Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Men's Rally Report

Thanks, Derek, for a great post on Nehemiah. I look forward to the next installments. Our friends over at the Mississippi Founders' Fraternal have posted a very kind report on this year's Mid-South Men's Rally. Read it here.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Nehemiah: Man of Prayer (1)

In any assessment of what makes the lives of some Christians healthy and heroic, and others halting and hollow, prayer--its presence or absence, vitality or sickness—is crucial. Prayer is the most practical test there is in assessing growth in grace. It is like a thermometer that measures spiritual temperature.

Talk about prayer makes us think of its great practitioners in the Bible: in the New Testament we would have to single out the apostle Paul, whose frequent exhortations to pray issue from a life that was in close communion with God. But it is to the Old Testament that we must go to find the richest examples of all. The Old Testament seems to have more time to explore Bible characters and relate both their blemishes and brilliance.

Several come to mind: folk like Abraham pleading for Sodom (Gen. 18:16-33); Jacob in his midnight struggle (Gen. 32:22-32); Moses expostulating with God over a stubborn, rebellious people (Exod. 32:1-34:9); David, up there with the best of them and towering over most—no one can pray aright who does not know and love the psalms; then there is Daniel—the ninth chapter of Daniel is perhaps the greatest written prayer in the Bible.

Others also come to mind: Gideon longing for guidance (Judges 6); Hannah in her tearful, tormented state longing for a child in old age (1 Sam 1); Solomon in the newly completed temple longing for God's presence (1 Kings 8:22-9:9); Elijah daring to ask fire from heaven to consume a drenched sacrificial altar (1 Kings 18); King Hezekiah spreading out before God a bullying letter from an Assyrian tyrant and saying in effect "Now, Lord, read this!" (2 Kings 19,20); Isaiah, again and again, pleading for God to 'come down' and initiate a sovereign work of revival in beleaguered, backslidden Judah (Isa. 63:7-64:12).

Then there are two giants of prayer, Ezra and Nehemiah, who emerge historically at the end of the Old Testament story, though our Bibles place their respective books half way through. It wasn't until the fifteenth century that these two books were separated; they follow where 2 Chronicles leaves off—a book in which Ezra may also have had a hand.

Over the next several posts we will take a close look at Nehemiah to see what he has to teach us about prayer.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hoc est corpus meum

This Lord’s Day, we come to the passage in Mark’s Gospel which recounts the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:22-25). Christians have disagreed as to the meaning of the ritual of bread and wine. At the time of the Reformation, questions about the nature of Christ’s presence in the Supper (in what sense is Christ present?) was the center of many a stormy debate. At the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the Roman Catholic church affirmed (as it still affirms) a doctrine called “transubstantiation.”

Transubstantiation suggests that the “substance” (slippery word then and slippery word now) of the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the “substance” of Christ’s body and blood. They may look like bread and wine, even taste like bread and wine but these are “accidents”—tricks of the mind we might naughtily say. The bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus (though few Catholics think this through). Luther (and Eastern Orthodox and many Anglicans have largely followed him) modified this but not in any helpful (or understandable) way. Confusing a basic rule of Christology, he applied a property of Christ’s divine nature (ubiquity—the property of being everywhere present) to his human nature, suggesting that Christ’s body and blood come to be present in, with, and under the form of the bread and wine. It is called “consubstantiation” (a term that Luther did not favor). Zwingli denied that the glorified Christ, now in heaven, is present in any way. John Calvin held that though the bread and wine remained unchanged (he agreed with Zwingli that the is of “this is my body... my blood” means “represents”), Christ is present by the Spirit and that in the Supper we are drawn to fellowship with Christ who remains in heaven. “Lift up your hearts” (the so-called sursum corda), an ancient liturgical rubric, was thus employed by Calvin in the Genevan and Strasbourg Lord’s Supper liturgies of 1543 and 1545.

Friday, January 27, 2006

An Update on Mary Mohler's Dad

Last night, at around 7, Mary Mohler's Dad went home to be with the Lord. I talked with Al about three hours later, and sent him our love and condolences - assuring him of the prayers of God's people here at First Presbyterian: for Mary and her Mom, that they might know the peace that passes understanding, even in their great loss; for Al, as he preaches the funeral, that in spite of the emotional challenge of bringing the message at his father-in-law's memorial service (with whom he had a deep bond of affection), he would be able to proclaim the Gospel clearly and powerfully.

While we will greatly miss Al being with us this weekend, we are so thankful in God's mercy that he has been able to be with his wife and mother-in-law through the whole of this dark providence. The funeral service will be on Monday in Louisville, KY.

