A.Mohler on “The End of Men? — A Hard Look at the Future”

Dr.R.Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and active blogger on current trends in culture, has posted another fascinating and significant commentary on a recent article that appeared in The Atlantic magazine entitled “The End of Men”.

This is how his article opens:

Is our postmodern, postindustrial society simply better suited to women than to men? Hanna Rosin makes the case for this claim in the current issue of The Atlantic, and her article demands close attention. Men, she argues, are simply falling behind women in almost every sector of cultural influence and economic power. This shift, she understands, is nothing less than unprecedented in the span of human history.

He goes on to summarize the writer’s argument:

Rosin’s article is well documented and forceful in argument. The bottom line is the claim that the trend and trajectory of the global economy have for some time now been headed toward female skills and talents. At the most basic level, this means a shift from physical strength to intellectual energies and education. At the next level, it also means a shift from leadership models more associated with males toward the nurturing leadership more associated with women. In any event, the changes are colossal.

And here are a few of Mohler’s closing comments, as he marks the impact of this trend on the Christian family and church:

For Christians, the importance of this article is even greater. God intended for men to have a role as workers, reflecting God’s own image in their vocation. The most important issue here is not the gains made by women, but the displacement of men. This has undeniable consequences for these men and for everyone who loves and depends on them.

The elites are awakening to the fact that these vast changes point to a very different future. Christians had better know that matters far more important than economics are at stake. These trends represent nothing less than a collapse of male responsibility, leadership, and expectations. The real issue here is not the end of men, but the disappearance of manhood.

I encourage you to read the full article at the link below. And then have a talk about it with your family and in your church. How do you see and judge this trend in the light of God’s Word? What should our response be?

AlbertMohler.com – The End of Men? — A Hard Look at the Future.

Reading and the Secret to Bearing Afflictions

As a follow-up to today’s earlier post about Joni E.Tada, I read another supporter’s blog today (Randy Alcorn) who wrote about the link between Joni’s spiritual strength in afflictions and her reading habits – and for that matter, what should be and is behind every believer’s ability to handle the trials God sends – the reading of God’s Word and other solid books that feed the soul. These are the means God uses to bestow His grace on His people (in addition to prayer and the preaching of His Word, of course).

We can learn from our fellow saints, and this struck me as another good reason for us to be good readers. I hope it inspires you too to delve into the Word and classic Christian books. What, after all, is on our book shelves?

This part of what Randy Alcorn wrote (the full article may be read at the link below):

I love to look at the books on people’s shelves. One night when Nanci and I were at Ken and Joni’s home in southern California, I looked through the bookshelves, lined with classic works by great theologians and preachers, including many of my favorites, such as Charles Spurgeon. The books Joni reads are rich and deep, centered in God’s Word, food for her soul. No wonder both the life she lives and the books she writes share those same qualities.

Before difficult times come your way, develop habits of studying God’s Word, listening to Christ-centered teaching and music, and reading soul-nourishing literature, both nonfiction and fiction. Daily fill the reservoir from which you can draw when facing difficult times—and helping others face theirs.

Great peace comes in meditating on the attributes of our God and his care for us. Charles Spurgeon—a favorite of Joni Tada… said, “It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity.”

Nourishment for the Soul – Blog – Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Joni E.Tada’s New Battle

Many of you are familiar with and have profited from the ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada, usually known by her ministry “Joni and Friends” (radio, internet, etc.). She is a quadriplegic who has given powerful testimony to the sovereignty of God and the sovereignty of His grace in her disability. She has been a tremendous encouragement to many in her affliction, helping them find contentment, peace, and hope in their own afflictions.

I learned today through another website that she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and was scheduled for surgery today (I am writing this on Monday, June 28). Through her website and blog she and her husband Ken have asked for prayers – for healing, but also for grace to bear whatever God wills for them in this new trial. Though her surgery is over, it is certainly not too late to pray for them. And for many that you and I know who struggle with this dreaded disease and other sicknesses and disabilities. Listen to her video link below, and you will know how to pray for them; but you will also find strength and comfort for yourself and others.

