Archive for February, 2010

Giving something up for Lent???

Posted: February 27, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Off topic: Finally Here!!! The Cobbled Classics

Posted: February 26, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

I’ve been waiting for this since…well since this time last year.  While most Americans are familiar with the super thin, aerobic monsters of the Tour de France, not many are aware of the heavier brutes who race across the worst roads in Europe in the absolute worst weather conditions.  These are the hard men of the “Cobbled Classics,” so called because they race across cobblestones as well as paved roads.  These races are one day, very fast, loaded with crashes, and very dramatic.  The first of the cobbled classics begins this weekend with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly known as Omloop Het Volk) on Saturday and the Kurne Brussels Kurne on Sunday.  You can watch these live and for free on  Time to crack open a Belgian ale and holler at the T.V. screen!!!

The Grace of the Lord Jesus (Phil 4.21-23)

Posted: February 25, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized
preached by Rob Sturdy on Feb 14, 2010

courtesy of TheResurgence

“And I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments…’” (Nehemiah 1:5).

Get Your Eyes Off Yourself

Some teaching on prayer suggests that we begin by confession of our sins to get it all out of the way. It is striking that Jesus’ teaching on prayer does the reverse: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9). He gets to confession of sin pretty late in the prayer. He would be frowned upon by some, but Jesus is right (oddly).

Jesus knows our frame. He knows we generally don’t need to see our sin as the first item on the agenda at every meeting with God. Better in fact to get our eyes altogether off of ourselves. That way we gain perspective and hope. D. Kidner says, “There is more than [flowery language] in this… opening. It deliberately postpones the cry for help, which could otherwise be faithless and self-pitying. It mounts immediately to heaven, where the perspective will be right, and it reflects on the character of God—not only for its loyalty and love, but first of all for the majesty which puts man, whether friend or foe, in his place.”

The great prayers of Scripture resound with this heavenly perspective. I love the way Peter and John (with their backs bleeding and the threat of execution over their heads) pray with the others, saying “Sovereign God… Now Lord…” (Acts 4). Start with God and his mission. Look to him. That way you get know him better too, and “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Dan. 11:32). Practically this means we shouldn’t complain too much if prayer meetings are occasionally overrun with worship! It also means that, like Nehemiah, we should plead our relationship.

Pray According To Scripture

Nehemiah prays, “Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there’” (Neh. 1:8-9). Nehemiah knows his God and knows the story his God is telling. He knows the way it should be going and the plan God has in getting it there. He knows about Israel’s heritage, Israel’s astounding calling, and Zion’s destiny as God’s great city—and this makes him persistent.

Bike Mechanics

Posted: February 25, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

I  picked up what is the last of the famous Cervelo P3 aluminum time trial framesets recently while on a trip to Charlotte.  The frame originally sold for around $3000 but I picked it up for $300.  I’ve been acquiring parts over the past few months and recently finished it with the help of my son, who is doing some work on his own bike courtesy of a tool set his grand dad got him for Christmas.  He even got to tighten some bolts on the real bike and cut one or two cables.  In the picture below I’m just about to take a hack saw to the fork to finish off the bike.  I’ve ridden it once so far.  All I’ve got to say is whoah…pretty fast rig.

Thanks to Usama for passing this along

“You must be born again.”

Do not think Christians are made by education; they are made by creation. You may wash a corpse as long as you please, and that corpse could be clean, but you cannot wash life into it!

You may deck it in flowers, and robe it in scarlet and fine linen, but you cannot make it live! The vital spark must come from above! Regeneration is not of the will of man, nor of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but by the power and energy of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God alone!

See then, the ruin of nature and the freeness of grace! Void and dark, a chaos given up to be covered withnblackness and darkness forever, and, while as yet it is unseeking God, the light arises, and the promise is fulfilled, “I am found of them that sought me not; I said, behold me! behold me! to a people that were not a people.”

