Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Spending?

Advent Consipiracy

Samaritan's Purse

The Reformed Pastor - Summary of Christian Religion

Baxter provides what he calls " the sum of the Christian religion in a few words":

You must know, that from everlasting there was one God, who had no beginning, and will have no end, who is not a body as we are, but a most pure, spiritual Being, that knoweth all things, and can do all things; and hath all goodness and blessedness in himself. This God is but one, but yet Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, in a manner that is above our understanding. And you must know, that this one God did make all the world by his Word; the heavens he made to be the place of his glory, and a multitude of holy angels to serve him. But some of these did, by pride or some other sin, fall from their high estate, and are become devils, and shall be miserable for ever. When he had created the earth, he made man, as his noblest creature here below, even one man and one woman, Adam and Eve; and he made them perfect, without any sin, and put them into the garden of Eden, and forbade them to eat of one tree in the garden, and told them that if they ate of it they should die. But the devil, who had first fallen himself, did tempt them to sin, and they yielded to his temptation, and thus fell under the curse of God’s law. But God, of his infinite wisdom and mercy, did send his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be their Redeemer, who, in the fullness of time, was made man, being born of a virgin, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and lived on earth, among the Jews, about thirty-three years, during which time he preached the gospel himself, and wrought many miracles to prove his doctrine, healing the lame, the blind, the sick, and raising the dead by his Divine power; and in the end he was offered upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins to bear that curse which we should have borne.

‘And now, if sinners will but believe in him, and repent of their sins, he will freely pardon all that is past, and will sanctify their corrupted nature, and will at length bring them to his heavenly kingdom and glory. But if they make light of their sins and of his mercy, he will condemn them to everlasting misery in hell. This gospel, Christ, having risen from the dead on the third day, appointed his ministers to preach to all the world; and when he had given this in charge to all his apostles, he ascended up into heaven, before their faces, where he is now in glory, with God the Father, in our nature. And at the end of this world, he will come again in our nature, and will raise the dead to life again, and bring them all before him, that they may "give an account of all the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil." If, therefore, you mean to be saved, you must believe in Christ, as the only Savior from the wrath to come; you must repent of your sins; you must, in short, be wholly new creatures, or there will be no salvation for you.’ (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 244-245)

How many Christians (or even ministers) today could express the Biblical message so completely in so "few words"?

The Reformed Pastor - Pattern for Instruction

I confess, some of these words of Paul have been so often presented before my eyes, and impressed upon my conscience, that I have been much convinced by them of my duty and my neglect. And I think this one speech better deserveth a twelvemonth’s study, than most things that young students spend their time upon. O brethren! write it on your study doors – set it in capital letters as your copy, that it may be ever before your eyes. Could we but well learn two or three lines of it, what preachers should we be!

[a] Our general business – Serving the lord with all humility of mind and with many tears.

[b] Our special work – Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock.

[c] Our doctrine – Repentance toward God and faith toward our lord Jesus Christ.

[d] The place and manner of teaching – I have taught you publicly and from house to house.

[e] His diligence, earnestness, and affection – I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. This is that which must win souls, and preserve them.

[f] His faithfulness – I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, and have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

[g] His disinterestedness and self-denial for the sake of the gospel – I have coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel: yea these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me remembering the words of the lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

[h] His patience and perseverance – None of these things move me neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the lord Jesus.

[i] His prayerfulness – I commend you to god and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

[j] His purity of conscience – Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men.

Write all this upon your hearts, and it will do yourselves and the Church more good than twenty years’ study of those lower things, which, though they may get you greater applause in the world, yet, if separated from these, they will make you but as ‘sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.’ (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 229-230)

The Reformed Pastor - Ministerial failings

This explains quite a bit:

I am, therefore, forced to say, that hence arises the chief misery of the Church, THAT SO MANY ARE MADE MINISTERS BEFORE THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 222)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's Play a Little Game


* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.

* Turn to page 56.

* Find the fifth sentence.

* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall/blog

* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

What a poor business is it to themselves, to spend their time in acquiring some little knowledge of the works of God, and of some of those names which the divided tongues of the nations have imposed on them, and not to know God himself, nor exalt him in their hearts, nor to be acquainted with that one renewing work that should make them happy! (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 56)

This was about 2" closer to me than my Bible, due to the fact that I read it this morning after my Bible reading.

