Bible reading and talking to animals

I took a break from a scheduled Scripture reading plan from the New Year until today.
I'll post devotional or random thoughts occasionally from my reading plan.

Side note: Logos Bible software is the cadillac of Bible software. I don't even know most of the features involved in what I have, but when I tried to figure out how to adjust a reading plan from today until the end of the year, it took me only 3-5 minutes to have done!

I'm reading straight through, OT and NT, Psalms and Proverbs every day.

First thought:
Genesis 1:22 - "And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
The first time God speaks TO His creatures is not to Adam, but to the fish and birds. I think this is an indicator that they are a higher life than plants. God does not speak to the plants, but does to the animals. People ought to treat fish and birds differently than plants. They are a higher life than vegetation, but lower than mankind.

Different levels of importance in doing Communion

We could do Communion differently. You could come forward and receive the elements up front.  We could use a common cup, or unleavened bread from time to time. These are minor issues we can deal with when the pastor gets a wild hair.

Then there are confessional issues, or things that define us as a church: we believe this is a covenant renewal ceremony that involves our children. We really commune in a spiritually nourishing way with the person of Christ at this table, but not physically in the bread and wine.

Finally there are core Gospel truths this meal re-presents: Jesus’s body was torn, He bled, He died, He laid down His life to give you food and drink from the tree of life. Adam’s race needs this food and drink, since we died spiritually after grabbing for ourselves food from the other tree. Our misery is greater than we know; our deliverance is more than we can understand. Our gratitude grows each time we partake.

But as we partake, receive one another in the Lord. Discern His Body of believers communing around you. Live Gospel guidelines: receive as brothers those who could be or are your enemies. Give them food and drink, needed words, tangible love.


Unmet expectations lead to sin

We’ve all had it where we want something, but God doesn’t give it to us. Our expectations are not met – someone let us down. We are disappointed and we lash out in anger at them. Or, maybe we think we’ve lived a hard life of self-denial and God owes us some reward, but it doesn’t seem to come. So we carry around a burden of being disappointed, even with God. But the real problem is wanting what we think He owes us. This is a recipe for anger, disillusionment, and apostasy. The solution is humble confession, seeing yourself as a sinner, and knowing God’s grace.


Lent and Fasting

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day in the 40-day season of Lent before Easter.

Here are excerpts from this excellent Ash Wednesday sermon by Toby Sumpter.

"If the season of Lent is an annual, concentrated reminder of the call of discipleship, the call to follow Jesus, then Lent is dangerous.
"Lent is dangerous because there is historical controversy associated with it. While it had been celebrated for over a thousand years by the time of Calvin, there was so much superstition associated with it that he counseled against keeping Lent. Lent is dangerous because there are a number of ways to celebrate it badly: morbid introspection, conjuring up vague guilt and feeling holy for it, prideful abstaining from food and drink, looking down on those who don’t celebrate. False humility is as easy as lighting a dead Christmas tree on fire. One little spark and we puff up.

"But Lent is dangerous ultimately because the cross is dangerous. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). To those who want to find another way to grace, another path to mercy, the cross is an offense (Gal. 5:11). The sinful heart of man is offended by grace, offended by the folly of the cross. We would rather be proud in all sorts of ways.
"if you plan to fast during Lent, do not kid yourself into thinking that fasting is the same thing as suffering for Jesus. Just because the pastor said that Lent is dangerous doesn’t mean you’re being a great risk taker by abstaining from chocolate or coffee or beer. ..
"The point of abstaining, the point of taking the cross upon your brow, the point of prayer and fasting, the point of all this must be evangelistic, inviting the gospel to fill our lives, our families, our communities....
"And if you fast, let your fasting and prayer be toward particular ends, particular needs, particular hurts, not vague feelings. Fasting does not benefit us. Fasting is a bodily posture. Just as you might kneel or lift your hands in prayer, so too fasting is a posture of humility and urgency. Some of you need to learn to fast and pray. You might dedicate one day a week, one meal a week, you might do it individually, or as a family. But the point is not for a show of piety, the point is not to harness some mystical power. The point is to cry out to God. Peter says that humility is evidenced in casting all our cares upon the God who cares for us. Some of you need to cry out to God because you haven’t been. Some of you need to cry out to God because you’ve been carrying all your cares yourself, because you are weighed down with burdens and stress and fear and unbelief. Use this season of Lent to repent. Set aside time to pray, to pour out your heart to the Lord. And pray it out. Pray until it’s all out. Pray your cares on to the God who cares for you.


