America’s First Book

The first book published in colonial America was the Bay Psalm Book. According to the website of the Cambridge Reformed Presbyterian Church (which my friend Dr. Christian Adjemian pastors),

“The book was published in 1640 in what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts in a print shop now long gone, located in what is today Harvard Square…The preface to the Bay Psalm Book was written by John Cotton…(and is) an explanation and defense of the American Puritan understanding that the Book of Psalms is God’s hymnbook for the Church. This is a belief that was shared by all Presbyterian churches until the 19th Century.”

One of the ten existing copies of this work is on display as “America’s First Book” in the Library of Congress. The Bay Psalm Book was used extensively throughout the colonies and went through many revisions and improvements.

My point in drawing your attention to this is to encourage you to read the preface which supports and defends the practice of the church singing the psalms in its worship. The preface begins with this eloquent statement:

“The singing of Psalms breathes out nothing but holy harmony and melody…”

but then quickly raises the concern against the church setting psalm singing aside:

“…but […]


A Child Will Save

Joseph McDougall was a physician in Nova Scotia who in the middle of the last century had a twenty-three year-old woman patient dying from tuberculosis. She was the mother of a one-year old child and had contracted this disease from her husband, a soldier in World War II. Perhaps if McDougall had practiced in other places, he could have performed procedures to help. Yet this young woman had a tubercular cavity in the lower lobe of her right lung and he could not operate. One procedure they had tried already had nearly killed her. So as she went from 125 pounds down to 87, they explained to her and her husband that she would likely die.

She made it known several weeks beforehand that she wanted to go home from the ward for Christmas. They did not think she would live that long, but on Christmas Eve she was still alive. She honored her promise to the doctor, not holding her young child at all and wearing a mask all the time except when she was alone with her husband. She returned to the medical center late Christmas day, and in the ensuing days her condition worsened further still. Yet she […]


ALERT!

I know it is rare that I blog twice in one day. However, knowing how trends always begin in California and sweep east, after reading this article I felt it my moral obligation to utilize the blazing speed of the internet to alert my readers (all three of them) to this danger and call on the Sycamore men to go into “high alert mode” as you have been trained! Be sure also to take the survey 100 times on this page and always answer “Yes.”

(For background to this alert, you may want to go to the last story on this page.)


In Response to a City Councilman

A city councilman in Kokomo wrote an editorial this week (which you can read here) calling his readers to have compromising views with respect to such issues as abortion. My “Letter to the Editor,” which I submitted but do not know if it will be printed in its entirety, follows. As many of us will be participating in the Life Chain this Sunday, October 1st, I thought this letter might remind us of the issues at stake.

In his editorial “A Revisitation of Religion and Politics,” Greg Goodnight used an assortment of quotes, Bible citations and personal reflections to support the idea that most American want “a ceasefire in the culture wars” and that individuals and churches should not use God’s name to win votes. Though certainly Christians must be careful not to put their hope in political power nor abuse it, and his personable style seeks to disarm criticism, the fact that Mr. Goodnight contradicted his own thesis within his column invites response.

Mr. Goodnight cites a survey that says sixty-six percent of Americans want a “middle ground” on abortion and that six out of ten white evangelicals also support compromise. This position reflects his own publicly-stated, pro-choice political views regarding […]


Old Testament Survey…of Me

The fifth year of Sycamore Covenant Academy has begun with a bang. Though still relatively small in size, this ministry of our church that provides academic and discipleship training for home educated youth has grown this year as we have more students and teachers helping us than ever. What is exciting to me personally is the enthusiasm for learning and the friendships with the young people, parents and teachers that I enjoy. Yet perhaps most exciting is that not only am I teaching my standard math (Algebra II) and Greek (Beginning) courses, but this year I am also teaching Old Testament Survey.

My goal for this class is to hopefully give the students just a taste of the experience I had in seminary while sitting in the class of Dr. Clark Copeland. Class after class I would sit there and have him open up for me the Old Testament Scriptures in ways that I had never seen before. Just as the guys on the road to Emmaus had their hearts burning when Jesus explained the Scriptures to them (Luke 24:32) and the disciples had their minds opened that they might understand the Scriptures about Him (Luke […]


The UNChrist

“I emphatically declare that today’s world more than ever before longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity, and above all longs for the perfect, righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.”