While we were lying in our blood, filthily polluted, defiled, he passed by, and he said in the sovereignty of his love, “Live!” and we do live. The whole must be traced to sovereign grace! From this sacred well of discriminating distinguishing grace we must draw water this morning, and we must pour it out, saying, “Oh Lord, I will praise your name, for the first origin of my light was your sovereign purpose, and nothing in me.”

Excerpt from Spurgeon’s sermon,”Light, Natural and Spiritual” No. 660.

Luther is commenting here on the fear of Abram in Gen 15.1.  Notice Luther’s description of God withdrawing himself and what it is meant to accomplish.  First, when God withdraws himself it is because of His grace, not in spite of.  After all, grace is “truly immovalbe and unchangeable.”  But rather, God will from time to time withdraw himself to humble his people and protect them from grievous sins and at the proper time restore their spirits with a word of comfort.  The pastoral applications of this are immense. Here are some questions to help you tease this out for yourself.  What role does spiritual depression play in formation?  When I feel God’s absence, could there be a good and loving reason behind his absence?  How does being humbled by God help us to rely on his promises and love Him more? 

It is no small comfort, however, to know that grace has not been taken away but is truly immovable and unchangeable, although the awareness and experience of grace is taken away for a time, and dread and fear rush in, discouraging and troubling the spirit.  The man becomes impatient, concludes that he cannot bear the wrath of God, and simply makes a devil out of God. 

Christ experienced this trial in the garden (Matt 26.41), where nature was wrestling with the spirit, and the spirit indeed was willing but the flesh was weak, terrified, fearful, and troubled.  No one is truly sorrowful unless God forsakes him, just as, conversely, no one can be sorrowful when God is present.  Therefore sorrow is an indication that God has departed from us and has forsaken us for a time…

When on the other hand, as is written in the Book of Wisdom (3.7), God shines into our hearts with rays of mercy, then it is impossible for our hearts not to be glad, even though we, like Stephen, are being dragged to torture and death.

Therefore it is profitable to consider these examples, namely, that the saints who are bold in the Holy Spirit are bolder than Satan himself.  On the other hand, when they are in the clutches of trial, they tremble so much that they are afraid even of a rustling leaf.  We are reminded of our weakness in order that no matter how great the gifts are that we possess, we may not exalt ourselves but may remain humble and fear God.  From those who do not do this He turns His face away, and trouble and perplexity follow. 

I want to preface these remarks to this chapter, in which we learn about what Ps. 4.3 says: “know that God has dealt marvelously with the godly,” that is, that He keeps those who are His occupied in various ways, lest they become heretics, be presumptuous with regard to their gifts, and be puffed up over against those who do not have these gifts.  For those who do this are very close to destruction.

Therefore those who are chosen as teachers of the churches to rule over others should offer special prayers that they be preserved from this affliction as from the greatest and most dangerous evil.

Other sins- such as wrathfulness, impatience, and drunkenness- naturally bring shame because of their foulness.  Those who indulge in them know that they have sinned.  Consequently, they blush.  But vainglory and trust in one’s own wisdom or righteousness is a sin of such a kind that it is not recognized as sin.  Instead, men thank God for it, as the Pharisee does in the Gospel (Luke 18.9-14); they rejoice in it as in an extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore it is an utterly incurable devilish evil. 

From this God preserves saintly Abraham by subjecting the glorious conqueror to such an affliction that it is necessary to comfort him with a divine word…

Luther, Comentary on Genesis vol. II (LW vol. 3 pg 8-9)

The Generous Heart (Phil 4.10-20)

Posted: February 23, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized
preached by Iain Boyd on Feb 7th, 2010

Stephen Colbert: A Liturgical Dance

Posted: February 23, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

I will be introducing liturgical dance at all three worship services this Sunday.  Mark Chaney and Iain Boyd will lead the dancing, which will be very similar to the Colbert video posted below. 

 Steve Wood will be presenting a lecture on John Calvin this evening as part of St. Paul’s Theological College at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant.  During his preparation he ran across these great quotes.  Enjoy! 