Delightful Rushdoony, on the role of women

"[Eve's] God-given position was such that counsel was her normal duty.... Martin Luther, who dearly loved his Katie, on one occasion vowed, 'If I were to marry again, I would hew a meek wife out of stone: for I doubt whether any other kind be meek.' His biographer... properly asks, 'How would he have fared with a meek wife?' The answer clearly is, not too well"  (Institutes of Biblical Law, pg. 348).

"The Age of Reason saw man as reason incarnate, and woman as emotion and will, and therefore inferior. The thesis of the Age of Reason has been that the government of all things should be committed to reason. The Age of Reason opposed the Age of Faith self-consciously. Religion was deemed to be woman's business, and, the more the Enlightenment spread, the more church life came to be the domain of women and children.... Just as religion came to be regarded as a useless but sometimes charming ornament, so too women were similarly regarded" (349).

"The tragedy of the women's rights movement was that, although it had serious wrongs to correct, it added to the problem.... Instead of restoring women to their rightful place of authority beside man, women's rights became feminism: it put women in competition with men. It led to the masculinization of women and feminization of men, to the unhappiness of both" (351).

Read the contract again

Every week we hear again Jesus’ words which He said in the upper room: this cup is the new covenant in my blood. The point of this meal is to remind us of Christ’s death on the cross, and for that reminder to draw us to thanksgiving and communion with God. He made covenant promises to bless Abraham’s descendants for 1000s of years, and he said this is my covenant: be circumcised. This is my covenant, and he sprinkled sacrificial blood on Israel, on us. In Christ all those promises are yes and fulfilled. As we believe in Christ we are Abraham’s children, heirs of our father’s estate. So this cup is the covenant. Every week God wants us to haul out the contract and read it again, because He loves us. And because He loves us He wants us assured of His love. Receive this covenant grace offered through Christ. It is for you and your children. It is also for those far off, yet to hear and believe this good news.


Distracted by Politics

“There is yet another evil, though of a different kind, which we descry in the present state of society, and which from painful observation has been often pressed upon us as a great hindrance to the revival of living piety – namely, the deep and wide-spread political character of society...from the highest to the lowest ranks of society every man is more or less a politician, and with multitudes politics forms such an engrossing theme as to consume nearly the whole of their leisure thought and reading and converse.”

Amen. A great evil and hindrance to piety, indeed.

What is baptism about, more theologically?

From some correspondence with a friend...

I like the joint FV statement on baptism and justification, and don't think it conflicts with Westminster Confession 28:6, which is quite striking in its language about what baptism does... for the faithful. That's the rub. What does baptism do for those who do not come to faith? I think traditional Reformed thought has been silent or said it does nothing. Federal Vision says baptism brings them into the church, and they partake of Christ non-savingly for a time, looking to make sense of John 15:1-5 and Heb 6:4 ish thereby. I don't find this heterodox, so long as it doesn't lead to the view that the sacraments automatically work salvation, which I don't think it does, inherently. If that is the concern, I can deny baptismal regeneration all day long, that sacraments do not save in themselves, etc. But they are more than a symbol, or we are Zwinglians. They are efficacious means of salvation, as our confessions (Westminster) assume and assert.

What is baptism about?

David writes in Psalm 139 that God saw and formed and knew all his days, when he was still in his mother’s womb. He also writes in Psalm 51 that he was full of sin when he was born, in sin when he was conceived. Life begins at conception, but so does sin. This is not something that we have medicine for. It is beyond the power of parents to remove sin. But Jesus Christ has provided the cure at the cross, and he puts the means of redemption and sanctification at our disposal. It is our calling to submit to the cure and proceed with the means of healing. So parents present their children for baptism in the church, much as they might bring them to the hospital for physical healing.

Jesus Christ established baptism just before His ascension, when He commissioned His disciples to go with His authority and make disciples by baptising them. Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s covenant of grace with us, picturing our union with Christ and washing away of our sins. We are washed in His blood, represented by the water. Jesus Christ overruled the disciples when they wanted to keep little children from Him, for of such is the kingdom of God. As we are sons of Abraham by faith in Christ, our children receive the sign of the covenant as Abraham’s children did.

