Category Archives: friends

New Fellow at Trinity

A friendly Glaswegian has informed me that Dr. Crawford Gribben was appointed a Fellow in the English department at Trinity College, Dublin. Congrats old boy, good show! For proof: Irish Times.

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SSMI Podcast

Sola Scriptura Ministries here in Canada have begun a podcast that I’d like to recommend. The first installment involves a discussion between Michael Haykin and Heinz Dschankilic on the question of doctrine and its importance for the church. Check it out:

SSMI Podcast

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Testimony of a Former Jehovah’s Witness

Here is my good friend Matt Fenn, who blogs at Pondering Christ, giving his testimony at a conference dedicated to former Jehovah’s Witnesses. Matt is a former Witness and has a powerful testimony. He is also a phenomenal defender of Christian orthodoxy against the Watchtower. The second video is particularly good–in it he explains how God used Philippians 3 in his life. If you ever get a chance to hear about how some unsuspecting JW’s came to his door, you’ll laugh your head off. If you’re a pastor and are thinking about doing a conference on cults or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would suggest getting Matt to come and speak. He’s excellent, as you can see from these video clips.

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Chris Wright on Idols and Disciples

Imbi and Bill Kinnon recently interviewed Christopher J. H. Wright while he was in Toronto, speaking at Tyndale. He was in Toronto fresh off the Lausanne Conference of which he is a key leader. The Kinnon’s have posted a snippet of the interview from a segment dealing with idols and disciple-making. You can check the segment here.

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Ruth

Ruth Gleaning in the Field of Boaz

Over the summer John Bell, pastor of New City Baptist in downtown Toronto, preached an excellent four-part series on Ruth. You can check them each out below:

Bitterness and Sovereignty

Under the Wings of a Sovereign God

The Threshing Floor Incident

Jesus, Our Redeemer

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Filed under church planting, churches, friends, john bell, new city baptist, toronto

Tipperary Confessions

Another group-blog that I contribute to is Tipperary Confessions, an online reading group whose goal is to read through and discuss Augustine’s Confessions. The blog was started by David Shedden a friend of mine (though we’ve never actually met!) who is currently ministering the gospel in Clonmel, Ireland. Dave is a master of theology graduate from Princeton Seminary, where he did work (appropriately) on W.G.T. Shedd and was for a time involved in the Church of Scotland.

Thus far we’ve made our way to Book II of the Confessions. The basic format is that Dave posts a summary of the book with some of his reflections and the rest of the contributors interact with him or post their own reflections in the comments sections. We contributors come from a variety of faith-perspectives, but all share an interest in becoming acquainted, or re-acquainted, with the thought of the colossus that is Augustine.

This will be my third time through Confessions. I first read it for interest’s sake quite a few years ago. My second time around was in preparation for some lectures I did on Augustine at Toronto Baptist Seminary as a fill-in for historian Michael Haykin. I’m very excited to read it again “in community,” with mutual interaction from “across the pond.”

Here’s part of the plan:

Group members should feel free to read Confessions at their own pace. They can post their own blogs on any matter related to the content of the book. Comments will be enabled to allow discussion on each blog post.

Niamh and I are sharing administration of the blog. We will moderate the blog discussions, and we will delete any posts or comments that we think are irrelevant or unduly offensive. Group members are reminded that the blog is public and can be read by anyone online.

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A Man and His Barber

 

 

Anthony cutting Jack's Hair

 

A man has a particular loyalty to his barber, some may even say a fierce loyalty. The barbershop is a place to unwind, blow some steam, and walk out feeling like you look like man–of course, all of this depends on the quality of one’s barber. When I first moved to Toronto in the summer of 2003 I was recommended to get my haircut by Anthony at Jimmy’s Barbershop, next to the old Maple Leaf Gardens. I gladly obliged and took the stroll down Carlton Street in the hopes that my hair wouldn’t get massacred. Much to my continued delight, I believe that I have found the best barber I’ve ever had. Over the years my loyalty indeed matches that of a hapless Tory who could cry “God save the king” with heartfelt conviction. So much so that even though I now reside in Windsor, I refuse to have my locks lopped by anyone but Anthony. It makes for a long but worthwhile drive. Where else can I get mildly poked fun of, hear funny jokes and good political commentary as well as get a straight-razor shave all in a half-hour or so? And Anthony is also obliging in that he has not only accepted, but read books that I’ve given him like Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God, The Reason for God, and even the bible.

This past year Anthony had to move from the historic to the illustrious; that is away from Maple Leaf Gardens and onto Bay and Wellesley across from Sutton Place. He’s now partnered up with a very kind barber named Ralph. I continue my loyal patronage. On Friday I made the way to Ralph’s with family in tow. Not only was I to get a haircut, but my son Jackson was to have his first sit in “the chair.” My mother somewhere has a picture of me getting my hair cut for the first time and when I look at it I feel as though I’m reminiscing over a momentary first-step towards manhood. So we took pictures of Jack in the hopes that he’d look back with similar fondness. Anthony gave him a haircut that, in the words of Abe Simpson, “you could set your watch to.” And for that, I’m profoundly thankful.

