Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Work of the Pastor by William Still

Ben and Dave and I have or [in my case] are reading The Work of the Pastor by William Still. Great read! I think it would be helpful for every church member to read and to meditate on a great question: What is the work of the Pastor? Here's a quote that I found to be very convicting:

"The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if the sheep do not want to be fed. He is certainly not to become an entertainer of goats. Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland. You will certainly not turn goats into sheep by pandering to their goatishness." William Still [1911-1997] The Work of the Pastor

"The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if the sheep do not want to be fed. He is certainly not to become an entertainer of goats. Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland. You will certainly not turn goats into sheep by pandering to their goatishness." William Still [1911-1997] The Work of the Pastor

Thursday, December 22, 2011

feeling the weight of our lawlessness so that we can wonder at the lustre of God's grace "in Christ."

"If we were suspended over a chasm by a chain of ten links, how many links have to break before we fall? If while driving down the highway, we're pulled over by a police officer because we're speeding, does it make any difference to the officer that we haven't broken the income tax laws or stolen anything from our neighbors? Obedience to one law doesn't negate disobedience to another law. To break one is to become a lawless person." Warren Wiersbe on Zechariah 5:4

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Really excited about tonight!

Hey, I'm at my office printing the programs for tonight's concert at the Waverly Community House. The program is beautiful. The choir sounds great, the Scripture and other readings are true, and the location is ideal. Hope you can make it. The concert starts at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Because of the inherent power of music, the texts we sing about God can be especially helpful [texts that teach and admonish], harmful [texts that are heretical or theologically inaccurate], or unhelpful [texts that are superficial or shallow]. Having just listened to a raft of new worship songs at, I can't say the texts I listened to were either helpful or harmful—just musically unsingable and textually unhelpful.

Cancer cannot determine when you go home. Only your Father can.

Amazing faith from R.C. Sproul Jr. whose wife Denise is battling Leukemia.

Racism and "the ethnic universality of God's Mercy"

Racism contradicts "the ethnic universality of God's mercy" as seen in Jonah: "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city?" [Jonah 4:11]

Jesus and Paul: We preach Christ crucified

“It’s startling that Jesus’ response to the clamoring of the Jewish sign-seekers in Matthew 12:39-40 is essentially Paul’s response to the Jewish sign-seekers in I Corinthians 1:23. ‘So you want a sign” Jesus says in Matthew 12:39-40? OK I’ll give you one. Remember Jonah? He was in the belly of the great fish for three days—so here’s the sign I’m going to give you. Like Jonah who was in the belly of the great fish for three days, so I’m going to die and lay in the belly of the earth for three days.’ And Paul’s response to the Jewish sign seekers in I Corinthians 1:23–it’s like Jesus’ response to the sign seekers of Matthew 12:39-40. Paul’s response goes something like this. ‘When Jews everywhere are seeking for signs, we’ll preach Christ crucified.’”
Lord's Day Sermon December 4, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God Substitutes (and their dangers)

From Tim Keller's notes in "The Reason For God."

If you centre your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.

If you centre your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.

If you centre your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.

If you centre your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.

If you centre your life and identity on pleasure, gratification and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the ‘escape strategies’ by which you avoid the hardness of life.

If you centre your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.

If you centre your life and identity on a ‘noble cause‘, you will divide the world into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and demonise your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.

If you centre your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards, your guilt will be utterly devastating.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Day of Feasting or Fasting?

18 Now kJohn's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, l“Why do John's disciples and mthe disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, n“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 oThe days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and pthen they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old qwineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:18-22

The question is: is today a a day of feasting or fasting? Several have questioned my understanding of this text which I preached this past Sunday. So for them and others who may be questioning but not asking, let me explain more carefully why I think that today is a day of feasting and not fasting.

First, is context. The two attendant parables give strong support to today as a day of feasting. In both of the illustrations there are two new things, a new patch and new wine. These two news things stand opposite to the two old things, an old garment and an old wineskin. The two new things refer to what has been introduced by the revealed Messiah. What He is replacing is old and unrepairable, being made obsolete by what has been introduced through him. Although the Messiah will be physically taken away from them in death, he will shortly return in spirit to continue what he inaugurated, represented by the new patch and new wine. There is no going back to the old now that the new is come. The new is here to stay and the old is gone for good. Grace and faith reign, while law and works are dead! That calls for a feast, not fasting.

