copies of the original scrolls as well as an English translation of the text on their computer—for free. Officials said the collection, expected to be available within months, will feature sections that have been made more legible thanks to high-tech infrared technology.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Toronto Pastor's Fellowship. . .On Preaching

I just received an e-mail message from my friend, Paul Martin, about the next meeting of Toronto Pastor's Conference. It will be a panel discussion between Robbie Symons (Harvest Oakville), Carl Muller (Trinity, Burlington) and Darryl Dash (Richview, Toronto) about preaching. The whole process, from start to finish will be discussed. I'm glad for this 'nuts and bolts' kind of thing that is so accessible and close for a guy like me who is so conscious of a need to learn! What follows is a copy/paste of Paul's invitation:

Brothers,

What do you love the most about serving the people of God? For many of us, it is the privilege of studying His Word and delivering His truth week-by-week – preaching! Our next Toronto Pastors Fellowship meeting is going to be entirely dedicated to that topic.

Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote that preaching “is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” If that is true, then it ought to be a subject that we study with great diligence from the start of our ministry to the end.

Our goal on Monday, November 15th is to focus on the whole weekly process. How do we study, then proclaim, then evaluate if what we did on Sunday was of any value? To do that, we have asked three current preachers to join me on a panel discussion.

Carl Muller is the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Burlington, Robbie Symons is the pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Oakville, and Darryl Dash is the pastor of Richview Baptist Church, Toronto – where we hold our meetings. Each of these men has thought long and hard about preaching and each of them has a passion for it in their own lives and in the church at large. Besides this, they each bring a very different method and style to the pulpit. I am anticipating that combination to bring an excellent discussion to our meeting!

All the details for our meeting can be found on the website torontopastors.org, or you can become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twtitter to receive regular updates.

I am really looking forward to meeting with you on November 15th. Bring all your questions and thoughts and let’s hammer out together exactly what we should be aiming at in this vital task.

With thanks to God for you,

Paul Martin

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Praying God's Word


Tonight at our church's evening Bible study I mentioned a book written by Pastor Tim Kerr of Sovereign Grace Church of Toronto. Tim has compiled about 200 pages of Bible passages and promises in various categories as a means of praying God's Word back to him. Lately in my devotions I've been using this book, and find when my mind begins to wander, or when I'm too distracted, reading actual words of the Bible and praying them back to God (praising him for them, laying hold of promises), or using them as a springboard for prayer, has been very helpful. You can find the free pdf download, with a fuller explanation over at challies.com here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Go Leafs Go

From tsn.ca. . .
The following are factual statements: the Toronto Maple Leafs are in first place in the Eastern Conference, they've scored twice as many goals as they've allowed, their penalty killing is at 90 percent and Clarke MacArthur is on pace for 109 goals this season.

Could this be our year?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bob Kauflin on The Functional Limits of Creativity in Corporate Worship

Bob Kauflin has some very helpful thoughts here. The crux of his article is summed up in what follows:
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Three Purposes of Music in the Church and their Corresponding Limits
1. To build up others - Edification Limiter. (Eph. 5:18-19; 1 Cor. 12:4; 1 Cor. 14:12)
The standard for the music we sing is not what benefits us, but others. This requires a knowledge of the people we’re leading and an awareness of our tendency to favor our own preferences.

2. To demonstrate our oneness in Christ - Unity Limiter (Rom. 15:5-7)
God has always intended singing to be a demonstration of the church’s unity, not a cause for its division.We should be asking what kind of music best enables the people of God - from different generations, backgrounds, and socio-economic classes - to sing together, so that we might demonstrate in our singing how the gospel has reconciled us not only to God, but to each other.

3. To enable the word of Christ to dwell in us richly - Gospel Limiter (Col. 3:16)
Music is one of the primary ways God means to deepen the effect of this gospel in our lives. Music helps us remember the gospel. It can stir up our passions for the gospel. It provides a means for us to express emotion about the gospel. It is meant to help us let the word of Christ, or the gospel, dwell in us richly.

HT: JT

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tony Payne on the Main Peril of the Multi-Site Model

Tony Payne weighs here on the video conversation on multi-site churches that I posted a few days ago. His conclusion is a very helpful contribution to the debate. Here it is:
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I would have liked the conversation to turn more to the nature and theology of preaching. What is preaching? Is it the kind of communication that can happen just as easily from a video screen as in person?