This is part of her video testimony:

I’ve often said that our afflictions come from the hand of our all-wise and sovereign God, who loves us and wants what is best for us. So, although cancer is something new, I am content to receive from God whatever He deems fit for me,” she said. “Now I have a chance to truly empathize and journey alongside [people struggling with cancer], affirming that God’s grace is always sufficient for whatever the disease or disability.

She also includes on her website a link to a wonderful article written by two Calvinistic men who faced cancer in the last few years – John Piper and David Powlison (“Don’t Waste Your Cancer”). It is worth reading and printing to share with others.

As we bear one another’s burdens in the church of Christ, may we find grace from God to glorify Him in all He gives us this side of Jordan. And may we be prepared through all our afflictions to enter the Canaan above where we will glorify God perfectly and forever for all His gifts and grace to us in Christ. CJT

Joni’s Corner | Joni and Friends.

New Calvinism and On-Going Reformation

This month’s Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries, June 2010) is devoted to the subject of the “new Calvinism”, that fairly recent revival of interest in the doctrines of sovereign grace going on in evangelical circles throughout this country (U.S.) and abroad. Christian journalist Collin Hansen called attention to it a few years ago in his book Young, Restless, and Reformed, and last year Time magazine even made mention of it in its list of “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now” (made #3!). Now Tabletalk offers some critique of and suggestions to the movement. On the whole I was pleased with their comments. I am going to give you a couple of quotes from the issue that I think you will profit from too. And at the same time encourage us in our continuing pursuit to be “reformed yet always reforming” (according to the Word of God).

The first quote is from R.C.Sproul himself in his lead article “Fueling Reformation”. At the end of his article he writes these important words:

All this is to say that Reformed theology so far transcends the mere five points of Calvinism that it is an entire worldview. It is covenantal. It is sacramental. It is committed to transforming culture. It is subordinate to the operation of God the Holy Spirit, and it has a rich framework for understanding the entirety of the counsel of God revealed in the Bible.

So it should go without saying that the most important development that will bring about reformation is not simply the revival of Calvinism. What has to happen is the renewal of the understanding of the gospel itself. It is when the gospel is clearly proclaimed in all of its fullness that God exercises His redeeming power to bring about renewal in the church and in the world. It is in the gospel and nowhere else that God has given His power unto salvation.

If we want reformation, we have to start with ourselves. We have to start bringing the gospel itself out of darkness, so that the motto of every reformation becomes post tenebras lux — “after darkness, light.” Luther declared that every generation must declare freshly the gospel of the New Testament. He also said that anytime the gospel is clearly and boldly proclaimed, it will bring about conflict, and those of us who are inherently adverse to conflict will find it tempting to submerge the gospel, dilute the gospel, or obscure the gospel in order to avoid conflict. We, of course, are able to add offense to the gospel by our own ill-mannered attempts to proclaim it. But there is no way to remove the offense that is inherent to the gospel message, because it is a stumbling block, a scandal to a fallen world. It will inevitably bring conflict. If we want reformation, we must be prepared to endure such conflict to the glory of God (p.7).

Next comes these fine words from Burk Parsons, in his article “Calvinism Isn’t Enough”:

It’s hard to know what may come of this so-called ‘New Calvinism.’ However, we do know that if the New Calvinism does in fact endure, it will endure only because it becomes firmly established on the old Calvinism of John Calvin himself – the same Calvinism of Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, Augustine, and the apostle Paul, which is nothing less and nothing more than the all-encompassing gospel-religion of our eternal and triune God – a religion, in the best sense of the term, existing in and among people of every tribe, language, and nation whom our Lord has sovereignly called into an eternal relationship with Himself through the redeeming work of the Son and the applying work of the Spirit.

