June 2006


Over at the Founder’s Blog, Tom Ascol has a piece on R.M. McCheyne on church discipline.

If you haven’t read about R.M. McCheyne, check out the post above, and some of his works here. I really enjoy his poetry and appreciate his views (as much as I am aquainted with them), as I have quoted them before.

My introduction to him came through an Uncle who heard some of his poetry quoted in church. This Uncle was so impressed with the beauty and spiritual forcefulness of the piece, that he returned home that day and memorized it. (I imagine that is an answer to any pastor’s prayers!) As I’m sure you see where this is going, my Uncle shared the poem with me. Just one stanza remained in my mind as a seed to later flower.

In college I recalled the poetry and the poet. A quick google search and I discovered a treasure trove in the McCheyne site. In reading each poem, I found the meter to be just right and began singing them instead. As you’ll notice most of them are McCheyne’s restating of scripture in rhyme. They have been to me, over the past few years, songs of praise to God, for which I am grateful.

Besides his works being a catalyst of my praising God, this recent post at Founders sparked a new insight. Namely what a tremendous encouragement his life is to young men in the church.

This may not seem obvious at first, but allow some details to pave the way for the point:

McCheyne was:

  • born in 1813 and died in 1843. That means he was taken home at 29.
  • given charge of St. Peter’s Church Dundee in 1836, at age 23.
  • used by God in his writing and preaching that we are talking about him today.

McCheyne’s life being mentioned at Founders encourages and reminds me that God will use young and old alike in His time and in His way.

May we see in this brief life of McCheyne’s an example of one who followed the call of his God. We are not left alone with this example but are encouraged, as perhaps he was, with the words of Paul to Timothy:

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

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from here.
___________________

Father,

I pray for my brothers who lead the SBC.
Teach them that the flesh can’t kill the flesh.
May they mortify sin by Your Spirit instead.
May they walk in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
May they believe that preaching grace promotes holiness.
Forgive them their unbelief.
Put Fear in their hearts to convict them of binding the consciences of your children with extrabiblical resolutions.
Show them the Hellward tendency of their good intentions.
Raise up leaders who are men of both grace and truth.

In the name of Jesus who will surely build His church and wash her with the Word,

Amen.

_______________

If you don’t know what this is in reference to, please read this.

Update: you can read more on this here from Justin Taylor.

In case you are wondering if the two send-offs (red cards) in the US-Italy match of last week were appropriate, check out an appropriate booking from the Germany-Ecuador match. Ecuador’s Valencia (not the Italian team) had a late tackle on a German midfielder, it’s during the 4th minute here.

I haven’t been able to find any online clips of the US reds, but I’m sure we’ll see it again on ESPN.

In order to instill confidence in financial advisors and undying trust in our financiers, they have moved to a new model of customer interaction.
Gone are the days of the local banker, the one who lived round the bend and was always in his pinstripe suit.

Well, I’ve never been an adult in such a time, I only see it in period film. I noticed a particular slant in a letter recieved from a customer service rep at a financial group I formerly patronized. (Although, there may be some patronizing to follow.)

The slant will be obvious in the quotes to follow, but notice how the great distance between us (I’ve never seen or spoken with this individual, and they live 1000 miles away) is supposed to be bridged by the form letter with an un-healthy dose of theroputic self-empowerment philosophy. Another thing before you read the quotes, did he dictate this with his head in a hat, while fondling some “seeing stones?”

“I close with this thought: Broad is the way and wide is the gate for all those who choose the proper path to financial freedom. Be not swayed by the quick and easy – the way is strewn with rocks, ruts, and dead ends. Discipline, desire, and determination are the keys to open the gate. I look forward to being of good and faithful service to you.”

Untill I typed this out for myself, I didn’t realize how abominable it really is. Perhaps this guy is a distant descendant of Joseph Smith or something…it sure sounds scripturesque.

Well, if you want even more gufaws, (or is it tears?) here are some excerpts from the enclosure:

“My Life’s Mission”

To empower others to find a greater fulfillment of their own goals and dreams; enable others to care for their families as I care for my own;

To teach others that which I believe to be right in both the personal and professional stream, yet never presume that my way is the only way;

To provide good and faithful service to you with dedicated effort to satisfy your needs. Not only now, but service after you being your relationship with me. I promise to answer your questions honestly and promptly. I will respond to your concerns as quickly as possible.”

The whole thing stinks as some modern manifesto. I think it should motivate me to write out some goals of my own.

Please forgive me for the length of the following excerpt. And though it is long, I commend this brother’s message to you and boldness with God’s Word. In the Spirit of God’s Word in Hebrews 11, though he is dead, he still lives. May this serve as an admonishment to follow Christ with love, with passion, with zeal…

