Monthly Archives: May 2010

Basics 2010

Yesterday I returned from the Basics Conference, hosted by Alistair Begg and Parkside Church. The conference speakers this year included Begg, Sinclair Ferguson and John Shearer–all Scots! I had a phenomenal time. I enjoyed the fellowship of Richard Valade, with whom I traveled, as well as a number of fellow students from TBS.

Below are links to the conference audio (video is also available), which I would recommend listening to. Each sermon and lecture was awesome and I will listen to them again and again.

I do want to pick out one as a particularly important file to download and listen to. John Shearer’s talk on “Reflections and Resolutions for Pastoral Ministry” is very important for pastors and aspiring pastors to listen to. John pastors a small Baptist church in Musselburgh, Scotland (see Musselburgh Baptist Church). It isn’t large or well-known, but he is a faithful pastor. His reflections were humbling, convicting, funny and powerful. That one session was the highlight of the conference for me–and that says a lot because I was completely dumbfounded by Ferguson on Union with Christ!

Session 1: Distinctives of the Man of God (Shearer)

Session 2: Union with Christ for Christian Living (Ferguson)

Session 3: The Word of the Cross (Begg)

Session 4: Union with Christ for Pastoral Ministry (Ferguson)

Session 5: Duties of the Man of God (Shearer)

Session 6: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified (Begg)

Panel Discussion: Begg, Ferguson, and Shearer

Breakout 1: Practical Pointers on Expositional Preaching (Begg)

Breakout 2:  Preaching Christ from the Old Testament (Ferguson)

Breakout 3: Reflections and Resolutions for Pastoral Ministry (Shearer)

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Filed under alistair begg, audio, conferences, john shearer, sinclair ferguson, union with Christ

Christianity, Conscience and Conviction

At the Imperial Diet of Worms the sixteenth-century German Reformer, Martin Luther, famously stood against calls to recant his writings. He had published a number of works criticising the Roman Catholic Church for its excesses, both moral and theological. Thinking himself a loyal son to the Church, the call to recant seriously affected him. We often think of Luther as a firebrand seeking to topple Rome from the outset, however history proves this is not the case. Evidence for this can be seen in the simple fact that when Luther was initially called to recant he requested a night to think about it. Off to his room, Luther spent the night in travail, his inner-most soul crying out to God for direction. As we know, Luther eventually came to the conclusion that he must not recant because Scripture, reason and conscience prevented him from doing so. The next day, before the Diet, Luther boldly uttered the commonly quoted phrase, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Continue reading

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So What Does Hart Really Think of Hitchens?

Earlier this year I read about half of Christopher Hitchens’ book God is Not Great, but couldn’t continue because it was so bad. I’ve thought of reviewing it, but to get explain all of the mistakes would have taken another book of double the size. Thankfully, Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has a piece in the recent issue of First Things on the New Atheism that deals with Hitchens perfectly {HT: Between Two Worlds}. Below is the section on Hitchens, but I highly recommend reading the whole article–it’s hilarious. I laughed and laughed my whole way through!

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Pray for the Glenn Family

Ray David Glenn is the rector of St. George’s Anglican church in Burlington. In the last week or so his wife Rhonda was found to have a tumor lodged deep in her brain. The Glenns are dear Christians and Ray David is a faithful minister of the gospel. St. George’s Anglican is part of the Anglican Network in Canada–if you know anything of their struggles due to their strength of conviction, then you know the kind of man that Ray David is. I first met him over a year ago at a Simeon Trust preaching workshop–we were workshop partners and I remember thinking he was a snazzy dresser. After meeting him and his fellow ministers I was deeply impressed with their evangelical commitment.

Pray for Rhonda that God would do a miraculous work of healing. Pray also that God would bear her up in Christ through this terrible time of suffering. Pray for Ray David that he would be strong for her and their son Matthew. Pray also that the Lord would strengthen his own heart. Pray for Matthew, this is horrible for a child to go through. Finally, pray that God would be glorified in all of this, because this is the type of prayer that the Glenns are modelling for us.

For updates see the news section of the St. George’s website: http://www.stgeorgesonline.com/cat/news-events/news/

Put them on your prayer lists and pray regularly!

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Esteeming Christ’s Bride

During the training session for the recent Simeon Trust workshop in Toronto, David Helm took the workshop leaders through a number of passages of apocalyptic literature that we would be dealing with in our sessions. I sat in a room of scholars who knew the bible inside and out and so it was a real treat to be able to hear these men exposit their assigned texts of scripture.