In terms of the regular preaching that leads and shapes and feeds a Christian congregation, I would say most certainly not. Because preaching is not just information delivery, nor even contextually-shaped information delivery based on the preacher's knowledge of his people. It is an ongoing relationship, in which the pastor demonstrates the truth of his message by his own changed life, and in which the people not only listen to the pastor's words but follow his example. The preacher's knowledge of his people is of some importance, but it not nearly as significant as the people's knowledge of him.

As Paul says to Timothy: “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me” (2 Tim 3:10-11). The teaching and the life go together. That is why Paul urges Timothy in his first letter not only to hold fast to sound doctrine, but to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). Timothy is to keep a close watch not only the teaching but on his own life and godliness, and to let the people see his progress. “Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (2 Tim 4:16).

It seems to me that it is the nature of biblical preaching that makes the multi-site model ultimately untenable.

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HT: Challies

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Essays In Honour of John Piper

Bunyan

I will stay in prison till the moss grows on my eyebrows rather than make a slaughterhouse of my principles. —John Bunyan

HT: Challies

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tim Challies Announces Cruciform Press

My buddy Tim Challies just announced on his blog that his new publishing company is now up and running. What follows is a copy/paste of his announcement and explanation from his blog. It looks like it will be a great ministry for Christian leaders and laypeople alike to follow.
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Some time ago I told you that I was involved in beginning a new publishing company called Cruciform Press. Well, I’m glad to say that at long last we are official—our new web site has gone live and our first books are available for purchase.

If you are at the Desiring God conference this weekend, be sure to check out the books in the bookstore. And keep an eye out for my co-founders Bob Bevington and Kevin Meath, both of whom are there.

For the rest of you, be sure to visit cruciformpress.com and check it out. Let me share just a few details about our company.

Distinctives

What makes Cruciform different?

Probably the best one-word description is reliability: a new book, same price, every month. We just think it makes sense to offer you something reliable. We want to be:

  • reliable in our Christian theology
  • reliable when it comes to how often new books are released
  • reliable in the quality of our writing and editing
  • reliable in the distinctiveness of our book covers
  • reliable in the quality of our book layout
  • reliable in our pricing

Life is busy and complex. As Christians, we can be tempted to neglect our spiritual lives, especially when it comes to reading books that will equip and encourage us in our faith. At Cruciform, we want to help make that vital process of ongoing spiritual growth easier.

We want our books to be simple, clear, and reliable, as well as inspiring and helpful. Our hope in all this is to serve you well in your efforts to honor and live for Jesus Christ in the local community to which God has called you.

Subscriptions

There is something else that makes us distinctive. We will release one book per month, always right around the first of the month. To make things easier for you, we are offering these books as a subscription—you can subscribe now and have a new book sent to you every month. Or, of course, you can buy only the books that interest you.

Also, we are offering all of our books in a variety of formats: printed, audio, PDF, and ePub.

Sexual Detox

Sexual Detox a Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of PornThe first book out the door is my own: Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn. You remember that I wrote Detox first as a series of blog posts and then as a free e-book. It deals with pornography and sexuality and, as indicated by the subtitle, is geared toward men. This new version of the book has been edited, expanded and just generally improved; even if you’ve read Detox before, you may want to do so again as it truly is much better now. I’ll have more to say about the book next week.

But for now, do know that it’s available right now in all of those formats. Learn More.

Wrestling with an Angel

Wrestling with an AngelThe second book, also available right now, is Greg Lucas’ Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace. It comes endorsed by Joni Eareckson Tada, Justin Taylor, Noel Piper and others. This is an exceptional book and one I know you’ll enjoy reading. Yes, I’m biased, I admit. But you can trust me! Here is a description of it:

It sounded at first like something out of an old horror movie. I thought maybe someone was just playing around, but then I heard it again and again, a loud piercing cry, and less like Hollywood every time. The windows were down in my police cruiser on that warm fall day, but I still couldn’t tell where the sounds came from. I began looking around for the unlikely sight of someone being disemboweled in a mall parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. Seeing nothing, and still hearing the screams, I called in a ‘disturbance.’ Around the next corner I found the source of the commotion.” So begins Greg Lucas’ captivating account of life as a husband, a police officer, and Jake’s dad. Jake Lucas, the first of four children, lives with severe physical and mental challenges. Caring for him each day is an ordeal few of us can imagine, and this story of Jake’s first 17 years is not one you will soon forget. But the remarkable thing is how the whole narrative is saturated with wonder at the grace and goodness of God, who brings hope and promise through his Son into the darkest of circumstances. In this book, we see that Jake’s problems are our problems, only bigger, and the challenges of caring for him carry profound lessons about God’s care for us. Wrestling with an Angel is about tragedy and laughter and pain and joy. It is about faith and grace and endurance and God’s unfailing, loving wisdom daily being worked out in each of our lives, whatever the nature or extent of our difficulties. Here is a book that may explain faith to you in ways you never quite grasped, through a life few of us can relate to. When it is all done, we come away better able to live as Christ calls us to live.

