27 February 2015

Some Here, Some There — February 27, 2015

by Dan Phillips

And off we go. There may be updates, as usual, up to noon TX time.
  • The murder of the 21 Egyptian Copts provoked a lot of heat, and debatable light, as to whether they should be classed as "Christians." Kevin DeYoung gives helpful historical and doctrinal framing. I've always appreciated how Kevin writes and speaks. The article includes some very nice turns of phrase, such as "It’s unclear whether Nestorius was actually a Nestorian." Then, later, "it’s unclear how much of Eutychianism came from Eutyches." History is hard.
  • There is much interesting and informative push-back in the meta, and (as I think is customary), zero response thus far from Kevin. One of the respondents is a poor soul who self-identifies as a "coptic orthodox christian" [sic]. He does, I think, a great deal of damage to his own case, aggressively crusading against truths we all hold dear and essential and for practices we rightly condemn.
  • But my personal fondness for DeYoung was increased by a particular phrase. My family (particularly my dear and only daughter) has had to wrestle with, and tease me for, my tendency to phrase things negatively. "Are you not going to finish that?" So imagine my joy in Kevin's wording here: "For my part, I’m unwilling to say the non-acceptance of Chalcedon is no big deal." Kevin, you are my brother.
  • Baronelle Stutzman is (A) a profile in courage and conviction, and (B) clearly not an "evangelical academic."
  • Doug Wilson adds some excellent commentary.
  • I wonder if The Gospel Coalition has blocked Wilson? They have to feel torn about him. He's a celebrity and witty... but has edges and little patience with pretentious frippery.
  • The smiling Scot, Prof. David Murray, offers ten Biblical formulas to cultivate a more joyous, positive attitude.
  • Murray also pointed to Brad Hambrick's favorite posts on anxiety.
  • This Wednesday's text in Psalm 3 will take me into the arena of the imprecatory prayers in the psalms. Some recent thoughts on that were offered at Reformation 21, and by Barry York.
  • The living breathing fog machine that is Rob Bell has rhetorically attempted to ennoble his amorous pursuit of the present age by framing homosexuality and its specifics as a cure for "loneliness" and a species of "love." Anyone who opposes, we're told, is overfond of 2000-year-old letters. Michael J. Kruger responds, winning the internet for the day by quoting from the movie Tombstone.
  • Also, as to the appeal to "love" you might remind yourself of this. As to his sneering denigration of God's wordthis.
  • Everyone who attended Sufficient Fire is ready to answer this sad, unintended confession of ineptitude from Anne Graham Lotz:
  • Deuced thing about "the slippery slope fallacy" is how individuals keep providing illustrations of its non-fallaciousness. Like John Walton.
  • This fellow has been one of my most effective (if unwitting) salesmen so far:

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24 February 2015

Sufficient Fire conference audio and video are available

by Dan Phillips

In case you missed the announcement Friday, Copperfield Bible Church, and the volunteers who worked on the conference, have now made available the audio and video from the Sufficient Fire conference sessions, both the talks and the panels.

Click on the graphic.

Everyone who came had a wonderful time — sessions, giveaways, fellowship, worship. Maybe some will share. It was terrific meeting some of our longtime readers.

All of my brothers' talks were stellare. But Phil's opening session was particularly wonderful, and Frank's second session is one my dear wife and I plan to listen to again and again — stirring, convicting, instructive. Just wonderful.

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22 February 2015

Poor exchanges

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 36, sermon number 2,151, "Holy longings."
"Many men are violent against one sin; but the true saint abhors all sin."

You are a teetotaler; I am very glad to hear it: you will not allow the sin of drunkenness to have dominion over you. But are you selfish and ungenerous? Have you developed habits of strict economy in regard to religious donations, so that you always give a penny where you ought to give a pound? What have you done? You have only changed your idols.

You have dethroned one usurper to set up another. If you were once profane and are now hypocritical, you have only changed iniquities. It is a very curious thing how one sin feeds on another: the death of profligacy may be the resurrection of greed; the flight of pride may be the advent of shameless folly. The man who was lewd, riotous, brawling and irreligious has killed those sins, and on their graves he has sown a handful of a poisonous weed called pride, and it flourishes amazingly.

