Note to Self: Live Long

Begin by reading and meditating on Philippians 1:20-26.

And recall last week Monday’s post on living short.

Dear Self,

…While you shouldn’t presume on the grace of God to give you tomorrow, it is not foolish to work today in anticipation of tomorrow. However, tomorrow can only be prepared for by making the most of today. So while you must make the most of the day God has given you, it is important to look ahead to where your day might lead you and others down the road. You are never just living for the moment. You are living for eternity, and your life has the potential to prove fruitful not only for yourself, but also for many others.

To live long means that you are thinking into the future for the well-being of yourself and others. It is good to ask if you have a plan in place to grow your family in the faith, preparing them for the potential hardships ahead that you are most likely to lead them through.

…Consider your calling, and then determine what it means for you, as a Christian, to fulfill your calling in such a way that will glorify God, serve his mission, and demonstrate grace to the world.

Note-to-self-ThornTaken from Chap.27 “Live Long” (found in Part Two, “The Gospel and Others”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.91-92.

The Origin (and Security) of the Church – John Muether

TT-Sept-2016As we have noted here before, this month’s Tabletalk carries the theme of “The Church,” with eight-plus (brief) articles dedicated to explaining the Reformed doctrine of the church.

As we contemplate the Lord’s Day tomorrow and prepare to exercise our place in Christ’s body, part of which is worship, we may benefit from the thoughts of Dr. John R. Muether (professor of church history and dean of libraries at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL and an OPC ruling elder).

He wrote an article on “The Origin of the Church” and, strikingly (for our doctrinally weak age), roots the church in the eternal counsel of God, specifically, the covenant of redemption and sovereign election in and by the Triune God.

He has some excellent points by way of application of this truth, two of which I include here – his closing paragraphs. Deep thoughts, but rich thoughts. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is supremely practical and comforting, as you will see again. And that, in turn, should lead us to deep praise to our Savior God.

The eternal counsel of peace highlights the Son as the “surety” of the covenant, and so we find in Christ alone the hope and security of the church. “All that the Father gives to me will come to me,” Christ assures us, “and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). The “peace” of this covenant is purchased for us according to Christ’s priestly office, maintained and defended by His kingly office, and revealed by His prophetic office. Because the God who decrees the church is the same God who sustains the church, the future of the church is in God’s hands. This encourages us to see the church with the eyes of faith. It is bigger and stronger than its frail and precarious human expression suggests. Though despised and disparaged by this world, the church is the apple of God’s eye (Zech. 2:8) that will prevail against all of her enemies.

Finally, the eternal origin of the church provides our assurance of faith. Commenting on God’s words in Jeremiah 31:3 (“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you”), Geerhardus Vos famously wrote, “The best proof that He will never cease to love us lies in that He never began.” That everlasting love finds expression in the covenant of redemption. As the Heidelberg Catechism beautifully puts it, the church is “a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member” (Q&A 54).

Source: The Origin of the Church by John Muether

Little Free Library opens at Ford Airport

And in other local news on this Friday of fun – news of libraries and books! – a new “Little Free Library” has opened in Grand Rapids – at the airport!

The story is below, from WOOD-TV news. I can’t wait to see it the next time I fly (mid-November is on the schedule). I may just take a book and leave one while on a little vacation to visit our son and his wife.

How about you? Have you spotted it and used it yet?

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The next time you’re waiting for your flight at Gerald R. Ford International Airport without anything to do, you can take advantage of a new library. The airport partnered with Kent District Library to set up the new Little Free Library, which opened to travelers Monday morning (Sept. 12, 2016) Travelers can snag a book before their flight free of charge or leave books that they finished on their trip. Volunteers will be at the airport a few times a week to make sure the shelves stay stocked.

Source: Little Free Library opens at Ford Airport | WOODTV.com

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Published in: on September 23, 2016 at 4:55 PM  Comments (1)  

Labyrinth of Lavender in Shelby

lavendar-garden-shelby

This amazing garden was featured on our local Fox News station last weekend. We stopped and visited this little farm stand this summer on the way to Silver Lake and never realized this was tucked back in the fields of lavender.

