Monday, November 28, 2005

Brad Mercer clues me in on Narnia and kids

I asked Brad on Sunday - do you think the new movie of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" will be too scary for my nine year-old to see? Here's some scoop he passed along.

"These links might be helpful to those who are wondering about the quality of the new Narnia film and how appropriate it will be for children.


A Poignant Tribute from a Little Brother, in Christ

While in Philadelphia for the quarterly meeting of Board and Executive Staff of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (and it is a blessing just to be able to spend a little time with dear friends and mentors like Phil Ryken and Mark Dever and the rest of our happy little band - not to mention that Derek and I bumped into a bunch of First Churchers on the plane: Joel Fyke, Andrew Irby, Philip Sykes and more!), I received this beautiful tribute by our good friend Richard Wiman (Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Belzoni, MS) to his departed brother -

Early Saturday morning, my brother, Sonny, died of a massive heart attack in his sleep. Sonny and I were the only surviving members of our immediate family. He was 12 years older than me and more than a big brother. I respected him more than words can express. Throughout my entire life, I have never felt like anything but a kid because I always had a big brother. Suddenly I now feel so old and alone, though I know in my head that I am not alone. I have a wonderful God who loves me and is holding me while I struggle with this hard providence. He has also surrounded me with a loving, caring family and church family that is beyond comparison this side of heaven. The Body of Christ is loving on me and on my brother's family, but our loss is deeply felt just now. My brother loved the Lord and sought to serve Him in his home church. I loved and respected him so much. I would really appreciate your prayers for us in these days. The funeral service will be this coming Tuesday in his home town of Brandon, MS. His wife's name is Joyce, and his two grown, married daughters are Dana and Sheri. Between them, they have five children, all of whom were the delight of their "Pop's" eyes.
With love and thanks for you,
Richard Wiman

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Favorite Poem on Thankfulness

George Herbert (1593 – 1633)

George Herbert was a prominent English scholar (though born in Wales) who could have used his standing to pursue a political career, but chose to use his energy and learning as a preacher. He helped rebuild the church in Bremerton using his own funds; he preached there until his death in 1633. C.S. Lewis said that Herbert’s poetry was "most alarming" to his assumption, before conversion, that the Christian faith could not be satisfying. Herbert’s poetry shows the extraordinary quality of the ordinary Christian life. The poem is called Gratefulnesse:

Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a gratefull heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
By art.

He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And sayes, If he in this be crost,
All thou hast giv’n him heretofore
Is lost.

But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
To save.

Perpetuall knockings at thy doore,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
And comes.

This notwithstanding, thou wentst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay, thou hast made a sigh and grone
Thy joyes.

Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, then grones can make;
But that these countrey-aires thy love
Did take.

Wherefore I crie, and crie again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankfull heart obtain
Of thee:

Not thankfull, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare dayes:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.


An Old Time FPC Thanksgiving Story

A number of years ago, Otho Johnson pointed me to this interesting historical note, relating to The Rev. L.J. Halsey, who was the minister of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson from 1842-1848.

John Munn, a Connecticut Yankee by birth, was a merchant and banker living in Canton, Mississippi, when Gov. Brown issued his Thanksgiving proclamation. Mr. Munn recorded in his journal on November 25, 1847:

“An unusual scene has been witnessed in our village and state this day. By appointment of Governor Brown it was selected as a day of ‘Thanksgiving’—and for the first time in this state has such a date been set apart for such purpose. This good old New England custom was a long time confined to those states—in time was adopted by the Western and middle states and for the last few years had gradually come to be observed in many of the Southern states, and on this day and this year about two thirds of the states unite in rendering thanks for the mercies and benefits received during the year now drawing to a close.

“There is something grateful and pleasant to the feeling of any man of right thought and mind in contemplating such a scene, but how much more so to one who was born on the soil of New England as he sees state after state adopting so advisable a custom. Far away from that birthplace, the observance of the day here brings a flood of recollections…

“In our village the day has been observed in a manner that would have given ample satisfaction to the most rigid observer of such days in the times of its earliest appointment. All business was suspended and quiet prevailed in our streets. There was a general attendance at church to listen to the Rev. Mr. Halsey of Jackson and seldom have I listened to a more interesting and appropriate sermon. It was well adapted for a people who were assembled for the first time for such a purpose, and those listening attentively could not but have been instructed in the objects of those who first established the custom and the reasons that demand its observance.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Blue Like Jazz" in Jackson

Believe it or not, we have a number of people in the congregation here who have just read or are in the process of reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. Here's a quick review of the book by Tim Challies, for those of you who want to know what's up before you read it, or now that you have already.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mississippi Generosity

Well, Mississippi has been ranked first again in generosity in charitable giving in relation to per capita income. Here's some of the AP report that appeared in the Clarion Ledger today.

Miss. keeps distinction as most charitable state again for giving
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — Tight-fisted New Englanders traditionally rank at the bottom in an annual index of charitable giving and this year was no exception. But upper-income Mainers stood out as paragons of generosity.