Second, is other scripture. Right before his ascension Christ promised the eleven disciples that they had all authority under heaven and earth to go and make disciples of all the nations. And they would not be alone, for he would be with them, even to the end of the age - see Matt 28:20. Though he would not be with then physically, he would be with them in spirit. Another text is Hebrews 13:5 which states: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” According to this text, Christ is with us. He has not left or forsaken us. The only possible way to harmonize these texts with Mark 2:20 is to understand Jesus as referring to the time between his death when he was violently taken away (see Isa 53:8) and the coming of his Spirit on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the small band of believers with great power and joy (see Acts 2:13)

Hope that helps.

Is Depression a Sin?

This past Sunday I made the rather abrupt comment that “depression is a sin.” Several have asked me to clarify what I meant by that statement, and I need to because there are important qualifiers that I left unsaid that need to be said. Ironically, what I should have not said (as I did), I didn’t say enough about!

What I did not mean by that statement was that all forms of depression are to be categorically traced to willful sinful thoughts or actions in a persons life. I do believe that chemical imbalances can induce depression in a person. In such cases, this kind of depression cannot be treated as you would a spiritual issue, but requires expert medical intervention. While we must be careful not excuse personal sin on medical grounds, we must not fail to recognize that our minds, like the rest of our bodies, can at times become sick and require medical solutions.

What I did mean by this statement was that depression, as is commonly experienced by most, feelings such as unfounded fear and anxiety, extreme discouragement, self-pity, lack of hope, etc., has at its’ root, sin - specifically the sin of unbelief. When these feelings and thought patterns engulf us, I believe that it is due ultimately to a failure to grasp all we have and are in Christ. If we believe Romans 8 then we have no legitimate reason for any of these fears and anxieties. God is, after all, for us! This is the form or kind of depression I was referring to in my statement. The divine treatment is such cases is prayer, the Word of God, fellowship and service.

Monday, September 12, 2011

God's Abounding Grace…

John Milton reminds us in this beautiful sonnet that God holds us accountable only for what we have, even if it is just a little. Incredibly John Milton goes on to write Paradise Lost blind. Truly, does God’s grace abound each of our lives!

On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Slow Death of Congregational Singing

singing congregationally with piano has become too important to us

Jeremiah Burroughs reminded me this week that superstition is raising anything higher than it has in it by nature. For instance, singing hymns congregationally with a piano is wonderful. It sort of naturally fits us as a local church, and we have good reasons for singing in this way; however if singing hymns with a piano causes us to become critical of others who sing orthodox, gospel-doctrine perhaps differently than we do, than singing congregationally with a piano has become too important to us, and the seeds of idolatry have perhaps been sown. Freedom from man’s commands is found in worshipping in accordance with God’s Word.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Really, Martin?

"This is a short epistle, but a model of Christian doctrine, in which is comprehended in a masterful way all that is necessary for a Christian to know and to live."

(Martin Luther on the book of Titus)

Helpful Historical Context

“During Jesus’ time, Judaism was divided into many competing sects. Some, including many of the Pharisees , had become tradition bound and focused on on outward conformity to the Jewish laws, without the right heart attitude. Others, the Essenes, sought refuge in ascetic desert communities. Still others, the Sadducees, had emptied Judaism of the supernatural to the extent that it wasn’t much different from Greek philosophy. And still others, the Zealots, hoped for a national deliverer, a warrior-king like David or Judas Maccabeus, who would drive out the hated Romans and restore the nation of Israel to its ancient glory. When we realize this, it’s easy to seem why so many were disappointed by the humble man from Galilee.”

from “So What’s the Difference?”, by Fritz Ridenour, pg 70

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Roger Ebert, "Soul Surfer," and "eerie optimism"

I was just reading Roger Ebert’s review of the recently released “Christian” film “Soul Surfer.” In it Ebert writes, “The flaw in the storytelling strategy of ‘Soul Surfer’ is that it doesn’t make Bethany easy to identify with. She's almost eerie in her optimism. Her religious faith is so unshaken, it feels taken for granted.”