Looks like a place to stop on your way north. And I didn’t even mention the cherry turnovers at the stand. That alone is worth the stop.🙂

Here is part of the Fox story. Read the rest at the link below.

SHELBY, Mich. — It’s an intricate garden you can see from Google Earth, with winding pathways and a Stonehenge-like center, but what exactly is it? Turns out it’s a labyrinth of lavender.

A stone marks the beginning of the winding rows of lush lavender bushes, an area with so much life that got it’s start from death.

Cherry Point Farm owner Barbara Bull explains, “There is a soil born micro-organism in the soil at this location on the farm that will kill a tart cherry orchard, it will eventually die. It killed the last orchard that was here.”

An area of farmland surrounded by healthy cherry orchards, but cannot grow them would be a problem for most farmers, but not for Barbara, who already had a deep seeded love for lavender.

“I’ve always loved lavender and it is particularly suited to grow here,” she said.

Source: Labyrinth of lavender in Shelby | Fox17

Published in: on September 23, 2016 at 6:42 AM  Leave a Comment  

Justin Martyr – Apology (4)

Twenty-first-century Christians can learn much from the lives and writings of the early believers and church fathers. Especially is this the case when it comes to facing opposition and persecution – and facing them biblically.

Justin-MartyrThe “Apology” (that is, defense of the faith and life of Christians) of Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) is a model of Christian witness to the unbelieving world and the persecuting state. In this installment we continue our posts from some sections from his first apology. For links to his writings, visit this site.

This post is taken from chapters seven and eight  of Justin’s first apology (and follow from my previous post where we quoted chapters five and six):

CHAPTER VII — EACH CHRISTIAN MUST BE TRIED BY HIS OWN LIFE.

But some one will say, Some have ere now been arrested and convicted as evil-doers. For you condemn many, many a time, after inquiring into the life of each of the accused severally, but not on account of those of whom we have been speaking. And this we acknowledge, that as among the Greeks those who teach such theories as please themselves are all called by the one name “Philosopher,” though their doctrines be diverse, so also among the Barbarians this name on which accusations are accumulated is the common property of those who are and those who seem wise. For all are called Christians.

Wherefore we demand that the deeds of all those who are accused to you be judged, in order that each one who is convicted may be punished as an evil-doer, and not as a Christian; and if it is clear that any one is blameless, that he may be acquitted, since by the mere fact of his being a Christian he does no wrong. For we will not require that you punish our accusers; they being sufficiently punished by their present wickedness and ignorance of what is right.

CHAPTER VIII — CHRISTIANS CONFESS THEIR FAITH IN GOD.

And reckon ye that it is for your sakes we have been saying these things; for it is in our power, when we are examined, to deny that we are Christians; but we would not live by telling a lie. For, impelled by the desire of the eternal and pure life, we seek the abode that is with God, the Father and Creator of all, and hasten to confess our faith, persuaded and convinced as we are that they who have proved to God by their works that they followed Him, and loved to abide with Him where there is no sin to cause disturbance, can obtain these things. This, then, to speak shortly, is what we expect and have learned from Christ, and teach.

And Plato, in like manner, used to say that Rhadamanthus and Minos would punish the wicked who came before them; and we say that the same thing will be done, but at the hand of Christ, and upon the wicked in the same bodies united again to their spirits which are now to undergo everlasting punishment; and not only, as Plato said, for a period of a thousand years. And if any one say that this is incredible or impossible, this error of ours is one which concerns ourselves only, and no other person, so long as you cannot convict us of doing any harm.

Pew Report: Americans Still Love Libraries, Especially the Books

library-world historyAs you might guess, we always appreciate good news on the library front, especially when reports say that people still love libraries, especially the books. This recent Pew report, therefore, was music to my ears. I want to shout (sing out!), “But, of course, how could it be otherwise!”

Part of me understands why our society would question the value of libraries today. Technology dominates the scene. Visual stimulation abounds as never before. And so, reading is down, no matter what form it comes in. With that, books can be perceived as being on the demise.

Yet, the library still stands in the center of our culture as a powerful source of information and means to obtain knowledge in all areas of life. And while the Internet may be often viewed as the source of information today, the ‘common’ book is still a mighty means. Once inside a library, PC’s and laptops may beckon, but those stacks of codexes are a irresistible draw. The books still define what a library is about.

