Monthly Archives: November 2010

On the advantages of many years

Paul Harvey once related, in his inimitable way, the news item of a young husband and father of three who was standing with friends upon a high cliff over a body of water.  Harvey, mentioning that his friends dared him to jump, concluded the short story with the terse sentence __He was 37.”

Young men, who have a measure of responsibility, possessing zest, energy and impulsive spirit, are prone to make rash decisions.  We see this in Solomon’s son, and successor to his throne, Rehoboam.  At the outset of his reign a crisis was thrust upon him that had ominous potential.  He heard the counsel offered by the elders who had served his father.  That counsel did not please him so he consulted a group which suited him better.

“But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.” (1 Kings 12:8)

The devastating consequences of Rehoboam’s decision are preserved in Scripture for our learning.  Thomas Scott, commenting upon the passage said “… if they, who have not prudence or experience adequate to such emergencies, would follow the counsel of their real friends, who are older or wiser than themselves, much mischief would be prevented.”

What a blessing from God are young men in the church, men of ability who value the counsel of grey heads in the congregation!  May the Lord grant us more of them.

Pastor Bob Brown

 

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A Serpent’s Tooth in A Lamb’s Mouth

 

I am not a big fan of William Shakespeare’s works (so sorry to disappoint!), but some years ago I was struck by a line from King Lear. The line occurs as Lear is praying down a curse upon a woman to be childless or if she must bear a child that the child would grow to be the source of unbearable sorrow. It is his desire that the cursed woman would learn the painful lesson, “…how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” Imagine loving and providing for a child every day only to find sullen silence or grumbling complaint. A grievous discontent that you had not given enough or given the right things. That the room was too small, the clothing out of style, the meals, though abundant not good enough for them. How the ingratitude would grieve the heart of any mother!

Imagine now being the recipient of the loving and tender care of an Almighty God. To be daily surrounded with innumerable benefits. Imagine, moreover, that the blessings that you enjoy go beyond the manifold provisions and safety and the enjoyment of friends and family and love and laughter and music. Imagine that you have been delivered from the guilt and burden and consequences of your sins! Imagine, if you will that, in union with Jesus Christ, you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! If you are a Christian you do not have imagine any of this. It is your life! What would you expect to be the general daily disposition of the one who is such a debtor to mercy? Joy? Thankfulness? Contentment? Trust? Of course! But is it the case with you? Has the sharpness of the serpent’s tooth made its way into your mouth? Have you found yourself wondering in your life what you have to be thankful for? Have you found the distresses and disappointments of daily life looming so large that they overwhelm the felt knowledge of God’s goodness to you? If ever there is to be imbalance in our lives, if ever there is to be a choice in regard to what our minds will dwell upon, if we will choose that which will overwhelm all other things–let is be the blessings of God in our lives. May we live in the light of them that a thankful song will be our companion all the days of our lives.

JDS


The Hole in Our Holiness

The Hole in Our Holiness.

Friends, especially younger friends…great things to contemplate before the Lord!

JDS


Do you hear and do you do?

 

 “The man who hears the Word of God and does it is the true Christian. He hears the call of God to repent and be converted and he obeys it. He ceases to do evil and learns to do good. He puts off the old man and puts on the new. He hears the call of God to believe on Jesus Christ for justification and he obeys it. He forsakes his own righteousness and confesses his need of a Savior. He receives Christ crucified as his only hope and counts all things loss for the knowledge of him. He hears the call of God to be holy and he obeys it. He strives to mortify the deeds of his body and to walk after the Spirit. He labors to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets him. This is true vital Christianity. All the men and women who are of this character are true Christians.”

J.C. Ryle


The Children of Men?

Photo Copyright: Cory Marchand

https://www.flickr.com/photos/marchands

In 1992, British author P. D. James published a book entitled The Children of Men.  The book is a dystopian vision of a world reeling from the effects of over a quarter century of infertility.  Of the many fictional views of the end of humanity this may be the most chilling.  Imagine a world in which no children had been born for the past 25 years.  It is a world dying by degrees.  Ending not with a bang, but the prospective death rattle of the last aged person.  James speaks of  a world in which there are no schools, no playgrounds, and no toys.   It is world in which things are no longer preserved or guarded or treasured.  If there is no coming generation,  why bother?  Why maintain?  Why plant a tree or paint a building or preserve a library or museum?  You get the idea.

Churches and religious movements have faced a similar crisis.  Many churches die because they produced no offspring.  Many do not think of the coming generation and for many there is no coming generation.  It is a blessing to have grey hair in the church, but it is a curse if there is not a rising generation to take their place.  Our confession of faith speaks of the several ways in which a church can die.  Among these is what is called a ‘dearth of conversions’.   We must look to God for a new generation of converts, a new generation of gospel preachers and missionaries.  A new generation in which we can invest.  A generation to whom we pass on the baton of biblical truth whole and intact.


