In Memory of Dr. J. Renwick Wright

On Monday I participated in the funeral of a beloved seminary professor and pastor, Dr. Renwick Wright. The eulogies of the men who served at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary with Dr. Wright, his sons and his grandsons captured so well this man’s love for God, His Word, his wife, his family and others. Read this well-written obituary by Pastor Doug Comin to learn more of Dr. Wright’s life and ministry. Below is the message I gave based on II Corinthians 5:8 as requested by his family.

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II Corinthians 5:1-10

At Home with the Lord

The Funeral of Dr. J. Renwick Wright

October 12, 2009

Dear Mrs. Wright, Jonathan & Christopher and your families, our heartfelt condolences go out to you as feel acutely this day the separation from your beloved husband, father, and pastor. When Dr. Wright entered the pulpit, or when the Spirit of the Lord in him turned a classroom lectern […]


The Beauty of Holiness

Interesting how a theme of Scripture, running like a thread of gold through Holy Writ, can also run through your life. At first glance the painting of a sanctuary, sitting by the shore of Lake Michigan, the placing of new psalters in our pew racks, a trip to Atlanta, and a three-day youth service project (most participants pictured to the left – I’ll leave it to you to distinguish the youth from the non-youth) could seem to be all unconnected. Yet these experiences of mine over the past month have reminded me of the beauty of holiness.

God’s holiness is certainly a Scriptural theme. It’s as basic as ABC and 1-2-3, featured prominently in the first three books of the Bible, from His casting the fallen couple out of Eden and guarding it with the angels’ flaming sword, to His declaration of holiness at Sinai, to His levitical call to Israel to be holy. This thread runs unbroken through the Bible and alongside though always far above man’s sinfulness, until the two ultimately converge violently at the cross. Our sinfulness Christ bears; His holiness becomes our garments. From the moment the sinner receives […]


Do Not Get a Few

As a widow, she had grown so destitute in caring for herself and her two sons she had nothing but a jar of oil left. Yet it was enough for the Lord. His prophet Elisha said, “Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.” Every vessel they borrowed was filled, and she used the proceeds from its sale to support her family. This Biblical account came to mind during the report on our church’s global missions a few weeks ago at our Synod meeting. We were informed of a tremendous shortfall in support and warned that missionaries could be pulled off the field. At that time Pastor Don Piper told of being in Pastor David Hanson’s home recently. He observed his young children doing odd jobs and placing their money in a jar marked with the name of an African country where we have people serving. These young children were working and […]


Hearts Aflame

He was born on July 10, 1509, meaning this month marks the 500th anniversary of his birth. His life’s prayer, symbolized by a heart on fire being held out by an open hand, was “I offer my heart to you, O Lord, promptly and sincerely.” The impact of his life centuries later bears a strange witness to this prayer. For people who hear his teachings rarely remain unaffected by them. Their hearts too become enflamed –either with these teachings or against them.

I speak of John Calvin, and the response to his name or teachings (known as Calvinism) invokes the same reaction five centuries later as it did in his age. Many loved Calvin in his day. One called his academy at Geneva, Switzerland, as being “the most perfect school of Christ since the days of the apostles.” One of his successors, writing a biography of Calvin, compared him and other godly men to stars, “since they by their brightness show the way of happiness to others.” Yet many in Geneva scorned Calvin, believing that their happiness was the […]


A Work of Art

The Song of Solomon is getting a great deal of attention as of late. It’s meaning, once shrouded in the mystery of allegorical interpretations preferred by many of the Puritans, had many of God’s people simply not knowing how to read and understand it. Yet this poetic book, containing a running, romantic, Romeo-&-Juliet-style dialogue between a groom and his bride (punctuated by a chorus urging them on to wedded bliss), has had an unveiling of sorts in recent times. Many contemporary interpreters have seen it to be what it appears to be – a highly charged, sexual interplay between a man and his wife. Perhaps none have done more so than Mark Driscoll, the charisma-filled, Calvinistic pastor of the megachurch known as Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

Indeed, Mr. Driscoll has been so explicit in his teaching about sexuality, particularly from the Song of Solomon, that he even has warnings about the mature content on his website; a Nightline report on him said two words are associated with his name – “sex and Jesus;” Pastor John McArthur has responded with a series of articles whose main title let’s us know what he thinks of Driscoll’s interpretation […]


Summer Fun

Nothing like the warming days and sticky nights of summer to encourage us to slow down a bit and see all the blessing and chuckles the Lord has bestowed upon us.