This is a formal ceremony acknowledging a covenant reality: Nathan and Whitney’s child is set apart as a child of believers, to be a member of the church, to confess Christ, and to fight sin in the world, in her flesh, and from the devil. Baptism is not just our testimony of our faith at this point in time. More importantly, God places His name and grace upon His people for their whole lives. God calls us to baptize our children, and as we baptize, He calls us to trust that the Spirit undoes the spiritual deadness we are all born with, at His time and way.


Great Monday morning quote on work

"[Work] is the God-given menas whereby man establishes dominion over the earth and realizes his calling under God.... Escape from work is a common desire among men.... they turn to play as a substitute for work. Socialist dreamers [Marx] capitalize on man's frustration.... The result is that man shows a chronic discontent combined with self-righteousness.... An age in which actors and actresses are public idols and heroes is a world of make-believe.... An actor-dominated society... is a consumption-centered society: it progressively loses its capacity to produce."

R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, pg 310-312.


Insightful and weird, from one page to the next

The more I read of Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law, the more insightful I find him, and the more off base in other areas. To borrow a phrase, sometimes he's on to something, and sometimes he's on something.

He notes that church and state both have a responsibility to kill and make alive: to punish sin and crime, and to provide charity and governance. If church or state only kills, it is tyranny. If they only make alive, they compromise truth by not judging against sin or crime. Great stuff.

Then in the following pages he advocates "total avoidance of... violations of 'kinds.'" (256). This means no hybrid plants or "futile experimentation, such as organ transplants, which represent sterile and limited gains" (262). Hm. Besides rejecting the Westminsterian categories of ritual or civil law as applying only to Israel, this denies some life-saving scientific gains (kidney and heart transplants!) which violate no biblical law.

Rushdoony makes an insightful connection in the kind category of not being unequally yoked, as applying to inter-religious marriage. But then he goes on to say, "The burden of the law is thus against inter-religious, inter-racial, and inter-cultural marriages" (257). He

But he insightfully connects the laws calling for kindness to animals to the sixth commandment. He goes on for several pages against pesticides in farming, which I'm not sure I agree with. But then hits some zingers home: "The myth that technology is the solution to all of our problems, however, is being questioned more an more" (259). "Man therefore must work in harmony with creation.... It is all the same a fallen world. To ascribe perfection to it, and to assume that the 'natural' way is the perfect way is not Christian but humanistic. Because the world is fallen, and the ground itself under a curse (Gen 3:17-18), what is natural is not therefore of necessity good (262)."

All in all, that's pretty balanced, I'd say. Work in harmony with creation, taking dominion, but the natural is not the standard.


The Lord HAS done great things for us

Opening prayer for worship, from psalm 126

Lord God in heaven, you have brought us out of bondage and captivity into Your marvelous light, into Your kingdom, and sometimes it is like a dream to us. We are so amazed and overwhelmed by your grace. Other times we are unimpressed and bored with Your majesty, and we pray You would keep us from such callousness now. Fill our mouths with laughter and our tongues with singing. You have done great things for us, and we are glad. Many of us are sowing tears these days, as You place trials and difficulties in our path, by Your good providence. We continually go forth weeping. Yet you O Lord know how to turn grieving into dancing. You have done it many times before. You have done it in Your Son’s death, then resurrection. So we praise You for turning our present weeping and laboring into future joy and fruitfulness. Thank you for the fruit of souls coming to you day by day, empowered by Your Spirit’s work. Thank you for sending Him to us to fuel the expansion of Your Son’s kingdom.
We come to you through Your risen Son Jesus Christ, by the power of Your Holy Spirit who lives and reigns with You, one God without beginning or end. Amen.

Sin is lack of faith

Romans 14:23 - "whatever is not from faith is sin."

All sin is faithlessness. The sin that condemns is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, calling Him evil when He points us to the Savior. This is a rejection of faith in the Lord Jesus. But every other sin we commit, is a lack of faith, too. In fact, any thing we do can be sin if we do it without faith. Faith does good works; disbelief brings sin. The ultimate sin that separates us from God is not believing Him. When you sin, get back to the heart of the matter. Confess your behavior, but then confess the lack of faith causing it. Ask for God to change your heart to be loyal and loving of Him again.


That you may live long in the land... today?