HT: The Sola Panel

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm Confused

Baptist Press reports today that the Southern Baptist North American Missions Board (NAMB) has received criticism for its handling of the "GPS - God's Plan for Sharing" initiative. The criticism is that NAMB has not set aside funding for media blitzing related to this initiative as has been the historical practice for previous national evangelistic efforts.

Here is where my confusion comes in. GPS includes the following components:
  • Praying
  • Engaging
  • Sowing
  • Harvesting
Southern Baptists are to pray for and engage the lost, sow the seed of the Gospel, and harvest the results through their churches. Why do you need any media dollars to do any of this? Is this a classic case of "we have always done it that way", and the critics don't know that personal evangelism is far more effective than any national media campaign?

I have been in Southern Baptist life since 1972. Since that time I have seen and participated in the "I found It", "Good News, America", "Celebrate Jesus, 2000" and "Here's Life" campaigns (along with others that I have forgotten). I don't remember any of them being particularly effective. Maybe instead of doing it like we have in the past there is a need to get back to Biblical basics.

How much money does it cost to pray for lost people? None. (I certainly hope that Baptists don't need to pay people to pray.)

How much money does it cost to engage lost people in relationship? None. (However, it might just cost you your comfort and/or your life.)

How much money does it cost to sow the seed of the Gospel? Possibly a small amount if you provide Bibles or New Testaments and tracts, but it could be done for free. (Just how much did the Day of Pentecost cost?)

How much money does it cost to harvest new believers into our congregations? Very little. (In fact, if they are true converts they will pay their own way as the Lord directs their pocketbooks.)

How much national advertising and media purchases does any of this require? Zero, zip, zilch, nothing. (In fact, this type of media "blitzing" may prove counterproductive to this type of grassroots evangelism.)

Maybe I am just confused and the critics are correct, but I think that it is the other way around.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gospel Preaching

Gospel preaching is all about the content. The context may vary, but the content never changes.

HT: Timmy Brister

The Reformed Pastor - Reformation on our terms?

Reformation is to many of us, as the Messiah was to the Jews. Before he came, they looked and longed for him, and boasted of him, and rejoiced in hope of him; but when he came they could not abide him, but hated him, and would not believe that he was indeed the person, and therefore persecuted and put him to death, to the curse and confusion of the main body of their nation. ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. But who may abide the day of his coming and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.’ And the reason was, because it was another manner of Christ that the Jews expected; it was one who would bring them riches and liberty, and to this day they profess that they will never believe in any but such. So it is with too many about reformation. They hoped for a reformation, that would bring them more wealth and honor with the people, and power to force men to do what they would have them: and now they see a reformation, that must put them to more condescension and pains than they were ever at before. They thought of having the opposers of godliness under their feet, but now they see they must go to them with humble entreaties, and put their hands under their feet, if they would do them good, and meekly beseech even those that sometime sought their lives, and make it now their daily business to overcome them by kindness, and win them with love. O how many carnal expectations are here crossed!

(pg. 191-192, The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter)

What a shame it would be if we miss God's best by demanding what we want.

Not as crazy as some other ideas floating around

I was home sick on Tuesday, with a 24 hour bug of some type. In between catching up on some reading, and getting a couple of naps, I saw a little bit of Fox News. One item in particular jumped out at me, when Neil Cavuto, in exasperation, made a comment that maybe it would be cheaper and more effective to give every man woman and child $100,000.00 instead of bailing out the industries that have put us in our present mess.

Neil is not alone, here is a template for you to use to petition the president elect to act in a similar way.

Now, I am the first to admit that the whole idea of bailouts, on any level, turns my stomach. Being free means that you are free to fail. Many of America's greatest successes experienced numerous, and character defining, failures prior to hitting it big. However, if we have to have bailouts, why not apply them at the lowest level and let the American people (after all, it is their money) decide which industries get that money.

