The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen – Sinclair B. Ferguson | This book is also from the series – “A Long Line of Godly Men” by Stephen J. Lawson. This book is about the old Puritan preacher and theologian John Owen’s treatment of the Trinity in his writings. Sinclair wrote: “Pastor, Theologian, and military chaplain John Owen lived during troubled times, and his life remained marked by tremendous changes in his circumstances. But even as his position rose and fell, he remained steadfast in his faith in the triune God of the Bible.” I have found this to be an excellent read. One I recommend. The book can be obtained from Ligonier Ministries. | 12-02-2015
December 2, 2015
November 2, 2015
The Mighty Weakness of John Knox – Douglas Bond | This is another book from the series – “A Long Line of Godly Men Profile” by Stephen J. Lawson. This book like the others in the series is a biographical picture of a man used by God to demonstrate His sovereignty and providence in Christendom. John Knox was prominent in establishing the faith throughout Scotland. As in all of the books in this series I recommend that take the time to read of our Christian heroes from the past.
October 19, 2015
Living By Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon – Tom Nettles | It has been a long time coming in my reading to finally finish this book. I have been reading it – setting it down – reading it – etc. It definitely has been time consuming (at least for me). Now that I have finished it I am convinced that the time was well spent.. Tom Nettles, is a excellent historian and this book showcases his talent. It is one of the premier books on Charles Spurgeon. If you do not have this book it in your Christian Library I urge you to obtain a copy. You will not regret the time and effort in reading. (Christian Focus Publication, Mentor Imprint, 2013, 683 pages, ISBN: 978-1-78191-122-8). | 10-17-2015
September 23, 2014
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief | 1 Timothy 1:15.
May 31, 2014
Psalm 115:3 | Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
“Here the psalmist David plainly declares the great supremacy and glorious sovereignty of our God. Our God is supreme over all gods of the world. He who truly is God, is God who rules over all things, at all times, in all places, absolutely. He is the absolute, unrivalled Sovereign of the universe, who always does his will in heaven, earth, and hell. ‘He has his way in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him – What doest thou?’ The God I worship, trust, and love is in total control of the universe!”
(Don Fortner – Basic Bible Doctrines, 446)
May 6, 2014
Election! – what a blessed word! What a glorious doctrine! Who does not rejoice to know that he has been chosen to some great blessing? Election is unto salvation – the greatest of all blessings. And strange to say, this is a neglected truth even by many who profess to believe it, and others have a feeling of repulsion at the very mention of this Bible-revealed, God-honoring, and man-humbling truth.
There seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded.
If such were true in Spurgeon’s day how much more so in this our day. Concerning this doctrine there is an alarming departure from the faith of our Baptist fathers. Touching this article of our faith Baptists have come to a day when they have a Calvinistic creed and an Arminian clergy.
But there are some who love the doctrine of Election. To them election is the foundation dug deep for the other doctrines of human redemption to rest upon. They love it enough to preach it in the face of criticism and persecution. They will surrender their pulpits rather than be silenced on this precious tenet of the once delivered faith. But all who love the doctrine were once haters of it, therefore, they have nothing in which to take pride. Every man by nature is an Arminian. It takes the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, taught by the Holy Spirit, to cause a man to love the doctrine of Election.
“The Bible Doctrine of Election” by C. D. [Claude Duval] Cole.
April 21, 2014
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – If the Rev. John DeBonville could preach a sermon to lift the souls of churchgoers across America, his message would be simple:
Stop dressing so tacky for church.
DeBonville has heard about the “come as you are” approach to dressing down for Sunday service, but he says the Sabbath is getting too sloppy.
When he scans the pews of churches, DeBonville sees rows of people dressed in their Sunday worst. They saunter into church in baggy shorts, flip-flop sandals, tennis shoes and grubby T-shirts. Some even slide into the pews carrying coffee in plastic foam containers as if they’re going to Starbucks.
“It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,” says DeBonville, rector at the Church of the Good Shepard in Massachusetts. “No one dresses up for church anymore.”
All of you folks visiting church this Easter Sunday take a good look around. Soak in the Easter tradition of people wearing their best new outfits for church: The fidgety girls in pink dresses; the pouting boys in stiff new suits; everyone looking all fine and dandy. Because come next Sunday, the people wearing flip-flop sandals, shorts and grubby T-shirts will rise again.
Church leaders like DeBonville have harrumphed about declining dress standards for Sunday service for years, while others say God only cares what’s in someone’s heart.
But which side is right? What does the Bible actually say about dressing properly for church? And does Jesus provide fashion advice anywhere? Wasn’t he a homeless, Galilean peasant who wore flip-flops?
The answers to these questions are not as easy as they may seem. The Bible sends mixed messages about the concept of wearing your Sunday best. And when pastors, parishioners and religious scholars were asked the same questions, they couldn’t agree, either.
Wearing ties on first dates
There was one point on which both sides did agree: People are dressing sloppier everywhere, not just church.
