Monthly Archives: July 2009

Dever on Preaching

I recently had a conversation with a Christian brother who was telling me about his church and their plans to scrap preaching in their Sunday morning services in favour of discussion groups. We had a good chat about it where I expressed my belief that this would be detrimental to their church. It got me thinking a lot about the necessity of preaching and I was reminded of this talk by Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. on the centrality of preaching. I’d highly commend it to you for listening:

The Centrality of Expository Preaching



Filed under 9 marks, audio, preaching

Driscoll’s New Online Book – Pastor Dad

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has a new book out called Pastor Dad that is available for free download. It’s a book for all Christian dads to read and is about how dads are responsible to “pastor” their children.

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Filed under books, family, practical theology

“Honey, the JW’s are on the phone!”

I felt a little low yesterday, so imagine my delight when the phone rings and the random caller on the other end wants to offer me encouragement from 1 Peter. Of course, I’m always suspicious of random phone calls, but I thought I’d go with this.

Caller: “Have you ever thought about God and suffering?”
Me: “Yes, I have.”
Caller: “Do you think that the bible has answers to the worlds problems.”
Me: “Yes, I do.”
Caller (a little surprised): “Would you mind if I read something to you from 1 Peter.”
Me: “I would love that.” (You can see I’m not saying much).
Caller: “First, would you mind receiving some literature in the mail about God and suffering?”
Me: “Sure, but who is the publisher?”
Caller (again, surprised): “The Watchtower and Tract Society.”
Me: “Ah, I see. I was looking forward to hearing some scriptures read. I’m a Christian and I thought you were too. If it’s alright, I’d prefer that we talk about who Jesus is and why you must believe that Jesus is Yahweh.”

And then the conversation changed dramatically. I tried to be as friendly and cordial as possible, at the same time wanting to speak authoritatively from Scripture. The JW was taken aback and was not prepared at all for a series of arguments from Scripture as to why Jesus is necessarily God. The following are what I took her through:

The Trinity in the Great Commission (Matt. 28). In Jesus’ command to baptise disciples, he says that we are to baptise into the Triune name. That is, the one name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I told her that this one name indicates that God is one, yet the three individual person are distinct yet connected by the words “and of the.”

I also took her to Isaiah 6, where the prophet sees what he would have understood as Yahweh in the temple. However, John 12 tells us that Isaiah saw Jesus and Acts 28 tells us that it was the Spirit who spoke to Isaiah.

Finally, I took her through a list of verses in Isaiah where Yahweh’s attributes are described and then compared them with the New Testament’s ascription of the same attributes to Jesus: Yahweh is the first and the last – Isaiah 41:4 & Jesus in the first and the last – Revelation 2:8; Yahweh is the only saviour – Isaiah 43:11 & Jesus is the only saviour – 1 John 4:14; Yahweh is the king of Israel – Isaiah 43:14 & Jesus is the king of Israel – John 12:15; Yahweh is the Holy One – Isaiah 47:4 & Jesus is the Holy One – John 6:69.

I told her plainly that if she denies that Jesus is God, then she will go to hell. She said that she denied the existence of hell. So I started to explain why hell is a place and why hell means that Jesus is necessarily God (only God can suffer hell on the cross for sinners).

At this point she didn’t want to talk any more. “I read my bible differently.” “Great,” I said, “I’d like to know why you believe, from the bible, that Jesus is not Yahweh.” She replied, “You have the bible memorised much better than I. And I don’t have time to go through all of this. You are set in your ways and it’s better if we ended the phone conversation.”

That’s when I got a little miffed. “You mean to say that it’s okay for you to ‘waste my time’ by randomly calling me. But as soon as it gets a little hot, you want out of the kitchen. That’s called copping out.” I had previously mentioned that I knew a key JW in Toronto named Nick Todd, whom she knew. So her reply to my challenge was, “Well, I am sure that whatever Nick told you is good enough.” My response was that her faith demands that she does the tough work of digging in her heels, rolling up her sleeves in order to find out the truth. She wanted none of it and was none the happier to get off the phone.

I finally asked her to take a month, to look over what I’d said, and call me back. I told her that I’d be happy to meet with her and Nick and go through the issues. When she tried to intimate that my Trinitarian views were novel amongst Trinitarians, I asked her for a list of books she’d read on the Trinity from an evangelical point of view. She couldn’t so I told her that I’d give her a list if she wanted. She didn’t.

