2.22.2017

Content Eyes // Politics Well, and in Moderation

Randy Booth says, "Put on your Happy Eyes," look at the world as God calls us to, and be content.


Kevin DeYoung has a couple good articles on politics.  One for anyone, one for pastors.



2.21.2017

Weight of Glory

The Weight of GloryThe Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Lewis wrote with a glorious mixture of common sense and an ever-present awareness of eternity close at hand. This collection of essays powerfully shapes the Christian mind to give God’s glory the weight it deserves in our estimation. But his treatment of God’s glory is unexpectedly this-worldly. Why should we go on reading books when bombs are dropping? How can we experience the spiritual when the only tools we seem to have are crude senses and emotions? How do we deal with temptations of the world like ambition and craving the approval of men? How do we maintain a right godly mind as we go through our prayers? How can we maintain a rich private life, while not isolating ourselves from the body of Christ?

Lewis writes this way, with a determined down-to-earth-ness, both because it was who he naturally was, and to engage with and defeat the prevailing materialism of his day. He ably showed the plausibility of the Christian worldview to secularists who only wanted to consider the physical elements of the world as relevant or knowable.

I highly recommend these essays to you.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else” (140).



An older review of mine from 2011:
CS Lewis was a master essayist, who offered some bracing defenses of orthodox Christian thought and practice at a time when liberalism was already at high tide in his academic circles. Cogent and colorful, this book is a collection of essays:

1. The Weight of glory, in which he ties God's glory to the joy we desire but never fully achieve.

2. Learning in War time, a lecture to students during the war, making the case for continuing the pursuit of culture and vocation during wartime.

3. Why I am not a pacifist, in which he explains... why he is not a pacifist.

4. Transposition, a glorious take the relation between physical and spiritual, sensations and emotions, our resurrected body compared with our present one.

5. Is Theology Poetry? in which he rejects believing the theology because it is beautiful.

6. The Inner Ring, probably the most insightful essay on the temptation of all people no matter how old, to work for acceptance by the "in crowd," however you define that. He dissects the lure of the world, and the pride of life.

7. Membership, on how the Church as participating in the body of Christ keeps us from individualism and collectivism. Right up the political wonk's alley. If you wonder how to handle Acts 2:42-44 as a political conservative, read this.

8. On forgiveness, a short sermon on forgiving real faults, not rationalizing away people's offenses so there is really nothing to forgive.

9. A Slip of the Tongue, another sermon, facing honestly our desire to not commit too much to God before it hurts us in the "real" world.



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Friends and Lovers

Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in MarriageFriends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage by Joel R. Beeke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Solid and short, this is a great booklet for anyone married.
Beeke handles a delicate subject with discretion and directness.



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2.20.2017

Giving and Receiving at the Table

Jesus is the LORD.  He is the one working with His Father right now, serving you, feeding you, with His own life.

Jesus feeds us all, by His power.  Some of you who are responsible for meals in your home know the relentless nature of this work.  You are always working, cleaning up the last meal, or planning for the next one.  You have a small inkling of the Father and Son always working, together, to open hands and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

He represents here, His ultimate work of giving at the cross.  Only on the basis of the cross does God continue to sustain His world, by grace.


But Jesus not only gives at this Table, He also receives.  The Psalmist tells us that God is near to those who call on Him.  He hears our cry.  This table is a place to call on God, remember His name and His work on our behalf, claim it that you might be spared His judgment.  Praise Him, and bless His name forever.  Jesus receives your worship here, even as He gives you the sign of life in Him.


Psalm 145:10-21
All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You.
11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
12 To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.[c]

14 The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.

Free Now

The scene from Braveheart is classic.  Instead of begging for mercy, he cries freedom, and dies.  Through that sacrifice, the scots go on to fight and win their freedom.  Now for us, It is the Son of God whose death wins our freedom, not just from political tyranny, but something far worse - from the curse of the law.  From God’s condemnation of you.

And you have no more battles to fight, to be justified before God.  Skirmishes with sin remain of course, but by faith in Christ, you are free from condemnation forever.  Right now.  Rejoice!


1/29/17
Assurance of pardon

2.16.2017

Proud Patriarchs // Valentine // Raise Hands // Triumphant Children

I don't often refer to Tim Bayly's writing, but thought this was good.  He seems to be inferring that certain, specific people promoting patriarchy have pride problems, which is problematic, of course.  But it's a good general warning for all of us.


A couple days late, the civil disobedience of Saint Valentine.  Thanks, Uri!


Stuart Bryan reminds us why we raise hands in worship at certain points.
Just a teaser: it's not when the music cranks up or you get emotional during the song...


RB Kuiper on what happens to the children of believers who die in the womb, or early infancy.
This is pure gold.

2.15.2017

Sermons online

Sermons from the last 4 months are up at the church website, or at wordmp3.com

Book Review: Should We Seek All the Spiritual Gifts?

Tim Challies has an excellent review here of Sam Storms' new book, "Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit into Your Life."

I would urge all my friends who seek the exercise of the spiritual gifts of healing, tongues, prophecy, etc. in their lives today, to read this review.