As I put my mind to it, I see the following happening if every Tom, Dick, Harry, and little Timmy received a clear $100K:

  • GM wouldn't have to worry. They wouldn't be able to keep up with the demand for gold Escalades.
  • The mortgage mess would be fixed, since anyone should be able to dig out of their subprime mess.
  • The liquor industry would zoom (and the associated taxes going into the Treasury).
  • The electronics industry would be back ordered for every imaginable form of video game equipment.
  • "He went to Jared" and cleaned them out of jewelry and "bling".
  • Firearms and ammunition? Bring it on!
  • The smart folks would pay off their debt and invest the rest.
  • Christians would support the work of the Lord.
There might be some downsides though:
  • Drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning cases would significantly increase.
  • Kidnappings may become a regular occurance on this side of the Mexican border ("Hey, that single mom with four kids can certainly afford to pay big bucks to get little Johnny back.")
  • People would expect more after this runs out, and see government as a surrogate for God.
No, this isn't as crazy as some of the other ideas floating around, but that isn't saying much.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sobering Words

And that you may see that it is not a causeless sorrow that God requireth of us, I shall call to your remembrance our manifold sins, and set them in order before you, that we may deal plainly and faithfully in a free confession of them, and that God who is ‘faithful and just may forgive them, and cleanse us from all iniquity.’ In this I suppose I have your hearty consent, and that you will be so far from being offended with me, though I should disgrace your persons, and others in this office, that you will readily subscribe the charge, and be humble self-accusers; and so far am I from justifying myself by the accusation of others, that I do unfeignedly put my name with the first in the bill of indictment. For how can a wretched sinner, one chargeable with so many and so great transgressions, presume to justify himself before God? Or how can he plead guiltless, whose conscience hath so much to say against him? If I cast shame upon the ministry, it is not on the office, but on our persons, by opening that sin which is our shame. The glory of our high employment doth not communicate any glory to our sin; for ‘sin is a reproach to any people.’ And be they pastors or people, it is only they that ‘confess and forsake their sins that shall have mercy,’ while ‘he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.’

(pg. 134-135, The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter)

You can't make this stuff up

Virtual infidelity leads to reality divorce.

Just a reminder that infidelity is a thing of the spirit, not the body.

And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” - Malachi 2:13-16 (ESV)

Finally, some common sense reporting

From When Seconds Count: Stopping Active Killers:

The other statistic that emerged from a study of active killers is that they almost exclusively seek out "gun free" zones for their attacks.

In most states, concealed handguns are prohibited at schools and on college campuses even for those with permits.

Many malls and workplaces also place signs at their entrances prohibiting firearms on the premises.

Now tacticians believe the signs themselves may be an invitation to the active killers.

The psychological profile of a mass murderer indicates he is looking to inflict the most casualties as quickly as possible.

Also, the data show most active killers have no intention of surviving the event.

They may select schools and shopping malls because of the large number of defenseless victims and the virtual guarantee no one on the scene is armed.

As soon as they're confronted by any armed resistance, the shooters typically turn the gun on themselves.

HT: David Codrea

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2009 Reading

As I am almost done with the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge, I am beginning to plan my reading schedule for 2009. Since next year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, I want to include him prominently in my plans.

For many years I have been in possession of the two volume 1559 Institutes of the Christian Religion. J. R. Harris has a fairly ambitious reading plan to cover all of this material in one year, but following this plan might prove a bit much and still allow me to pursue other devotional reading and devote myself properly to sermon/Bible study preparation.

I also have a copy of the hard cover 1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion on my bookshelf. This might be a bit easier to manage in one year, since it would require only one page per day, and I could supplement it with selections from the 1559 edition as needed.

Another reason not to tackle the 1559 version is due to my recent acquisition of two "Calvin 500" works that I would like to read next year. They are:

A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis, and
The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World.

Additionally, I am in possession of Ford Lewis Battles' An Analysis of the Institutes of the Christian Religion of John Calvin.

I think that I could manage the 1536 Institutes, the two "Calvin 500" volumes, and Battles' Analysis, and that these would require only a small portion of my daily reading schedule. This would still allow me plenty of time for my other reading and study.

This plan is not set in stone, and I would entertain other suggestions.

UPDATE 12/30/2008: As I have considered several other Calvin reading plans that have been posted on the internet, and revisited my suggested plan shown above, I am more convinced than ever that my original plan is the one that will work for me.

As a result, in 2009 I will be reading:

1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion
A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis
The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World (completed)
An Analysis of the Institutes of the Christian Religion of John Calvin
I will supplement, as needed to understand "An Analysis" and the other works, with selections from 1559 Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Update 7/3/2009:

At the half-way point of the year I find that I am reading the 1536 Institutes slower than I anticipated, due to having to think hard on just about every page. I should be done before the end of the year. I am still planning to complete the other books listed, and have also already competed john Piper's John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God. I have also obtained two other volumes from the Calvin500 series:

The Piety of John Calvin: A Collection of His Spiritual Prose, Poems, and Hymns, translated and edited by Ford Lewis Battles

Calvin in the Public Square: Liberal Democracies, Rights, and Civil Liberties by David W. Hall

How to defeat Calvinism

Don't you just love the background music? "I see NOTHING, I know NOTHING."

