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Archive | Christian Living

Proverbial Sayings in the Law: Sow One Seed in Your Vineyard

When one considers the law section of the Bible known as the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible – it is easy to think of them simply as codes and regulations like we have in modern law. Yet we need to remember there are various literary genres contained in what we know as the Law of Moses – Genesis through Deuteronomy. There are certainly legal stipulations such as those associated with the sacrificial section or the civil law of ancient Israel, but there also historical narratives such as Moses leading Israel out of Egypt in Exodus, prophetic portions such as Balaam’s pronouncements in Numbers, genealogies like the one found in Genesis 5, and even Hebraic poetry like that found in Genesis 4:23-24.

Another interesting thing to note in the book of Deuteronomy is the presence of what we might call proverbial sayings. When Moses is speaking, perhaps rather than viewing what he is saying as simply a legal stipulation for Israel, we might want to remember what this book truly is. Deuteronomy is not simply a collection of laws, but it is Moses preaching a sermon based on Israel’s history and the law the Lord had given them to […]

The Double Groan of the Gospel

Introduction

It would be ridiculous to deny that Christian are drenched with countless blessing both material and spiritual. Yet it would not be overstating the case to recognize that every Christian personally, and Gospel workers in particular, have the greatest share or portion not in this life but the next. Glory, for the main part, belongs to worldly men. In this valley of tears believers are often heaped with shame.

It is in the context of despised, inglorious, faith that the apostle Paul mentions a ‘double groan’ of the Gospel to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5.10. His double aim is confidence in their travail for the Lord and consolation for the afflictions and reverses they endure.

The Gravitational Groan

Our home is not down here, but with God in heaven above. Paul contrasts the temporary, flimsy, earthly body with the permanent, indestructible, heavenly frame – one day soon we will be like the risen, exalted, Lord Jesus, death swallowed up in glory, in the Temple prepared by God. Contemplation of this new resurrection body, in the likeness of the glorified humanity of our exalted Lord Jesus, should be light a magnet which draws our hearts, by soul-transforming, heart-rejoicing, triumphant-overcoming, walking by faith and […]

What’s wrong with the Occult?

I’m giving a talk this evening to some of the young people of our Presbytery about the Occult, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone today… Eastern Presbytery CY members look away now!!

 

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote ‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.’ Lewis makes the point that the Devil is perfectly happy with either of those extremes – both suit his purpose very well. The apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 2.11 that we are not ignorant of the Devil’s tactics. The occult is one of his many tactics to ensnare human beings, and so we should be aware of it dangers.

 

What is the Occult?

The word ‘occult’ means ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’. Occult practices have to do with gaining secret, hidden knowledge and using invisible powers to control things in the world. This knowledge and power comes from the unseen, supernatural world. All kinds of practices fall under label ‘occult’, such as fortune telling (in any of its many […]

How to Secure Attendance at a Prayer Meeting by R.J. George

R.J. George was a predecessor of mine by more than a century, having served as a pastoral theology professor at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary from 1892 until the time of his death in 1911. George wrote a three-volume set entitled Lectures in Pastoral Theology that contains a treasure trove of pastoral advice. In his second volume, entitled Pastors and People, he explains with wisdom, care, quaintness, and even some humor how a pastor should go about encouraging people to come to a prayer meeting (pages 32-34). I have reproduced this short section below with some editing.

If interested, you can view these volumes online (Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III). George goes on after this section to explain how to conduct a prayer meeting, the exercises that should take place within the meeting, and the helps then the hindrances to a prayer meeting, That the church would have such precise care and practice today!

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1) Arrange carefully as to the place of meeting.

a. If possible have all meet together. It is always heartsome to have a good-sized meeting. It promotes a warmth, and sociability, and congregational spirit.

b. If necessary, district the congregation. You must study the convenience of the people. They cannot […]

No longer talking

Have you noticed that people are no longer talking? Sure, there is plenty of chat in shops and restaurants, but how often do you phone someone? If you’re over 40 you probably haven’t changed your habits, but I suspect that if you are under 40 there has been a change.

I’m reading Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, a book whose subtitle is ‘Why we expect more from technology and less from each other”. In it she explores how technology is changing us and how we interact with each other.

