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Is The Lid About To Come Off?

The last week has seen a progressively deepening crisis in Hollywood on both sides of the Atlantic. Celebrities, stars and Oscar Nominations Committees have disowned Harvey Weinstein with an air of disbelief and disgust. Prosecutions may follow for this most successful producer.

Now, today, on the BBC’s ‘Victoria Derbyshire’ program, new allegations, concerning the UK music industry have emerged. Sarah Bowden, a music manager, has spoken about a scale of endemic sexual harassment, abuse and rape which is “as bad if not worse” as anything Hollywood has to offer.

Perhaps, we might wonder, if guilty complicity of promotion-seeking stars, has led to a backlash – those who are ashamed are now seeking their revenge [though not in the case of Sarah Bowden, who repelled all approaches to her cost]. That still does not excuse the advances of these males. All godly, right-thinking, Christians, if not entirely surprised, should nevertheless be sickened by these criminal events.

These revelation, of course, may only be the first – we may well be about to witness the lifting the lid on a proverbial ‘can of worms!’ Can we really have expected anything else from the industry that was born and lauded by Al Freed and Ian Dury […]

Christian Competence

Time is pressing on in sermon preparation, so on this Saturday afternoon I thought I’d share my morning thoughts.

Introduction

Perhaps your feeling tired or jaded in the work. Maybe you feel the burden of the responsibility to preach. “Who” you may wonder “is sufficient for these things?”

Context

In 2 Corinthians 1-2 Paul has been wrestling with this question. He clearly had detractors who were running down his credentials. After laying out his defense, in 1.12-2.11, he asserts that his change of plans was neither whimsical or selfish. Instead he delayed his visit to spare pain to God’s flock.

In 2.14-17 he deals with Christian conquest, for Christ has called them, as ministers, to diffuse fragrance around the globe in Christ’s Gospel victory march.

Next in 3.1-3 he shows that in exercising his powerful, successful mission, through God’s means of grace, he needs no other, human, Christian commendation, for results speak for themselves: Corinthian conversion and church planting is proof enough of divine power at work in Paul’s apostolic efforts. The fruit of New Covenant ministry is seen in the regeneration of the ‘living letters’ that Christ, through Gospel ministry, has written on living ‘fleshy’ human hearts

Then, in 3.4-6, he insists that such apostolic boasting […]

Melting the Hardening Heart

The life of the Christian is a life that ebbs and flows in our love for God. We may not always want to admit that–but in our heart of hearts, we know it to be true. Sometimes our love for God grows cold. Oftentimes that coldness comes from what I would call “hardening providences.” Difficulties, frustrations, sicknesses, and other such providences in our lives can cause us to slowly harden in our heart of hearts. Our love for Christ can grow cold under the many pressures and difficulties of life in a fallen world.

What should the Christian do when he or she finds him or herself in such a position? Maybe you’ve found yourself in such a position?

John Flavel, the English Puritan, upon realizing that several in his congregation were struggling under heavy weights and hardening providences, preached a series of sermons on Psalm 57:2, “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” These sermons are filled with pastoral warmth as he pointed his people to the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the applications were some designed to “melt” the believer as he or she looks to Christ. Flavel asked, “How can a sanctified heart […]

Violence in Vegas – When false gods let us down

Stunned, saddened, sickened & silenced – that captures something of my reaction to the news of the terrifying, tragic, carnage in Las Vegas last night.

Perhaps some who read this post will have relatives caught up – brothers, sisters, friends, may you know, in abundance, the grace, peace & comfort of the Good Shepherd of the Sheep, in dark days that lie ahead.

How horrifying for survivors to watch loved ones mowed down in cold blood or expiring in their arms! How terrifying for those who, at a moment’s notice, were snatched away from earth by this barbarous act!

I’ve been reflecting a little today on how to make some sense of what frankly beggars belief: we are wise to admit, there are elements in all this that our finite minds cannot fathom – in the end we know God will overrule gratuitous violence for good; yet there are other elements here, which should give us cause to pause and help lawmakers learn lessons.

By instinct, you must know, I’m politically naturally strongly conservative. I believe in the right to self-defense, though I’ve never owned a gun (nor even fired a loaded rifle – except an air gun once or twice in childhood). Indeed, […]

Difficult but important reading: Hugh Hefner

[Please note: for those not already aware, some content in the following articles may be disturbing.]

It’s difficult to imagine a way for someone to do more damage to souls, families, churches and societies than Hugh Hefner. I remember the first time I was shown a Playboy at a friends’ house. Sadly, the image remains burned in my brain. Although I don’t know him personally, I detest and condemn his life’s work. I must take the blame for my own sins, but those who set poisoned candy before children surely stand under Jesus’ judgment (Mt. 18:6). 