Today I had a great communication lesson. A church member said that in my latest sermon on honoring your parents, I limited the promise in the fifth commandment only to Israel. I didn't think I had, and don't think that's true - Paul doesn't limit it, in Ephesians 6:1-3, obviously.

So I checked my notes.

Low and behold, through a deadly combination of omission and qualification, it's easy to see how they heard such a limitation. Here is the paragraph from my notes, with some all caps added now to fix it.

"This promise is made to Israel as a nation, for how long they would be in the land of Canaan. [SHOULD HAVE ADDED HERE, THAT THE PROMISE CONTINUES TO APPLY TO US!!] It would be a mistake to take this promise individualistically. Sometimes those who follow God’s ways closely have a very hard time of it in life, and die young. We have no proof statistically that obedient Christians live longer lives than unbelievers. That is not the point. The point is that communities and extended families that honor their parents and authorities have a solid and lasting foundation, not a disintegrating culture. Promise refers [AS A GENERAL PRINCIPLE ON EARTH, AND FULFILLED FULLY IN] to new heavens and earth. The meek shall inherit the earth, but not every individual in their earthly life."

I spent so much time qualifying the promise, so that we don't have to doubt God's Word if a faithful Christian dies young. But I forgot to say first that this promise DOES apply to God's people today as a general principle.

So the lesson I learned is to objectively explain the basic truth, before jumping to lean a certain way with it in application.


A firm anchor to ascend to the ship

(Ascension Sunday)
David resolves to pray to God in the morning, to direct his thoughts and prayers to God and to look up [Psalm 5:3]. We are called to set our mind on things above, where Christ is. At the Lord’s Table, God has given us a place from which to hope. Think of it as an anchor at the bottom of the sea. We cry out to God from the depths, with a solid anchor among us so we know our sure hope. That anchor is connected to the ship on the surface, and the captain of our salvation commands the craft. He will see us safely on board. On Ascension Sunday remember that He has already gone up the rope to the ship. And He has not forgotten you. The tie that now binds us is the Spirit, who unites us to heaven by the cross of Christ. Blest be that tie, and may your joy increase in your sweet fellowship with the Lord.


Confess it to the One who died for it

Hebrews 9:24-26
"For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."

Christ ascended to heaven for us. His incarnation as a man was for us. His faithful sacrifice on the cross was to put away sin for us. His resurrection was for us. And His ascension was to appear in the presence of God for us. This gives us courage to confess our sins completely and openly to our God. Jesus who died for our sin is right there with God, accepted and honored by God.


Murder, zealots and crusaders

It is generally recognized that the government has the power of the sword, in warfare and capital punishment, which does not violate the sixth commandment against murder.

a Brakel, the Dutch Reformation minister notes the Anabaptist objection: "having had a bad experience at Munster [!]... they advance Matthew 5:39-40, 44: [turn the other cheek... resist not evil]. These texts do not refer to the work of civil authorities, for they have been commanded to do so.... The Lord Jesus speaks of private individuals... of taking the sword and not of receiving the sword form God (Rom 13:4)."

That last turn of phrase made me think of the zealots, who spoke of themselves as having taken up the sword. I believe the crusaders spoke this way, too. I'm not saying all zealots and crusaders were murderers, but they were misguided in their use of the sword. It would be like a soldier in an unjust war, who really thinks he is doing right. What category of sin or evil is that?

Once again we see the ditch on both sides of God's road. The left ditch of no resistance - pacifism as a government. Unilateral disarmament and all that. Romans 13 speaks against this. The right ditch of taking up the sword in righteous indignation against a real evil, where there is no authority to do so. Jesus speaks against this in telling Peter to put his sword away, in Gethsemane.



I'm preaching through the Ten Commandments right now, and have gathered quite a stack of resources. It was on the left side of my computer Monday, and now it's on the right side. In case you can't see them, they are

Reformed Confessions Harmonized - Beeke and Ferguson
Romans - Boice
Exodus - Sarna (Jewish Publication Society)
Westminster Shorter Catechism - Williamson
Comfort and Joy - Kuyvenhoven (Heidelberg commentary)
Good News we almost forgot - DeYoung (Heidelberg commentary)
Foundations of the Christian Faith - Boice
Systematic Theology - Hodge
Triple Knowledge - Herman Hoeksema (Heidelberg commentary)
Christian's Reasonable Service - Wilhelmus a Brakel
Institutes of Biblical Law - Rushdoony
Ten Commandments - Thomas Watson
Institutes - John Calvin

Now it's time to wrap up the sermon writing...