The Religious Affections, Part 3, Section 12

Christians in their effectual calling, are not called to idleness, but to labour in God’s vineyard, and spend their day in doing a great and laborious service. All true Christians comply with this call, (as is implied in its being an effectual call,) and do the work of Christians; which is every where in the New Testament compared to those exercises, wherein men are wont to exert their strength with the greatest earnestness, as running, wrestling, fighting. All true Christians are good and faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ, and fight the good fight of faith: for none but those who do so, ever lay hold on eternal life. Those who fight at those who beat the air, never win the crown of victory. They that run in a race, run all; but one wins the prize: and they that are slack and negligent in their course, do not so run, as that they may obtain. The kingdom of heaven is not to be taken but by violence. Without earnestness there is no getting along in that narrow way that leads to life; and so no arriving at that state of glorious life and happiness to which it leads. Without earnest labour, there is no ascending the steep and high hill of Zion; and so no arriving at the heavenly city on the top of it. Without a constant laboriousness, there is no stemming the swift stream in which we swim, so as ever to come to that fountain of water of life, that is at the head of it. There is need that we should watch and pray always, in order to our escaping those dreadful things that are coming on the ungodly, and our being counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There is need of our putting on the whole armour of God, and doing all to stand, in order to our avoiding a total overthrow, and being utterly destroyed by the fiery darts of the devil. There is need that we should forget the things that are behind, and be reaching forth to the things that are before, and pressing towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, in order to our obtaining that prize. Slothful-ness in the service of God, in his professed servants, is as damning as open rebellion: for the slothful servant is a wicked servant, and shall be cast into outer darkness, among God’s open enemies. Matt. 25:26, 30. They that are slothful, are not followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises; Heb. 6:11, 12. “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” And all they who follow that cloud of witnesses who are gone before to heaven, do lay aside every weight, and the sin that easily besets them, and run with patience the race that is set before them, Heb. 12:1. That true faith by which persons rely on the righteousness of Christ and the work he hath done for them, and truly feed and live upon him, is evermore accompanied with a spirit of earnestness in the christian work and course. Which was typified of old, by the manner of the children of Israel’s feeding on the paschal lamb; Exod. 12:11. “And thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand: and ye shall eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s passover.”


A light rain fell as I pulled up to the pump…”now which one is the cheapest? Ah, the lowest octane rating…$2.89! What!? Nearly three dollars and that for the watery stuff!”

I began that way, thinking of how inconvinient the price of gas was, and probably like most people pondering the impact to my monthly budget and routine. But another thought crept in, “there is gas, and I can afford it.” I began to think of how life would be different without a station on every corner, without the universally accepted credit card swipe, without a functioning car, etc etc. I thought for a moment how I felt troubled by this most menial of inconvinience as “expensive gas.” What in the world am I thinking?! Most of the world’s population does not even have enough food to avoid starving.

Quickly I realize how blessed we are in America, and that while we are all sinners worthy of immediate entry into Hell forever, God provides kindnesses that are to lead us to repentance. The little episode opened my eyes for a second onto the vista of God’s common grace by which we are not consumed. God does all this for the rebels – the enemies of his purpose, the haters of his glory!

Not only are the great temporal blessings illustrative of his mercy on every human being, he also saves people from every people group on earth, as a new nation unto himself. If I am startled by his common love on all people, how much greater is his covenant love towards his elect! I really have no grid for comprehending this majesty. If the physical world seems all encompassing and supreme, and mercy in the forms of antibiotics, functioning electronics and mechanical systems, and governmental restraining of anarchy all seem like ultimate goodness to man’s eye, how insuperably magnificent is the redeeming love of Christ!

Oh for the curtain to be pulled back that my heart can esteem that which is worthy and not wheedle with the worthless!

Thank God for expensive gallons of gas. 🙂

Psalm 103:11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

As I was being discipled, my teacher told me a sad story of when he was in the college ministry. In his early days as a Christian, a man said, “twenty years from now, half of the people in this room will not be seeking God.” He thought no way, but as time went on, he saw people cool off first hand. I was sobered up quickly.
“That’s scary,” I told him.
“That is scary.” He paused, “Run a little bit scared.”
“How do you know you’ll be having your quiet time in twenty years?” he asked.“Do it now?” I timidly returned.
“Have it today! If you have it today, you’ll have it tomorrow.”
One of the most unsettling things in the Christian walk is the falling away of trusted friends. We live our lives with them; we share our time with them; we open up our hearts to them. Then, slowly with some, instantly with others, we see signs of their disconnect with God. Some past grievance is not forgiven or a sin is justified; a root of bitterness springs up. They harden their hearts and justify more sin. Their tenderness and sensitivity dries up; it is only hurting me, they protest. They lash out and break contact, make false accusations, or grow cynical. In the end, only God knows the condition of their hearts and when or if they will ever return.
Here, in a sobering passage, Jonathan Edwards discloses how Satan goes about to make counterfeits of the most cherished commodities in the world- Christian love and humility. By showing that few take time to imitate that which is fake, but many to imitate that which is rare- gold, silver, diamonds, etc., he points out that there are indeed many fakes out there. A cubic zirconia may look like a diamond, but its treatment of the light within it shows it false. And with some, they cannot be seen as fake until they are held up to the Light over time, and the refraction of their hearts under that light exposes what is true.
Part II Section VI
It is no evidence that religious affections are saving, or that they are otherwise, that there is an appearance of love in them

“…It may be observed, that the more excellent any thing is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold, than of iron and copper: there are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to counterfeit common stones? Though the more excellent things are, the more difficult it is to make any thing like them, in their essential nature and internal virtue; yet the more manifold will the counterfeits be, and the more will art and subtlety be exercised and displayed, in an exact imitation of the outward appearance. Thus there is the greatest danger of being cheated in buying medicines that are most excellent and sovereign, though it be most difficult to imitate them, with any thing of the like value and virtue, and their counterfeits are good for nothing when we have them. So it is with Christian virtues and graces; the subtlety of Satan, and men’s deceitful hearts, are wont chiefly to be exercised in counterfeiting those that are in highest repute. So there are perhaps no graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true Christian especially appears…”