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Ted Donnelly on Hell

Ted Donnelly, a well-known Reformed Presbyterian from Ireland, has an excellent sermon series on hell. There are a number of subjects that get little attention in evangelical preaching and unfortunately hell is one of them. But if hell is a real place, and it is, then any preacher that wittingly or unwittingly fails to address it is holds some measure of responsibility. It’s like a person who knows that the bridge ahead is washed out and says nothing about it. That person is culpable for the deaths of any who careen over the edge. Likewise, if preachers, teachers and evangelists never speak of hell they are culpable–not ultimately culpable, that responsibility lies with the one who goes to hell, but culpable none-the-less.

A funny story, a number of years ago a couple of TBS students (I will leave them nameless) led a college and career study. They decided to do a four-week series listening to Donnelly on hell. I guess it scared the tar out of some in attendance!

So here is Donnelly:

Why Should We Think About Hell?

What Does The Bible Teach About Hell?

What Will Hell Be Like?

What Effect Should This Have Upon Us?

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Filed under audio, hell, Resources, sermons

Be Challies’ Friend…Pleeeaaasseeee!

Tim Challies, the infamous evangelical blogger, has started up a “Friends of the Blog” program that I recently joined and would highly recommend that you do too! It involves a yearly subscription of $39/year, but the rewards for being a subscriber at this point value at $160. So, for instance, some of the neat things you get include: subscription to Tabletalk magazine, free book from Zondervan, free book from Reformation Heritage, lots of free music, etc.
In Tim’s words: “When you become a Friend of the Blog you receive immediate access to each of these benefits, along with all the others to be announced over the course of your one-year subscription. Already there is at least $160 in value in things you will actually use, read, listen to! And there is more to come.”
To sign up, clink the link below:

Become a Friend of a Friend

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Idolness of the Heart

The heart is a factory of idols. That quote from Calvin is common to hear repeated in Reformed circles, so much so that maybe it has become cliche. But like so many cliches, there is truth to it. In this case, profound truth.
As most evangelicals wrongly see Satan under every blade of grass, we often fail to see our idols there instead. Everywhere we turn in our lives an idol crops up, waiting to pull our worship away from God. If all of life is to be categorised by worship, then all of life can also succumb to idolatry.

Of course, I’m not speaking necessarily of pagan tree worship–although that is a reality in some places–but the everyday idols that we take for granted. Yet whatever form it may take, all idols seek to devour our souls. Idolatry in the western hemisphere can include many things. The aforementioned tree worshipping is probably in vogue somewhere near Seattle, but idolatry’s subtle charm overwhelms us in every avenue of life. Be it the desire for more money; climbing up the corporate ladder; breaking one’s long-held convictions in compromise; marriage to the wrong person because of age; the mass hoarding of material possessions; coveting other people’s goods or life…this list could go on and on. It can go on and on because any sin is ultimately idolatry and the list of sins possible to the human heart is almost infinite.

I have been thinking a lot about idolatry lately, not the least because I recently read Tim Keller’s excellent little book Counterfeit Gods. But it has hit close to home lately and has really forced me to consider how vast and deep idolatry entrenches itself in our lives. 

But what are idols good for? To paraphrase the title of Herbert Schlossberg’s classic, they are only good for destruction. If we don’t destroy the idols of our hearts, God will. Consider the story of Dagon, the idol of 1 Samuel 5. It is one of the great stories in the bible alongside that of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, if only for its clear demonstration that God hates idolatry. You probably know the story, when the captured ark of the covenant was placed in the same room as Dagon, the idol fell over. The Philistines put Dagon back in order, only to find him fallen again, this time with his head and hands broken off. What a fantastic image!

When God deals with idolatry, it’s not an easy thing to experience. The wound hurts as the cancer is pulled free. And while it is good for the idol to be destroyed, the process often leaves a scar. This is a reminder to myself to keep free of idols, hard though it is. I succumb to idolatry regularly because, as I’ve said, all sin is idolatry. The key to destroying the idols of one’s heart is found in one word: satisfaction. To be satisfied in God and what he has planned for us is the key to keep us from turning to idols. When I’m satisfied in God I will not covet my neighbour’s car. When I’m satisfied in God I will not begrudge another of the good life God has given them. When I’m satisfied in Christ my life is ultimately placed in his hands and I will trust him to do what is right with me.

Satisfaction in Christ rests first and foremost in the gospel. That Christ, the eternal Son of God, died for my sins on a Roman cross should give me great cause to be satisfied in all that he has done for me. How could I not be satisfied in him? He died, he was resurrected, he intercedes for me, he sent the Holy Spirit for me, he will come again to bring me into my eternal reward. When I lack in satisfaction in Christ, I in effect tell him that these things mean nothing.

God help my unbelief. God help all of our unbelief! This is a problem that plagues us all, and we must be aware of it and diligent in killing it. To close with another reference to a quote by a famous Reformed theologian, in this case John Owen, we should be killing sin or sin will be killing us.

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