In case you are in doubt, read this Pew report, part of which is quoted below (with the link to the rest afterward). Better yet, visit your local library this week. Find out what’s to love. The Seminary library (and bookstore!) is open too.🙂

More than half of all Americans 16 and over used a public library in the past year, either in person or via the the Web, according to a survey report on library use released this week by the Pew Research Center. The survey also found that Americans continue to view public libraries as vital to their communities: some 77% say that public libraries provide them with the resources they need, and 66% say the closing of their local public library would have a major impact on their community.

Source: Pew Report: Americans Still Love Libraries, Especially the Books

The Christian Faith of Jane Austen

8-women-haykin-2016A few weeks back I did a post on some new books from Crossway publishers, one of which was Eight Women of Faith by Michael A. G. Haykin (2016). One of the woman written about in this book is Jane Austen, 1775-1817 (author of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and many more).

(As a partial aside, I might mention that I really want a woman (young or old!) to take this book that I offered for review, and to this date no one has. Would you reconsider, ladies?)

Recently Crossway did a feature on this title and included an excerpt, from which I also quote today. I include a couple of paragraphs, encouraging you to read the rest of Crossway’s post by following the link that follows.

Jane “displays an Anglican reticence about religious affections”[1] and is very interested in Christianity as a teacher of morals. Given this, it is not surprising that Jane was not an evangelical.[2] In fact, in 1809, Jane was forthright: referring to a novel by Hannah More, she told her sister Cassandra, “I do not like the Evangelicals.”[3] By 1814, however, her attitude had changed. As she told her niece Fanny Knight (1793–1882): “I am by no means convinced that we ought not all to be Evangelicals, & am persuaded that they who are so from reason & feeling, must be happiest & safest.”[4]

Haykin then points to Austen’s prayers as evidence of her Christian faith, prayers that show her familiarity with and use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

An excellent vantage point to see Jane’s faith is one of three written prayers that have been attributed to her and that probably date from Jane’s life after the death of her father in 1805,[9] though there are doubts about the authenticity of two of them.[10] The third runs as follows and does seem to have been written by Jane:

Give us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our hearts, as with our lips. Thou art every where present, from thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our thoughts on thee, with reverence and devotion that we pray not in vain.

Look with mercy on the sins we have this day committed, and in mercy make us feel them deeply, that our repentance may be sincere, & our resolutions steadfast of endeavouring against the commission of such in future. Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of temper and every evil habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures, and the danger of our own souls. May we now, and on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing thoughts, words, and actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of evil. Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our hearts these questions, Oh! God, and save us from deceiving ourselves by pride or vanity.

Source: The Christian Faith of Jane Austen

And, by the way, the eight women featured in this book are as follows:

Jane Grey: The courageous Protestant martyr who held fast to her conviction that salvation is by faith alone even to the point of death.

Anne Steele: The great hymn writer whose work continues to help the church worship in song today.

Margaret Baxter: The faithful wife to pastor Richard Baxter who met persecution with grace and joy.

Esther Edwards Burr: The daughter of Jonathan Edwards whose life modeled biblical friendship.

Anne Dutton: The innovative author whose theological works left a significant literary legacy.

Ann Judson: The wife of Adoniram Judson and pioneer missionary in the American evangelical missions movement.

Sarah Edwards: The wife of Jonathan Edwards and model of sincere delight in Christ.

Jane Austen: The prolific novelist with a deep and sincere Christian faith that she expressed in her stories.

Note to Self: Live Short

Begin by reading and reflecting on Philippians 1:20-26.

Dear Self,

…Consider that God has ordered your days. He has given you a certain number of days to use for his glory and the good of those around you. What are you doing with the time you have?

Remember, we are not talking about the time you think you have, but the time you actually have. If you knew for certain that this was in fact the last day of your life, what would you do? Would you hole up in your house, kneeling, repenting for all the sin you have neglected? Would you run to every friend and relative who does not know Christ and encourage them to repent and believe the gospel?

But while today could be your last, you do not know it, so the best course of action is simply to be faithful to the things God has called you to this day, for it could be your last. Will you love your spouse? Talk with your kids? Do your best at your place of employment? Pray and seek God with earnestness and sincerity?