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Sola Scriptura Blog

Sola Scriptura Ministries International (SSMI) is a Canadian conference promoter and book distributor of which I have been long familiar with. Their executive director, Heinz Dschankilic, is a friend whom I met years ago through Dr. Haykin. Over the years SSMI has hosted numerous conferences on subjects related to Reformed theology that I’ve attended–too many to count! I’ve also probably bought too many books from them, much to my wife’s chagrin.

Recently SSMI has started a weblog and I am thankful to have been asked to contribute. My first post was published last Monday and dealt with “Protestant Scholasticism.” Check it out if you get the chance. As I submit blogposts, I’ll link them here, as well as posts by others that I think may be of interest.

In November Sola Scriptura will be hosting their annual London conference, the subject this year being the Holy Spirit. Speakers include Joseph Pipa and Guy Prentiss Waters. If I can, I plan on attending, as such events are always profitable. You should too if you’re in the area!

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Witnessing to Witnesses

Matt Fenn is a former Jehovah’s Witness. Four years ago he left the Organization and basically was cut off from his former religious community–including family. On his blog, Pondering Christ, Matt has posted a six-part series entitled “Witnessing to Witnesses.” These offer an insider’s take on how to approach the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to our doors. Most work that I’ve read about the Watchtower Society have been from the outside looking in, so Matt’s perspective has been refreshing and unique. In them he deals with the history of the Society, their failed prophecies, their unique theological perspectives and their teachings about the gospel. Matt also gives some practical application for how to press home the truth-claims of the biblical gospel to the Jehovah’s Witnesses we encounter.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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NANC Testimony

My friend Melissa is giving her testimony tomorrow morning as a personal endorsement for North American Nouthetic Counsellors (NANC). She has given me permission to post the final draft here at RearViewMirror. So here it is:

It has been said that there are only 2 certain things in this life: death and taxes.   I think I can safely add a third certainty:  If you live long enough, you will experience trials and tribulations – some of them intense, painful, and completely unexpected.  Caught without an adequate theology of suffering, or in a state of inexperience or immaturity, many Christians fail to capitalize on these opportunities for growth, and instead find themselves growing bitter and doubtful of truths they once claimed to embrace wholeheartedly.

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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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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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On Freedom and Upbringing

I was converted to Christ not long after my eighteenth birthday. I was at a Christian cottage ground visiting my best-friend at the time, Tim McCready. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of my conversion–I’ve written about that elsewhere on my blog–but I do want to post a couple of thoughts about Tim.

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Pondering Jehovah’s Witnesses

My buddy and fellow church-goer Matt Fenn is a former Jehovah’s Witness. He’s now a one-stop resource for all things Watchtower. Not too long ago he was interviewed at apologetics.com about his testimony and his thoughts on his former religion. If you know someone who is a Jehovah’s Witness, or are just interested in the subject, this is a good interview to listen to.

For more, you can check out Matt’s blog at Pondering Christ where he has some very useful posts on a broad range of theological issues that I’d recommend checking out.

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Filed under apologetics, audio, friends, interviews, jehovah's witness, matt fenn, Resources

West Toronto Baptist Church

West Toronto Baptist, in October, called my good friend Justin Galotti as their pastor! If you live in the Junction/West Toronto/High Park area and are looking for a church community where you’ll grow in Christ, this is the place to be. Justin preaches expository messages through books of the bible, he is solid theologically and is a great guy. So check out their website: West Toronto Baptist Church.

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American Theological Inquiry’s New Issue

The latest issue of the excellent journal American Theological Inquiry is out and available both in print and online. For the Reformed there are some noteworthy articles:

Preaching as a Means of Grace and the Doctrine of Sanctification: A Reformed Perspective
J. V. Fesko 

‘He Went About Doing Good’: Eighteenth-Century Particular Baptists on the Necessity of Good Works
Michael A. G. Haykin

Stephen Charnock’s Doctrine of God: An Anthology of The Existence and Attributes Of God
Ken Deusterman

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Review: Collision (by Mark)

My buddy Mark Nenadov has a review of the recent documentary Collision that follows Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson as they debate on the question of whether Christianity is good for the world. Check it out.

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Ray David Glenn and Advent

I’m not really a fan of 100 Huntley Street, it’s typical evangelical television that’s more cheezy than anything. They have the odd piece that’s alright. So I must say that I was happily surprised to see my friend Ray David Glenn doing their Truth To Go segments for Advent. Ray David is Rector at St. George’s, Lowville in Burlington, Ontario. He’s also one of the stalwart’s who left the Anglican Church of Canada with the Anglican Network in Canada of which he is a director. Here is a sampling of some of his videos:

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Colossians

This past autumn John has taken New City Baptist through a great series on Colossians. I have to say, it was one of the best sermon series that I’ve sat through. The exegesis, delivery and application is exemplary. And of course the preaching of the gospel. If you listen through the series you’ll hear the various emphases of New City, in particular holy living and evangelism. Check them out below:

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Filed under churches, colossians, evangelism, friends, john bell, new city baptist, new testament, preaching, sermons, toronto