Of course it’s true that the natural man doesn’t receive the things of the Spirit of God; however I sometimes wonder what an unbeliever must think of moral, Christian-inspired attempts at film minus any objective content of the gospel. Perhaps these films may leave the unbeliever in disbelief at the synthetic, cosmetic “eerie optimism” of such a hollow world view devoid of what Paul was unashamed of – namely the true gospel. Merely mentioning Jesus or putting on display the behavioral fruit of the gospel is not a distinctively Christian message for an unbeliever. Mormons and Roman Catholics could gladly do the same.

And in the midst of confessing this exclusive and distinctive gospel of grace, we still lament – we still groan – and yes even our faith at times is shaken and diminishes. When in Psalm 77 the psalmist remembers God, he moans. When he meditates, his spirit faints. He cannot speak. He cannot sleep. What does he do? He remembers the deeds of the LORD. He remembers His wonders of old. He ponders all His works.

So if a Christian film is Christian, and there are many good films that aren’t, let’s at least be clear about why it’s Christian. And let’s give believers permission to lament, so that our optimism rather than seeming “eerie” is objectively grounded in the gospel and yet truly human.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What is Ash Wednesday and Lent?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Ash,a symbol of repentance in the ancient world, is applied by the priest to forehead of the penitential participant heralding the start of the Lenten season. Lent is a forty (40) day period (immediately before Easter) devoted to fasting and mourning over ones sins. The forty day period is in imitation of Christ’s forty day wilderness temptation and suffering. Pinpointing a date for when Lent was first recognized is debated. Sometime around the 4th century seems to be the general consensus. So what could be so bad about a period of repentance and sorrowing over sin? What harm is there in participating in these ancient rituals?

To understand the danger one has to understand the teaching of the Roman Catholic church about penance. The idea of penance began with the Latin Vulgate (late 4th century latin translation) which wrongly translated the greek term “metanoia” as “penance” instead of the more appropriate term repentance. So instead of John the Baptist saying “repent” in Matt 3:2, he is quoted (translated) as saying “do penance” which is understood by a Roman Catholic to mean to do something good in order to make for something bad. The sacrament of penance requires that a Roman catholic confess his sin to a priest, who then grants pardon, which is conditioned upon the confessor doing something, some act to counteract the sin and procure God’s forgiveness. Biblical repentance however is not about “good deeds” or human effort, but a change of heart and a trusting in the cross work of Christ alone as sufficient payment for sin - the sole basis of God’s forgiveness. It was this very doctrine that got Martin Luther thinking and writing. The first three of his famous ninety five thesis deals with this very topic:

Thesis 1:
When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

Thesis 2:
The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

Thesis 3:
Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.

Luther clearly understood that no amount of good deeds (penance) will ever make up for sins committed. Genuine biblical repentance is about a genuine change of heart and a new, living, personal saving faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ that results in a changed life.

The fatal and damning theology behind such rituals as Lent is something good to make up for something done wrong. That is the essence of Roman Catholic theology - God gives grace, man cooperates with that grace by works and through those efforts secures God’s grace. The underlying message of Lent is that man can earn forgiveness and righteousness through pious, self-sacrificing efforts. And that message is opposite of the true biblical gospel which insists that faith alone saves apart from all and human merit.

Why We Don’t Recognize Ash Wednesday, Lent, etc...

“So why don’t you participate in Ash Wednesday and Lent?” In the past that question always made very uncomfortable. I guess partly because I didn’t know why I didn’t and partly because I felt as if I was giving the impression that I really didn’t take my Christian faith seriously. Usually the conversation ended there with my sincere friend somewhat baffled by my lack of devotion and me left in an uncomfortable defensive lurch.

