06 March 2015

Some Here, Some There — March 6, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Small start; expect updates through noon, TX time:
  • Sigh.
  • Holy mackerel. I thought we had a couple of funny things happen on our honeymoon. But those were nothing, nothing. You have got to read professor David Murray's hair-raising tale of his "worst ever" honeymoon. If you don't gasp and yelp a couple of times, check for a pulse.
  • Then there was this picture, crying out for a caption. I heeded the call:
  • Pastoral morale tip: are you about to share a "concern" with your pastor, something about something he's done or said, or hasn't done or said? Fair enough, and often very needed, and very appreciated. But also ask yourself: have you ever told him that you learned something — anything? — from him doing what he pours his life and soul into? Learned anything, been helped or encouraged, been reproved or corrected... anything? Isn't that also fair enough?
  • Pastoree morale tip: brother pastor, are you about to speak a word of exhortation, correction, or even rebuke to one of your dear ones? Fair enough, and a crucial part of your calling. But remember that whatever you say, however you intend it, will be heard as about 5-10X more intensely-said than you meant it. So isn't it best to assume a tender heart and conscience, and err on the side of grace, gentleness, and kindness? Sort of a Matthew 7:12 type deal? Isn't that also fair enough?
  • On pastoring, here's a worthy word from William Gurnall, who's in the course here of warning pastors against being accessory to their flock's ignorance which, he says, a pastor can become...
By his unedifying preaching, when he preacheth unsound doctrine, which doth not perfect the understanding, but corrupt it. Better he did leave them in simple ignorance, than colour their minds with a false dye, or when that he preacheth is frothy and flashy; no more fit to feed their souls, than husks the prodigal’s belly, which, when they know, they are little wiser for their soul’s good. Or when his discourses are so high flown that the poor people stand gazing, as those who have lost the sight of their preacher, and at the end of the sermon cannot tell what he would have. Or those who preach only truths that are for the higher forms of professors, who have their senses well exercised, excellent may be for the building of three or four eminent saints in the congregation; but in the meantime, the weak ones in the family, who should indeed chiefly be thought on, because least able to guide themselves, or carve for themselves, these are forgotten. [William Gurnall and John Campbell, The Christian in Complete Armour (London: Thomas Tegg, 1845), 118.]
  • Someone in Facebook loaded this:
  • To which I — NO FAN of the NIV, as you well know — replied:
  • When this, plus some simple statement of facts and logic, did not seem to penetrate, (— does it ever, with KJV-onliers?) I created this:
  • You're welcome!
  • "Hey! I Was Just Asking a Question!" Is there such a thing as a bad question? Yep; and it's become a favorite dodge of false teachers today, as Adam Parker well exposes.

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03 March 2015

Our own “Men's Fellowship”

by Dan Phillips

Some years ago I knew of a young man with what was, to all appearances, a fine and stable Christian walk. After leaving home, he fell badly, and unrepentedly. His parents were utterly heartbroken.

Knowing this situation led me to reconsider what I was doing with my son Josiah, who was nearing his teen years. Proactive is my watchword, when I can help it. Nothing brews a more bitter cup than regrets, and my own mistakes and follies have served up quite enough of it as it is.

Josiah was around twelve, and a professed Christian. I thought: "What better text than Proverbs?"

And so the Two-Man Men's Fellowship was born.

The title was lifted from the Men's Fellowship I'd attended at church, only our group was much more exclusive. (I think it tickled young Josiah to be going to a "Men's Fellowship" with his dad.)

Each Saturday morning, we'd go out to the nearby Peet's Coffee, get our fine and fresh joe, sit down with our Bibles, and go through the book, verse by verse. Sometimes we'd do a couple of verses, sometimes a few. There was no hurry. It took years.

The way we did it was to trade off chapters. I led us through the first, Josiah the second. Whoever was leading was responsible for doing his best to guide us through the chapter. Having Josiah lead a chapter gave him some ownership, some responsibility, and ideally some added incentive to dig in and ponder before we met to study.

The times were delightful. And discouraging! More than once we came on a verse that I'd sweat over, in Hebrew and multiple tools, before figuring out what it meant — and, seemingly without effort (and none of that struggle), Josiah would just hit the right meaning. As if it were the easiest thing in the world. I kinda hated him.