It may be London pride, country pride, or English pride, or American pride; but it is rare stuff to grow,  and to grow over the rotting carcasses of other sins. Unbelief may dethrone superstition, but its own reign may be no real improvement upon that of credulity.

If you only throw down Baal to set up Ashteroth, what progress have you made towards God? Little does it matter which of the false gods is set up in the temple of Jehovah, for he hates them all. The right prayer is, “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

 Some sins are of respectable repute and other sins are disreputable among men; but to a child of God every sin is loathsome. Sins are all what Bunyan calls Diabolonians and not one of them must be suffered to live in the town of ManSoul. “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

I can see the throne set up within the heart of man. Who shall sit on it? It cannot be empty; who shall fill it? This sin, that sin, or the other? Nay, Lord, help me to keep every intruder out of it.

Whether he come as an angel of light, or in his true character as the devil, help me to treat every one as an enemy that would seek to supplant thee in thy dominion over me. Oh, that God may reign over us from morn to eve, through every day of every week of every year!

20 February 2015

Some Here, Some There — February 20, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Here we go. Updates expected through noon, Texas time.
  • First, all of the Sufficient Fire sessions are online, video and audio. You're welcome, and thank you who supported it by your attendance, giving, and prayers. Now please continue to pray for the outreach and ongoing impact of the conference, as the talks can go around the globe, wherever the internet reaches.
  • For all my parts... I recommend the audio.
  • "Pirate Christian" captain Chris Rosebrough created a series of false prophet billboards in the same spirit as Phil's classic and unrivalled Po-Motivators. Enjoy!
  • Andy Stanley continues to wobble. Historically, wobbly wheels seldom fix themselves.
  • English comedian Stephen Fry illustrates that even the most vacuous nonsense, given voice in a cultured English accent, can keep one from being instantly hooted off the stage.
  • And then Doug Wilson comes along to expose it as the vacuous nonsense that it is.
  • My own take on Fry's rant is briefer. Fry is asked to suppose that it's all true, only to reveal immediately that he has not the faintest notion of what it all being true would even mean.
  • There is a new addition to Phillips' Axioms.
  • The non-Christian loved one of a non-Christian friend dies. What do you say? Here are some concise, helpful thoughts.
  • I'm not the only pastor who will profit from Todd Pruitt's thoughts for pastors in our public prayers.
  • For my dear wife:
  • It continues to be true that the best aspect of Justin Taylor's attempt to save face for day-wigglers is the posts generated in response, of which Dr. David Shormann's recent post is a particularly fine example.
  • Denny Burk repeats some of the best advice you can give a pastoral candidate: get fired in the interview. I've said in interviews, "What I do is teach and preach the Bible, to the best of my ability, all the time, every time. If you don't want that, you don't want me. If you do, we should talk." One church said, "Thanks, goodbye." Another church said, in effect, "Welcome to Texas."
  • Good heavens, what a foolishly and impossibly-worded poll. How would you even answer? Like, "I think children should always be spanked; I think children should be sort of spanked; I think children are dainty little angels best suited for ivory pedestals and cupcakes." What? Worse than meaningless.
  • Finally in case you're not hungry enough already, mankind's latest essential invention: bacon-wrapped-crust pizza:

  • To end on a deep note, or something like:

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19 February 2015

Prov 29:18, "Vision," and Anachronism

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in June 2006. Dan addressed a common misunderstanding and misuse of Proverbs 29:18.

As usual, the comments are closed.
It would be awfully hard to pick the most frequently-abused and misused text of Scripture. That in itself may make a fun (?) post someday.

But surely well up on the list would have to be: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he" (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). That poor, hapless soldier has been pressed into the service of ideologically foreign masters beyond anything that the laws of kindness should permit. How many church building funds, bus contests, motivational seminars and the like have been launched under the mistaken aegis of this verse?