If you haven't noticed, Lenten observance is an increasingly popular practice among protestant Christians of late. The form it takes is not the full blown ritual perfected by the Roman Catholic Church, but a less ritualized one that in essence is identical. The actual ritual of having ash applied to your forehead and observing certain dietary restrictions for 40 days prior to Easter, is replaced with calls for acts of self denial and personal sacrifice by contemporary evangelical voices. Just listen to K-Love and you will hear it piously pitched to the audience during this time of year.

So why don’t you participate in Lenten observances? Over the next couple days/week I want to explore some of the ritual and ceremonial practices of the old apostate Roman system and show Biblically why they are unnecessary and worse destructive to true faith.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thank You.

Words fail to convey our deep and humble gratitude for the incredibly generous love gift presented to our family Sunday. While we were not expecting that kind of help, we are certainly grateful for it. The Lord knows each of our needs and graciously he has worked through you, his body, to faithfully provide for ours. Even greater than the gift itself is the outpouring of sincere love for us which is the most overwhelming part of receiving this gift. We have been treated far better than we deserve. Through this offering we have come to experience more fully the nature of God's unsolicited, undeserved, abundant and abounding, free (yet costly), grace given us in Jesus Christ. Through this grace gift both you and God's grace in Christ have become much more real and precious to us.

"Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above."

Wendy Update

Yesterday (Mon, Feb 28) was Wendy’s appointment with her baby doctor in Tunkhannock. This was the first she had be able to see him since the delivery, for various reasons. He, along with the help of a general surgeon and a few x-rays, discovered that she has a partially block bowel. Given all that it could have been, that was the best possible diagnosis! Apparently one 1/2 of our digestive system, specifically our large and small intestines, should contain liquid (left side - I think), and the other 1/2 should contain mainly solids (right side). Her problem is that the opposite is true, where there should be liquid there is solid, and vice versa - thus the problem. This problem is probably due to the effects of surgery coupled with the heavy doses of antibiotics she received for the stomach abscesses which killed the needed functioning bacteria in the bowels. Sooo, all that to say, she is feeling much better today. The pain has greatly decreased, her stomach is not nearly as bloated nor as tender to the touch. We are probably as much relieved in mind as body as well. Hopefully there is not something else wrong in her body which has precipitated this problem. Time will tell. Thank you all for your prayers and help during these past few weeks! We really could not have done it without your help and prayer. The Rusts.

Progress Report...

As you can probably tell from the photos, Lilly is faring very well! She weighs in at a whole 5lbs, just about 2 more than when she was born. Her routine is quite routine, right now it's just eat, sleep, eat, sleep. She is still on a monitor and will be for at least several more weeks. We have been told that they will typically keep the monitor on until at least 40 weeks. Though at times it is a nuisance, it is also a comfort as we don't have the typical breathing fears related to newborns. So in one way we sleep a bit more soundly when everything works as it should with the monitor, which is not always the case. Over all Lilly is doing just what she ought to be doing. Considering all the many and varied complication that could have happened, we are very grateful for all the growth and progress she has made to this point. The Lord has surely been with us. Thank you for all your prayers in her behalf! The Rusts

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

God is faithful!

"The Jewish people are the only people in the world today who still inhabit the same land, embrace the same religion, study the same Torah, speak the same orginal language, Hebrew, and hear the same name Israel, as they did 3,500 years ago." Martin M. van Brauman

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some new pics from today...

Lilly Grace weighed in today at 3lbs .05 ounce. The Doctors tell us that the plan is to now just wait for her to grow, as there is not much else needed. The magic number is 1800 grams which I think is 4lbs. In that case then she will probably be at Moses Taylor for another 3 weeks approx. Here are some pics of her today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Wind of Doctrine Blowing Your Way...

Contemplative spirituality (CS) is the latest fad sweeping through the evangelical church in America. It is actually a new term for a rather old heresy known as Mysticism. It seems to be very popular with those who have been subjected to church growth teaching and philosophy popularized by ministries such as Willow Creek, Saddleback Community, and Mars Hill which convinced many that numbers and large crowds rather than doctrinal faithfulness was the measure of true success. The effect was that vital Christian doctrines, essential to christian growth and development, were sidelined in favor of more appealing, self-help, therapuetic, man centered “talks” aimed at appeasing “goats”. The “sheep” that remained were left sick and starving. It is understandable then that many of these bewildered and confused sheep are attracted to a new teaching that promises them deeper fellowship with God and help in finding their “true self”.