It’s also available now in all of those formats. Learn More.

Visit our site and you can also learn about the books that will be releasing in December and January.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and James McDonald Debate Multi-Site Churches

This was a very helpful interaction that I commend to all who are thinking through the essential issue of the 'how' of the mission of the church. Specifically, the question is whether having a multi-site church with video screen preaching is a viable New Testament model of making disciples. I've gone back and forth on this one, but at this point Dever's arguments resonate most with me. Watch and be helped!

Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? Dever, Driscoll, and MacDonald Vote from Ben Peays on Vimeo.



HT: JT

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Gadarene: John Piper's First Graphic Novel

I just saw that John Piper has written an imaginative tale of a demon-possessed man from the gospels. If I remember correctly, this man lived naked in caves, possessed by a legion of demons, and after Jesus' exorcism he was found seated, clothed, and in his right mind. The story has always captured my imagination, and this novel about what his life may have been like, looks really helpful. It looks good for adults, but great for kids (although my four year old, who won't watch Disney's 'Cars' movie anymore because he's scared of 'Frank the Combine' is a few years away from enjoying it, judging by the graphics). Take a look:



HT: Challies

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paul Miller on Prayer

I just saw that Justin Taylor has posted some audio and written transcripts of an interview with Paul Miller on Prayer. My favourite books on prayer are "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire," by Jim Cymbala, and "A Praying Life," by Paul Miller. I read the latter book a few months ago, and the former a few weeks ago, and they have both really impacted my prayer life. Take a listen or a read; I'm sure you'll benefit from Miller! The link is here.

Note: if you are a part of Binbrook Baptist Church, both of these books on prayer are in our church library on the shelf marked 'Our Pastor's Favourites'.

Great Advice on Marriage. . .By Alice Cooper!!! (Yes, THAT Alice Cooper)

I just watched a four minute video interview with a rock star that really surprised me. Alice Cooper gives some really good advice on marriage. Guys, watch and learn from this guy!



HT: Challies

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Reason for God DVD

The Reason for God is among my favourite apolagetics books. Written by a pastor-evangelist-theologian, it thoughtfully interacts with the most major objections people today have about Christianity. The book helps Christians think about 'getting traction' with non-Christians, while deepening their own faith. I was excited, then, to see today that a DVD is coming out. Below is a copy/paste of the summary. A link to the video trailer can be found here.
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The Reason For God promises to be unlike any Christian DVD series we’ve ever seen. It actually shows the presenter (Keller) in live, unscripted conversation with an articulate group of six people who passionately disagree with Christian views.

Effectively, it’s Christian Vs Lions all over again. And you can find out who wins on October 15th when it’s released by Redeemer/Zondervan.

Here are the session topics:

Discussion 1

Isn’t the Bible a Myth?

Hasn’t Science Disproved Christianity?


Discussion 2

How Can You Say There Is Only One Way to God?

What About Other Religions?


Discussion 3

What Gives You the Right to Tell Me How to Live My Life?

Why Are There So Many Rules?


Discussion 4

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Is There So Much Evil in the World?


Discussion 5

Why Is the Church Responsible for So Much Injustice?

Why Are Christians Such Hypocrites?


Discussion 6

How Can God Be Full of Love and Wrath at the Same Time?

How Can God Send Good People to Hell?


Published at the same time will be a Discussion Guide to help train group leaders. Additionally, a guide to help you run your group will be published online for free. Nice touch, that.
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HT: Challies

Does Using Apple Products Make You a Better Christian?

I've been trying to justify buying a new iPod touch for weeks. . .to myself and my wife. I'm almost there in convincing both of us, but not there yet, if you know what I mean. Maybe I'll use this article by Stephen Altrogge against my wife's claim that I'm an idolater who doesn't really need such an amazing little machine that I claim would be a great calendar, address book, music machine, video recorder, picture taker. . .or. . .toy!