HT: Truth Matters

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Maybe Greek isn't so straightforward after all

A review of Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek by Constantine R. Campbell.

During my seminary studies, now two decades ago, I soon discovered that I loved Greek and hated Hebrew. While Greek seemed straightforward, almost to the point of simplicity, Hebrew was indecipherable, complex, and frustrating. Possibly this was related to differences in instructors and selections chosen to translate and analyze, but my initial impression was that Greek was easy and Hebrew was hard.

Yet, over the years I have come to realize that possibly Greek isn't as straightforward as I first imagined. For example, I have often found that my translations fall flat, and lack much of the color and flair that many commentators appear able to discover.

While I would not suggest that I have now unlocked the key to all of this additional understanding uncovered by the commentators, I have discovered something that may assist in enhancing this process. Constantine Campbell's Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek has opened up a new way of looking at the Greek text. Not once during my seminary study did I hear the term "Verbal Aspect" nor its importance in understanding the New Testament. Rather than trying to describe "Verbal Aspect", I direct you to the author's blog post on Koinonia where he defines it as both viewpoint and subjective choice.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part, consisting of the first five chapters, contains theory and history. The second part, in workbook format, contains numerous examples and exercises, listed by "tense-form" (the author's preference for "tense-form" over "tense" is described on page 24).

1) Print is large enough and clear enough to make reading easy for aging eyes.
2) Bolding is used simultaneously in both Greek and English text to make examples clear.
3) A helpful glossary of terms is provided.

Only one: I get the impression that there was much more that the author wanted to share, but was precluded by either editing or publication deadline.

Recommendation: If you desire to more deeply engage your Greek Testament you will discover that this work will give you a new perspective. I would caution that if your Greek basics are rusty that you brush up some prior to reading this work. I had let my Greek get away from me over the years following graduation, but earlier this year made a commitment to get back into its use. If I had not done so I would have benefited little from this book.

Now that I have discovered that Greek isn't so straightforward after all it might be time for me to take another look at Hebrew. Where did I store that BDB?

Veterans Day

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve - is someone who at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' (author unknown)

Tomorrow marks the 90th Anniversary of the end of World War One - "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918. This date was first known as Armistice Day, and changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

President Bush's 2008 Veterans Day proclamation reads as follows:

“On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn the uniform of the United States.

“From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our nation’s ideals, rescued millions from tyranny and helped spread freedom around the globe. America’s veterans answered the call when asked to protect our nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.

“Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom’s defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

“With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America’s veterans.

“Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2008, as Veterans Day and urge all Americans to observe November 9 through November 15, 2008, as National Veterans Awareness Week. I encourage all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers. I call upon federal, state, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to support and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions and the media to support this national observance with commemorative expressions and programs.”

To all of my fellow veterans I say thank you for your sacrifices and fidelity in honoring your oath of service.

It Is The Soldier

(Charles Michael Province, US Army)

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Reformed Pastor - Being Chased

If a bear was chasing after you, I expect that you would RUN AWAY as fast as your feet would carry you. However, if you were to say "I am being chased by a bear!", but were sauntering along at a carefree pace, why would anyone ever believe you?

If one bid you run for your lives, because a bear, or an enemy is at your backs, and yet do not mend his own pace, you will be tempted to think that he is but in jest, and that there is really no such danger as he alleges. When preachers tell people of the necessity of holiness, and that without it no man shall see the Lord, and yet remain unholy themselves, the people will think that they do but talk to pass away the hour, and because they must say somewhat for their money, and that all these are but words of course. Long enough may you lift up your voice against sin, before men will believe that there is any such evil or danger in it as you talk of, while they see the same man that reproacheth it, cherishing it in his bosom, and making it his delight. (pg. 84, The Reformed Pastor)

3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:3-5, ESV)

Twenty-Three Words

Seeing that I am not as focused as Abraham Piper, it takes me twenty-three words to get my message into the blogosphere.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Deletions

I have chosen to delete some of my more partisan political posts in an attempt to move forward now that the election is over. I do not believe that anything that I posted was inappropriate prior to the election, but have chosen to remove them in its aftermath.

