The Ordinary Christian Family – Tedd Tripp

The Ordinary Christian Family by Tedd Tripp | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August 2014Continuing to make my way through the featured articles on “The Ordinary Christian Life” in this month’s Tabletalk, I read yesterday the above-linked article by Dr.Tedd Tripp.

Pointing out at the outset how marriage and the family are under serious and severe attack in our day, Tripp nevertheless shows us from the Word of God (with clarity, confidence, and encouragement!) what God’s norm is for the Christian family. Breaking down the “ordinary Christian family” into three callings, he explains how the family is 1) a school of theology; 2) a school of social relationship; and 3) a school for understanding the gospel.

You would be well-profited to read the entire article, but I give you that section where he explains how the Christian family is a “school of theology”. Follow the Ligonier link above to read the rest.

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

God’s call for ordinary living is summed up in the two tables of the law: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Mark 12:30-31). Loving God and loving others is a good description of the ordinary Christian family.

The family as a school of theology is the first table of the law. The family is the place for being mesmerized by the wonder of who God is and for instilling in children a profound sense of the glory of God. The psalmist puts it like this: “One generation shall commend your works to another” (Ps. 145:4). What does this look like? What do you talk about as one generation commending God to the next? Psalm 145 tells us. It means meditating on the glorious splendor of God’s majesty; speaking of God’s majestic deeds; declaring His greatness; pouring out the fame of His abundant goodness; singing of His righteousness; speaking of the glory of His kingdom; talking of His kindness; speaking His praise (145:4-20). Love for God is instilled as we meditate on His glory and goodness. Children cannot be brought to delight in God in a conceptual vacuum. And if parents are to show their children God’s glory, they, too, must be dazzled by God. The family is a school of theology.

Dr. Tedd Tripp is an author, conference speaker, and elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Hazelton, Pa. He is author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart and, with his wife, Margy, Instructing a Child’s Heart.

J.Calvin on Psalm 146: “…So many reasons why we should hope in him.”

JCalvinPic1For our further meditation on Psalm 146 today, we include this commentary of John Calvin on vss.7ff., where he remarks on the character and works of God that call us to hope in Him and to praise Him. May His words encourage us to see God for Who He is and to fall down before Him in perfect (complete) trust and adoration.

7. Rendering right, etc.

He instances other kinds both of the power and goodness of God, which are just so many reasons why we should hope in him. All of them bear upon the point, that the help of God will be ready and forthcoming to those who are in the lowest circumstances, that accordingly our miseries will be no barrier in the way of his helping us; nay, that such is his nature, that he is disposed to assist all in proportion to their necessity.

He says first, that God renders justice to the oppressed, to remind us that although in the judgment of sense God connives at the injuries done to us, he will not neglect the duty which properly belongs to him of forcing the wicked to give an account of their violence. As God, in short, would have the patience of his people tried, he here expressly calls upon the afflicted not to faint under their troubles, but composedly wait for deliverance from one who is slow in interposing, only that he may appear eventually as the righteous judge of the world.

It follows, that he gives bread to the hungry. We learn from this that he is not always so indulgent to his own as to load them with abundance, but occasionally withdraws his blessing, that he may succor them when reduced to hunger. Had the Psalmist said that God fed his people with abundance, and pampered them, would not any of those under want or in famine have immediately desponded? The goodness of God is therefore properly extended farther to the feeding of the hungry.

What is added is to the same purpose — that he looses them that are bound, and enlightens the blind. As it is the fate of his people to be straitened by anxiety, or pressed down by human tyranny, or reduced to extremity, in a manner equivalent to being shut up in the worst of dungeons, it was necessary to announce, by way of comfort, that God can easily find an outgate for us when brought into such straits.

To enlighten the blind is the same with giving light in the midst of darkness. When at any time we know not what to do — are in perplexity, and lie confounded and dismayed, as if the darkness of death had fallen upon us — let us learn to ascribe this title to God, that he may dissipate the gloom and open our eyes. So when he is said to raise up the bowed down, we are taught to take courage when weary and groaning under any burden.