The Blessedness Of Trials

 

No flowers are adorned with a more lovely shade of blue than those growing at the very foot of a frozen glacier, no stars shine more brightly than those glistening in a cold polar sky, no water tastes as sweet as that springing up from desert sand, and no faith is as precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Testing is a learning experience. You would never have known or believed your own weakness if you had never been compelled to pass through rivers, and you would never have known God’s strength if you had never been supported amid their raging torrents.

CHS


Who told you? And other fearful questions…

Adam, when he had just sinned in the garden, was afraid when God confronted him with the question “Who told you that you were naked?”

No doubt he did not expect that question.  Now, suddenly the whole dreadful confrontation shifted to matters of epistemology and authority

So it has been ever since that men, who seek to justify their deviations from dependence upon the Word of God as their sole sufficient rule of faith and practice, fail to take into consideration what answer they will give to Him who asks for an accounting of their stewardship.

Ministers of the New Covenant ought to give forethought to the Day of Questioning as they lead their churches.  We will receive a “stricter judgment” and without doubt, how we led the Lord’s people will be a matter of questioning.  “When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand?” is a fearful question indeed.  Surely it will not do to reply “the worship team which was given me; they thought that one up!”

Oh that ministers today would rethink what it is they are doing!  Would that we all would look afresh at the worship and service that we bring on the Lord’s Day to see if there be any deviation from the revealed will of the Head of that body, His Church.  Two very prominent personages of the Old Covenant were asked the fearful question “Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”

God grant us all this necessary fear of speaking and doing against Revelation of Jesus Christ as regards His Church.

Pastor Bob Brown


59 Things Every Christian Should Know (and do!)

 
1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
 
2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)

6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)

7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)

8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)

9. “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)

11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)

12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)

13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)

14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)

16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)

17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)

18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)

19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)

20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.”

(Galatians 5:15)

22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)

23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)

24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)

26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)

27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)

28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)

31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)

32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)

33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)

34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)

36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)

37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)

38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)

39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)

40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)

41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)

44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)

45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)

46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)

48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)

49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)

50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)

51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)

52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)

53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)

54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)

55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)

56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)

57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)

58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)

59. “…Love one another.” (II John 5)


Say! It is so, Joe!

Joe  DiMaggio was one of the all time great baseball players.  For 13 years he played center field for the New York Yankees with a skill and passion exhibited by few others in history of the game.

DiMaggio was once asked by reporter why he played the way that he did.  His reply was, “Because there is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.”  This was the great and noble pressure he  played under.  Let me seek to apply this truth to our worship.  Virtually every Lord’s Day there are visitors to our assembly.  Some of them are just passing through, but others are folks from our area.  Some of them are unbelievers and some of them are Christians in search of a new church.  They are going to make assessments and judgments about our assembly.  Those assessments and judgments based on their visit will determine, humanly speaking, if they are ever going to return.  The decision to return and perhaps become a part of our assembly will be life changing.  For some, it may determine their eternal destiny.   Does it matter how we worship and interact with others every single time?  Can’t we have some Lord’s Days where we just go through the motions?  Who cares?  What difference does it make if I am attentive and involved?  Who will notice?  Does it matter what kind of sermon has been prepared and how it is presented?  Does it matter if we sing with gusto or murmur our praises?  Does it matter if we show attention to the word and demonstrate a spirit of love, openness, and hospitality?  Does it really matter if I greet someone or walk past them as though they are not there?

The reality is that there are another pair of eyes upon us every Lord’s Day.  It is ultimately for Him that we gather.  It is His pleasure that we seek.  What we do matters and it matters every time.  Joe was right.  We owe not only ourselves, but others—a watching world and an all seeing God our best.


On Keeping the Heart

This afternoon I was privileged to address a group of  pastors on the subject of  various troubles and difficulties associated with a long term ministry.  One of the issues dealt with was the matter of  taking heed to our own selves.

On that subject my mind was drawn to some of the opening words of John Flavel’s classic work, On Keeping the Heart.

He writes:

The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God… “Keep (guard) thy heart with all diligence…”   Lavater on the text will have the word taken from a besieged garrison, beset by many enemies without, and in danger of being betrayed by treacherous citizens within, in which danger the soldiers, upon pain of death, are commanded to watch; and though the expression, Keep thy heart, seems to put it upon us as our work, yet it does not imply a sufficiency in us to do it. We are as able to stop the sun in its course, or to make the rivers run backward, as by our own will and power to rule and order our hearts. We may as well be our own saviours as our own keepers; and yet Solomon speaks properly enough when he says, Keep thy heart, because the duty is ours, though the power is of God; what power we have depends upon the exciting and assisting strength of Christ. Grace within us is beholden to grace without us. “Without me ye can do nothing.”