The Calvinism I’m describing is an historically and ecclesiastically grounded Calvinism established within and upon that which our covenant Lord established and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail – the church of Jesus Christ. And we, the called-out ones, are the confessing church of Jesus Christ, and have been given ordinary means of God’s grace (the Word, prayer, and the sacraments, that is, all aspects of worship for all of life) through which God has promised to convict, convince, convert, equip, purify, discipline, sanctify, and sustain to the end, that we would love God, glorify God, and enjoy God forever (pp.20-21)

And finally, this from R.C.Sproul, Jr. in “Repentance and Reformation”:

That piety that drives reformation, however, is Reformation piety. That is to say, we will get nowhere if we seek to change the world by our own spiritual bootstraps. Reformation piety is not a mere commitment not to dance, drink, or chew, and not to date girls that do. No reformation will ever be built on the foundation of our own spiritual ardor. Reformation piety is a piety that breathes the very air of repentance. It sets aside the camel-swallowing, gnat-strangling propensity we all have of looking at our own sins through a microscope and looking at the sins of others through a magnifying glass. We instead ought to be, as Luther was before us, haunted by our own sin long enough to cry out for the grace of God. And then we believe.

It was, in the end, faith that brought us the Reformation, and only faith will bring us another. We did not change until we learned that we cannot change ourselves. We did not enter into purity until we understood, by His grace, that only His purity would do. That Reformation faith, however, did not end with our own salvation. Neither did it leap from our own salvation to remaking the world. Instead, it moved from saving faith to sanctifying faith, from repenting to believing. Then, all heaven began to break loose.

…The life of repentance and faith — this must needs be our only “strategy.” Repent and believe, and reformation will follow. Jesus said so. Luther said so. Here we stand. We can do no other. So help us God (p.27).

Reformed Witness Hour

And speaking of listening to the Word of God, allow me to promote here (long overdue!) the radio ministry of the Protestant Reformed Churches – the Reformed Witness Hour. Each Sunday we broadcast on various stations throughout the U.S. and Canada – and via the internet 24/7 anywhere in the world! – the truths of sovereign grace according to the Word of God. Our program features sound exposition of the Scriptures by our radio pastor, Carl Haak, and other pastors in the PRC, beautiful sacred music, and notices of seminars and conferences going on for the benefit to our listeners. In the Grand Rapids area, you may hear the RWH at 8:00 a.m. (WFUR FM, 102.9) and at 4:00 p.m. (WFUR AM 1570). I encourage you to take in this important ministry, especially if you are a shut-in or are withheld from regular worship services by God’s good providence. Here is the current listing of stations (And don’t forget, you may listen anytime to the RWH by visiting our website and clicking on the program of choice. I have a link on my main page.):

RWH Radio Pastor C.Haak

Stations broadcasting our weekly program:

UNITED STATES
Tucson, Arizona KQTH-FM (104.1) 7:00 AM Sun
Riverside, California KPRO-AM (1570) 11:30 AM Sun
Denver, Colorado KLTT-AM (670) 1:30 PM Sun
Fayetteville, North Carolina WFNC-AM (640) 9:30 am Sun
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania WORD-FM (101.5) 10:00 AM Sun
Chicago, Illinois WYLL-AM (1160) 8:00 AM Sun
Sioux Center, Iowa KDCR-FM (88.5) 5:00 PM Sun
Pella, Iowa KCWN-FM (99.9) 3:30 PM Sun
Grand Rapids, Michigan WFUR-AM (1570) 4:00 PM Sun
Grand Rapids, Michigan WFUR-FM (102.9) 8:00 AM Sun
Pipestone, Minnesota KLOH-AM (1050) 8:00 AM Sun
Omaha, Nebraska KCRO-AM (660) 4:30 pm Sun
Omaha, Nebraska KCRO-AM (660) 8:00 pm Wed
Sioux Falls, South Dakota KWSN-AM (1230) 8:00 AM Sun
Blaine, Washington KARI-AM (550) 8:00 PM Sun
Spokane, Washington KQNT-AM (590) 9:00 AM Sun
Waupun, Wisconsin WMRH-AM (1170) 8:30 am Sun
Spokane, Washington KTW-AM (630) 2:30 PM Fri
CANADA
Edmonton, Alberta CJCA-AM (930) 6:30 PM Sun
Wingham, Ontario CKNX-AM (920) 7:00 AM Sun
UNITED KINGDOM
Northern Ireland Gospel 846-AM 8:30 AM Sun
PHILIPPINES
Philippines DYSB-AM (1179)
Super Radio RGMA Network
6:30 PM Sun
(All times listed are local time.)

