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Archive | Christian Living

The ‘Learning’ In Contentment

My favorite weekly meeting is Wednesday at 6 a.m. at Perkins Restaurant.

There I recently had one of those jump-off-the-page-of-your-Bible experiences. Call me dumb, but I had never processed the fact that three times in Paul’s famous “contentment passage” in Philippians 4 – which I have quoted anecdotally dozens of times – the Apostle specifically uses the word “learned” (in Philippians 4:9 and 11, 12 ).

The men’s prayer breakfast is not a big one, as prayer breakfasts go. But it is a faithful one, an intimate one. Men from our church gather like clockwork each week for the sole purpose of lifting our hearts together before the Throne of Grace. We make 3-4 specific prayer requests for the week, and then lift one another’s burdens to the Lord in prayer before a hearty breakfast. Our prayers are far ranging, kingdom focused prayers for the advance of God’s reign in this world. It is not a place where we sit on our hands, but where we take the Kingdom by storm.

But recently  God has landed the prayer breakfast guys in the school of contentment. He has simply overwhelmed us with his presence and blessings and pressed us to “come back” to a place […]

Two Cents on Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics matter.  Hermeneutics is the study of the interpretation of a text. As a pastor, I spend many many hours per week practicing hermeneutics as I study the Bible. There are certain rules that govern how a text is to be understood- and this is true in all liberal arts disciplines which interpret the writings of men and women. Whether you are studying Shakespeare, the Apostle Paul, or JK Rowling, there are rules for how one reads a text.

Today, I learned I had to teach my young son a lesson in hermeneutics.  Following my return from the study this afternoon I took two of my sons on a walk around our mountain.  My young son, following me on our walk, carefully picked up 62 Realtor cards that read, “Allow me to give you my two cents.” There were two pennies taped on every card.

To my son, who is not trained in hermeneutics, this card was to be interpreted as a personal promise to him. The “you” in the text was him, not the owner of the driveway in front of which the Realtor placed the card.

Hermeneutics matter.

Please consider this fact as you endeavor to study the Bible as a student of the Word. There are rules of interpretation […]

Meditations for Saints Full Of Thanksgiving

So, we’ve all given thanks in a variety of ways. And, we’re all stuffed. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, baked sweet potatoes and onions, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, cranberry bread, cranberry salad, corn cake, apple pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie, French silk pie, mincemeat pie, coconut cream pie, pumpkin pie, and cans of whipped cream were all passed around our table. Some of almost all of it ended up on my plate, somehow. What does it mean? Of course, it means the Lord has blessed us abundantly this last year. But does it mean anything more?

Perhaps too-often overlooked is what a full belly means looking forward. One Psalm of thanks, Psalm 136, guides saints who have feasted on Thanksgiving Day to think about tomorrow.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Today I was reading my copy of the Book of Common Prayer from 1662… it’s not actually a copy from 1662, but a Cambridge “1662 edition” in burgundy calf-skin leather with gilt edges that was published in 1968. It’s a beautiful copy, might I add.

Anyhow,  I was preparing for my congregation’s Thanksgiving Day Service and  I wanted to read some prayers from our reformed forefathers. The prayers of those who have gone before us ought to serve as  models for public prayer as much of today’s public prayer tends to lack the reverence and awe of those who have gone before us. I was not disappointed as I turned to the section entitled “THANKSGIVINGS.”

As you prepare your hearts for giving thanks unto The One who gave up His only Son so that we may have all things, I hope this prayer may aid in your prayers as well. Enjoy! 

Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament

The smell of turkey roasting is wafting through the church building even as I write. Preparations are being made in the kitchen so students learning English as a second language can experience a traditional Thanksgiving meal in place of regular classes this evening. Many of us will gather with families next week to give thanks to God for the bounty of another harvest season.

How do we grow in gratitude? Last week, we considered Eight Themes in Thanksgiving in the Psalms. This week, we consider Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament:

Highlights of Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges

On Friday and Saturday I spent a wonderful time in Indianapolis with over 300 other believers being fed by Tim Challies and David Murray as they addressed the topic of growing as believers in the midst of the unique challenges of the modern world.  The Second Reformed Presbyterian Church hosted the time well by providing a warm welcome to all, making available room for the huge layout of books by Reformation Heritage Books with tasty refreshments nearby, and offering special times of question and answer sessions with David and Tim, be it for youth around pizza or pastors around a tasty lunch. Certainly the time was a taste of the eternal fellowship we will fully enjoy one day.

As I believe it would be well worth the investment of time to listen to their messages, here are four paragraphs highlighting each one.  To listen to the particular talk, just click the title’s hyperlink. 

Eight Themes in Thanksgiving

As our nation reflects more on the nature of gratitude at this November, here are eight themes in thankfulness from the Psalms that guide us to a more God-glorifying gratitude:

We give thanks for who the Lord is. We give thanks “due to his righteousness” (7:17), “to his holy name” (30:4), “for your name is near” (75:1), “for he is good” (118:1), and “to the God of gods” (136:2). Do we know God’s name and his attributes? Grateful hearts do.

The Trinity’s Hymnbook (Part I)

Certain congregational songbooks use the word “Trinity” in their titles.  For instance, there is the Trinity Hymnal and the Trinity Psalter.  Yet how aware are we that the songbook found in the middle of the Bible, the Psalms, is filled with references and allusions to the Trinity?  In one sense this should not surprise us, as they were authored by the Triune God (II Timothy 3:16; I Peter 1:20-21).  However, if my own growing awareness and recent experiments pointing this out to students are any indication, many believers are missing out on this particular vein of richness in the Psalter.

My eyes were opened to this while sitting under the teacher of Robert Letham, author of The Holy Trinity.  During this wonderful week of learning, Dr. Letham showed how the knowledge of the Trinity is present in the Old Testament but is veiled and only progressively revealed. For instance, do you know where in the Bible is the first place the Trinity is referenced?  The first three verses of the Bible!  God (the Father) is mentioned in verse 1, the Spirit of God in verse 2, and the Word of God (whom we know is Jesus) in verse 3.  He then lead us through an […]

GenRef Interview: Rich Holdeman

“The design of God in our cancer is not to train us in the

rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets

comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count

their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count

their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in

the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design

is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9: “We felt that we had

received the sentence of death. But that was to make us

rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

The aim of God in our cancer (among a thousand other

good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts

so that we rely utterly on him.”

-John Piper-

Don’t Waste Your Cancer

In this podcast it was our pleasure to speak with Dr. Rich Holdeman, pastor of Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church.  Having been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Dr. Holdeman explores the challenges that come […]

Conference on Sanctification with Tim Challies & David Murray

After classes, I’m racing off to Indianapolis next Friday, November 15th, to attend the conference “Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges” being held at the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church there.  Two of our blogging friends, pastors David Murray and Tim Challies, will be addressing this topic.

Here is the description from the brochure:

Is a believer’s sanctification simply believing more in his or her justification? What place do effort and discipline have in this process? How can we focus on growing in Christ as we live in a fast-paced and distracted society? Through this conference, Dr. David Murray and Tim Challies will address these questions, focusing on four modern challenges to our sanctification and giving practical steps to overcome them so that we daily grow more and more to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. They will address the radical and extra-ordinary kind of life strongly advocated by many Evangelicals and look at the modern version of “let go and let God.” They will call us to live lives of focused godliness and pursue positive sanctification. In all, we will be strengthened as we seek to fight the “good fight of faith” and press on in righteous and holy living.

The conference is free of […]