Does not the above quote sound like the end of a sermon? In a sense it was, but not the type you might think. Nor was the audience a congregation gathered at church on Sunday morning hearing about the return of the Lord Jesus. The speaker concluded his message with this loudly-proclaimed prayer: “Oh Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirst for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers among those who strive for his return and his cause.”

These words were spoken by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations on September 19th. As several bloggers such as Hugh Hewitt and Rush Limbaugh are reporting, the media has abundantly covered Ahmadinejad’s condemnation of President Bush and the United States, but few reporters have […]


A Bald Eagle Sighting

Ran across this picture and thought I’d share it with you.

It was taken back in February at Senior’s Night for my son Jamey’s basketball team called the Eagles. Miriam and I were supposed to walk out with Jamey before the game, hear some nice words read about Jamey and his future, and then have Jamey present his mother with a rose. I had even donned a tie for the occasion. Simple, right?

The only problem was that the other team did not show up.

We called the other team, but seems that there was a scheduling problem. They did not even have us down. So with a rented gym, referees, all that money spent on roses, and three seniors looking forward to being honored, we figured we better get an opposing team together quick. So some dads and alumni ran home, grabbed some gym shorts, and cobbled together a team. What fun we had that night! We even gave the Eagles a good game, though they came through with the victory at the end.

By the way, if you decide to form a home school team, don’t choose Eagles as your mascot. It is the most popular high school team name, and […]


Youth Groupee

Telemarketers can be annoying, but they can also be a source of mild entertainment. Especially the ones who call the church hawking the latest Christian trinket. I particularly enjoy this type of conversation, which happens once a month or so:

“Hello, Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church.”

“Yes, this is Christy from Teen Rage with an exciting offer that will help your youth love Jesus! May I speak to the director of your youth group, please?”

“We don’t have a youth group.”

“Oh,” followed by the long pause of a telemarketer who doesn’t have that response on her script. “Ok, well, thank you,” spoken with the voice of one who has mistakenly dialed up a leper colony.

Our congregation really doesn’t have a youth group, but this blog is not an anti-youth group rant. Rather, I wanted to tell you that I’ve just enjoyed a great summer hanging out with youth, be it my own youth group of six kids at my house, the young people in the congregation, or those at church camps and conferences. The highlights:

1) Monday through Wednesday of this week we had our second annual Youth Summer Service Project (YSSP) at the church. Fifteen teenagers attended. The three days started with devotions, ended […]


Obedience: A Learned Behavior

Recently a friend going through a tough time asked me for a copy of the following that I wrote quite a number of years ago. The title makes it self-explanatory. Perhaps a thought or two may be helpful to you.

Learning Obedience through SufferingWhat the Lord Taught a Pastor as the Congregation He Served Struggled through Division that Threatened Its Existence

If my perfect Lord learned obedience through suffering, so must all who follow Him.
Nothing helps like dry and thirsty times to bring out the sweet taste of the Psalms.
The best prayers are often offered with a libation of tears.
God provides an oasis in our deserts. They are called friends.
If God destroyed a whole generation for grumbling and complaining before they entered the land of promise, what will He do to those who grumble who are in Christ and His church?
In backyard basketball, we say, “No blood – no foul.” In other words, quit complaining about every infraction and just keep playing. That makes for a loose but good paraphrase of Hebrews 12:4-5, “If you have not started bleeding yet, then your trial isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Accept the discipline of the Lord and press on.”
Often silence […]


Do What You Cannot Do

He came banging in through the church door last Saturday, calling out with his thick tongue, “Hel-wo! Pas-ta!” As this “pas-ta” came out of his study and walked down the hall toward him, I recognized the form swaying unsteadily inside the door. He is a local fixture in this neighborhood, a middle-aged man whose body is twisted with cerebral palsy that makes his words and steps jerky and disjointed. The only time he moves about fairly freely is when he is seated upon his three-wheeled bike with the basket as he tools along the streets. One looking upon him instantly feels sorry for him.

He asked for five bucks because he said he was hungry. Jason, who was with me, asked if he had gone to the Mission, which offers two free meals a day, every day. He said people there made fun of him and asked for five bucks again. We flat-out said no. He said he would come to church if we gave it to him. We told him to come to church the next day then we would start talking about it. Without another word he turned and stumbled out the door in disgust.

Were we cruel?

Well, before I […]