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Archive | The Church

How to Keep the Sabbath on a Thursday

A friend of mine once brought to mind a truth that I have seen played out many times in conversation. Upon meeting someone, people in my  generation (good ol’ Generation X) will quickly ask, “What do you do for fun?” People in the generations before me will quickly ask, “What do you do for work?”

 I live in a generation which often defines people by what they do to entertain themselves, yet we live in a world that is intended to define people partially by what they do to employ themselves. 

The Incarnate Word and the Written Word

The doctrine of the Word of God has come on hard times among professing Christians.  This sad state of things is no surprise.  At the very beginning of human history, Satan assaulted the Word of God, which is to insult the character of God.  In so doing, the “father of lies” ushered mankind into spiritual ruin.  Particularly sad in our day, though, is the fact that many professing Christians believe that they are honoring Christ by denying that God’s written Word, the Bible, is everything it claims to be in its self-attestation and self-authentication.

Mind Flippin’ Stuff

As a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary board, this past week I had the privilege of attending a retreat regarding online education.  I had no idea going in what awaited me!

Aaron Sams lead the seminar, with encouragement and input from President Jerry O’Neill and Director of Development Mark Sampson.  Aaron recently joined the RPTS staff as Director of Admissions after a successful career of teaching high school chemistry in Colorado, where he won the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.  One of the innovative steps he and a colleague took, captured in a new book they have recently published, was the concept of “flipping your classroom.”  Rather than the traditional approach of having students come to class, listen to the teacher lecture, then go home to do their work, they have encouraged a reverse approach by making use of the explosion of  technology now available.  Why not have the students watch recorded lectures at home then come to the classroom and do the work where the teacher is available to help them?  So in essence students do the classwork at home and the homework at class!  I just bought the book and am eager […]

The Trellis And The Vine

While at my parents home this summer I snapped this picture on a whim, then stuffed it in “digital memory” … meaning I forgot it. Today I found it, and meditate upon the trellis and vine.

First, the vine. When our Savior instructs us about union and communion with himself, he instructs us in this way: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5a). Unfortunately, this verse and its context suffers the death of the  Christian cliche’. Because many have no actual experiences with vineyards, grapes, or even farming in general, the rich understanding of this Biblical passage and its overarching analogy can be lost on our minds. We’ve never fretted as our vine mysteriously wilted, threatening our economic livelihood. We have never groaned when the weight of the vine upon itself caused the vine to snap in half, causing all the fruit higher up to literally “wither on the vine.”

No, this world of vineyards is distant to us, and we would do well to enter the world of grape growers. The Scriptures are packed with spiritual fruit-growing messages for those able to decode the analogies.

Keeping Covenant with our Youth

Each month the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary sponsors a “webinar,”which is a new e-term for an internet seminar that people can access via their computer.  A PowerPoint presentation accompanies a 30-40 minute lecture usually done by a professor or pastor on a variety of topics.  From “Facebook and Faith” to “Is Your Church Healthy?” to “Ministry to the Poor” to “Biblical Counseling,” solid, Biblical teaching is offered via the internet to anyone in the world who wants to tune in.  Several of our “GenRef Gents” (as I call our contributors) have done lectures.  For access to past webinars, you can go here.

Today at 3:00 I will be conducting a webinar called “Keeping Covenant with Our Youth: Encouraging Congregations in Educating Children.” So often the focus of a congregation’s efforts can turn to activities for the youth rather than their discipleship.  As this issue has been on my heart for quite some time, I’ll be offering principles congregations can implement to encourage the latter rather than falling into the former.  I taught this at our denomination’s Synod meeting this past summer, and have augmented it to include a section I’m calling “Pursuing the Prodigals.”  I’ll be sharing some of what the Lord […]

Reformed and Presbyterian Family Tree

Ever wonder how the various Reformed and Presbyterian denominations in North America are related? Attached is a Presbyterian and Reformed family tree designed to help answer your questions! It builds on similar charts that have been made in the past. It especially seeks to mark the history and relationships of member churches of NAPARC (North American Presbyterian And Reformed Council). More detailed charts of either Reformed or Presbyterian bodies may be found elsewhere, but this document contains them all on one page.

A Post About Post-ness

Are we to be congratulated for being a “post” society?  The word “post” has come to take on a subtle, special significance when used as a prefix in the world of sociology, philosophy and therefore theology.

The term is used in a general way to indicate “afterward.”  In history, the phrase “post-Reformation Europe” calls to mind a particular set of years and the ideas which have driven and defined it.  But in our culture, the term “post” means not merely a chunk of history and the ideas which animate it.  We use “post” as both a description of how things are and a prescription of how things should be.  It is a comment on the movement of society, but also a self-congratulatory compliment on the particular direction in which we’re heading. 

When You Have Faithful Elders

In a few weeks I’ll begin preaching on Ezekiel 34, God’s disputation against the false and selfish shepherds of Israel. He includes fiery accusations like these:

Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with wool…but you do not feed the sheep.
The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed…
So [my people] were scattered because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. (from v. 2-6)

Frightening and sobering stuff. But for the time being, I’m in the middle of our annual elders’ planning retreat.