Pray-ers and fighters partake

One theme this morning (from Psalm 4) is that God hears the prayers of the faithful and gives us joy and peace. The wicked have no such assurance. This is all played out for us at the Lord’s Table. Where true faith comes to this table, God really unites us to Christ, strengthens that union, feeds our souls with Christ. He gives us joy and peace, rest and renewal here.

But pretenders God does not hear. This table will hurt them, not help them. Coming here to play along, get along, or get on some one’s good side, without really loving the Lord Jesus defiles this table. Do not partake if that’s really what you’re doing. But if you are struggling with a besetting sin, even if you are losing most of the time, if you are fighting it, then come and receive strength to fight better, in Christ. Partaking here is one way we pray to God for strength to be faithful, even while we remember and thank Jesus for being faithful for us at the cross.


Uncover your sin, and God cleans and covers it

Isaiah 1:12-15, 18
          “When you come to appear before Me, 
          Who has required this from your hand, 
          To trample My courts? 
    13      Bring no more futile sacrifices; 
          Incense is an abomination to Me. 
          The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— 
          I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 
    14      Your New Moons and your appointed feasts 
          My soul hates; 
          They are a trouble to Me, 
          I am weary of bearing them. 
    15      When you spread out your hands, 
          I will hide My eyes from you; 
          Even though you make many prayers, 
          I will not hear. 
          Your hands are full of blood. 
    18      “Come now, and let us reason together,” 
          Says the LORD, 
          “Though your sins are like scarlet, 
          They shall be as white as snow; 
          Though they are red like crimson, 
          They shall be as wool. 

Because of Israel’s ongoing, unrepentant sin, God hated their worship, their prayers of confession. He would not listen. Like Israel, we must live consistent lives of integrity. We may not live how we want to during the week, and cover it by coming here and feeling guilty for an hour or so, and then go right back to living how we want. We get reacquainted in worship with how God wants us to live, and then go do it. If we’ve got a big wall up between the two, God won’t listen to what you’re saying here. This doesn’t mean we have to be sinless for a week before God will save us. It means we must truly grieve for our sins and resolve and strive to put our sin away.


Look through, to the Lord's faithfulness

Genesis 15:1-9
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” 
2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” 
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. 
7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” 
8 And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” 
9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Abraham’s trial was waiting 25 years for his first child, which God had promised. God’s word was true. Abraham trusted Him. He also gave Abraham a way to trust Him, with a sacrifice to confirm His promise. We have the same promise as Abraham, now fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice at the cross. God has given us a way to trust His work at the cross, here at the table. Every week here we speak His words and pray, renewing our covenant with the Lord, recalling His promises and our duties. We do not look at this table, but through it to Christ. David did not look at the ark, but through it to Yahweh. Abraham did not look at sacrifices, but through them to the Lord. Taste, and see that the Lord is good. Whatever your trials, recall here the truth that conquers them all: Jesus died for you.



Royally feasting

Revelation 11:15-18
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying: 
          “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, 
          The One who is and who was and who is to come, 
          Because You have taken Your great power and reigned. 
    18      The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, 
          And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, 
          And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, 
          And those who fear Your name, small and great, 
          And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” 

We sit at a royal table, with King Jesus. Psalm 2 focuses on warnings to kings. It reminds us of the power and judgment of King Jesus. We should also remember the good things kings do for their people while we are here. King Jesus offers you a place in His kingdom. Only He can do that, and He has done it. You sit at this table as a sign of that citizenship. King Jesus gives us a government so we can live orderly, regular, faithful lives. This includes our families, the state, and the church. The table is one statute He has given for our provision. King Jesus rewards our obedience and corrects us in our sin. These both happen here, too. Our fellowship is sweet as we are faithful to Him. Our consciences are burdened when we are in sin – He prods us to purity here. He restrains and conquers our enemies, vindicating our faith and His glory in the end. We eat in the presence of enemies here, sin and temptation within us, sinners among us, persecutors and mockers around us. But in the regeneration sitting at the King’s table, there will be no enemies. Hallelujah!

Abominable sins, repudiated

2 Chron 33
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them… And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger... 9 So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.  
10 And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks,
 bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. 14 After this …15 He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem; and he cast them out of the city. 16 He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.