Nor is it merely that God would here have his praises celebrated; he in a manner stretches out his hand to the blind, the captives, and the afflicted, that they may cast their grief’s and cares upon him. There is a reason for repeating the name Jehovah three times. In this way he stimulates and excites men to seek him who will often rather chafe and pine away in their miseries, than betake themselves to this sure asylum.

What is added in the close of the verse — that Jehovah loves the righteous, would seem to be a qualification of what was formerly said. There are evidently many who, though they are grievously afflicted, and groan with anxiety, and lie in darkness, experience no comfort from God; and this because in such circumstances they provoke God more by their contumacy, and by failing for the most part to seek his mercy, reap the just reward of their unthankfulness.

The Psalmist therefore very properly restricts what he had said in general terms of God’s helping the afflicted, to the righteous — that those who wish to experience his deliverance, may address themselves to him in the sincere exercise of godliness.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 146

Psalm 146For this new Sunday, as we awaken to new mercies and fresh revelations of God’s faithfulness (Lam. 3:22,23), we turn to the Word of God in Psalm 146.

As we continue to make our way through this OT Psalter, using it especially to prepare ourselves for the worship of the Lord in His house of prayer, we note that these last five psalms all begin and end on the note of “Praise ye the LORD” (or simply, “Hallelujah”). As such, these closing songs of the OT church’s songbook are most fitting for our worship – public and private – for the theme of our worship as well as of our daily walk must be the praise and adoration of our sovereign God and King.

And as we look at Psalm 146, we see that this is the psalmist’s resolve and testimony too. He will not praise the Lord occasionally or sporadically, but as long as he lives and as long as he has being (v.2). This is the way we must tell our own souls to praise God (v.1).

And the psalm writer also gives himself and us good reason to praise the Lord. The God of Jacob (which is another way to say that He is the God of the covenant and church) is the God of boundless power and saving help for His people. Read carefully the things he mentions here in describing the Lord and His power and works. And note too how broad and deep these works and ways of the Lord are, from creating the heaven and earth out of nothing to relieving the fatherless and widow. O, yes, this God reigns – forever! And He is “Thy God, O Zion, unto all generations” (v.10).

How foolish then to put our trust in anyone else but this sovereign Lord! The psalmist calls the people of God not to place their trust in princes or in the son of man (v.3). For obvious reasons (vss.3b,4). Rather he points us to the incredible happiness – and blessedness! – of having the one, true God for our help and hope (v.5). Is He such to us? Have we placed and do we place our trust in Him alone? Is He our only hope, in life and in death, in good times and in bad times, in prosperity and in adversity?

As we come into His presence today, may we find Him to be all that He is revealed to be here – the God of amazing creation, of faithful providence, and of gracious salvation. In Jesus Christ, the Son of Man Whom He made strong to save us and help us in all of life and in all of life’s circumstances. And finding Him so, may we place all our hope (trust) in Him alone. So that with solid hope in our souls, we may say with the psalmist, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.”

Psalm 146

146 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. TheLord looseth the prisoners:

The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous:

The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.

If you desire to meditate on Psalm 146 through music, I encourage you to listen to a versification of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification, titled “Trust and Praise” to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):

1. Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.

2. Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die, to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

3. Happy is the man that chooses
Israel’s God to be his aid;
He is blest whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.

4. Heaven and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness He will maintain.

5. Food He daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning prisoner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eyes to see.

6. Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the stranger He befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgment on the wicked sends.

7. Over all God reigns forever,
Through all ages He is King;
Unto Him, thy God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.

Continual Repentance – The Valley of Vision

Continual Repentance | Banner of Truth USA.