No, that's not true. I'm his dad. I loved it. And I made notes of his remarks in my beloved BibleWorks notes feature. With Josiah's permission, here are some choice examples. (Josiah was born in 1995.)
  • Proverbs 2:2 — Like turning your radio to a specific channel, so that it will receive it and broadcast it to your brain. (8/15/09)
  • Proverbs 4:14 — Solomon speaks of this choice as if it is a trailhead that splits. Two trailheads: righteousness, wickedness.  (10/3/09; I think we had recently been on a hike)
  • Proverbs 10:20 — If the tongue of the righteous is choice silver, his heart must be mithril! [If you don't get that, Google it or ask a Tolkien fan.] (1/9/10)
  • Proverbs 12:13 — If this is true of human words, how much truer of God's words? (4/3/10)
  • Proverbs 13:25 — This has both a physical/financial application, and a spiritual/intellectual application. (6/5/10)
  • Proverbs 14:17 — The second man is more deliberate than the first. The first acts in a fit of rage; the second lays plans. (6/26/10)
  • Proverbs 16:19 — "Better to be a humble hobo." (1/1/11)
  • Proverbs 17:19 [notoriously difficult to interpret] — The person who loves to sin loves fights, and making the door high is making a fancy, decorated gate that invites people to come and attack it, knock it down. Application is not to be proud, but humble and embrace God's Word. (No date; would have been 2011)
  • Proverbs 17:21 — Part of the sorrow is the pointed fingers, the assumptions about a fool's father (3/12/11)
  • Proverbs 18:9 — Made Josiah think of the Death Star in Star Wars. (4/23/11)
Josiah is now 19, and we still meet Saturdays. The move to Houston meant, to our sorrow, no more Peet's.

We tried one place, but it was too loud and Josiah noted (accurately!) that the coffee "tastes like stewed tomatoes." We tried another, but it was too loud.

Finally, we settled on Panera Bread, whose coffee (when fresh) compares well with Peet's, and which usually has a very nice atmosphere...when they aren't playing "soul-destroying Emo music."

I started these meetings publicly for two reasons: first, to make it special to my son; second, in the hopes that we might catch someone's eye and have a Gospelly dialogue.

Josiah and I went on to spend some time in Richard Phillips' book on manhood, and have recently watched Sye Ten Bruggencate's debate with an atheist (Josiah is a Sye-fan, as am I), and have begun Thabiti Anyabwile's discussion with a Muslim.

I began the same tradition with my youngest child, Jonathan (now 15). We went through a Bible book also, and are now reading together a childhood favorite of Spurgeon's, A Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine.

You're the best judge of what your child needs. But does this sound like a good, doable idea to you, to frame some good one-on-one time in the word for those formative years?

If so, launch your own one-on-one fellowship! (If you want to do Proverbs, Douglas Wilson has a recommendation.)

For my part, I know that the day is fast approaching — too soon! too soon! — when Josiah and I will have our last regular Two-Man Men's Fellowship coffee together. When that happens, ol' Dad will be very sad indeed.

But I'll cherish the prayerful hope that all the golden eternal truths we enjoyed together, over good coffee, will stay with and guide Josiah (and then Jonathan) long after Dad's there to do it in person.

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01 March 2015


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 Treasury of David, Psalm 15, verse one, Hendrickson Publishers.
"Thou high and holy One, who shall be permitted to have fellowship with thee?" 

The heavens are not pure in thy sight, and thou chargest thine angels with folly, who then of mortal mould shall dwell with thee, thou dread consuming fire? A sense of the glory of the Lord and of the holiness which becomes his house, his service, and his attendants, excites the humble mind to ask the solemn question before us. 

Where angels bow with veiled faces, how shall man be able to worship at all? The unthinking many imagine it to be a very easy matter to approach the Most High, and when professedly engaged in his worship they have no questionings of heart as to their fitness for it; but truly humbled souls often shrink under a sense of utter unworthiness, and would not dare to approach the throne of the God of holiness if it were not for him, our Lord, our Advocate, who can abide in the heavenly temple, because his righteousness endureth for ever. 

"Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?" Who shall be admitted to be one of the household of God, to sojourn under his roof and enjoy communion with himself? "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" Who shall be a citizen of Zion, and an inhabitant of the heavenly Jerusalem? The question is raised, because it is a question. 

All men have not this privilege, nay, even among professors there are aliens from the commonwealth, who have no secret intercourse with God. On the grounds of law no mere man can dwell with God, for there is not one upon earth who answers to the just requirements mentioned in the succeeding verses. 

The questions in the text are asked of the Lord, as if none but the Infinite Mind could answer them so as to satisfy the unquiet conscience. We must know from the Lord of the tabernacle what are the qualifications for his service, and when we have been taught of him, we shall clearly see that only our spotless Lord Jesus, and those who are conformed unto his image, can ever stand with acceptance before the Majesty on high.

Impertinent curiosity frequently desires to know who and how many shall be saved; if those who thus ask the question, "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" would make it a soul-searching enquiry in reference to themselves they would act much more wisely. 

Members of the visible church, which is God's tabernacle of worship, and hill of eminence, should diligently see to it, that they have the preparation of heart which fits them to be inmates of the house of God. Without the wedding-dress of righteousness in Christ Jesus, we have no right to sit at the banquet of communion. Without uprightness of walk we are not fit for the imperfect church on earth, and certainly we must not hope to enter the perfect church above.

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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