It's a classic example of anachronism. We have this word today, "vision," that means "An ideal or a goal toward which one aspires." This verse has that word in it. Conclusion: this verse must be talking about how important it is to have goals.

Well, the conclusion is true, but the text in this case is a pretext. No one will find the underlying Hebrew term chazon used in this way. It just isn't. But you will find a consistent use of the term to indicate prophetic revelation, such as we have today in Scripture alone (cf. Isaiah 1:1; Daniel 8:1, 15; Hosea 12:11; Obadiah 1; Nahum 1:1, etc.).

And so I render the verse, "Without revelation a people runs wild; But the [people] keeping the Law, happy is it." Similarly the ESV, "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." It isn't at all about an individual, nor a group, gathering together and forming goals. It isn't about praying and "feeling led." It isn't about dreams (in the non-revelatory sense), targets, programs -- in fact, it isn't about any human endeavor at all.

The verse is about our need communally as well as individually for the Word of God. Any half-decent newspaper -- and I admit "half-decent" is setting the bar too high, these days -- illustrates the precise and almost technical truth of the verse. The more we cast off the absolutes of God's word, the more our culture plummets towards lawless chaos.

I say that to say this: I was struck in my reading today by a genuine statement of "vision" in the above sense, of ambition. It is in the apostle's words: "...I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation..." (Romans 15:20).

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. This is an axiom I've hammered out on the anvil of far too much experience.

Paul does not aim at nothing. He aims at something. It's a big goal, it's a lofty goal, it's a Christ-centered and Christ-honoring goal. It's a loving goal. It's a measurable goal. It is specific, and yet it is wide-open. It is set in time, but it has an eye on eternity. It allows for readjusting specifics (Africa? Spain? Australia?), yet also rules out other alternatives (not Jerusalem, not Judea, not Samaria).

Now let me conclude with a little end-run around myself. Does Proverbs 29:18 have nothing to say about forming goals? No; just not what it is commonly taken to say.

The verse is not talking about how important it is to formulate goals. However, it does apply to the absolute necessity of subordinating our goals, plans, methods, tactics, and values to the revealed Word of God.

Set goals, set specific goals, set adjustable goals; and do it within the framework and values laid down in the inerrant, abiding, sufficient Word of God.

17 February 2015

How does Proverbs point to Christ?

by Dan Phillips

The Old Testament as a whole — though not each syllable in isolation — points to Christ (cf. Luke 24:25, 27, 44; Acts 10:43). The ways in which it does so are very varied (cf. Hebrews 1:1), including types and of course direct prophecies.

How does Proverbs do so?

One way is in overall impact. This book calls us all to be the perfect Sage, right? If we could embody its ideals, we would be the man who fears Yahweh before, above and through all things (1:7; 9:10; 23:17), and so doesn't sin (16:6), holds his temper in perfect check (16:32), always knows when to answer or not answer (26:4-5), and so forth. The perfectly righteous, godly man.

So one finishes and thinks, "Yeah — except it's already too late. I'll never be that man. Even the guy who wrote the book (1:1) wasn't that man (1 Kings 11)! No son of Adam will ever be that man (1 Kings 8:46)!"

But then one reads Isaiah 11, about the one on whom the Spirit of Yahweh (who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding and counsel and knowledge and the fear of Yahweh) rests, the perfect Man who lives and rules in perfect righteousness. Ah, so that one will embody the ideal of this book!

Then we ask, Nice for Him, but how does that help me? Then we read Isaiah 53, and we understand.

Proverbs points to Jesus at least in this: by framing the ideal godly, righteous Sage who is what no mere mortal can be, thus creating a mold that can be filled only by Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God incarnate (cf. Matthew 23:34//Luke 11:49; 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:2-3).

For more, see the Epilogue and Appendix Four of God's Wisdom in Proverbs, available on sale at Logos, at WTS, at Amazon, and 50% off from the publisher.

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15 February 2015

What we are

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 26, sermon number 1,541, "Unprofitable servants."
"In what way can we have profited God?"