After a week of self-examination – and praying for God’s examination of us -(we heard this sermon last Sunday night in our preparatory service)  we anticipate the Lord’s day tomorrow and our celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

ValleyofVisionThinking of this – of my ever-present sin and the need for continual repentance – and of the cross of my precious Savior, where my sins, and the sins of all repentant believers, were blotted out forever – I came on this prayer/meditation taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

It is wonderfully appropriate as we end this week and look forward to receiving the gospel of grace in audible form (preaching) and visible form (sacrament) tomorrow. May God bless your preparation for entering His presence to worship Him and to receive His Word.

O GOD OF GRACE,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
      and hast imputed his righteousness
    to my soul,
  clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
  decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
  my best prayers are stained with sin;
  my penitential tears are so much impurity;
  my confessions of wrong are so many
    aggravations of sin;
  my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
  no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
  and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
  for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
  and always returning home as a prodigal,
  always saying, Father, forgive me,
  and thou art always bringing forth
    the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
  every evening return in it,
  go out to the day’s work in it,
  be married in it,
  be wound in death in it,
  stand before the great white throne in it,
  enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
  the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
  the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
  the exceeding glory of Christ,
  the exceeding beauty of holiness,
  the exceeding wonder of grace.

To find all of these Puritan devotions, visit the Banner of Truth link above.

The Story of the Wrigley Field Ivy (2)

LittlePlaceonNorthSide-GFWillLast week we began to relate the story of how the ivy came to be placed on the walls of beloved Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. That story is told by George F. Will in his great book marking the 100th anniversary of Wrigley this year: A Nice Little Place on the North Side (Crown Archetype, 2014).

The first part of that history involved trees. Trees in the bleachers. Trees which didn’t last very long.

The second part involved bittersweet – and ivy. Let’s allow Will to tell us how it came to be:

Veeck had planned to plant the ivy after the season (1937 -cjt). However, the day before the team returned from a long road trip to end the season with a short home stand, Wrigley told Veeck he had invited some friends to the next day’s game to see the ivy. But Veeck had not yet bought it. A specialist at a nursery was consulted. He said ivy could not be deployed in one night. Veeck asked what could be. The specialist answered with one word: ‘Bittersweet.’ He was not a philosophic merchant commenting on the human condition; neither was he summing up the experience of being a Cub fan. Rather, he was recommending a plant with that name. So that night Veeck and Wrigley Field’s groundskeeper strung light bulbs along the outfield wall to illuminate their work, and by morning the wall was entirely covered with bittersweet. In its midst they planted ivy, which eventually took over the wall.

And with that bittersweet-ivy idea went a few accolades, including one from a local writer:

On September 17, 1937, the Chicago Tribune carried a story with this headline: ‘New Wrigley Field Blooms in Scenic Beauty – and Scoffers Rush to Apologize.’ One of those scoffers was the author of the story, Edward Burns, who had written a series of grumpy reports about changes under way at the field, including enlargement of the bleachers. Now, however, he was prepared to ‘emboss an apologetic scroll to P.K.Wrigley, owner of the most artistic ballpark in the majors.’ Burns estimated that the park was valued at $3 million (pp.88-89).

Reading Parents and Ready (Seminary) Sons

As you may know, the Beacon Lights magazine (for PR Young People – and adults!) is currently doing a series of articles from our ministers (mainly our newer and younger ones) under the title “Called to the Ministry”. But did you know that such articles were also written in the past in the “BL”?

Rev_KorteringWhile continuing to sort through Rev.Gise Van Baren’s folders for the PRC archives yesterday, we found an old “BL” article (Vol.36, #9 – January, 1978) with the title “Called to the Ministry” written by Rev. Jason Kortering (pastor of Hope PRC, Redlands, CA at the time and now an emeritus minister in the PRC). In it he tells his story of how he was led into the ministry.

And what struck me was what he said not only about how his godly parents encouraged him and prayed for him with regard to the ministry, but also and especially how the enthusiastic reading of his father served as a powerful example and impetus for him to enter the ministry of the Word.

