Friday, July 31, 2009

The Edwards' Lives Still Speak

I'm currently enjoyng George Marsden's wonderful biography on Jonathan Edwards. Chapter 20 includes a snapshot of parenting in the Edwards home. We can learn much from the following excerpts, not least the final one which underscores just how thankful we men should be for our godly wives:

The first impression a visitor would have upon arriving at the Edwards home was that there were a lot of children. The second impression would be that they were very well disciplined. Jonathan aided Sarah in disciplining the children from an early age. 'When they first discovered any considerable degree of will and stubbornness,' wrote biographer Samuel Hopkins, 'he would attend to them till he had thoroughly subdued them and brought them to submit with the greatest calmness, and commonly without striking a blow, effectively establishing his parental authority and producing a cheerful obedience ever after.
Care for his children's souls was his preeminent concern. In morning devotions he quizzed them on Scripture with questions appropriate to their ages. On Saturday evenings, the beginning of the Sabbath, he taught them the Westminster Shorter Catechism, making sure they understood as well as memorized the answers.
Edwards also believed in not holding back the terrors of hell from his children. 'As innocent as children seem to us,' he wrote, 'if they are out of Christ, they are not so in God's sight, but are young vipers....' At the judgment day unregenerate children would hardly thank their parents for sentimental tenderness that protected them from knowing the true dangers of their estate. Always looking for opportunities to awaken the young to their condition, he had taken the children to view the remains of the Lyman house fire that claimed two girls' lives.
By far the greater burden of childrearing fell to Sarah....On one occasion, when she was out of town in 1748, Jonathan was soon near his wits' end. Children of almost every age needed to be cared for. 'We have been without you,' Jonathan lamented in a letter, 'almost as long as we know how to be!'
- Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden, pp. 321-323

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Family is Blessed and a Baby is Healed

The following story is written by Daron Tienhaara. Daron and his wife Corrie are former members of Trinity Church and now attend Mars Hill Church in Olympia, Washington.

God is sovereign. We’ve heard this before, but do we really know what it means? And do we live like we believe it? I can say with complete certainty that the statement, “God is sovereign,” is 100% true and it’s not because He’s given me untold riches, vast lands, or unspeakable power. It’s because of what He’s shown my wife and I: He has the power to take away and at the same time the grace to say, “I will let you enjoy this gift for one more day.” (READ the entire story HERE)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Modesty Heart Check

This morning we looked at 1 Timothy 2:8-15. In this section Paul deals, in part, with modesty.

to view the Modesty Heart Check that I mentioned. I would recommend this Heart Check for every woman at Trinity Church.
I would recommend that you print out the Heart Check (2 pages) and use it as a resource in the following ways,

Mothers - read it with your daughters.
Wives - read it with your husbands.
Fathers - read it with your wives and daughters.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

On Sunday I mentioned that Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer was one of the best books on evangelism. It's Monday morning and I still believe it is. Order a copy of this book at the link below or find it in the Trinity Church library.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Impacted by Godliness

Today I'm wrapping up my class on Christian leadership at Reformed Seminary. I've learned so much, and I can't wait to share it with you when I get back into the saddle of ministry in Minot.

One of the most inspiring and stimulating discussions we've had was one morning when each student shared about the one or two most significant Christian leaders who've shaped our lives for the gospel. When we boiled down the various characteristics of those who've impacted us the most, this is the list which emerged:

1. Humility
2. An embodiment of the gospel and its sweetness
3. Christian courage
4. Single-minded devotion to Jesus and His mission of grace
5. A passion for investing in others
6. An ability to recognize evidences of God's grace and potential in others
7. A supernatural self-forgetfulness
8. An unswervingly commitment to be shaped by the Word of God
9. The discipline to listen well to others

It's a rare blessing when God brings people who embody such elements into our lives. We need to thank God for them. But we also should inquire whether or not we're becoming like them. I would encourage us all to read through the list as a mirror for our own lives. "Is this a description of me?" That is the question. By God's grace, as we grow into this picture of godliness, our lives will leave an impact of godliness for generations to come.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Worship Opportunity

My class on the theology of Jonathan Edwards last week was rigorous, and today I begin a new class on church leadership. So, when Saturday (2 days ago) arrived, I was ready to give my brain and body a break from study and do something refreshing.

Some of you know about my love for residential architecture. And it just so happens that two hours west of Charlotte (where I'm in school) is America's largest and, some would say, most beautiful home: Biltmore, the residential masterpiece built by George Vanderbuilt in the 1890's. What better way to spend a day off than touring this most remarkable of homes? So I did.