I write this not with the intention to gloat. I really hope it doesn’t come across that way. My purpose is to show other Christians that it is necessary to be ready, as Peter admonishes, to give a reason for the hope that we have at any time. Who knows when the Lord will deliver such an easy time of evangelism? Be ready.

As well, I hope that Nick or some Toronto JW googles something and my blog appears. If this is the case, and you are a JW. I ask you to consider the biblical reasons why Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity, the only saviour. My prayer is that you would repent of your sin and trust Christ for salvation.


Filed under apologetics, jehovah's witness, toronto


Julian Freeman recently finished a short sermon series on the topic of biblical friendship. I caught the last sermon in the series on Sunday and it was very thoughtful and convicting. Check them out here.

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Filed under audio, friends, grace fellowship church, sermons

Schwa for Sale



My good buddy Colin Giesbrecht is an art student at the Ontario College of Art and Design. We’ve all known that he’s an extremely talented artist ever since his now infamous chalk board sketches of famous theologians that he’d spend all night working on so TBS students could be dazzled in their 8am Greek class!

Colin, who blogs at Multroneous, has a piece of art that he’s put up for sale called Schwa. It’s abstract, 32″x24″, acrylic on wood, going for $600 + shipping. I really like the piece and if I had $600 to spare, I’d buy it. I could totally see this hanging over a fire place in a coffee shop on Queen West or something. If you’re interested, or know someone who is, email Colin:

(I’ve posted the pic he sent with the flash reflecting back on purpose so that nobody is going to be tempted to use this photo for anything without Colin’s permission. The one’s without the flash give you a better idea of what it looks like).


Filed under art, friends, toronto

Whenever God Shines His Light

Whenever God shines his light on me
Opens up my eyes so I can see
When I look up in the darkest night
I know everything’s going to be alright
In deep confusion, in great despair
When I reach out for him he is there
When I am lonely as I can be
I know that God shines his light on me

Reach out for him, he’ll be there
With him your troubles you can share
If you live the life you love
You get the blessing from above
He heals the sick and heals the lame
Says you can do it too in Jesus name

He’ll lift you up and turn you around
And put your feet back on higher ground

Reach out for him, he’ll be there
With him your troubles you can share
You can use his higher power
In every day and any hour
He heals the sick and heals the lame
Says you can do it too in Jesus name

He’ll lift you up and turn you around

(Van Morrison, Avalon Sunset)

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Filed under music, van morrison

Herman Bavinck Conference Audio

I was speaking to a friend who is fearful about her first foray into systematic theology this autumn. She picked up some books by McGrath and Pannenberg from Crux to get ahead in her semester. I recommended that she check out Herman Bavinck, who’s four volume Reformed Dogmatics were just translated into English from the Dutch. She asked me to email her his name so she can look into him.

I did a bit of searching and came across a blog dedicated to him: Herman Bavinck. And was delighted to see that the audio from last year’s conference on Bavinck, hosted at Calvin Seminary, is posted. I will definitely give these a listen!

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Filed under audio, conferences, herman bavinck

RHS Ussher Bibliography

Wowzers, the Royal Historical Society has a website dedicated to bibliographical searching. I searched Ussher and some good stuff came up. Here’s the Ussher list.

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Filed under james ussher, research, Resources

Milton Friedman Discussion in Toronto

By Sharing the Legacy and Ideas
of Milton Friedman

July 31, 2009 would have been Milton Friedman‘s 97th birthday. Now, more than ever, we need his vision. To honor the impact he has had on our society, and to help clarify his moral framework for freedom and free enterprise, we will celebrate the Friedman Legacy for Freedom in partnership with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Institute for Liberal Studies
cordially invites you to celebrate
The Friedman Legacy for Freedom

Friday, July 31st, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Watermark Irish Pub
207 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario

Please RSVP to Matt Bufton
(519) 819-3037 or

744 Josephine Avenue
Windsor, ON N9B 2L3
(519) 819-3037

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Filed under conferences, economics, libertarianism, liberty, toronto

I’ll Make Ya Famous

128 years ago today Pat Garret shot William H. Bonney (aka. Billy the Kid) dead. In honour of this momentous occasion in American history, I thought I’d link a video from Young Guns II (far inferior to the excellent Young Guns).