Eliphaz has well said, “Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou are righteous? or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect?”

If we have given to God of our substance, is he our debtor? In what way have we enriched him to whom all the silver and gold belongs? If we have laid our lives out with the devotion of martyrs and missionaries for his sake, what is that to him, whose glory fills the heavens and the earth? How can we dream of putting the Eternal in debt to us?

The right spirit is to say with David, “O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” How can a man place his Maker under an obligation to him? Let us not dote so blasphemously.

 Dear brethren, we ought to recollect that whatever service we have been able to render has been a matter of debt. I hope our morality is not fallen so low that we take credit to ourselves for paying our debts. I do not find men in business priding themselves and saying, “I paid a thousand pounds this morning to such an one.” “Well, did you give it to him?” “Oh no, it was all owing to him.” Is that any great thing?

Have we come to such a low state of spiritual morals that we think we have done a great deal when we give to God His due? “It is he that made us and not we ourselves.” Jesus Christ has bought us: “we are not our own,” for we are “bought with a price.”

As for myself, I am compelled to say with solemn truthfulness that I am not content with anything I have ever done. I have half wished to live my life over again, but now I regret that my proud heart allowed me to so wish, since the probabilities are that I should do worse the second time.

Whatever grace has done for me I acknowledge with deep gratitude; but so far as I have done anything myself, I beg pardon for it. I pray God to forgive my prayers, for they have been full of fault. I beseech him to forgive even this confession, for it is not as humble as it ought to be; I beseech him to wash my tears and purge my devotions, and to baptize me into a true burial with my Saviour, that I may be quite forgotten in myself and only remembered in him.

Ah, Lord, thou knowest how far we fall short of the humility we ought to feel. Pardon us in this thing. We are all of us unprofitable servants, and if thou shouldst judge us by the law we must be cast away.

13 February 2015

Some Here, Some There — February 13, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Because my dear and only daughter squawks if I don't have one up by midnight (and I can't have that), here's a first edition. There will be additions up to noon, Texas time, as usual.
  • Hokey smokes! David Murray (aka The Jolly Scotsman) shares an amalgamation of >500 online preaching resources.
  • Adam Parker talks about how right, normal, and Biblical it is for a man to long for male friendship. Does not talk about how to find it.
  • Here's the Director's Cut, so to speak, of the most recent sermon in the Ephesians series. It failed to record, so I re-preached it (with my lovely wife comprising the audience at church), and as they say considerably revised and extended my remarks. It closes Ephesians 1:4-6, giving fourteen reasons why election must be unconditional, plus doing some questions and answers about predestination, election, free will, evangelism, and more.
  • It's been suggested that this be added to the next Pyro conference. To which I say: noted.
  • Background on the Crusades from Kevin DeYoung.
  • Unicorns in the Bible? Um... hunh.
  • Hungry? You will be.
  • Left off one obvious best bacon meal, though. The one that's...

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12 February 2015

God's Way, Not Our Way

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank back in September 2009. We shouldn't be surprised when God's way is at odds with ours, even to the pointing of causing us offense.

As usual, the comments are closed.
What I first realized about me as a Christian was that I am still afraid of God. Think about that: here I am, a guy who has received only blessing and mercy from the Almighty Creator of all things, and I am still afraid of Him. Now, in some respects, many people would rightly say, "Hey Frank: the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, so good on you." But that's not what I mean at all.

Sure: I have a healthy fear of the Lord in terms of His right and ability to judge me, and in that I know I am still without any merit before Him as a sinner. But what's actually really scary, really gut-turning to me about God is that He's going to ask me to do something which I will hate to do and would refuse to do because it offends me.

You know: it would be great if God would ask me to write a book.  God can’t offend me by asking me to write a book.  But what if God asks me to evangelize someone at work – a client, for example, who leads a godless lifestyle – and give him the Gospel whether or not I get to keep my job after I do it?  What if God asks me to make friends with people who live in the trailer park near my house because they are all lost, all people too lowly to be reached out to because frankly, they are messy?