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My summer started with our church’s annual Memorial Day Picnic, which despite the showers did not keep us from enjoying a cookout, remembering those in our armed services, and playing a vigorous and slippery soccer game. The next day I took off with Dave, Jack and Jared to the Banner of Truth Minister’s Conference in PA. Three days of great discussions, fellowship, and buying books! Yet the highlight was the searching and masterful preaching. Alistair Begg’s messages on “Persuasive Preaching” had us at times laughing uproariously (Can Reformed folk do that?) over his insights into Biblical characters even as he fired our hearts to be clear, authoritative and bold in our own preaching; Sinclair Ferguson had me in tears as the Holy Spirit applied his teaching on our union with Christ to sensitive areas in my own life. Thank you, Lord, for starting my summer this way.

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A baby robin fell from a neighbor’s tree and was adopted by my daughter. Emory researched on the […]


Dr. William Provine

Earlier this year, our apologetics class watched parts of the movie Expelled in order to discern the presuppositions people use in explaining their worldview and to discuss how we might respond. During one clip, producer Ben Stein interviewed Professor William Provine of Cornell University. Dr. Provine explained his evolutionary views, but it was the personal conclusions he drew from them that shocked our class. We were grieved to hear him say that if a brain tumor he had successfully fought off a decade earlier returned and was inoperable (which the movie said had returned), he would take a gun to his head and blow his brains out. Since there is no afterlife, he stated, it made little sense to him to prolong his suffering.

As my class of high school students discussed this, we decided we ought to write Dr. Provine, express our concern, and ask him to reconsider his worldview. To our further surprise, he ended up calling the church, getting my e-mail address, and responding to me and the students. What follows is first his letter, which despite his atheistic worldview reveals through his “gracious inconsistencies” he is made in the image of […]


Apologetics Projects

This year at Sycamore Covenant Academy I have had a great time teaching presuppositional apologetics. In response to a year end assignment that required the student to engage 50 people or more with the apologetics we had learned this year, two of my students, Andrew Swinehart and Trevor York, put the following video together. The amount of time, boldness they demonstrated in meeting with even pastors, and the response to be creative and make their presentations high quality surprised and encouraged me. Though I had hoped to be in this video only by virtue of an “Alfred Hitchcock-like” appearance (the bald-headed guy way in the back in the scene with the pro-choice gal is yours truly), alas, I’m in a full-face clip or two also. I guess their boldness also meant they did not take my threat to lower their grade to heart!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4450700&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

SCA Apologetics Project from SycamoreRP Church on Vimeo.


The Exhaustion of Mushgod

Years ago I heard a pastor in Pittsburgh preach about Mushgod. Mushgod is the civic god of our nation, the uniting god of our culture. She/he is the god referenced at the end of every politician’s speech though, as they dutifully quote on cue their statement of faith at the very end, they always use the cute nickname they have for him/her: “god bless America.” Likewise, every service organization from the Rotary Club to Little League Baseball prays to her/him and justifies their existence by him/her. Mushgod thinks nothing of her/his own glory, but rather is here just for you. Like a can of child’s Play-Doh, Mushgod takes the shape of his/her worshiper’s wishes. A while ago, one described the knowledge of her/him in a way we can all understand (or at least I can, seeing that I had this for breakfast this morning): “Cream of Wheat” divinity. For Mushgod is beyond definition, preferring an amorphous, rounded existence to the edges and corners that most theologians employ. If on occasion he/she gets mistaken for Santa Claus or Mother Nature, that does not bother her/him. And according to many of […]


Of Pigs and Pearls

A growing number of debates featuring atheist Christopher “Note-the-Irony-that-My-Name-Means-Christ-Bearer” Hitchens have been popping up all over the internet. Hitchens, a journalist, TV pundit, and author of the book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, has been debating men such as Douglas Wilson, Dinesh D’Souza, Frank Turek, Al Sharpton (Oh help us!) and even his own brother. Hitchens is professorial, extremely intelligent, humorous, and, I am beginning to believe, more cunning than believers. How so?

When his God is not Great book was published, according to his own words Hitchens told the publishers that he did not want his book tour to take him to the typical liberal bastions on the East Coast or college campuses. Instead, he wanted to go to the Bible Belt, to churches, Bible colleges and seminaries. Consequently, that is where many of these debates have been held. At least to this pastor’s way of thinking, I believe this welcoming of Hitchens is at best an act of incredible naivete and at worse one of gross unfaithfulness to Christ.

For did not our Lord instruct us not to cast our pearls before pigs, unless they trample both the pearls and […]