Here are a couple of portions from the article, the full version of which you may find here. I pray that this will inspire other godly fathers to show such zeal for the truth by reading, that it would spur your sons to consider the call to the ministry. Fathers and mothers, may you see what fruit your godly reading may have by the purpose and providence of God.

After a ten year absence they (Rev.Kortering’s parents) finally moved to Holland, Michigan and there settled down. The Lord provided a job at the Artic (sic) Ice Cream Co. While working there he met a fellow employee who was full of heavenly zeal. She had read a copy of the Standard Bearer and was impressed and wanted my father to read it. This initial contact with Revs. Hoeksema and Ophoff started my father to think and read. He purchased a subscription to the Standard Bearer and read all the literature he could get his hands on. It fell like water from heaven upon his parched soul.

…Seeing the truth was like a conversion experience for my father. He saw for the first time the real meaning of the sovereignty of God. It was more than a doctrine, it was a way of life! God owned everything and required obedience in all areas of life. This became the governing principle of his life: God was sovereign, grace was absolute. He couldn’t read enough and he was always reading. He sent to England for sovereign grace material. It came by the crates full. He sorted it out, saving the good Reformed material, burning the rest.

Through it all my father had one inner desire, that the Lord would call his son to the ministry. He could envision nothing more glorious than seeing his own son preach the gospel of the sovereign God….

If there ever is an example of a minister being influenced by parents to enter the ministry, it is in my life. Both parents earnestly desired this, encouraged me to study for it, prayed about it.

The Lord used my parents, especially my father, as the means to confront me with the serious consideration to become a minister.

…May the accounting of this remind us that God does use parents in influencing their children. It was not of them, it was of God. His will prevailed.

For that I give Him thanks.

Codex: Blocks of Wood Into a Book

AJacobsPleasuresofReadingFrom Alan Jacobs’ book on books and reading (The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford, 2011) comes this footnote on the meaning of “codex”, a word he uses to help “make distinctions among the various technologies of reading.” He likes this word because it is precise according to its origin: “‘codex’ is the word I will use to describe that rectangular thing made of paper pages bound on one side to form a ‘spine'”.

And then follows this footnote:

‘Codex’ is a Latin word meaning ‘block of wood.’ In the ancient world the primary medium for the written word was the scroll, but scrolls were not very portable and were easily damaged; moreover, collections of them could be difficult to organize. Gradually there arose an alternative: a pair of small, thin wooden boards between which sheets of papyrus could be placed, the whole apparatus held together by leather strips threaded through holes in the boards and the papyrus.codex-1 These became quite fashionable among the Romans because they could be carried around and used to take quick notes: the first PDAs. Eventually people came to see that the codex was in most ways preferable to the scroll – in addition to being sturdier and more portable, it was cheaper, because you could write on both sides of a sheet – and scrolls eventually faded from use. Curiously, the early Christians were among the earliest adopters of the codex: in the second hundred years of Christianity almost all surviving Christian documents are codices, while most other groups, including Jews, stuck with the scroll (p.63).

Published in: on August 13, 2014 at 6:49 AM  Leave a Comment  

5 Great Reasons to Memorize Scripture – T.Challies

5 Great Reasons to Memorize Scripture Today | Challies Dot Com.

Thinking about what to post today, I had noted this little piece that pastor Tim Challies posted this past Sunday (August 10, 2014) on the importance of Christians memorizing God’s Word.

Spiritual disciplinesDrawing on a book written some time ago (and one I read some time ago) but now newly published in fresh form, he gives us five sound reasons for commiting the Scriptures to memory.

Here are the first two; find the rest at the link above. And while you are at it, pick up the book and read that too – we can all use godly disciplines in our lives.