So look: in Jonah I see a guy who is like me. He wants to be a minister to God the way he wants to minister to people and not necessarily the way God wants him to minister to people, and not necessarily to the people God wants him to minister to. And he's serious about it. He's a prophet to Israel, darn it! He's not going to Nineveh -- Nineveh?! where the King of Assyria lives?!? -- and tell them that God is planning to judge them! God ought to judge them! They're sinners! Let them die in their sin! Look at all the beer cans in their trash, and can't you smell that cigarette smoke?

But there’s more to it than this.  It is not only that God may ask me to do something which offends me: God himself may do something that offends me.  That is: His way will not be my way.  What God intends to do probably doesn’t look like what I have planned in my Outlook calendar.  And the problem comes to a head when there has to be a reconciliation.

It’s easy to teach our children the words, “Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.”  It’s another thing entirely to remember that God’s love is not like my naive idea of love which has a very small circle, and lets very few people in.

11 February 2015

The Main Melody

by Frank Turk

First of all, Nice to see all of you.  Long time no see.  Can't wait for the audio from the conference to be up so you can see what you missed.  If you profit from it, that conference was offered for free by Copperfield Bible Church, and you should contact them to see how you can support their ministry to you and the rest of the interwebs.

OK, so Kevin DeYoung made a post that resembles something said long ago, and I endorse What RevKev wrote completely.  But: I have something to add.

I endorse the idea that joining a church is not merely coming and sitting, and that there is something sacrificial in becoming members of one body.  I don't just endorse it: I think I am not interested in the opinions of anyone who is not attempting it in some meaningful way.

What concerns me is this: the part "you personally need to join" is the harmony line in the spiritual song.  The main melody is this: "the church must welcome in believers."

I'm not going to unpack that for you except to say this: You can't read the first letter to the Thessalonians and not get the feeling that even under persecution, it would have been great to live with those people.  Your church ought to be the same way.  You ought to be making it that way.

10 February 2015

Don't use "the Holy Spirit" as a rug

by Dan Phillips

Ironically though oft-noted, one of the most wretched crimes of Charismaticism is the shabby treatment they give to the Holy Spirit.

"I don't see how you can say that," a reader might respond. "No movement talks more about the Spirit than Charismatics and their spinoffs."

"Talks," yep. True enough. But what do they say about Him? That's the issue.

We understand that there is a great deal of mystery about the Holy Spirit, in Scripture. Assembling a true and coherent doctrine of the Spirit from the Word is a challenge for anyone. This is true, first, because of His name. He doesn't precisely have a personal name like "Jesus," or a title with a personal connotation like "Father." Given that the Greek and Hebrew texts don't provide capital letters, it isn't always easy to tell when the Hebrew or Greek words for "spirit" are referring to the Third Person, or whether they're referring to wind or breath or the human spirit.

A second factor contributing to the Spirit's mystery is that He is not the focus of the text. He may come to the fore of a narrative, but as Jesus Himself says, the focus of the Spirit is not the Spirit. The focus of the Spirit is Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not a failed master of ceremonies.

As it is with the Spirit, so it is with some of the gifts of the Spirit. Revelatory gifts were designed to have limited shelf-life. So there can be little wonder that to us who live long after their expiration-date, some of them are mysterious — "mysterious" as in "we have no idea what they were" (1 Cor. 12:8). As Chrysostom noted just three centuries after the apostles —
This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place. And why do they not happen now? Why look now, the cause too of the obscurity hath produced us again another question: namely, why did they then happen, and now do so no more?
[John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Hubert Kestell Cornish, John Medley, and Talbot B. Chambers, vol. 12, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 168.]
What was true a scant 300+ years after the New Testament events is, to say the least, no less true 1900+ years afterward.

Faced with impenetrable obscurity, there are fundamentally two options: accept the obscurity, or make something up to "clarify" it. Enter the Charismatics. Like the government, they're "here to help."

Here is what I've observed for decades. Never content to stay within the lines Scripture draws, nor content to focus on what God has revealed (contra Deut. 29:29), Charismatics use these mysteries, these obscurities, to load in and thus canonize their own peculiarities and alien-conflagration inventions.