There are several lessons to be learned from this text as we prepare to confess our sins. One is how wicked we can be, and the Lord will still plead with us to repent. There are sins discretely listed here that are as bad as some of the worst we can think up happening today. If we DO repent of those sins, God receives and forgives us. Even Manasseh was restored. Another lesson to learn is that God sometimes brings hard correction to us when we won’t listen to His Word and Spirit. If we repent after that, God doesn’t reject us, but receives and blesses us. A final lesson to learn here is the power of example. You can lead others into sin, as Manasseh seduced Judah. Or you can call upon friends, children, siblings, to serve the Lord. Either one will have an effect on others. It is not only kings who influence in this way. Part of our repentance of sin needs to include how we’ve caused others to stumble.


Taste of Sabbath

The Taste of Sabbath: How to Delight in God's RestThe Taste of Sabbath: How to Delight in God's Rest by Stuart Bryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another short book I read in preparation for a sermon on the Sabbath. Stuart Bryan is also a pastor in my denomination. This book offers some unique argumentation for Sabbath keeping mainly from Isaiah 56 (see verse 4). I found it intriguing and persuasive - a good contribution to the same old proof-texts.

Practical application also abounds in this collection of sermons.

View all my reviews

The Day God Made

The Day God MadeThe Day God Made by Glen Knecht
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short book by an esteemed, elder-statesman pastor in my presbytery is well worth your time reading on a Sunday afternoon.

I read it in preparation for a sermon on the fourth (Sabbath) commandment.

Pastor Knecht assumes more than argues for the Westminsterian view of the Sabbath (it is moved to Sunday and the whole day should be taken up in worship, reflection, and works of mercy or maintenance). Insights and practical applications abound, like this:

"By having to separate out in our lives what is appropriate for Sabbath activity, we will recognize what a stronghold the pleasures and ways of the world have taken upon our minds and imaginations."

View all my reviews


Our spiritual blindspots

This post on communication blindspots by Nancy Wilson is geared for women, but easily applicable to all.

Good, practical, sanctifying wisdom here.


Rushdoony on Oaths

"All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion. But the key to remedying the situation is NOT revolution, nor any kind of resistance that works to subvert law and order. The NT abounds in warnings against disobedience and in summons to peace. The key is regeneration, propagation of the gospel, and the conversion of men and nations to God's law-word. Meanwhile, the existing law-order must be respected, and neighboring law-orders must be respected as far as is possible without offense to one's own faith. The pagan law-order represents the faith and religion of the people; it is better than anarchy, and it does provide a God-given framework of existence under which God's work can be furthered. The modern perspective leads to revolutionary intolerance..." - Pg 113-114

We have arrived; but still fighting

Just read in Hoeksema's Triple Knowledge commentary on Heidelberg, than Canaan is a type (Biblical symbol) of our rest in Christ, as Egypt is a type of our bondage in sin.

This made an eschatological (end times) point come clear to me.

Most evangelical believers consider themselves in the desert symbolically, having come out of Egypt, but not yet entered Canaan/glory. Songs of crossing Jordan, meaning dying, come to mind.

But I think I've come to believe that as believers we have entered the rest symbolized by Canaan. This is one reason John and Jesus baptized at the Jordan. We have entered Canaan in our regeneration, conversion and belief in Christ. We have entered that rest (Hebrews 4). We have inherited the land.

We are in the book of Joshua, not Numbers, symbolically speaking. Not that Numbers doesn't apply, obviously.) We have come into the land, baptized in the river, and called to fight back His enemies (preach to and convert them) in the land that is and will be ours in Christ.

This is not an "over-realized" eschatology, as some accuse. The enemies are still among us, we must fight, we have not yet won completely, and the judgment and consummation await. But have come to our final rest, spiritually, in Christ (Heb. 4:9-11).

This is an important point, because as believers we tend to hunker down and just wait out the pagans' occupation of the earth until the Lord comes to sweep us away. This seriously hampers evangelistic effort. We have lost the war inside, before we ever engage with anyone about the Lord Christ.

No, we are now in the land we will inherit. We are the heirs. The wicked will be blown away like chaff, but we will stand, in the judgment. Take confidence from this, not that you are invulnerable, but that Jesus has called you to a work that He will finish.