Tim Keller's Small Group Curriculum: Evangelism in Acts


On labour day weekend I finished preaching through the book of Acts. 37 sermons over 11 months or so, and my life will never be the same again! When I first decided to tackle this book I had a few goals. Among them I wanted to: 1) blow all of my theological categories up and be open to change as God's Word shaped me; 2) grow in prayer and evangelism, etc, etc. Wrestling with every word of Acts over the course of 11 months was very precious to me. Reading Bock and Kistemacher were really helpful. Stott's commentary was golden. I Howard Marshall's work on Acts in the 'Commentary of the New Testament's Use of the Old Testament' (ed, Carson and Beale) was extremely helpful. But one book stood out as heads and tails above the rest in helpfulness: Tim Keller's Small Group Curriculum on Acts. I mention it here because most people I talk to have never even heard of it. It's available on the Redeemer Web site as a PDF download for $10. I printed it out and had it spiral bound at Staples. It would be useful as a small group study, but I used it as a bridge from exegesis to application in my sermon prep. As a pastor-theologian, Keller is always thinking about real people, and more importantly, a real church, as he writes. He is concerned to understand the message of Acts and to make it practical for real people. The Curriculum is written for the small group leader, to equip them as they walk the group through a set of questions on a given text (he walks through all of Acts chunk by chunk in 29 'lessons'). The second part of the curriculum is a 'blank' question book for the small group attendees to have handy for note-taking and personal study. With a focus especially on 'evangelism' this is a very valuable resource for any pastor who is seeking to have his own life changed, and to call others to 'come with him' down the path of deeper discipleship. I highly recommend it. You and find it here. The other small group curriculum can be found here (although I've only just begun to use the one on Romans, so I can't testify to their usefulness. . .note that the Acts one is an 'advanced' curriculum, which may indicate that it is that much more technical than the others).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Calling All Cheap, Shameless, Family-Oriented, Hungry Pastors

Cheap family fun. I love it when I find it. And yesterday I hit the big time. I took my family to East Side Mario's, and the four of us ate for under $20 after leaving a tip that was approaching 20%. Here's the story: East Side Mario's (at least the one near our home) has a Monday special: buy one entree, and get a kids' meal for free. My wife and I figured out that the $15 half chicken dinner (with a side of spaghetti instead of potatoes) would be plenty to split between the two of us, what with all of the salad and bread that comes along with it. It would be gluttony not to split it! And we also figured out that our 4 year old and 2 year old would be fine with splitting a 'kids' pizza, as it is big enough for any adult. We took advantage of the huge portions, ordered waters all around, and enjoyed a great family night for just under $20 after taxes and tip. The kids even enjoyed some juice, and my kids and wife even got a mini-ice cream cone each at the end of it all. You have to be willing to forgo pop and a bit of pride, but if you can hack it, it's a big meal at a great value.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Folly of 'Just Me and My Bible'

A while back I listened to some very helpful lectures on John Owen by Carl Trueman (found here). One line that stuck out to me was about Owen's extensive reading as an aid to exegesis. Trueman said (and I paraphrase) that the Reformers would have thought you were an idiot (his word!!) if you bragged about just reading the Bible. The gospel does not need to be reinvented every generation; this is the faith once for all handed down to the Saints'. But still, Piper points out in his lecture on Owen (found here) that Owen believed that prayer and assiduous meditation to be the two most important ingredients of Biblical interpretation. These two sides of the 'exegesis coin' have really informed the way I prepare expository sermons. I spend the first bulk of my time 'in the text' with pen, paper, and sweat. I even leave my computer at home. My main goal is to think and pray and pray and think. Then, I go to commentaries. I've found this to be an awesome aid to exegesis.

With all of that in mind, I was really thankful for Justin Taylor's post on a similar topic today. It's simply a number of quotes by smart godly guys that support what I've just written. Here they are:
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“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 1.


“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.”

—J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” JETS 25 (1982): 414


“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.”

—Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?


“There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries.”

—Larry Woiwode, Acts (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).


(HT: Michael Haykin for the first two quotes)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Julian Freeman, Church Planter

My friend Julian writes about his church's plans to send him out as a church planter in East Toronto. Would you consider joining his work? Find his article here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Church on Mission

This video pumped me up for the advance of the gospel in my city! Take the four minutes and be encouraged!



HT: Challies

Friday, August 27, 2010

Westminster Seminary Classes on iTunes!!!