One aspect she writes about is the growing distaste for the talking over the phone, and a preference for texting; of how using the phone is often seen as an intrusion on people.

Turkle quotes a sixteen-year-old who won’t use the phone: “When you text, you have more time to think about what you’re writing… On the telephone, too much might show.” Another says, he might, not now, but sometime soon, “force himself” to talk on the phone. “It might be a way to teach yourself to have a conversation . For later in life, I’ll need to learn how to have a conversation…”

She tells of a daughter being picked up from school by […]

3GT Episode 59: Should Christians Tithe?

The parishioner asks a simple question. Does the New Testament still require a tithe from Christians? You would think a simple answer would follow. But not when the pastor and professor tangle!

From Melchizedek to Malachi, from mint leaves to mercy, from money in the plate to money given electronically, the guys wrestle with the Bible’s teaching on what and how to give. Not only do Kyle and Barry debate about the tithe with Kyle “Peck-ing” Barry with a last zinger, but then Aaron enters the fray because he wants to give with his phone. But one thing is for sure. They all agree the believer is to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!”

Enjoy this latest offering from the 3GTers!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/3gt-episode-59.mp3

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You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

You Can’t Reform What You Won’t Touch

I’ve loved all the special services, conferences, blog posts, and books for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation these past weeks. I’ve revelled in remembering stories of Luther’s heroics, hearing messages on the doctrines of grace, and being stirred to keep carrying the torch of reform. Yet I wanted to point out one important truth about Biblical reform we need to keep in mind.

You can’t reform what you won’t touch.

What do I mean? Individual, congregational, or cultural reform does not occur simply by lobbing doctrinal cannonballs from the pulpit to the pews or, worse yet, from one computer screen across cyberspace toward the screen of an intended target. Rather, you have to get messy and touch what you desire to see changed.

Recently Rebecca VanDoodewaard commented, “Sixteenth-century Europe didn’t change because three or four intelligent men wrote new theological works.” She wrote that in the context of explaining how the women of the Reformation worked hard by raising godly families, opening their homes to strangers, conducting poverty relief, promoting theological education, and influencing politics. With hearts and minds full of Biblical teaching, these women put their hands and feet to work with the busyness of going forward and touching people in ways […]

Child-like Maturity and Childish Adulthood

What does it mean to have a child-like faith?  And how in the midst of their stormy youth are we adults to guide little ones away from childishness and toward the child-like maturity which Jesus commends as the only way to receive his kingdom?  We could begin by shoring up our understanding of “child-like” vs. “childish.”  Often without realizing it, and always to kids’ detriment, we adults tend to get those categories confused.   

Strangers in Saunas 4

Just back from the gym! It’s been a rather hectic week – well behind on preparation. Yet, it has also been the best personal witnessing week for a few months. Had two or three long chats with total strangers who have been stopping me to ask questions.

Tonight, in the sauna, however, really ‘takes the biscuit’ (an Irish term that means gets first prize)! Let me be very brief indeed.

Three strangers (man & wife and another young man in his early twenties) plus me in the Sauna.

Young man says to us ‘as older people, what advice can you give me?’ You are probably as shocked by that as I was.

After hearing the fairly bland response of the older man, I said ‘I’ve never been asked that question before by a younger person: here’s three things I would say to you.’

The first is…….

The second is…….

The third is…….

Three answers, six words, for maximum impact (by the grace of God, with the help of the Spirit). I’ll probably never meet the young man again!

What would you have said?

9.5 Theses: Suggested Reading on the Reformation

This article originally appeared here on the Tabletalk Magazine website and is reposted here with permission.

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With the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses approaching on the last day of this month, how might a church put together a guide for laypeople who want to learn more about the history of the Protestant Reformation? Before I answer that question, let me answer a more foundational one: Why is reading about the Reformation so important for Christians today? Please let me offer a bit of testimony for this latter question, then offer a guide to answer the first one.

Years ago, when I attended seminary in my mid-twenties, I took my first church history class. It was like stepping into a whole new world.

Having had a secular education, spotty church attendance through my childhood, a conversion in college, and then a journey for a few years before I came into a Reformed church, I had not known of the history I was now hearing. As I took courses and read, I often learned of people I had little to no knowledge about. I was fascinated by martyrs such as Perpetua and Polycarp in the early church, doctrinal […]