New Hampshire was the most miserly state for the fourth year running and the seventh year in the past nine, according to the Catalogue of Philanthropy. Massachusetts was runner-up in parsimony and Rhode Island and Connecticut also were among the half-dozen stingiest.

Mississippi retained its title as most generous state, one of several in the Bible Belt that ranked high in the latest Generosity Index, whose methodology has come under criticism and helped give rise to new studies of charitable giving.

The index, which takes into account both "having" and "giving," is based on average adjusted gross incomes and the value of itemized charitable donations reported to the Internal Revenue Service on 2003 tax returns, the latest available.

"We believe that generosity is a function of how much one gives to the ability one has to give," said Martin Cohn, a spokesman for the Catalogue for Philanthropy, a Boston-based nonprofit that publishes a directory of nonprofit organizations.

The latest Generosity Index mirrors the results of the 2004 presidential election and the breakdown between so-called "red" and "blue" states. The 25 most generous states all voted for President Bush; 11 of the 12 stingiest wound up in John Kerry's column.

Mississippi, the poorest state with an average income of $34,720, had average contributions of $4,470, the nation's sixth highest. In New Hampshire, by contrast, incomes averaged $50,952 and contributions $2,607.

Top and bottom 10

Most generous
South Dakota
South Carolina
West Virginia

New Hampshire
New Jersey
Rhode Island

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ryken's Study Bible

I've been meaning to say something about Ryken's Study Bible for a month now. Dr. Leland Ryken (English prof at Wheaton, well-known as a leader in the field in emphasizing a literary approach to understanding/interpreting Scripture, and Dad to Phil), Philip Ryken (Senior Minister of Tenth PCA in Philadelphia, PA, prolific author, and son to Leland), and James Wilhoit (CE prof at Wheaton) have joined forces to produce Ryken's Bible Handbook: A Guide to Reading and Studying the Bible (Tyndale, 2005). It is superb. The "fact sheets" that introduce each Bible book are worth the price of the handbook in and of themselves. This volume will prove a treasure trove to teachers, preachers and Bible students.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sinclair Ferguson at Reformed Theological Seminary

Friend of First Presbyterian Church, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, is making a one-day visit to the campus of RTS next Thursday (November 17) for a "Pastor's Day" 3-lecture series on preaching. This event--the John Reed Miller Lecture Series--is an annual event sponsored by First Presbyterian Church and greatly valued by students and local ministers.

There will be two session in the morning and another following lunch.

If you are interested in attending, call the seminary for more details at 601 923 1600.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mighty Mite!

It is stewardship season and (as it happens) tonight's message on Mark is the familiar story of the widow's mite in chapter 12. Here is a little snippet from it:

"What possible motive did she have for giving her “lepta duo” ["two small copper coins"]? Was there an urgent call because the temple was in vast need of repair? Had some priest suggested that God would reward her in heaven if she would give money to the temple treasury?

No! I get the impression this was a spontaneous gesture that flowed from a heart bursting with love for the Lord! Charles Simeon, the famous preacher of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for over fifty years, said that if the Bible didn’t commend this woman we would condemn her. Maybe not her specifically, but we’d condemn the system that extorted money from impoverished and susceptible, impressionable women! And we might even say something like, “All she did was make herself dependent on the generosity of others the next day.” And we’d talk about “tough love” and “mercy ministry with integrity” and warn of the dangers of a dependency culture. "

You can hear more later on the web site.

CS Lewis Bash a Success

Last night's Lewis shindig was a blast. Read more about what is coming up here.

Even Their Women (Romans 1:26)

Our young people face extraordinary sexual pressures today. And we need to be aware of how and why these pressures hit them so hard, and how to help them. Al Mohler pointed me to Emily Gordon's (of interesting article on Ariel Levy's "Female Chauvinist Pigs." It is a feminist review of a feminist lament of the way the pervasive raunch culture that exists in America dehumanizes women (and the recent news story about the two Charlotte Panther Cheerleaders at a Florida Bar is just one mild example of this raunch culture and its results).

Gordon says; "One of Levy's major points is both vital and extremely well-illustrated. Adolescent girls are under tremendous pressure to adopt an image of sexual willingness and to prove it. Unlike women in their 20s or 30s, they're unlikely to have a media-savvy filter for the messages they absorb. As a result, they're in serious danger of being slandered at school and online, of sacrificing their youth to self-conscious nymphettishness, of getting pregnant and contracting STDs more often than girls in other comparable countries, and of learning too late that sex is something they should actually enjoy. Her chapter on the confusing paradoxes of contemporary urban lesbian culture will also have relevance for younger lesbians unsure of where they fit in."

Believe it or not, this is a timely, hugely important and relevant observation even for Christians rearing young women in a supposedly conservative/traditional/nominally Christian culture like Jackson, MS.

Gordon goes on to say: "On the penultimate page of the conclusion, she writes, 'Our national love of porn and pole dancing is not the byproduct of a free and easy society with an earthy acceptance of sex. It is a desperate stab at freewheeling eroticism in a time and place characterized by intense anxiety.' The complicated nature of that anxiety is worthy of a more focused look."

