Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Treasuring the letters of a Scottish Preacher

I'm convinced that the letters of Samuel Rutherford [1600?-1661] are some of the smartest, sweetest, and perhaps overlooked treasures available to the 21st century church.
There are 365 letters in the Banner of Truth reprint [2006]. You could spend a year with a great preacher.
In his 2nd letter entitled, To a Christian Gentlewoman on the death of her daughter, Rutherford writes:
"Do you think her lost, when she is but sleeping in the bosom of the Almighty? Think her not absent who is in such a friend's house. Is she lost to you who is found to Christ? If she were with a dear friend, although you should never see her again, your care for her would be but small. Oh, now, is she not with a dear friend? And gone higher, upon a certain hope that ye shall, in the Resurrection, see her again, when [be ye sure] she shall never be hectic ['of relating to a fever' or 'flushed'] nor consumed in body."
Here's a link where you can order the letters. They're worth the wade.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The end of the story is like its beginning

As Adam Miller was publicly reading Revelation 22 this morning, I saw again that the end of the story of the Bible [recreation] is like its beginning [creation] -- only better in Christ. 1. We begin with creation. [Genesis 1.1] We end with recreation. [Revelation 21.1]2. We begin with darkness over the face of the deep. [Genesis 1.2]We end with no need of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. [Revelation 22.5]3. We begin with a river flowing out of Eden. [Genesis 2.10]We end with a river of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. [Revelation 22.1-2]4. We begin with a serpent. [Genesis 3.1]We end with the Serpent-crusher. [Revelation 22.21]5. We begin with the first man Adam's sin. [Genesis 3.6-7]We end with the second man Adam's salvation. [Revelation 22.14] 6. We begin with sin's curse. [Genesis 3. 14-19]We end in a place where no longer will there be anything accursed. [Revelation 22.15]7. We begin with God driving the man from the garden. [Genesis 3.23]We end with the Spirit and the Bride saying, "Come." [Revelation 22.17]8. We begin with the tree of life guarded by a cherubim and flaming sword. [Genesis 3.24]We end with the tree of life with 12 kinds of fruit, its leaves for the healing of the nations. [Revelation 22.2]9. We begin with the destruction of the world. [Genesis 7.11-12]We end with the construction of the new world. [Revelation 22.3]

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Satisfied and Excited

It's 11:47 p.m. I've just put the finishing touches on tomorrow's worship folders. Although it's late, my heart is light with the satisfaction and excitement of having shared our Church with others in Newton this morning.Pastor is right. It is fun to be able tell someone else about what God is doing at Grace. The joy is in the sharing. God will give the increase. In fact, he may give us increase in ways we don't expect as we patiently tell others that God has raised up a local church for the praise of His glory in Newton, PA.It was also a great time of fellowship with Luke and Pastor Ben. Yes, we made it all the way to the end of School Street.I look forward to the Lord's table tomorrow morning. My prayer is that I will come hungry and thirsty for spiritual meat and drink. Jesus is our Passover Lamb. I love the line we'll sing in the morning from the hymn Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent:"Lord of lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood, / He will give to all the faithful his own self for heav'nly food."See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Velvet Elvis and "Heavy Petting" with Heresy

Wow! It's really crazy that today's evangelical church, instead of lamenting and repenting its abandonment of Scripture, continues to flirt with heresy -- that ancient, painted prostitute who in the shadows looks young and inviting but laughs the morning after at the disease the church has contracted from her.Notice how Rob Bell in his recent book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith [2005], playfully questions the necessity of the Virgin Birth while personally affirming its validity [Bell compares Biblical doctrines with the metaphor of springs underneath a trampoline]:"What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry's tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being 'born of a virgin' also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse? What if that spring was seriously questioned? Could a person keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?" [pp. 26-27]This is really nothing more than "heavy petting" with heresy. Innocently maintaining that you haven't "gone all the way" won't hide the fact that the perfumed bed is only inches away.Paul, at the end of his grand systematic theology, says it this way to his brothers and sisters in Rome:"I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive." Romans 16. 17-18

Saturday, May 12, 2007

1 Corinthians 9:1

Someone in our church found out that our financial situation (Anita and I) would be unusually tight this summer; we'll be between salaries for two months, insurance costs involving special tests, moving to a different home and, well, the circumstances don't really matter. The congregation heard about the need and voted to give us an incredibly gracious love gift.The most gracious thing about the gift was the way it was given, simply: no strings, no questioning, just given liberally. This is how God gives (James 1:5) and how He tells us to give (Romans 12:8). I wish it were as simple to explain our gratitude. But I do want you to know how gratifying it is to see a local church, a small church plant like our own, that "works." Anita and I are just one of a number of families that have been overwhelmed by the loving care of the body at Grace Baptist Church. God is at work in our church and He is graciously giving us evidence of it at a time when we need it most. We want to thank you and let you know that we thank God for you.Posted by Pastor Smith, Saturday, May 12

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The water of Life and the tree of Life

"He (the blessed man) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season...." (Psalm 1:3) We memorized this promise in Sunday School. We saw the river, blue and clear, on our flannel graph with the spreading oak tree flourishing on the river bank. Oaks don't produce much fruit, but flannel doesn't lie and who were we to quibble? Actually, the scene depicted in the first Psalm is quite different and the promise is all the more precious for it. The word pelgey, translated 'rivers,' refers to channels laboriously carved out of rock or watercourses dug from the earth to irrigate an orchard. Water is the most precious commodity in the Near East, because there are no rivers as we know them in North America and the rainfall is seasonal. The Jordan is so salty that it was useless for farming. Water from fresh springs, living water, was channelled to pools such as Siloam in Jerusalem. Farmers would terrace the hillside to hold the rainfall for the olive trees and they would dig irrigation ditches to distribute the life-giving water to the fruit trees.When the blessed man in Psalm One meditates day and night in the Law, the instruction of the LORD, he is digging channels that will bring the life-giving water to his soul. Meditation is not searching the soul or basking in silence. Meditation is searching the Word and rehearsing its truth. The blessed man delights in his work, just as Adam did in the garden of Eden. The book of Psalms begins with the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the godly. The praises and worship of the book of Psalms, just as the leaves and fruit of the tree, spring from the Word of God itself. How dry and unsatisfying is worship that is not saturated with the water of the Word!Posted by Pastor Smith, Friday May 11.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Valuable Biographical Resources

Maybe you have already heard about the biographical messages delivered each year by Pastor John Piper at what I believe is an annual Pastor’s conference held at Bethlehem Baptist Church. But for those of you who have not been introduced to these messages please allow me the privilege. About two months ago a pastor friend of mine told me about these messages and suggested that I take time and listen to at least one. Well I did and now I am hooked! Essentially what Pastor Piper does each year is to select a noted figure from church history and for one hour he gives an overview of their life, their work, and their unique contribution to the work of God in history. These messages are full of memorable vignette’s about the person’s life and ministry that will inspire and encourage you in your own service for the Lord. What I have discovered about each of these extraordinary men is that they lived, for the most part, very ordinary lives. They faced the same hardships and heartbreaks that we do today. But what sets these men apart from many of us is their response to God when trouble was their lot. I do not want to minimize their intellectual capacities as there are some very bright people on this list, but rather what I hope you will see is their radical single mindedness for the Lord and His church. I can’t begin to describe for you the influence these messages have had in my own life and also in Wendy’s life as well. We would highly recommend them to you and your family. Here’s all you need to get started: would love to know which is your favorite, so please let us know!