The drive from Biltmore's front gate to the house took me on a road which wound three miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains. As mountain mist hung in the air around towering spruce and cedar trees, I felt like I'd entered a fairy land and found myself spontaneously exclaiming, "Praise You, Creator God!"

After arriving at the house, I purchased a day pass which allowed me to tour the rooms which are open to the public. I was awestruck by the grand dining hall, with a table seating 44 and a 70 foot vaulted ceiling. I was dumbfounded by the richness of the breakfast room with its hand-worked, leather wall coverings and red, Italian marble trim. Most of all I was continually struck by the ingenious design of the house which actually makes much of this 255 room mansion feel like a warm and cozy cottage.

After my tour as I beheld the house one last time from the beautiful garden I thought, with amazement, of the genius of Fredrick Law Olmsted (the landscape architect) and Richard Hunt (the house architect). But then the Spirit corrected me saying, "But who gave these men the ability to craft such a home? Who created the stone, brick, wood and slate necessary to build it? Who made the Blue Ridge Mountains whose beauty so well accentuates the glory of Biltmore?" "You, O God!" I exclaimed. "You have made this house. Praise You!"

God has graciously filled our world with beauty in a thousand forms which all point to Him and call forth our praise. Unbelievers enjoy earthly beauty and human wisdom and stop short in their praise, missing the Master Creator behind it all. Only we Christians can enjoy music and let it cause us to praise the God of music, we can taste delicious food and delight in its Maker, we can feel the refreshment of a cool pool on a hot day and trace its joy back to the Master Who said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place...." (Gen. 1:9)

We swim everyday in an ocean of worship opportunity. This summer may the God of beauty hear our praise.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday John!

Greetings to everyone at TC from lovely and humid Charlotte, North Carolina. Our family had a very enjoyable trip out to Virginia, and my class on the theology of Jonathan Edwards this week has been very stimulating, stretching and is impacting how I think about ministry in the local church. Today our class (though not my work for it) comes to an end.

That may make today significant for me, but this date is significant for the church worldwide for another, greater reason. Today marks the 500th birthday of John Calvin. Though you may personally know little about Calvin, many consider him the greatest post-apostolic theologian the church has ever had. Not only did Calvin lead the 16th century Reformation in France and Switzerland. Not only did he write the first systematic theology (his Institutes of the Christian Religion). Not only did he mentor such significant church leaders as John Knox. Not only did he reform Christian worship in a biblical manner. Not only did he write commentaries on almost every book of the Bible. Not only did he preach at least five times a week and serve as shepherd for the entire city of Geneva. Not only did Calvin do these great things, but more important and imforming them all, he worked hard to ensure that a conscious focus on God was at the center of it all. We call John Calvin the father of all truly God-centered ministry, preaching, worship and life in its modern expressions. And because we strive for a decidedly God-centered focus more than anything else at Trinity Church, we owe a tremendous debt to John Calvin.

After our class ends today here at Reformed Theological Seminary we're going to sing 'Happy Birthday' and eat birthday cake in honor of Calvin. My prayer is that you would honor his memory today too. Even better than a birthday party, let me encourage you to celebrate him by more fully embracing his vision of living a truly God-centered life to the glory of Christ.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thinking about the grace of God...

Today I have been studying 1 Timothy 1:12-20 in preparation for this weekends worship service. I began to think about God's grace and Paul's humility in verses 12 and 13 and was reminded of a very practical list in C.J. Mahaney's book Humility: True Greatness. I would encourage every believer to read this book...and I believe we have at least one copy in the church library.

How To Weaken Pride and Cultivate Humility

1. Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ.
2. Being your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God.
3. Begin your day by expressing gratefulness to God.
4. Practice the spiritual disciplines - prayer, study of God's Word, worship. Do this consistently each day and at the day's outset, if possible.
5. Seize your commute time to memorize and meditate on Scripture.
6. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.
7. At the end of the day, transfer the glory to God.
8. Before going to sleep, receive this gift of sleep from God and acknowledge His purpose for sleep.
9. Study the attributes of God.
10. Study the doctrines of grace.
11. Study the doctrine of sin.
12. Play golf as much as possible - ("I don't think there is a more difficult or humbling sport.")
13. Laugh often, and laugh at yourself.
14. Identify evidences of grace in others.
15. Encourage and serve others each and every day.
16. Invite and pursue correction.
17. Respond humbly to trials.