It works like this. Do you get flashes of insight that feel significant to you? But you don't want to call them that, do you? Put that way, they have little meaning beyond the personal. No, you feel the need to imbue them with some sort of holy, divine mantle. You feel they deserve more attention and authority. Well, lookie here: nobody knows what a "word of wisdom" or a "word of knowledge" was. So just call it one of them. Nobody can prove you wrong!

Or: Do you feel like barking like a dog? or giving up all bodily control and dignity? or acting like a drunk or a druggie? Do you find that normal behavior isn't drawing enough attention, or satisfying your itch, but you have some bizarre capacity to shake your head, or something? Well, lookie here: nobody's sure he knows everything the Holy Spirit does. Even saying "Holy Spirit" is mysterious. So just say He made it happen. This is some work of the Holy Spirit. Who can prove you wrong?

So you see, we end up with a kind of backwards exegesis which is just a subspecies of eisegesis. We start with a phenomenon we like, we're sure it's got to be in the Bible somewhere, so we just find what we see as a bit of rug loose enough for us to sweep it under. Given the mysteries associated with the Spirit and His gifts, that's an oft-used recourse. Find even the appearance of ambiguity, and Robert is our mother's brother.

After all, Scripture says He "leads," right? Well, maybe this is that. Scripture says we're to "walk in" the Spirit, right? Well, maybe this is that. Just fill those words with your content. That's the first step.

Next step: subtract the "maybe." Say it again with confidence instead of tenuousness.

And voila! Another Charismatic crowd-pleasing distraction is born.


Because rather than revering the Holy Spirit as God, and cleaving as closely to the Word He inspired as they can in grateful, faithful contentment, they use "the Holy Spirit" as a sort of rug. They sweep all their unsightly made-up embarrassments of irresponsibility and indulgence and carnality under that phrase. Then it doesn't look so ugly anymore.

It's covered up, by a phrase you use as a rug: "the Holy Spirit."

NEXT WEEK (Lord willing): what it actually means to be led by the Spirit.

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08 February 2015

Not doggerel

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 26, sermon number 1,533, "Fear not." 
"No case is absolutely hopeless while Jesus lives." 

Love will still prevail. We meet sometimes with amazing instances where prayer is heard at last. I have read of a woman who prayed long for her husband. She used to attend a certain meeting-house in the north of England, but her husband never went with her. He was a drinking, swearing man, and she had much anguish of heart about him.

She never ceased to pray, and yet she never saw any result. She went to the meeting-house quite alone, with this exception, that a dog always went with her and this faithful animal would curl himself up under the seat, and lie quiet during the service.

When she was dead, her husband was still unsaved, but doggie went to the meeting-house. His master wondered whatever the faithful animal did at the service. Curiosity made him follow the good creature. The dog led him down the aisle to his dear old mistress’s seat. The man sat on that seat, and the dog curled himself up as usual.

God guided the minister that day; the word came with power, and that man wept till he found the Saviour. Never give up your husbands, good women, for the Lord may even use a dog to bring them to Christ when you are dead and gone.

 Never give up praying, hoping and expecting. Fear not; believe only, and you shall have your heart’s desire. Pray for them as long as there is breath in your body and theirs.

It is of no use praying for them when they are dead, but as long as they are here never cease to plead with God on their account. Persons have been converted to God under very extraordinary circumstances.

06 February 2015

Some Here, Some There — February 6, 2015

by Dan Phillips

This will be one of those "start small but mighty" Fridays. Check back after noon, TX time.
  • The best part of Justin Taylor's post on the days of Genesis continues to be the response-pieces. Mark Snoeberger of DBTS offers a detailed (and very good) response to the propping up of old-earthism by Justin Taylor that we noted last week. Really enjoy his style. Refreshing contrast.
  • (One of Mark's commenters opined that the post was thoughtful, careful, and respectful. What a terrible thing to say. Don't let that stop you from reading it.)
  • Plus: As I've often remarked, when Doug Wilson is good, none is better. As he is when he weighs in on the days of creation. Many thinkables and quotables.
  • I wonders: did TGC block 9Marks after this tweet?