I've known for a while that Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia has been working on getting some of its classroom audio on iTunes for free download. For quite a while I've been making use of Reformed Theological Seminary and Covenant Seminary's free classes, and Westminster would be a welcome addition, in my mind. Well, yesterday I did the search at the iTunes store, and found MANY classes available for free download. I nabbed two different counseling classes with lectures by Powlison, Welch, etc, a New Testament class by Moises Silva, apologetics by Van Til, and others. I'm not tech-savvy enough to know how to link to iTunes stuff, so I'll tell you how to search: 1) open iTunes store; 2) type in 'Westminster' in the search box; 3) when the results come, find iTunesU on the top left side and it will open the Westminster Seminary lectures. It's easy to download invidual lectures or whole classes (click on 'get tracks'). A few years ago, listening to Keller and Clowney's RTS class entitled 'Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World' was VERY helpful in shaping my preaching. I look forward to more from the boys at Westmin!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Gospel Song - Animated Video

This is my kids' favourite worship song, and the oldest is a visual learner. I can't wait to show it to them!



HT: JT

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why does the KJV have more verses than my NIV?

Some helpful info on where our Bibles came from, by Justin Taylor (quoting Daniel Wallace):
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Have you ever wondered why modern translations of the Bible don’t have certain verses found in the King James Bible? This can be a sensitive pastoral issue, especially in some regions of the United States.

I occasionally get requests for recommended resources on how to respond, and thought I’d pull together a few popular-level pieces in this post.

Here is New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace:

The Greek text which stands behind the King James Bible is demonstrably inferior in certain places. The man who edited the text was a Roman Catholic priest and humanist named Erasmus. He was under pressure to get it to the press as soon as possible since (a) no edition of the Greek New Testament had yet been published, and (b) he had heard that Cardinal Ximenes and his associates were just about to publish an edition of the Greek New Testament and he was in a race to beat them. Consequently, his edition has been called the most poorly edited volume in all of literature! It is filled with hundreds of typographical errors which even Erasmus would acknowledge.

Wallace highlights two examples, starting with Revelation 22:

In the last six verses of Revelation, Erasmus had no Greek manuscript (=MS) (he only used half a dozen, very late MSS for the whole New Testament any way). He was therefore forced to ‘back-translate’ the Latin into Greek and by so doing he created seventeen variants which have never been found in any other Greek MS of Revelation! He merely guessed at what the Greek might have been.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tim Hawkins: Things You Don't Say to Your Wife

Last night a friend told me about a Christian comedian who is actually funny. I thought that impossible, but you tube has proved my friend shockingly right! My wife and I got a kick out of this one especially. We're heading away on vacation tomorrow night, so enjoy this funny for the next few weeks!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lecrae - The Personal Testimony of a Christian Rapper

Blame it on the 80's. And the early 90's. I'm a really white guy who likes rap music as a genre. I grew up on the Beastie boys and (I hate to admit this), MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice and Ton Loc and Young MC and House of Pain and Run DMC. One year before I became a Christian I was at a Beastie Boys concert at Maple Leaf Gardens. The 1995 Ill Communication Tour was a lot of fun, even from the top row in the old Gardens. But when I became a Christian I turned my back on rap. The lyrics were (and still are) generally repulsive. Admittedly I still know many of those old songs by heart, but if I get one in my head I find myself amazed at the sinful content of most of those songs. Sure, there were 'Christian rap artists' around in '96 but I didn't find any that sounded authentic. It was kind of a 'Gaithers meets the Beastie Boys' sound, and in my head it simply didn't work (even as a white boy from Oshawa). Recently a few friends pointed me to Lecrae Moore and I was immediately suspicious. How could a Christian sound good and be faithful to the Lord. But I was amazed at what I heard. Lecrae is a new favourite for both my wife and I. His lyrics have a depth of theology and he is very talented musically. When I saw this short video of his personal testimony I grew to appreciate him even more. Take a look and be edified!

Friday, July 16, 2010

When the Gospel Came to Angola Penitentiary

Here is a copy/paste of a blog post from Desiring God:
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On August 20 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, we're hosting the premiere of a brand new Desiring God film titled Don't Waste Your Life Sentence (now available for pre-order).

The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA, is the largest and historically one of the bloodiest maximum-security prisons in the USA. In 2009, Desiring God and John Piper were invited to Angola to learn about prison life, hear from men who have been radically changed by the gospel, and minister to many of the 5,000 inmates.

Don't Waste Your Life Sentence confronts you with the realities of inmates who, though their lives appear to have been wasted, often have a greater grasp on eternity than those on the outside.