Elders Who Represent Jesus Christ

Elders in the church are chosen to be representatives. In our republic that is the United States of America, governing officials are elected by the people to represent the people. Elders of the church serve as representatives who are elected by the people and from the people (see Acts 6 as an example of officer elections in the New Testament), but they are chosen primarily to represent Jesus to the people. The authority of Christ is administered by elders who represent him. Thus, the members recognize that the risen Jesus is himself the one leading the church even in the present age.

What does it mean that elders are to represent Jesus to the people? Jesus as the God-man is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). He is presently reigning at the Father’s right hand (Acts 7:55-56, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1). He has not appointed one man as his vicar on earth, as Roman Catholics believe. Instead, Jesus, in his humanity, still reigns over his church. Jesus gave the office of elder to supply representative leadership until he comes again. This leadership is always subject to the only final rule for faith and life, the word of God. He has appointed that a […]

Comfort for Christians

Introduction

A number of years ago, I came across a beautifully written, pastorally helpful, spiritually enriching and heart-consoling, little volume by Arthur. W. Pink, published by Baker Books, entitled ‘Comfort for Christians’. What caught my eye, and lured me like a bee to honey, was the sweetest four-page entry on ‘Our Light and Momentary Troubles’: at that particular time this was health to my bones and balm of Gilead to my soul.

That chapter, of course, was a moving exposition, from Paul’s letter to Second Corinthians, which I began to study afresh, yesterday morning, with much profit. In this sacred epistle the apostle handles many subjects, one of the chief of which is the suffering of the believer and corresponding divine consolation. In the very first section, he leads us with cords of kindness to the “Father of all mercies” and “the God of all comfort”. It is to this God of Grace, and the comfort found in Christ, that I want to lead your soul for refreshment of the heart.

Explanation

Before I begin to pin down some principles, with private and pastoral applications, I just want to make a few comments on the text itself.

First please note, that while ‘comfort’ in the […]

Post Tenebras Lux: Celebrating 500 Years of Luther’s Influence

The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in cooperation with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals annually hosts the Westminster Conference that kicks off the school year in early September. Given next month’s upcoming 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses, our theme this year was on the life of Luther and the legacy he has left. Post Tenebras Lux (“After Darkness, Light”) became a motto of the Protestant Reformation. The conference sought to highlight the transformation that took place as the Lord used Luther’s pioneering efforts.

Held this past weekend on September 8-9th, the chapel at RPTS was filled as Bill VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, with his wife Rebecca joined along with the faculty at RPTS to give the talks listed below. I have given a one-sentence description of each lecture.

The Lord’s Spirit was with us, as he knit the talks together to complement one another, brought new insights to many of us of Luther’s teaching as well as his and Katie’s life together, and gave those attending an eagerness to learn and discuss the material. If you would like to order the audio, please click this link.

William VanDoodewaard | If Ever a Monk Got to Heaven by His […]

God is all you need

Introduction

This morning as we speak the Caribbean territories and the ‘pan-handle’ state is caught in the grip of a hurricane, which, if predictions are correct, will result in dire need. Back here, in case you are not aware, on the western seaboard of the Atlantic, many public figures have criticized the lethargic, sluggish, response of the UK government – while the French and Dutch had troops positioned in advance to deal with the looming crisis, the ministers in Whitehall were sitting on their hands (at least that is the charge), while their overseas territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, were left in the eye of the storm, for Irma to do its worst.

Context

Paul writes to the Philippians from prison, with the potential of facing death row, to issue a promise that God would supply all their need. Just like any church or group of Christians, the needs of these believers were great. In addition to the normal round of problems that all of God’s children face, Paul catalogued a long list of urgent needs for both Himself and Christ’s flock, for which He was responsible.

Philippian & Pauline Needs

The recipients of the letter of […]

The Blossoming of a Desert Rose

On Dean Martin Drive in Las Vegas, Nevada, forty-seven people gathered for worship in the back room of a rented church building. From the perspective of the world’s desert-playground, the called service of public worship was less than noteworthy. It went totally unnoticed, I am sure. The night before this worship service McGregor and Mayweather boxed at MGM on “the strip” while millions watched over pay-per-view. Over that same weekend dozens of famous music acts, comedians, dancers, and less honorable shows and events occurred. Millions of dollars—or more—were spent at tables and in slot machines. But which event had eternal significance? Las Vegas Reformed Presbyterian Church was established.

In 2012, a group of friends committed to confessional presbyterianism approached the RPCNA’s Pacific Coast Presbytery with a Macedonian call: “Brothers, come over and help us!” Since that time the small Pacific Coast Presbytery sent ministers and prayers, gave oversight and counsel, as well as loved, taught, and encouraged this small group of friends and worshipers. Over time the small group grew to include several new families and singles.

Not all were happy. “Your church is doomed before it even begins.” That was the comment of one local who encouraged one of the worshipers […]