Take a trek to the supermarket on Saturday morning and you’re bound to run into a sleepy-eyed woman in slippers and rollers at the checkout counter. Pajamas in public: The battle of ‘appropriate’ vs. ‘comfy’
Or take a walk outside and you’ll be greeted by teenagers slouching around with their jeans sagging over the butt-cheeks.
Even corporate America isn’t immune. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual every day and even tech tycoons like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wear bland T-shirts during public presentations.
It’s a sharp departure from another era in America before the 1960s, when people wore suits, dresses and white gloves in public.
The Rev. Gerald Durley, a sharp-dressed civil rights activist in Atlanta, recalls taking his future wife, Muriel, on their first date. When he showed up at her house, her father opened the door, looked at him, and took him aside gravely, “Young man can I talk to you for a minute.”
“He told me, ‘If you’re going to take my daughter out, you can wear one of my ties,’” says Durley, a retired Baptist pastor.
Jennifer Fulwiler, who wrote an article for the National Catholic Register titled, “Why Don’t We Dress up Anymore,” says her great-grandfather would put on a coat and tie just to go grocery shopping.
The reasons why people stopped dressing up could fill a book. Yet Fulwiler offers one explanation that’s seldom mentioned – lack of gratitude.
Fulwiler’s revelation came one day as she watched scruffily dressed people board a plane. She flashed back to a black-and-white photo she had seen of her grandparents boarding a plane in the 1940s. Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time.
“We dress up for what we’re grateful for,” she says. “We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes,” says Fulwiler, author of “Something Other than God,” which details her journey from atheism to Christianity.
Church is like air travel now – it’s no longer a big deal because people have lost their sense of awe before God, Fulwiler says.
Yet some of these same people who say it doesn’t matter how you dress for church would change their tune if they were invited to another event, Fulwiler says.
“If you had the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, you wouldn’t show up in at Windsor Castle wearing jeans and a T-shirt,” she says.
The church customer is always king
Shouldn’t people have that same reverential attitude when they show up at church to meet God, some ask? After all, doesn’t your dress reveal the importance you attach to an occasion?
That sentiment, however, is seen as hopelessly old school in many popular megachurches across America. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual Sundays.
And many of the popular megachurch pastors are middle-aged men who bound onto the stage each Sunday dressed in skinny jeans, untucked Banana Republic shirts, and backed by in-house Christian rock bands. They’ve perfected a “seeker-friendly” approach to church that gets rid of the old formal worship style with its stuffy dress codes.
But there’s a danger in making people too comfortable in their clothes on Sunday morning, says Constance M. Cherry, an international lecturer on worship and a hymn writer.
Some churches have embraced a business-oriented “the customer is always right” approach to worship that places individual comfort at the center of Sunday service, says Cherry, author of“Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services.”
“Many young people and boomers judge the value of worship service based on personal satisfaction,” Cherry says. “If I get to wear flip-flops to Wal-Mart, then I get to wear flip-flops to church. If I get to carry coffee to work, I get to carry coffee to church. They’re being told that come as you are means that God wants you to be comfortable.”
What the Bible says
The Bible says that’s not true – people had to prepare themselves internally and externally for worship.
In the Old Testament, Jewish people didn’t just “come as they are” to the temple in Jerusalem. They had to undergo purification rituals and bathe in pools before they could enter the temple, says Cherry, who is also a professor of worship at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Both Old and New Testaments suggest that people should not approach God in a casual manner, Cherry says. Psalms 24 urges the faithful to “ascend the hill of the Lord …with clean hands and pure hearts.”
When Jesus taught in the synagogues, he also observed the rules and decorum of being in God’s house, Cherry says.
Cherry isn’t calling for a restoration of first-century cultural norms, such as women covering their hair in worship, or a rigid dress code. She says churches should meet people where they are, and make even the poorest person feel welcome.
She just says that preparation for worship should give less thought to people and more thought to the divine.
“There should be some sort of approach to God that will include certain steps to honor the God that is not our buddy but fully The Other,” she says.
Others back up Cherry’s call to keep the Sabbath special. Dressing up really makes a difference on Sunday, they say.
“It puts you in a different mindset,” says Tiffany Adams, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who grew up wearing jeans in church. “It actually sets the Sabbath apart from every other day.”
And there are still pockets of church culture where no one has to persuade people to look sharp on Sunday.
The African-American church is one such place. Many of its members still insist on dressing up on Sunday because of the historical struggles of blacks. Sunday morning was often the only time in the week that a black person could assert their dignity, says Durley, the Atlanta civil rights activist who also is a retired Baptist pastor.
“On Sunday morning, when you put on your tie, your shirt and put your palms together and slicked down your hair, you were no longer the hired help, you were a trustee, a deacon or you chaired this board and you dressed accordingly,” Durley says.
What would Jesus wear?
There are others, though, who say God cares more about the person’s soul than their style. No one wears a bracelet today asking, “What would Jesus wear.” Clothes just weren’t important to Jesus or the early church, they claim.