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03 February 2015

Whoa whoaaaaa, listen to the mu-sic...

by Dan Phillips

I'm looking forward to a periodic local pastors' lunch today, and thought I'd share with you the topic we'll be solving resolving discussing: music in worship.

Here's the starting-point of the discussion—

1.         Scripture contains not a syllable dictating what style of music, meter, or instruments NT churches must or mustn’t use, focusing instead on content and intent (cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Anyone truly affirming the sufficiency of Scripture (hel-lo?) should see this as significant.
2.         Music-style in NT churches was neither that of 19th-century England, nor of American 1950s, nor of American 2000s.
3.         That being the case:
a.         Some people insist that no yoots will come if we don’t change our music/worship style from X to Z. Hence: church's sell-by date is coming due.
b.         Others insist they will leave instantly if we don’t keep our music/worship style at X, and shun Z. Hence: church's sell-by date comes due even faster.
c.         Often, the latter category has loved the church and carried the burden of its work for decades, does most of the work and pays most of the bills.
d.        Sometimes, the former category might like to do more, but they feel sidelined – and music-worship style is one way they take as a subtle (?) message that they’re not seen as central to the church’s mission.
e.         So what do we do?
i.          Tell “a” to grow up, and make the main things the main things? (But why should their culture be ignored?)
ii.        Tell “b” to mellow out, and give a thought to the church maybe not dying when they die? (But what if it’s a convictional matter to them?)
iii.      Have two services – so that nobody has to practice grace, forbearance, longsuffering, and humility (Ephesians 4:1-3, etc.), let alone honor the vision of Titus 2?

Just to supplement and affirm that first point, I've long noted that the OT psalms are pretty much in the exact same style as pagan Canaanite poetry. For instance, consider Psalm 92:9 —

        For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD,
               For, behold, Your enemies will perish;
               All who do iniquity will be scattered.

Now consider this line from a much-earlier Ugaritic poem to Baal:

         Behold, thine enemies, O Baal,
               Behold, thine enemies shalt thou crush,
               Behold, thou shalt crush thy foes!

Similar? In form, yes, very. In content? A world of difference between Baal and Yahweh.

Weigh in as you see fit.

Dan Phillips's signature

01 February 2015

One talent dangers

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 26, sermon number 1,513, "Cheer up, my comrades!"
"A little man with one talent all ablaze may become a perfect nuisance to the devil, and a champion for Christ."

Do you not recollect the parable of the men who had talents entrusted to them? I do not want to lay undue stress upon the fact that it was the man who had one talent who buried it. Yet why is he represented as doing so? I think it was not because the men of two and five talents do not sometimes bury theirs, but because the temptation lies most with the one talent people. 

They say, "What can I do? What is the use of me? I may be excused." That is the temptation. Brother, do not be entangled in that snare. If your Lord has only given you one talent he does not expect you to make the same interest upon it as the man does with five; but still he does expect his interest, and therefore do not wrap your talent in a napkin. 

It is but with strength imparted that any of us can serve him. We have nothing to consecrate to him but the gift we have first received from him. You are weak. You feel it; but what says your God to you? "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." 

He can make you useful though you have no extraordinary endowments. Grape-shot may do great execution, though it cannot compare with grenade or bomb-shell. A sinner may be brought to Christ by the simple earnestness of a peasant or an artisan, without calling in the aid of a professor's learning or a preacher's eloquence. 

God can bless you far above what you think to be your capacity, for it is not a question of your ability but of his aid. You have no self-reliance, you tell me. Then take refuge in God, I entreat you, for you evidently want more of the divine succour. 

Go and get it; it is to be had. He girds the weak with strength. "The young men shall faint and be weary, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." Why, I think you are more likely to do good than if you had five talents, for now you will pray more and you will depend more upon God than you would have done if you had possessed strength of your own.