CS is a blend of postmodern thought (there is no absolute truth, it is all subjective), monastic mysticism, eastern thought, new age theology, and modern psychology. CS relies upon techniques such as “centering prayer” which encourages the worshiper to clear their mind of all rational thought in order to focus more fully on the “presence of God” which they refer to as “practicing the presence of God”. Relaxation techniques, repetition of self selected “sacred words”, symbols both real and mental, as well as scents are some of the things employed in “practicing the presence of God” and finding the “true self”.

While much could be said, and needs to be re-said, I will mention one of the troubling, un-biblical aspects of CS. It is apparent that the focus of CS is human centered and inward focused. The worshiper is instructed to look inward, to seek and find the “true self”, to hear God speak to “them”. The Bible however instructs us to do the opposite. The Bible tells us to look away from ourselves, and to look by faith to Christ. CS tries to apprehend God through physical means such as iconic symbols, scents, special silent and solitary spaces, and warm emotive feelings. But this is not the way God will be sought or found. God has designed that he will only be discovered by faith alone (Heb 11:6), through Christ alone who now appears in the presence of God for us (Heb 9:24).

Man’s problem with faith though is that is difficult, unnatural and unappealing to our flesh. It is unappealing because we don’t want to look away from ourselves, it is unnatural because we prefer sight to faith, and it is difficult, even impossible, for faith is not a faculty we naturally possess, it is a gift (Eph 2:9). It is so much easier and appealing to try to seek after God through sight and feeling - that is the natural human way. God however demands the we come by way of faith (alone) through his son Jesus (alone).

CS is dangerous, deceptive, and deadly. While it promises to lead a person to a closer and deeper fellowship with God, it actually leads away, slowly and subtly, from a true and saving knowledge of the living God.

Here is link that will get you started on learning more:

Growing BIG...

Lilly is progressing fabulously! Her weight has hovered right around 3lbs for the past two days. Her color is great, as is her appetite. She is noticeably more active and alert seemingly responding to our voices. The more alert she grows the more intense our desire to have her home and care for her here. As you think of us, you pray that Lilly would continue to progress rapidly and that we would remain patient until the day she is good to come home.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Growing @ Moses Taylor Hospital

Ok, a quick update on Lilly! She arrived early Friday afternoon at Moses Taylor on via ambulance from Danville. As of Saturday she weighed a whopping 2 lbs, 150z! The Doctors have taken away all supplemental feeding leaving her to rely on solely on milk from mom. As far as when she might be released to go home, I have heard two criteria mentioned. The first is a weight of 4lbs. The second, she must be proficient at suck/swallow. We have heard various prognosises as to her length of stay. They vary between 4-7 weeks. Of course we are hoping sooner than later! When you think of us, please pray for her continued rapid development. So far, we have been able to visit every day for several hours. Thanks to all who have helped out by watching Calvin, Ben and Ellie while we make our trek to Scranton. We'll post another update in a few days. With love, the Rust's.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great News!

Wendy is home as of last night! We also found out today that Lilly will be transferred to Moses Taylor this coming Friday, weather permitting. Both Mom and baby are doing great. We will be traveling back to Danville again tomorrow in the late afternoon which I pray will be our last trip for a long while. Thank you for praying and for your many well wishes. We love you all. The Rust's

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Closer to Coming Home...

Great news all around! Wendy will be coming home tonight (10 pm discharge), and Lilly came off her c-pap today which means that she is breathing solely on her own. Hopefully she will be transferred to Moses Taylor shortly. Overall, things are progressing rapidly for the good. We will post any further significant developments. We are grateful for all who have prayed for us these past few days.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lilly Grace...

3lbs, 1 oz. 15 inches long. She is doing very well for only being 30 weeks and 5 days. She no longer needs oxygen, but is still on a cpac. Thank you all for your prayer and concern on her behalf.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Arrival.