2.14.2017

Quotable Tuesday: Missing Worship & the God/Man

"We shall all do well to remember the charge: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.” (Heb. 10:25). Never to be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason—never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation—never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. The very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer and praise from which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would have cheered, established, and revived our hearts. We know very little how dependent our spiritual health is on little, regular, habitual helps, and how much we suffer if we miss our medicine."
—J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 20:24-31
HT: Randy Booth




"If it is only man’s nature which is to be acknowledged [in the person of Christ], where is the Godhead Which saves? if only God’s, where is the humanity which is saved?"

Pope Leo the Great - sermon 91

2.13.2017

Lord's Supper as Door and Window

When you’re trying to watch the game and somebody is standing in the middle of the room, you might say, “You make a better door than a window.”

Well, This sacrament is both door and window.

A door distinguishes who is inside from who is outside.  While everyone is invited to Christ, only those who have accepted the invitation should partake.  Communion puts a visible difference between believers and unbelievers.

The Lord’s Supper is also a window.  We are not meant to look AT it, but THROUGH it, to the Lord Jesus.  Do this in remembrance of me.  It’s possible to take communion a thousand times, without really coming to Christ.  The Israelites received manna and water from the rock countless times, but most died unbelieving in the desert.  And we believe some distinctive things about communion:  partake weekly.  Covenant children should partake, too.  Wine is proper element for the cup.  This is all looking AT the sacrament.  Jesus might put it like this: “you take communion, because you think that in this you have life; but this testifies of Me.”


This is why the Psalms speak so often of seeking God’s face.  Our faith does involve a set a beliefs.  But at its core it’s about faith in the personal being who is God, and communion with Him.  Seek His face today.  Come to the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender.



Psalm 105:1-4
    Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
    Call upon His name;
    Make known His deeds among the peoples!
    2      Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
    Talk of all His wondrous works!
    3      Glory in His holy name;
    Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
    4      Seek the LORD and His strength;
    Seek His face evermore!

Dance for Us!

Matthew 11:16-19
"But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, 17 and saying:
    ‘We played the flute for you,
      And you did not dance;
    We mourned to you,
      And you did not lament.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children."


Jesus says the people He came to, were children, not satisfied with their entertainment.  How was the comedy?  It didn’t make me laugh much.  How was the tear jerker?  Not that sad.  They weren’t happy with anything, with John’s rigorous fasting or with the feasting of Jesus.  Why?  Because they had themselves calling the tune and expecting Jesus to dance what they wanted.  But Jesus is the Savior that wretches like us need, not a performer or a guru to make us feel good about ourselves. 

2/5/17 

12.30.2016

Severus, Vincent, Cassian

Product Details


Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2, Vol. 11: Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian
by Philip Schaff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I began reading this series about two months ago. There is an online schedule that has you read 7 pages a day for 7 years to get through them all! I started where the schedule was, instead of with volume 1, page 1.

I picked a doozie to start with, apparently. Severus and Vincent and Cassian wrote in the 400s, A.D., mostly about how monks should order their lives, food, prayers, thoughts, clothes, etc. They catalogue virtues and vices, praise specific saints and monks for their asceticism, and decry monks that give it up and go back to their wives (!).

The huge star that shines in this comparative darkness is the last entry: Cassian's seven books on the Incarnation of the Lord, against Nestorius. A brilliant polemic against Arianism, Cassian makes many Scriptural and rational arguments for the full deity of Christ, rebuffing every possible and subtle heresy that would assert Jesus was less than God from all eternity.  THAT was worth reading!



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Sonnets

Shakespeare's SonnetsShakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


At times soaring, at times indecipherable, Shakespeare’s sonnets are great literature indeed.

They aren’t your typical love poems, though. Many are about how time is eating away at his lover’s appearance, or how she is too low for him, or that he shouldn’t love her. In spite of these and other negative descriptions, he loves her anyway.

Not very romantic, on the surface. But they do get you thinking deeply about love, especially for those who have experienced it for a decade or three.

Here’s a sample exploration of lust from number 129:
“Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action….
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad….
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows, yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.”



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Two Noble Kinsmen

The Two Noble KinsmenThe Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Noble cousins Arcite and Palamon see and love the same woman and fight over her. They duel, but are caught by the king. They each refuse to yield to the other, so King Theseus sets a wrestling contest – the winner will get the girl. Arcite appeals to Mars, the god of war, so wins the fight. But Palamon appeals to Venus, the god of love. Arcite dies in a horse riding accident after the fight, and Palamon gets the girl.

Love makes you do crazy things, or go crazy.

Much of the play is taken with the girl they fight over – her agony over it all. And with the jailer’s daughter, who literally goes crazy, loving Palamon.

This is a retelling of Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, and Shakespeare was a co-author.



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Henry VIII

Henry VIIIHenry VIII by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Henry VIII

Shakespeare retells the history of Henry putting away his noble first wife Catherine and marrying Anne Boleyn. The Cardinal falls, but not before putting a lot of innocent people to death for his own agenda. Anne gives birth to Elizabeth at the end, and much is made of how great she will be. She, of course, is reigning as Shakespeare writes!

The prologue was amusing: this isn’t going to be a happy play. It’s hard to face your country’s own ugly history.

Comparatively for Shakespeare, the writing was flat and seemed hastily done. He moves the plot along quickly with gentlemen talking in the street about what has happened, which seemed clunky and artificial. It’s still good literature, though, and worth the read for the history, too.




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