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.”

“There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.”

“You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”

“We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too.”

“Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.”

“It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results.”

“God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us – as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.”

“However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

“For there is no one so great or mighty that he can avoid the misery that will rise up against him when he resists and strives against God.”

“All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”

“Wherever we find the Word of God surely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, there, it is not to be doubted, is a church of God.”

“Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols.”

“No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.”

“Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church?”

“I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.”

“Man with all his shrewdness is as stupid about understanding by himself the mysteries of God, as an ass is incapable of understanding musical harmony.”

“Let us not cease to do the utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments.”

“Though Satan instills his poison, and fans the flames of our corrupt desires within us,we are yet not carried by any external force to the commission of sin, but our own flesh entices us, and we willingly yield to its allurements.”

“The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.”

“Original sin, therefore, appears to be a hereditary, depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused through all the parts of the soul, rendering us obnoxious to the divine wrath and producing in us those works which the scripture calls ‘works of.”

“Augustine does not disagree with this when he teaches that it is a faculty of the reason and the will to choose good with the assistance of grace; evil, when grace is absent.”

“For though we very truly hear that the kingdom of God will be filled with splendor, joy, happiness and glory, yet when these things are spoken of, they remain utterly remote from our perception, and as it were, wrapped in obscurities, until that day.”

“Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.”

“Each eye can have its vision separately; but when we are looking at anything . . . our vision, which in itself is divided, joins up and unites in order to give itself as a whole to the object that is put before it.”

“Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have.”

“There is no work, however vile or sordid, that does not glisten before God.”

“[A]ll men were created to busy themselves with labor for the common good.”

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

Below is Calvin’s exposition of Hebrews 10.19.  I’ve italicized what I think is one of the most profound thoughts on the passage that I’ve come across

He says first, that we have “boldness to enter into the holiest”.
This privilege was never granted to the fathers under the Law, for the
people were forbidden to enter the visible sanctuary, though the high
priest bore the names of the tribes on his shoulders, and twelve stones
as a memorial of them on his breast. But now the case is very different,
for not only symbolically, but in reality an entrance into heaven is made
open to us through the favour of Christ, for he has made us a royal

He adds, “by the blood of Jesus”, because the door of the sanctuary
was not opened for the periodical entrance of the high priest, except
through the intervention of blood. But he afterwards marks the difference between this blood and that of beasts; for the blood of beasts, as it soon turns to corruption, could not long retain its efficacy; but the blood of Christ, which is subject to no corruption, but flows ever as a pure stream, is sufficient for us even to the end of the world. It is no wonder that beasts slain in sacrifice had no power to quicken, as they were dead; but Christ who arose from the dead to bestow life on us, communicates his own life to us. It is a perpetual consecration of the way, because the blood of Christ is always in a manner distilling before the presence of the Father, in order to irrigate heaven and earth.

Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews 10. 19

By “Little-Faiths”, Spurgeon here means people who are not great in faith and deed.  There are no Moses, or Paul, or Peter, or Augustine, or Luther, or Calvin.  They aren’t even  “Joe-Schmoe” Christians, but something less than that.  They are people whose faith is full of doubts, whose morality is often feeble.  They are not spiritual giants but spiritual midgets.  Here Spurgeon speaks a word of comfort to folks just like this, and shows that the blessings of Christ are every bit their’s as they are to the spritual giant.  Maybe these words will be a comfort to you.  I know it spoke a word of comfort to me…

