On Hiatus

Posted: August 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

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I say with the psalmist, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest;”

I will be unplugging for a while to focus on my family and recharge.  I hope to be back online in a week or so.  Have a great summer!

Ryan

nun-arabic-letterToday I overheard a fellow Reformed Christian telling another person that the Christians suffering in Iraq and Syria under the Islamic State are not real Christians…

I was dumbfounded at the arrogance and impudence in his words.  

They ARE Real Christians!

Yes there are some doctrinal differences, but they are real Christians. If he had said, “They are not Calvinists.”  I would be more apt to agree, but I am still pretty sure there are Calvinists and Reformed Christians over there as well.

I know that most of my Reformed friends would never say something like this, but this is a perfect example of why we Reformed Christians are seen as the arrogant jerks living in the penthouse of the Ivory Tower of Conservative Evangelicalism. I admit I have been arrogant in the past as well.  But with our doctrinal views it amazes me that any Calvinist could ever be arrogant.  Think about it. The whole point of our view of salvation is that we are worthless and totally dead in sin, so much so that Jesus had to die so that we could even tremble before the throne of grace and utter an amen!  How could anyone be arrogant about that?

If you’re really a Calvinist you are one by sheer grace…isn’t that what you believe?   And if you are saved at all you are saved by sheer grace…isn’t that what you believe? Then be patient with those Christians who don’t see it your way. And don’t mock those who are persecuted!  God is love, and has shown his great love to us in Jesus, and He is exceedingly patient with us as he works sanctification in us. We need to stop with the arrogance and ask God to humble us. 

I know that arrogance is a human problem and not only a Calvinist problem, but we do have that label for a reason.  We would do well to examine ourselves when we are accused of a sin.

I digress.

I pray that we never face real persecution in Canada and America in my life. But if we do face it, I am sure that anyone who declares that Jesus is Lord and saviour in the face of certain death, will be a friend regardless of theological bent.  We can debate the finer points of doctrine while we stand together…much like Legolas and Gimli from Lord of the Rings. :)

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Reaching the Unchurched

Posted: August 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

One Christian Dad:

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Very interesting.

Originally posted on YINKAHDINAY:

New Horizons August-September 2014

The latest issue of the OPC’s New Horizons has an article entitled “Every Church a Mission Field.”  You can find it included in the August-September issue online here.  The article describes a conference held before the last OPC General Assembly back in June.  The entire article is worth reading, but there was one part that is especially worth sharing:

Dale Van Dyke, the pastor of Harvest OPC in Wyoming, Michigan, presented an engaging summary of the book Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them.  The author, Thom Rainer, interviewed 353 people who had recently become active in a church after years or even a lifetime outside the church.  Rainer also visited churches that he described as effectively evangelistic.  Here are some of the conclusions from his study:

  • Hiding the denominational name or identity, watering down difficult teachings, and lowering membership requirements do not…

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robin-williams-picNormally I don’t touch on the death of an unbeliever on the blog, but this time I will.  I met Robin Williams about 12 or 13 years ago or so, when I was working at the White Spot restaurant in Vancouver.  He came in the restaurant, decked out in lime green, skin tight, bike gear, with goggles and a lime green helmet.  I wish I had a picture, but the one above will have to suffice. No one recognized him until he took off his helmet and goggles.  “Just did the seawall,” he exclaimed, “What’s for dinner?” I was his server, and he was humble, funny (but not over the top), and he left a nice tip. It was really no different than serving any other table, except that it was Robin Williams in Lime Green bike gear.

When I think  of Robin Williams, I think of a funny, off the wall stand up comic; and I will always remember him in that lime green gear with his goofy smile.

Robin Williams apparently suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, a mental illness where a person fluctuates between episodes of extreme energy, focus and productivity and severe depression. Apparently, he was in one of the episodes of depression when he took his own life.  Mental illness can strike anyone, famous or not, rich or poor, Christian or not. We should be aware of that, and educate ourselves on how to deal with depression in our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. There are a plethora of resources out there, but I highly recommend Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray (click the image to read more).

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This is a broken world we live in, as can be seen in the tragic choice someone would make to take their own life due to a mental illness. I do not know if Robin Williams was saved but if he was not, then it is truly tragic in the finality of his death. I feel for his family and loved ones as they grieve the loss.  And while the world mourns the loss of one of its “stars,”  we can look to Jesus Christ and know that in him we can find restoration and hope for this broken world, even in the midst of mental illness.  Yes, He is coming back to set all things right and to make all things new again.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” ~ Revelation 21

resuregence-conferenceMark Driscoll is in trouble.  Regardless of what you think of him, (I had my issues with his theologically conservative/ culturally liberal views), this is a man that was used by God to bring many, many many souls into contact with gospel…and he is in trouble.  I don’t mean that his celebrity is fading, or that he is having legal battles…this man is in real spiritual trouble!

