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:


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, 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 here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Go Leafs Go

From . .
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:

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.


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:

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.


HT: Challies

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Essays In Honour of John Piper


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.

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 and check it out. Let me share just a few details about our company.


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.


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.