Now I want to say one or two things to Little-Faiths this morning. The little children of God who are here mentioned as being bruised reeds or smoking flax are just as safe as the great saints of God. I wish for a moment to expand this thought, and then I will finish with the other head. These saints of God who are called bruised reeds and smoking flax are just as safe as those who are mighty for their Master, and great in strength, for several reasons. First of all, the little saint is just as much God’s elect as the great saint. When God chose his people, he chose them all at once, and altogether; and he elected one just as much as the other. If I choose a certain number of things, one may be less than the rest, but one is as much chosen as the other; and so Mrs. Fearing and Miss Despondency are just as much elected as Great-Heart, or Old Father Honest. Again: the little ones are redeemed equally with the great ones! the feeble saints cost Christ as much suffering as the strong ones; the tiniest child of God could not have been purchased with less than Jesus’ precious blood; and the greatest child of God did not cost him more. Paul did not cost any more than Benjamin—I am sure he did not—for I read in the Bible that “there is no difference.” Besides, when of old they came to pay their redemption-money, every person brought a shekel. The poor shall bring no less, and the rich shall bring no more than just a shekel. The same price was paid for the one as the other. Now then little child of God, take that thought to thy soul. You see some men very prominent in Christ’s cause—and it is very good that they should be—but they did not cost Jesus a farthing more than you did; he paid the same price for you that he paid for them. Recollect again, you are just as much a child of God as the greatest saint. Some of you have five or six children. There is one child of yours, perhaps, who is very tall and handsome, and has, moreover, gifts of mind; and you have another child who is the smallest of the family, perhaps has but little intellect and understanding. But which is the most your child? “The most!” you say; “both alike are my children, certainly, one as much as the other.” And so, dear friends, you may have very little learning, you may be very dark about divine things, you may but “see men as trees walking,” but you are as much the children of God as those who have grown to the stature of men in Christ Jesus. Then remember, poor tried saint, that you are just as much justified as any other child of God. I know that I am completely justified.

His blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress.

I want no other garments, save Jesus’ doings, and his imputed righteousness.

The boldest child of God wants no more; and I who am “less than the least of all saints,” can be content with no less, and I shall have no less. O Ready-to-Halt, thou art as much justified as Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, or the loftiest saint in heaven. There is no difference in that matter. Oh! take courage and rejoice.

Then one thing more. If you were lost, God’s honor would be as much tarnished as if the greatest one were lost. A queer thing I once read in an old book about God’s children and people being a part of Christ and in union with him. The writer says—”A father sitteth in his room, and there cometh in a stranger; the stranger taketh up a child on his knee, and the child hath a sore finger; so he saith, ‘My child, you have a sore finger;’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Well, let me take it off, and give thee a golden one!’ The child looketh at him and saith, ‘I will not go to that man any more, for he talks of taking off my finger; I love my own finger, and I will not have a golden one instead of it.'” So the saint saith, “I am one of the members of Christ, but I am like a sore finger, and he will take me off and put a golden one on.” “No,” said Christ, “no, no; I cannot have any of my members taken away; if the finger be a sore one, I will bind it up; I will strengthen it.” Christ cannot allow a word about cutting his members off. If Christ lose one of his people, he would not be a whole Christ any longer. If the meanest of his children could be cast away, Christ would lack a part of his fullness; yea, Christ would be incomplete without his Church. If one of his children must be lost, it would be better that it should be a great one, than a little one. If a little one were lost, Satan would say, “Ah! you save the great ones, because they had strength and could help themselves; but the little one that has no strength, you could not save him.” You know what Satan would say; but God would shut Satan’s mouth, by proclaiming, “They are all here, Satan, in spite of thy malice, they are all here; every one is safe; now lie down in thy den for ever, and be bound eternally in chains, and smoke in fire!” So shall he suffer eternal torment, but not one child of God ever shall.