When I read the letter from Acts29 Network board,(below), it had an eery feeling like that of hearing an announcement of an elder being deposed from office off the pulpit on a Sunday morning.  When a group of faithful Christian Pastors prayerfully asked Mark Driscoll to “step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help,” we are left with a feeling that he is in real spiritual danger. This is not just a request to take a break, or a sabbatical and recharge, this is far more serious, this is essentially an excommunication.

Many faithful pastors, both famous and less so, (such as John MacArthur & Wes Bredenhof ), all with a high view of Scripture, have warned us of Mark Driscoll in the blogosphere and on social media. In hindsight we would do well to listen when such men speak critically of a teacher’s teachings… But it also needs to be said that this is not a time for “I told you so’s,” and “I knew it’s” from his critics. It should not surprise anyone that a sinful man has sinned, and it should also come as even less of a surprise that a man of his celebrity stature, who had virtually no accountability, succumbed to the lure of sinful desires.

We should be grateful to the board of Acts29, pastor Matt Chandler and the rest, that they acted boldly and scripturally in their decision.  We should also be wary.  Please avoid the holier-than-thou attitudes and the accusations of stupidity on his part, for none of us is above sin.  Most of us just have more privacy when we sin.

The sweet and beautiful thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that while we were dead in our sins, Jesus died for us.  That includes Mark Driscoll.  Yes there are consequences for sin, and he needs to step down from office, but there is still forgiveness in the blood.  We would do well to remember that as we stop supporting him in his ministry.

Here is the letter from the board:

Mark,

As the Board of Acts 29, we are grateful to God for the leadership, courage, and generosity of both you and Mars Hill in not only founding the network but also sustaining it through the transition to this board three years ago. The very act of giving away your authority over the network was one of humility and grace, and for that we are grateful.

Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior.

In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming. We now have to take another course of action.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29. Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction.

We tell you this out of love for you, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and most significantly, the cause of Christ, and we would be irresponsible and deeply unloving not to do so in a clear and unequivocal manner. Again, we want you to know that we are eternally thankful for what you as a man and Mars Hill as a church have meant to our network. However, that cannot dissuade us from action. Instead, it gives added significance and importance to our decision. We hope and pray that you see this decision as the action of men who love you deeply and want you to walk in the light—for your good, the good of your family, and the honor of your Savior.

Shortly after sending this, we will be informing the members of Acts 29, your Board of Advisors and Accountability, and your elders, as well as putting out a public statement on the Acts 29 website. It brings us no joy to move forward in this direction, and we trust that the Lord will be at work in all of this.

In sorrow and with hope,

The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

40 Years Ago Today

Posted: August 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

40 years ago today Dad married Mom; Opa married Oma; Fred married Cora. God has blessed them with a son and 4 daughters, all of whom have married and have had children of their own. 14 grandchildren (and at least one more on the way) cheerfully call them Opa and Oma. Christmas dinners are a busy time in their house!  And I am sure this evening will be really busy as the celebration commences.

In an age of disposable marriages, it is a testament to the grace and love of the Lord that they have been married for 40 years.   When the minister asked Dad, “Do you promise to love and guide her faithfully, to maintain her, and to live with her in holiness, according to the holy gospel? Do you also promise never to forsake her, but to be true to her always, in good days and bad, in riches and poverty, in health and sickness, for as long as you both shall live?”  I wonder if he knew how profound that covenant was? He was taking upon himself a role of headship as Jesus did for the church.  That is true love.  The same is also true when Mom answered, “I do,” when the minister asked her, “Do you promise to love and obey him, to assist him, and to live with him in holiness, according to the holy gospel? Do you also promise never to forsake him, but to be true to him always, in good days and bad, in riches and poverty, in health and sickness, for as long as you both shall live?”

Staying married for 40 years and beyond, is not mainly about staying “in love”, or about feelings. It is about keeping a covenant. “…for as long as you both shall live…” is a sacred covenant promise, the same kind Jesus made with His bride when He died for her.  It is truly a beautiful thing.

So I personally look to them as an example of marriage, symbolic of the relationship that Jesus has with us.

Congrats and may the Lord bless you with many more years together Mom and Dad!

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Originally posted on The Reformed Reader:

Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol 2: Systematic Theology In confessional Reformed and Presbyterian circles, elders are typically elected by the congregation based on the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  Although it differs a bit in various Reformed and Presbyterian churches, typically men who are elected to the office of elder serve for several years (i.e. 3), then take several years “off,” then sometimes serve again (assuming the elder doesn’t move away, get divested of his office, or become unable to serve for serious health/personal reasons.).

But is this type of “term” or “class” eldership the most biblically prudent way to go?  John Murray says it is not.  He argues that the office of elder is a lifetime office.  I tend to agree.  Here are some points Murray makes against term eldership:

“…The idea of being ordained to office for a limited period of time is without warrant from the New Testament, and is contrary to…

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