Here's the trailer:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Malcom Gladwell - What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce

This is in the 'just for fun' category. I really enjoy reading Malcom Gladwell. He has written four books, and I'm half-way through my fourth! I guess you could call him a cultural observer. Often, his observations border on the frivolous, but still, they are entertaining, and more importantly, he helps me to see the world in a different light. Below is an 18 minute video that is vintage Gladwell, bordering on frivolity, his main point is a bit off, but it's just plain fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book Review: Rescuing Ambition


I am a man who lives in deep inner-conflict. On the one hand I struggle with a horrible sin. Mike Bullmore described it vividly at the Toronto Pastor's Conference last month: "If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, the chief temptation of man is to glorify himself". It is sad, but true. I love applause and this is deeply sinful. It is a sin I battle every day, and by God's grace, it is a sin that I battle and progress out of every day. But it is also a sin that still needs more slaying. On the other hand, though, I have ambitions that I don't believe are all sinful. In fact, part of the effect of me becoming a Christian in 1996 was the birth of ambition in my life. Prior to becoming a Christian, I was a floater, whose highest goals were to get home from work in time to watch yet another re-run of the Dukes of Hazard. I was goin' nowhere fast. With my new birth also came the birth of a great work ethic, a work ethic that was focused on God-glorifying work. This is a work ethic that has only grown over the past decade and a half.

So I've been left with a problem as the lines between these two conflicting desires have been fuzzy in my mind. Certainly it is possible (even common) for ambitions for God to turn into personal idols. How sick is that: something that began with the pure motive of seeing God glorified ended up simply serving my own God-debunking agenda. But certainly all ambition is not all bad. Over the past five years or so, since I've identified these sins more concretely, the line between glory seeking and ambition for God's glory have been blurry. That is, until I read 'Rescuing Ambition' by Dave Harvey. In this very helpful book Harvey asks the essential question: "is it possible to be both ambitious and humble?", to which he answers a resounding 'yes'. The book is his attempt to bring some clarity to this issue, to assist the reader to battle the sin of pride, while stoking the fires of ambition to the glory of God. Harvey explains: "the good news of the gospel is that we aren't trapped by the tragedy of misplaced glory. While our ambitious impulses led us to vain pursuits, the Lord of glory has come to rescue our ambitions" (32).

The greatest strength of the book is that it always brings the reader back to the gospel. It is not as though the gospel is a springboard for an otherwise unrelated topic. The gospel is replete throughout the book. For example, Harvey leads the reader to revel in the finished work of Christ for them. In the face of great sin, a Christian can come boldly to the throne of grace. Harvey continues: "Sin is real, and we can sin away a lot of good stuff. Sin robs our joy in God. It's a delight-smasher. But sin never alters or reverses what Christ did upon the cross. It never causes God to withdraw his name or his acceptance from us" (57). In fact, the first three chapters of the book are called:: "Ambiton Conceived: we are wired for glory; Ambition Corrupted: Growing smaller in our attempt to be great; Ambition Converted: Where to go when your best aint' good enough". As the book continues Harvey explores heart-issues of the focus of ambition: God's glory or our glory? He shows the radically distinctive, radically counter-cultural path of distinctively Christian ambition as the low road of humility (cf. Jesus in Philippians 2). He deals with issues of patience and contentment when great ambitions are put on hold by God, and with failure and the search for answers amid the brokenness. He focuses our attention on the church as the ultimate place that deserves our ambitions, and he challenges the reader to ambitious risk in the quest to produce reward. Finally, he ends with a very personal chapter on paying ambition forward; of pouring ourselves into the next generation and even beginning a ministry with a view to finding our replacement decades down the road.

Another strength of the book is it's clarifying teaching on humility. For example: "Ambition must also be rescued from a wrong understanding of humility. . .When we become too humble to act, we've ceased being biblically humble. True humility doesn't kill our dreams; it provides a guardrail for them, ensuring that they remain on God's road and move in the direction of his glory" (14).

I know this is the point in a short review like this one, that I'm supposed to tell you the few flaws the otherwise good book has. I'm supposed to heroically point out the few wooden nickels you should watch out for, or the few ways the book could have been that much better. But I'm left grasping at straws in this category. I am deeply thankful for this book. I was so helped by it, and I was so drawn to Dave Harvey, that I put his book on marriage at the top of my 'to read' pile, simply because I want to learn more from him (It's called: When Sinners Say I do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage). So go ahead an buy a copy for yourself and then buy one for a friend. Study it together and sharpen each other as you read it!

Canadians can buy it here.
Americans can buy it here.