One thought more and I shall have done with this head. The salvation of great saints often depends upon the salvation of little ones. Do you understand that? You know that my salvation, or the salvation of any child of God, looking at second causes, very much depends upon the conversion of some one else. Suppose your mother is the means of your conversion, you would, speaking after the manner of men, say, that your conversion depended upon hers; for her being converted, made her the instrument of bringing you in. Suppose such-and-such a minister to be the means of your calling; then your conversion, in some sense, though not absolutely, depends upon his. So it often happens, that the salvation of God’s mightiest servants depends upon the conversion of little ones. There is a poor mother; no one ever knows anything about her; she goes to the house of God, her name is not in the newspapers, or anywhere else; she teaches her child, and brings him up in the fear of God; she prays for that boy; she wrestles with God, and her tears and prayers mingle together. The boy grows up. What is he? A missionary—a William Knibb—a Moffat—a Williams. But you do not hear anything about the mother. Ah! but if the mother had not been saved, where would the boy have been? Let this cheer the little ones; and may you rejoice that he will nourish and cherish you, though you are like bruised reeds and smoking flax.

read the whole thing here

Grace is not a thing

Posted: February 19, 2010 by limabean03 in Christian Theology, Christianity, Reformed Theology

Thanks to Sami for forwarding this along

It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself.

Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. – Sinclair Ferguson

Don’t worry…Myrtle Beach is safe tonight

Posted: February 19, 2010 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Rob (the tall one) and David (the short one) Sturdy shed their mild mannered identities as Pastor and toddler in potty training to fight crime, injustice, and er…global warming

Below is an excerpt from this introductory, first section of Jewel’s famous Apology (defense) of the Church of England. In the quote below Jewel does three significant things. First, he shows that Jesus Christ himself uses Scripture to establish truth. Second, he shows that the early church fathers used Scripture to establish truth. I will take a moment of personal privilege at this point. Many folks who appeal to tradition often appeal to the church fathers, and more often than note quote their favorite proof texts from Tertullian and Irenaeus. But if our find friends who find these appeals so useful were to actual read Tertullian and Irenaeus, or many (if not most!) of the other church fathers, they will find the most frequent appeal is always to scripture and only rarely (even in Irenaeus!) to the authority of the church. Jewel of course picks up on this and illustrates that if you really want to be faithful to catholic tradition you will first and foremost establish truth on Holy Scripture. Finally, Jewel shows that in this great tradition of establishing truth on the authority of scripture first, the Church of England and the other Protestant churches of the continental reformation are leading the way. What then of the role of tradition? It seems for Jewel that it is important for him to read scripture and understand theology in a manner consistent with but not proven by tradition.  Thus tradition is an important companion in reading scripture, nevertheless as Jewel, Hooker, and Cranmer in their writings and actions make clear, tradition is never above Scripture. Where tradition cannot reasonably be proven by scripture, it is to be dismissed (for a good example of this principle see Article XXII of the Articles of Religion).

“With this sword (Scripture) did Christ put off the devil when He was tempted of him: with these weapons ought all presumption, which doth advance itself against God, to be overthrown and conquered. “For all Scripture,” saith St. Paul, “that cometh by the inspiration of God, is profitable to teach, to confute, to instruct, and to reprove, that the man of God may be perfect, and thoroughly framed to every good work.” Thus did the holy fathers always fight against the heretics with none other force than with the Holy Scriptures. St. Augustine, when he disputed against Petilian, a heretic of the Donatists: “Let not these words,” quoth he, “be heard between us, ‘I say, or you say:’ let us rather speak in this wise: ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ There let us seek the Church: there let us boult out our cause.” Likewise St. Hierom: “All those things,” saith he, “which without the testimony of the Scriptures are holden as delivered from the Apostles, be thoroughly smitten down by the sword of God’s word.” St. Ambrose also, to Gratian the emperor: “Let the Scripture,” saith he, “be asked the question, let the prophets be asked, and let Christ be asked.” For at that time made the Catholic fathers and bishops no doubt but that our religion might be proved out of the Holy Scriptures. Neither were they ever so hardy as to take any for a heretic whose error they could not evidently and apparently reprove by the self-same Scriptures. And we verily do make answer on this wise, as St. Paul did: “According to this way which they (the Roman Catholics) call heresy we do worship God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and do allow all things which have been written either in the law or in the Prophets,” or in the Apostles’ works.”

read Jewel’s Apology in its entirety here