Dumb Images Vs. Lively Preaching

As our pastor makes his way through another series on the 10 commandments, following the Heidelberg Catechism, I have been reading two books on God’s law. The first is Kevin DeYoung’s The Good News We Almost Forgot (Moody 2010), which is a brief commentary on the catechism, and Philip Ryken’s Written in Stone (P&R, 2010), a book devoted entirely to the importance and relevance of God’s law for our present age.

Last Sunday the 2nd commandment was preached, which deals with God’s prohibition of graven images and His desire that we worship Him only as He has commanded, viz., in a spiritual and holy manner (Jn.4:24). This is what the catechism has to say in Lord’s Day 35:

Question 96. What doth God require in the second commandment?

Answer. That we in no wise [a] represent God by images, nor worship [b] him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.

Question 97. Are images then not at all to be made?

Answer. God neither can, nor [c] may be represented by any means: but as to creatures; though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them [d] or to serve God by them.

Question 98. But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?

Answer. No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people [e] taught, not by dumb images, [f] but by the lively preaching of his word.

[a]: Deut. 4:15; Isa. 40:18; Rom. 1:23ff; Acts 17:29
[b]: 1Sam. 15:23; Deut. 12:30
[c]: Deut. 4:15,16; Isa. 46:5; Rom. 1:23
[d]: Ex. 23:24; Ex. 34:13,14; Numb. 33:52; Deut. 7:5
[e]: 2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19
[f]: Jer. 10:1ff; Hab. 2:18,19

Both DeYoung and Ryken have good things to say about the importance of preserving the preaching of God’s word in our worship in this modern age of images and focus on the visual.

Christianity is a religion where faith comes by hearing (Rom.10:13-15). Our goal in worship, therefore, is not to entertain or impress the senses but to edify the people by educating them in the Word of God. This is not an excuse for snobbish elitism or impatience with the ignorant. but it means we must devote our energies to teaching people all that Jesus has commanded  (Matt.28:19-20). We cannot capitulate to the contemporary ethos that laments short attention spans and linear thinking. We must resist the urge to get with the spirit of the age and feed our people with more than a steady diet of video clips and sermonettes (DeYoung, p.169).

[DeYoung's last line reminds me of a quote from Spurgeon; "Sermonettes make Christianettes."]

And Ryken has this to say:

We make an idol whenever we worship an image rather than listening to the Word. One of the problems with physical images of God is that they hinder us from hearing God’s voice. …We are living in a visual age. Everywhere we go we see images flickering across the screen. Some Christian leaders say that the church needs to adapt by becoming more visual in its presentation of the gospel. Instead of simply talking about God, we need to show people something. but that impulse is idolatrous. …What the image always wants to do in worship is to distract us from hearing the Word of God. The crucifix, the icon, the drama, and the dance – these things are not aids to worship, but make true worship all but impossible. In a visual age, we need to be all the more careful not to look at the image, but to listen to the Word (pp.80-81).

These are excellent thoughts for us today as we enter God’s holy courts to worship Him. May we make sure that we come before Him with no false images in our hearts and minds, in our hands, or before our eyes. May we open our eyes and our ears to receive the only image acceptable to God: the image of Jesus Christ as presented to us in the pure preaching of God’s Word (Col.1:15; Gal.3:1; I Pe.2:1,2). Let us be careful to listen to God’s word and receive by faith the good news of our salvation by grace alone, in Christ alone. Then we shall be saved (Rom.10:8ff.). Then we shall be built up in the most holy faith (Jude 20). And then God will be honored and adored as the one true God. CJT

Growth in the Garden & Spring Beauty

Tomatoes and potatoes

Being Saturday, yard and garden day, I thought I would share some more photos of my garden as well as some of the other Spring (and now summer!) flowers in bloom around the house. It has been a great growing season so far here in West Michigan! We have had at least one one-inch rain per week and plenty of warm weather, so that the yard, garden, and flowers are all lush and prolific (the yard is almost too prolific – I am tired of mowing!). My potato plants, beans, and peppers have blooms; the tomatoes have small fruit on them; newly-planted cucumbers, yellow squash, and sunflowers (mammoth ones for the grandkids – something fun for them each year!) are sprouted.