The early church was anti-hierarchical and adopted a “come as you are” approach to worship, welcoming outcasts and the disenfranchised who often couldn’t dress in fine clothes, says Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.
Raschke cites Mark 12:38, where Jesus mocks the fine clothes worn by the Pharisees, a group of elite Jewish religious leaders of his day.
Others cite James 2:2-4, where the writer of the New Testament book criticizes early Christians for discriminating against poor people visiting the church in dirty clothes and favoring the man “wearing a gold ring and fine clothes.”
“Adopting a dress code would not only be suicidal for American Christians who are swimming against the stream of casual secularism, it would be antithetical to what Christianity sees increasingly as its abiding mission – to reach those who are marginalized and ‘don’t fit in,’ ‘’ Raschke says.
Some people, though, remain convinced that casual Sundays are getting too sloppy.
“The casualness of Sunday church attire has gone too far,” says DeBonville, the pastor of the Massachusetts church. “It’s about respect and honoring God.”
When DeBonville looks across the scruffy fashion landscape of America, he sees only one profession that’s holding the line against tacky dress.
It’s not the preachers or priests, though. These people belong to another profession whose members aren’t exactly known for respect and honoring God.
“The last ones wearing shirt and ties are the politicians,” DeBonville says.
Easter is supposed to be about the renewal of hope, but when asked if the spread of sloppy Sabbath can get any worse, DeBonville sounds gloomy. Yoga pants in the pews, pajamas near the altar – will everyone soon start showing up at church dressed like “the Dude” in the film, “The Big Lebowski.”
Nothing would surprise DeBonville anymore.
“There’s growing casualness everywhere,” he says. “I don’t know if it can get much worse.”
March 9, 2014
By – Tim Keller
If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.
January 2, 2014
Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books
By Albert Mohler, Jr.
Thursday • January 2, 2014
I cannot really remember when I did not love to read books. I do know that I was very eager to learn to read, and that I quickly found myself immersed in the world of books and literature. It may have been a seduction of sorts, and the Christian disciple must always be on guard to guide the eyes to books worthy of a disciple’s attention—and there are so many.
As Solomon warned, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecc 12:12). There is no way to read everything, and not everything deserves to be read. I say that in order to confront the notion that anyone, anywhere, can master all that could be read with profit. I read a great deal, and a large portion of my waking hours are devoted to reading. Devotional reading for spiritual profit is an important part of the day, and that begins with the reading of Scripture. In terms of timing, I am somewhat unorthodox. My best time for spending time in the Word is late at night, when all is calm and quiet and I am mentally alert and awake. That is not the case when I first get up in the mornings, when I struggle to find each word on the page (or anything else, for that matter).
In the course of any given week, I will read several books. I know how much I thrive on this learning and the intellectual stimulation I get from reading. As my wife and family would be first to tell you, I can read almost anytime, anywhere, under almost any kind of conditions. I have a book with me virtually all the time, and have been known to snatch a few moments for reading at stop lights. No, I do not read while driving (though I must admit that it has been a temptation at times). I took books to high school athletic events when I played in the band. (Heap coals of scorn and nerdliness here). I remember the books; do you remember the games?
A few initial suggestions:
1. Maintain regular reading projects. I strategize my reading in six main categories: Theology, Biblical Studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature. I have some project from each of these categories going at all times. I collect and gather books for each project and read them over a determined period of time. This helps to discipline my reading, and it also keeps me working across several disciplines.
2. Work through major sections of Scripture. I am just completing an expository series, preaching verse by verse through the book of Romans. I have preached and taught several books of the Bible in recent years, and I plan my reading to stay ahead. I am turning next to Matthew, so I am gathering and reading ahead—not yet planning specific messages, but reading to gain as much as possible from worthy works on the first gospel. I am constantly reading works in biblical theology as well as exegetical studies.
3. Read all the titles written by some authors. Choose carefully here, but identify some authors whose books demand your attention. Read all they have written and watch their minds at work and their thought in development. No author can complete his thoughts in one book, no matter how large.
4. Get some big sets and read them through. Yes, invest in the works of Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and others. Set a project for yourself to read through the entire set and give yourself time. You will be surprised how far you will get in less time than you think.
5. Allow yourself some fun reading, and learn how to enjoy reading by reading enjoyable books. I like books across the fields of literature, but I really love to read historical biographies and historical works in general. In addition, I really enjoy quality fiction and worthy works of literature. As a boy, I probably discovered my love for reading in these categories of books. I allow some time each day, when possible, for such reading. It doesn’t have to be much. Stay in touch with the thrill.
6. Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours. Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled. (Make an exception here for those rare antiquarian books that are treasured for their antiquity. Mark not thy pen on the ancient page, and highlight not upon the manuscript.) Invent your own system or borrow from another, but learn to have a conversation with the book, pen in hand.
I would write more for this post, but I must go read. More later. For now: Tolle lege!