We should now pray for President-elect Obama, and respect him as our new national leader.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Reformed Pastor - Start young, start right

If tutors would make it their principal business to acquaint their pupils with the doctrine of salvation, and labor to set it home upon their hearts, that all might be received according to its weight, and read to their hearts as well as to their heads, and so carry on the rest of their instructions, that it may appear they make them but subservient unto this, and that their pupils may feel what they aim at in them all; and so that they would teach all their philosophy in habitu theologico, – this might be a happy means to make a happy Church and a happy country. But, when languages and philosophy have almost all their time and diligence, and, instead of reading philosophy like divines, they read divinity like philosophers, as if it were a thing of no more moment than a lesson of music, or arithmetic, and not the doctrine of everlasting life; – this it is that blasteth so many in the bud, and pestereth the Church with unsanctified teachers! Hence it is, that we have so many worldlings to preach of the invisible felicity, and so many carnal men to declare the mysteries of the Spirit; and I would I might not say, so many infidels to preach Christ, or so many atheists to preach the living God: and when they are taught philosophy before or without religion, what wonder if their philosophy be all or most of their religion! (pg. 59-60)

Are we "blasting" the bud of youth or nurturing them in the Word of God?

An Election Night Proverb

No matter where we stand on the candidates, the election results, or the state of our nation, the following is an important passage of scripture for us to heed:

21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.

To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.

The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.

The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.

When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise;
when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he throws the wicked down to ruin.

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.

A gift in secret averts anger,
and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.

One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
and the traitor for the upright.

It is better to live in a desert land
than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling,
but a foolish man devours it.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.

A wise man scales the city of the mighty
and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
who acts with arrogant pride.

The desire of the sluggard kills him,
for his hands refuse to labor.

All day long he craves and craves,
but the righteous gives and does not hold back.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
how much more when he brings it with evil intent.

A false witness will perish,
but the word of a man who hears will endure.

A wicked man puts on a bold face,
but the upright gives thought to his ways.

No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
can avail against the Lord.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Proverbs 21, ESV

As John Piper stated in A Prayer for the Election, "long after America is a footnote to the future world, he (Christ) will reign with his people from every tribe and tongue and nation."

Victory belongs to the Lord!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Reformed Pastor - Introduction

Another month, another Puritan Classic. I have been looking forward to this month's selection, The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter ever since Timmy Brister first suggested the Puritan Reading Challenge at the end of last year. In William Brown's Preface to the 1829 edition he writes of this work:

Could we suppose it to be read by an angel, or by some other possessed of an unfallen nature, the reasons and expostulations of our author would be felt to be altogether irresistible; and hard must be the heart of that minister, who can read it without being moved, melted, and overwhelmed, under a sense of his own shortcomings; hard must be his heart, if he be not roused to greater faithfulness, diligence, and activity in winning souls to Christ. It is a work worthy of being printed in letters of gold; it deserves, at least, to be engraven on the heart of every minister. (pg. 23)

In his Dedication, Baxter, in defense of making complaints against the church of his day public by publication of this work, states as one part of his defense:

Too many who have undertaken the work of the ministry do so obstinately proceed in self-seeking, negligence, pride, and other sins, that it is become our necessary duty to admonish them. If we saw that such would reform without reproof, we would gladly forbear the publishing of their faults. But when reproofs themselves prove so ineffectual, that they are more offended at the reproof than at the sin, and had rather that we should cease reproving than that themselves cease sinning, I think it is time to sharpen the remedy. (pg. 39)

As J.I. Packer tells us in the Introduction, the "reformed" in the book's title does not mean "Calvinistic in doctrine, but renewed in practice." (pg. 14) In fact, Baxter sometimes had problems with his "Calvinist creds", and also seems to have been a bit of a "colorful character" in his day. Yet, this work, and others, live on and transcend his human frailties. Ministers of diverse traditions have long appreciated The Reformed Pastor, with praise coming not only from his Puritan contemporaries but also from Methodists (both Wesleys), Baptists, and others.

Has there ever been a time in the history of the church when her ministers better need reproof and a renewed faithfulness, diligence, and activity in winning souls to Christ? I know that I sometimes need a swift kick in the pants, and possibly the November's reading will prove to serve that purpose.