There are few areas of the Christian life where there is a wider gap between what Christians want to do and what Christians actually do than in this area: memorizing Scripture. We all know that we should, we all have some appreciation of the benefits, and we would all love to be released from the guilt of doing it so little. Here, courtesy of Donald Whitney and his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (now in a brand new edition), are 5 great reasons to memorize Scripture today.

Memorization Supplies Spiritual Power. “When Scripture is stored in your mind, it is available for the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention when you need it most.” No wonder, then, that David write, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” “A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.”

Memorization Strengthens Your Faith. “Memorization strengthens your faith because it repeatedly reinforces the truth, often just when you need to hear it again.” But it can only reinforce truth that you have already committed to memory.

Ordinary Christian Work – Tim Challies

Ordinary Christian Work by Tim Challies | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August 2014As we noted last week when we introduced the August issue of Tabletalk, the featured articles all cover the theme of “the ordinary Christian life”.

Pastor Tim Challies wrote the second main article on the ordinary Christian and his work, and it is a fine summary of how believers ought to view and carry out their daily labors in Christ’s kingdom.

If you are feeling down and discouraged because you judge your work doesn’t matter or is too insignificant, read this to refresh your soul and strengthen your hands for extra-ordinary service! This is a must read as we start the work-week!

I give you a snapshot of Challies’ article here. Read the rest at this Ligonier link (or the one above):

Of the many legacies of the Protestant Reformation, few have had greater and wider-reaching impact than the rediscovery of the biblical understanding of vocation. Before the Reformation, the only people with a vocation or calling were those who were engaged in full-time church work—monks, nuns, or priests. As Gene Veith writes in God at Work:

The ordinary occupations of life—being a peasant farmer or kitchen maid, making tools or clothing, being a soldier or even king—were acknowledged as necessary but worldly. Such people could be saved, but they were mired in the world. To serve God fully, to live a life that is truly spiritual, required a full-time commitment.

As the Reformers looked past uninspired traditions in their return to the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word, they found that full-time ministry was a vocation, but it was by no means the only vocation. They saw that each of us has a vocation and that each vocation has dignity and value in the eyes of the Lord. We can all honor God in the work we do.

Yet that old tradition is never far off, and if we do not constantly return to God’s Word and allow it to correct us, we will soon drift back.

J.Calvin on Psalm 145: “…We only praise God aright when we are filled and overwhelmed with an ecstatic admiration of the immensity of his power.”

JCalvinPicAs we meditate on the glory of God revealed in Psalm 145 today, we may also benefit from these thoughts of the Reformer and Biblical scholar-servant, John Calvin. Here he reflects on the opening verse, showing us the main purpose of this portion of God’s Word, namely, that we be moved by gratitude to magnify our great and gracious God.

May his words also serve to stir us up to humble thanks and praise to our wondrous God, this day and all our days.

1. I will extol thee, my God and my king.

David does not so much tell what he would do himself, as stir up and urge all others to this religious service of offering to God the praises due to his name. The design with which he declares God to be beneficent to the children of men is, to induce them to cultivate a pious gratitude, he insists upon the necessity of persevering in the exercise; for since God is constant in extending mercies, it would be highly improper in us to faint in his praises. As he thus gives his people new ground for praising him, so he stimulates them to gratitude, and to exercise it throughout the whole course of their life.

In using the term daily, he denotes perseverance in the exercise. Afterwards he adds, that should he live through a succession of ages he would never cease to act in this manner. The repetitions used tend very considerably to give emphasis to his language. As it is probable that the Psalm was written at a time when the kingdom of David was in a flourishing condition, the circumstances deserves notice, that in calling God his king he gives both himself and other earthly princes their proper place, and does not allow any earthly distinctions to interfere with the glory due to God.

This is made still more manifest in the verse which follows, where, in speaking of the greatness of God as unmeasurable, he intimates that we only praise God aright when we are filled and overwhelmed with an ecstatic admiration of the immensity of his power. This admiration will form the fountain from which our just praises of him will proceed, according the measure of our capacity.

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