Well, Lilly is here! We have not seen her yet as she was whisked away to the NICU. Wendy is progressing well through recovery.

with deep gratitude to the Lord,

Wendy, Lilly, and Ben.

Update from the Rust's.

Early this morning Wendy was awakened by sever abdominal pressure. All signs pointed to labor, however her stomach remained flaccid during the contractions which confused us as to what was occurring. We called our doctor and she suggested we go and get checked out. Upon arriving at Wyoming Valley Geisinger they determined that her "water" had broke and that she was indeed in labor. They made the decision to transfer her to Geisinger in Danville via Life Flight (thanks Nate for the safe and smooth flight!) just in case the baby decided to come sooner than later. She arrived here around 11 am. The plan is to stop the contractions. They have administered several medications through and I.V to stop any further developments.

We are now awaiting the effect of the I.V. If the contractions can be reversed, she will presumably be kept another three weeks (until she reaches the 34th week) at which point they will perform the c-section. If the contractions continue to progress, they will be forced to take the baby in the next day or so. And if they are forced to take the baby sooner than later they at least hope to prolong the birth for 48 hours as that will provide Lilly's lungs critical time to develop and strengthen.

Thank you for your praying on our behalf! And as you think of us please continue to do so. If we need anything else, we will be sure to reach out to you. As of right now, we have no immediate needs. Thank you so much for your love and concern for us.

We will keep you updated through the blog as events unfold.

with deep appreciation,

The Rust's.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Beauty of the Psalms of David...

Our Bible reading schedule has brought us once again to the Psalms. Most of us are naturally drawn to Psalms for the comfort that they almost always provide us when life turns rough and uncertain. I am learning to love the Psalms more as I continue to discover their structure, intent, historical context, soaring poetic expressions, and their many messianic references. They are a wonderful treasure of divine truth as well as an unbiased record of the human experience of the faithful. Their worth and beauty cannot be over estimated or over appreciated.

I came across a quote in the McCullough biography of President John Adams that puts in stark perspective the literary treasure we call the Psalms. Adams is nearly 90 years old at this point, he is at home in Quicy Mass., enjoying the his library and correspondences with such friends as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush. He has spent a lifetime reading Shakespeare (once every year in retirement!), Cervantes, Cicero, and most all of the other essential classics. Now near the end of his incredible life he reflects and writes that: "The Psalms of David, in sublimity, beauty, pathos, and originality, or in one word poetry, are superior to all the odes, hymns, and songs in any language." Whether or not he was actually born again will only be known later, but what he did clearly understand was the true unparalleled worth of this part of our Bibles.

A favorite resource of mine that has greatly helped me in understanding and appreciating the Psalms more is the devotional commentary set by James M Boice. His exposition is simply wonderful. If you don't have them, get one and try it, you will not disappointed!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Got Spurgeon?

I'm doing the evening readings by Spurgeon this year. Wonderful! "'The Lord knoweth them that are His', is as true of the prodigals who are feeding swine as of the children who sit at the table" [January 4].

Monday, January 3, 2011

"What's left unsaid"

It's surprising, as McGrath points out, how unproblematic false teaching or incomplete teaching is for many evangelicals. Paul and Jude appear clearly concerned with such dangers from within the church, and church history has validated those concerns. Often what's being said is not necessarily untrue. Rather, it's what's left usaid that may lead us down a slow path to theological liberalism.

"We are privileged to serve with you at Grace Baptist"

As Pastors, we want to express to you how privileged we are to serve with you at Grace Baptist. You serve at Grace with great grace, and you love God’s Word and one another with the kind of love that God that God has loved us with in Christ. We’re grateful that God has given us a desire for both grace and truth. Truth without grace breeds legalism, and grace without truth breeds liberalism. But we’re grateful that God is given us both. And God has also given us growth. Our goal from the beginning was to grow no larger than approximately 300 people before we’d plant another church. For many churches, that might be a career goal for a local church. But praise be to God – we’re almost half way there, and in just six years. “Great things He has taught us, great things He has done!”