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Filed under movies

American Theological Inquiry 2.2 (July 2009)

The new issue of American Theological Inquiry is out. Here are the articles. You may also want to check out the review of Michael Haykin and Kenneth Stewart’s book The Advent of Evangelicalism. Scroll down to the reviews, it’s the first:


Paul D. Janz
Glenn B. Siniscalchi
Ian Hugh Clary
Sister J. Sheila Galligan, IHM
Stephen M. Clinton
14:15-24) AND ‘THE MARRIAGE FEAST’ (Matthew 22:1-14)
J. Lyle Story
Richard H. Fitzgerald
Jack Van Marion


Filed under american theological inquiry, baptists, church history, me, Resources

Happy 500th Birthday John Calvin

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Filed under church history, john calvin

Long Haired Punk

My old friend Tim has some pics of our band Wonkavision. I had pretty long hair back then. He also has a recording of us doing a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” I remember when we played it at our highschool’s battle of the bands and John Oleynik, who was a fantastic drummer, played with us. We actually pulled it off if you can believe it.


Filed under friends, me, music

Harper and Transubstantiation

At a recent funeral for a Canadian dignitary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was televised at the altar of a Roman Catholic church about to take the Eucharist. Instead of ingesting the host, Harper slipped it into his pocket. This created a furor amongst leading Canadian Catholics.

My hope is that it was Harper’s Protestant convictions that led him to do this – he’s apparently an evangelical. I hope it wasn’t out of ignorance! {HT: Torontoist}

Here’s the video:


Filed under canada, catholicism, communion, harper, politics

Grace in London

It was a great encouragement yesterday to worship with the people of Grace Community Church in London, ON. I was there to do pulpit supply for their pastor, Greg McManus, who is a good friend of mine. I hadn’t been to Grace since I last preached there in August ’08.

Greg has been the pastor for only a few years. When he first arrived the congregation had about twelve people. The worship team consisted of singing along to a stereo (they sang Third Day when I went to one of his first services). But slowly the Lord has blessed. While my wife, sister-in-law and I were there a number of things struck us about how Grace is growing.

The numbers have steadily grown, and while not huge, there were about thirty people there. It was enough to stretch across the auditorium in a way that didn’t make the church feel empty.

When we first arrived, a middle aged woman greeted us who was very excited about the church and what she had been learning over the years (she even remembered my sermon from last year!). Grace runs The John Owen Study Centre, and she has been taking Hebrew through it. She is now in her second year and claims, “She loves translating Hebrew” (!).

The musical accompaniment for the worship has grown as well. Now, instead of singing to a CD, they have a girl in her early thirties playing piano and my friend Scott (who I’ll mention in a minute) playing guitar. The musical choices reflected a healthy blend of contemporary and traditional music. And as Jim, one of the elders, commented, it was great to hear everyone singing so loudly and with such gusto.

Grace celebrates communion weekly and have a separate morning service for it. Scott Vanderform, one of the early twelve, preached. Scott is about my age and has done some courses at TBS. When I first met him he knew little about theology or ministry. But when he preached yesterday I was floored by how seasoned he seemed. His sermon was well structured, handled the text (1 Tim. 2) beautifully, great extemporaneous delivery, solid gospel call, and he displayed great comfort with theology and the bible. I don’t know if I was more encouraged by his sermon or by the obvious growth he showed.

One final aspect of Grace’s service that was evident was the fellowship. Although a lot of the younger, university aged guys were fairly new to the church, there was a real sense of family amongst all of the people. Whether it was seniors, men, women, younger folk and even kids, you could tell that they loved one another. I think seeing that was what did my heart the most good.

So, if you’re in London and are looking for a good church family that preaches the gospel, loves the Lord and his people and is seeking his glory, then check out Grace Community Church. Tell ’em Ian sent ya.

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Filed under churches, friends, london

Paul in TO

My buddy Paul was recently voted on at Grace Fellowship to do full-time evangelism work. He will be working regularly with Grace, as well as New City Baptist (downtown Toronto church plant), and Grace Chapel (Markham church plant). Paul is cataloging his evangelism at Good New for Toronto {HT: Challies}.


Filed under evangelism, friends, grace fellowship church, new city baptist, toronto