I simply love seeing the progress of the plants in the garden, and the beauty of the flowers. Everyday when I get home from work I take my stroll around the house and through the garden. Plants leave a witness to the sovereignty and wisdom of God that leaves me astounded each year. The detailed intricacy of one flower has my Father-Creator’s name all over it! I am in awe when I gaze inside a day lily or a sweet william.

Asian Lily

Coreopsis

Sweet William

And, of course, the plant world is a powerful picture and parable of the Christian life. I spoke of that on a previous post about gardening. What I’d like to point out today is that the only way we can keep growing as plants in God’s garden is under the rain and sunshine of His Word. This is the means God has designed for us to mature and bear fruit for His glory. So as we face each day, that means we have to be under the Word, soaking in the rain and sun of God’s wisdom in Christ Jesus ( 2 Tim.3:16,17). And as we end this week and look forward to the Lord’s Day tomorrow, we must come ready to be under the preaching of God’s word, absorbing it with all our spiritual pores, so that in the next week we are growing in God’s garden, displaying beautiful blossoms and producing precious fruit for His glory. May the Master Gardener grant us such desire and growth. CJT

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. 12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Happy gardening! I’ve got to get hoeing before the next batch of rain comes!

Beans and zucchini

Geranium pot

Friday Fun (2): Cubbie in a Bucket

Our Little Cubbie

This Spring our grandson Carson played Little League for the first time. And of all things, he played on the Cubs! I was so proud (see picture to the left). They’ll probably win more games than the major league Cubs this year! But that’s another story and way too depressing. What I wanted to share with you is a picture I took of one of Carson’s Cubbie teammates. You know how 5 and 6 year olds are on the ball field and in the dugout. Let’s just say they get a little restless and distracted. So this skinny little kid on the team decides to plunk himself in a bucket during the game – and there he sat. I about split my sides – and captured it on film. I am thinking about marketing this idea. I think a “Cub in a Bucket” would be a big seller, don’t you?

Cub in a Bucket

Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 4:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

Friday Fun (1): Arminians on the Romans Road

Time for another Calvinist Cartoon from Mr.Eddings. After browsing through several for a while, I thought this one was worthy of our Friday fun this week. Enjoy! And don’t let your neighbors think Calvinists don’t laugh! :)

Calvinistic Cartoons: The Romans Road.

Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 4:27 AM  Leave a Comment  

Reading Review: The “Twilight” Phenomena

You may know – or for sure your teens will know – that the “Twilight” series of books and now movie(s) are incredibly popular at the present time. There are four books in the series written by Stephanie Meyer, and all have the theme of teenage romance between a  young girl and a vampire. Suddenly on TV as well there are a number of popular vampire-themed programs.

I have no doubt that some of our own Reformed youths (especially girls?!) have been reading these books. And while many may see this to be quite harmless, others in the Christian arena are sounding the alarm. Through “Reformata” website I was led to this detailed and important review of the “Twilight” series, and thought it worth noting here. The authors,  Caryl Matriciana and Paul Villanueva, who wrote this back in December of 2008, are highly critical of this phenomenon, and I believe they warrant a hearing. So follow the link and perhaps tell me what you think. Or if you have a teen that has been reading this material, maybe you should talk with them about some of these things. Teaching our children to be discerning is a critical part of learning to read well. As with everything we do as Calvinists, we read too through the “spectacles (i.e., glasses) of God’s Word”.

Here is part of the author’s conclusion:

It is deeply disturbing that Christians and youth leaders are undiscerning in biblical doctrine validating Christian youth to participate in vampirism, which is idol worship. Col 2:18-19 warns, “Do not let anyone who delights in….the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.”

Biblical warnings against tampering in occultism are replete…..

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD.” (Deut.18:10-12)

Unfortunately, many churches and Christian organizations downplay the reality of the supernatural war being waged by “dead” spirits and neglect the reality of abusive spiritual warfare by demonic authorities. If only those who confess Jesus Christ as their Lord would learn to “abide” in His Spirit and “know” Him through HIS word then they would be better equipped to discern error from truth, and get involved in the “good fight” we are called to, and WARN against rather than encourage fads like Twilight.

Here is the link to the entire article:

Caryl Productions with Cult & Occult Expert Caryl Matrisciana – The “Twilight” Phenomena.

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