Yes it is. As Christian parents, we need to be saavier than we are about this phenomenon, and at the same time realize that only the Gospel can answer the anxieties that facilitate these pressures and tempatations

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Derek and Mike's Messages

Derek's Wednesday evening sermon and Mike Campbell's Thursday Men of the Covenant message were superb. I'd encourage you to get the tapes/CDs from the Church Library if you didn't get to hear them.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Information on Evangelical Anglicans

A good place to go for information and links on Anglicans who stand in the great Reformed tradition, is - which is the web portal of The Church Society. The Church Society has been promoting biblical truth in Anglicanism for nearly 170 years. Most of the great defenders of protestant Anglicanism in the 19th and 20th centuries were associated with the Society including Bishop Ryle, W.H.Griffith-Thomas, Philip Hughes and Jim Packer. The Times (London) has called the Church Society "senior evangelical body in the Church of England." EVNews is a service of Church Society.

Church Society's work includes
Church Society Trust
Links to other organizations can also be found on the Church Society site. The following sites are listed primarily because of their news coverage, Church Society is not endorsing these orgnizatiosn by providing a link to them.

Other organizations promoting reformed Anglicanism.
Anglican Church league
Church of England in South Africa

Other media sites.
Virtue Online
Anglican Communion News Service
Anglican Media Sydney
Episcopal News Service

Other Anglican sites containing news
Anglican Communon Office
Latimer Fellowship (New Zealand)
Anglican Mainstream
Anglican Communion Institute (USA)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Belhaven recognizes Two of Our Own!

We are so proud of Barbara Porter and Jimmy Turner, we could pop! Barbara, our Associate Children’s Director, has been named the Bettye Quinn Education Award winner at Belhaven College. This award was instituted at Belhaven College in 2002 and is awarded to an alumnus/a who has been a leader in the field of education. The recipient exemplifies Belhaven’s motto, “To serve, not to be served” in his/her career, community, and church.

In her twenty years as a first-grade teacher at FPDS and now in her work at the church, Barbara has exemplified this servant nature mixed with creativity. We thank God for the joyful diligence she demonstrates in her work with our children and for the godly influence she has had on both our lives and theirs.

She has been recognized for the good reflection she has made of her alma mater. More than that, though, she has glorified God, as she has assisted and continues to assist others in bringing their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

Barbara will be recognized during Belhaven’s Homecoming 2005, November 3-5. For more information visit:

And Jimmy Turner, our former Assistant Pastor and currently the Area Director of CMDA, has been named Belhaven Alumnus of the Year Award, and deservedly so. Jimmy Turner was born in Louisville, MS where he grew up surrounded by a loving family. He attended Rhodes College, and then graduated in 1958 from Belhaven College with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The following two years, he served as Youth Director at First Presbyterian Church, Kosciusko, MS.

Jimmy studied at Columbia Theological Seminary, and upon graduation, became the first Minister of Youth at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson MS. For eight years Jimmy’s Tuesday night high school Bible Study was attended by 150 kids from churches throughout the city. Many from this ministry went into the ministry – Rev. Ric Cannada, President of Reformed Theological Seminary, Rev. Andy Wells, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Rev. Clay Quarterman, missionary in Eastern Europe. The Youth House was built during his years at First Pres and the concept of youth retreats was introduced. Bible study, discipleship, and evangelism became Jimmy’s focus.

God led Jimmy to Main Street Presbyterian Church, Columbus, MS, as Associate Minister. In 1972 Jimmy, Ford Williams, and Mark Lowrey met in the Turner’s Columbus home to brainstorm concepts that would later become the foundation s of the Reformed University Ministries. During these years in Columbus, Jimmy started a Bible study at the chapel on the Mississippi State campus, which was the beginning of Mississippi’s first campus ministry to be officially named RUF.

In 1974, he received a call to Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL. Jimmy served there for four years as Minister of Youth. In 1978, Jimmy accepted the challenge of starting a Reformed University Ministry on the Ole Miss campus. For ten years Jimmy served as campus minister, often having the weekly large group Bible study attended by 200 students. Small group Bible studies and discipleship were emphasized. A number of the students from Ole Miss have gone into the ministry and are serving in churches and ministries throughout the US.

In 1988, God led Jimmy to First Presbyterian Church, Columbia SC as Associate Minister. IN 1991, Jimmy was honored by members of the Senate of South Carolina for his outstanding work among young people in SC. Again, God led him to First Presbyterian Church, Clarksdale, MS as Associate Minister.

In 1995, Jimmy returned to Jackson as Area Director of Christian Medical and Dental Association on the University Medical Center campus. This unique ministry opportunity to medical, dental, nursing and health related professionals includes weekly large group Bible studies of 100 students, small group studies, one-on-one discipleship, marriage counseling and yearly medical mission trips to Mexico. Jimmy considers this ministry a great challenge as he seeks to use scripture to change the hearts of health care professionals.

Jimmy is married to Ellen White who graduated from Belhaven in 1967. Jimmy and Ellen have three children and six grandchildren.

Jimmy and Barbara, we love, esteem and appreciate you both!

Your friend,