You see, you have to make the most, not just of the day as a whole, but of all the parts that make up that day. That is your responsibility. Live short; live with urgency. This is the natural outworking of truly embracing our chief end of glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

Note-to-self-ThornTaken from Chap.26 “Live Short” (found in Part Two, “The Gospel and Others”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.89-90.

“Let us consider well this price.” M. Luther

Luther&LearningWherefore Paul saith here that Christ first began and not we. ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ As if he said, although He found in me no good will, or right understanding, this good Lord had mercy on me. He saw me to be nothing else but wicked, going astray, contemning God, and flying from Him more and more, carried away and led captive of the devil. Thus of His mere mercy… He loved me, and so loved me that He gave Himself for me, to the end that I might be freed from the law, sin, the devil and death.

Again, these words, ‘the Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me,’ are mighty thunderings and lightnings from heaven against the righteousness of the law and all the works thereof. So great and horrible wickedness, error, darkness was in my will and understanding, that it was impossible for me to be ransomed by any other means than by such an inestimable price.

Let us consider well this price, and let us behold… the Son of God, …and we shall see Him, without all comparison, to exceed and excel for creatures.

…If thou couldst rightly consider this incomparable price, thou shouldst hold as accursed all other ceremonies, vows, works, and merits before grace and after, and throw them all down to hell. For it is a horrible blasphemy to imagine that there is any work whereby thou shouldst presume to pacify God, since thou seest that there is nothing which is able to pacify Him but this inestimable price, even the death and the blood of the Son of God, one drop whereof is more precious than the whole world.

Martin Luther on Galatians 2:20 in Commentary on Galatians (Kregel, 1979), 94-95.

Dad Enough to Sing | Desiring God

large_dad-enough-to-sing-uqaj3si9This fine post by David Mathis about the important place of singing in the home – especially by fathers! – struck a wonderful chord (pun intended) with me this week.

As you may know, I am a singing father (as well as husband and church member). I sing in two men’s groups, the Hope Heralds and the Voices of Victory, and I sing every Lord’s Day in worship. And, yes, I do sing in my home, formally (for quartet practice) and informally (including in the shower and on my mower). I sing alone, and sing with family and fellow saints (which I much prefer). I love to sing. And I love singing a variety of music.

Maybe because I grew up in a singing family. No doubt that was a strong influence on me. So too the Christian schools I attended, where singing was a regular part of classroom as well as in the choirs in later years. Without question, the congregational singing in the churches I have been a part of has increased my love of singing. But it all starts in the home.

I don’t think my experience is different from many of yours. But we so take for granted the gift of music and the ability to sing, especially as Christians. And I do not doubt that we sell short the influence of the father in the home when it comes to singing.

And that’s where this article can help us, dads (and husbands). Mathis begins this way:

I want my sons to grow up believing that a grown man singing is one of the most natural sounds in the world.

It doesn’t have to be great singing. I’m no accomplished vocalist. Yet I don’t want my boys — or my daughter, for that matter — to ever think it’s strange for men to sing. Rather, it’s strange, and sad, when men don’t sing.

To my fellow dads, I’d love for you to consider with me what it might mean to put your fathering to song. What small but significant steps might you take toward making your home a more tangible place of happiness?

And goes on to give two main reasons why we “dadly” singing is good in the home (and outside of it too):

First,

When Daddy sings, the home is happier. Singing is the sound of joy in God. It is joy in God made audible. Singing around the house, in the car, and as we go through life fills the air with joy, and helps to establish a family fellowship of warmth, rather than coldness. Dads who are man enough to sing contribute in significant measure to making theirs a happy home.

And then second,

But not only do we make our homes happier through song. When Daddy sings, he inspires the hearts of his children to grow and flourish, not just their minds and bodies. As the sound of joy, song is a language of the heart. Filling life with music and song is a way to encourage and cultivate the heart, rather than suppress it.

So, how about it, men. Are we dad enough to sing? Read the rest of Mathis’ article to be further encouraged to sing in your home.

Source: Dad Enough to Sing | Desiring God

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Published in: on September 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM  Leave a Comment