By the way, he wanted to assure me of his desire to come again soon, and I told him we would take him up on that! Meanwhile, we are looking forward to having Randy Stinson with us tonight.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Randy Stinson Family Pic

Randy, Danna, Gunnar and Georgia (twin eight year-olds), Fisher (seven years), Eden (six years) and Payton (four years).

Men's Rally Last Minute Change

Our hearts go out to Al and Mary Mohler. Mary's dad is at the edge of death, and she and Al are holding vigil over him as I write. Hence, Al will not be able to be with us this weekend for the Men's Rally.

The good news is that my dear friend, Dr. Randy Stinson, is stepping in for Al at the last minute. Randy Stinson is the executive director for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), an evangelical organization that seeks to promote the biblical teachings on the complementary differences between men and women, created equal in the image of God. He has served as a senior pastor and in various other church staff positions.

Randy received a B.A. from The University of South Florida, in Tampa, Florida, an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, a Th.M. and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

He has served as executive director of CBMW since 2000. Since then he has spoken at conferences alongside such evangelical leaders as Paige Patterson, R. Kent Hughes, and Wayne Grudem and has addressed faculty and students at a number of evangelical colleges and seminaries. Randy has appeared on Fox News, Nickelodeon's Nick News program, Religion and Ethics Weekly (PBS), and he has also been featured on over 75 radio shows, including Janet Parshall's America and The Albert Mohler Program.

He also serves as Assistant Professor of Family and Gender Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Randy has been married to his wife Danna for fourteen years, and they are the parents of five children: Gunnar and Georgia (twin eight year-olds), Fisher (seven years), Eden (six years) and Payton (four years).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

When cool is not so cool

It's cold in Philadelphia. I'm here to talk about my latest child, Reformation21. A chilly breeze is blowing in from the North-east that cuts right through to the bone.

It reminds me of "home" (Wales, that is, not Mississippi). I have been thinking of those days when I walked to the village to catch the bus to school, hands blue with the biting Siberian wind that threatened snow and ice. Strange to say, I like the cold. I still can't get used to the feeling of always being "wet" with the Mississippian humidity causing me to break out in a sweat. It's simply not cricket.

But cool isn't always a good thing. Take the latest book that Christians are talking about, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It is another volume that purportedly helps us Neanderthals understand and communicate with "our generation"--the postmodern world which doesn't seem to know what truth means, that is offended by doctrine and communicates better by a series grunts and coded phrases interspersed with brand labels.

But Miller's thesis presents a Jesus that is so "cool" that the Bible authors would scarcely recognize him; more of a camp fire "listener" who likes shmores than a hell-fire, Scripture quoting no-nonsense preacher who insists that he must endure the wrath of God as a substitute so that sinners can be saved.

But don't take my word for it, read a trenchant review here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Judas Iscariot... Notes that didn't make it into the sermon

In addition to some of things I said last night in the sermon on Judas, I thought the following quotations would help us understand this portion of Scripture and the role Judas plays in the redemptive purposes of God:

John Calvin

“There is no wickedness, indeed, that is perpetrated by men, to which Satan does not excite them, but the more hideous and execrable any crime is, the more ought we to view in it the rage of the devil, who drives about, in all possible directions, men who have been forsaken by God. But though the lust of men is kindled into a fiercer flame by Satan’s fan, still it does not cease to be a furnace; it contains the flame kindled within itself, it receives with avidity the agitation of the fan, so that no excuse is left for wicked men.”

John Calvin Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume 7: The Gospels (Grand Rapids: Associated Publishers and Authors Inc., n.d.), p. 821.

John MacArthur

"Judas is a prime example of a professing believer who fell into absolute apostasy. For three years he followed the Lord with the other disciples. He appeared to be one of them. Presumably he thought of himself as a believer, at least at the outset. It is doubtful that he joined Christ's band with the intention of turning against him. Somewhere along the line he became greedy, but that could hardly have been his motive in the beginning; Jesus and the disciples never had anything of material value (Matthew 8:20). Apparently Judas initially shared the hope of Christ's kingdom, and he likely believed that Jesus was the Messiah. After all, he also had left everything to follow the Lord. In modern terminology, he had 'accepted' Jesus ...."

"Yet, while the others were growing into apostles, Judas was quietly becoming a vile, calculating tool of Satan. Whatever his character seemed to be at the beginning, his faith was not real (John 13:10-11). He was unregenerated, and his heart gradually hardened so that he became the treacherous man who sold the Savior for a fistful of coins. In the end, he was so prepared to do Satan's bidding that the devil himself possessed Judas (John 13:27)"

John MacArthur The Gospel According To Jesus (1989), p.99


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dr. Peter Jones at First Pres.

Paganism and Gnosticism are alive and well in America.

Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and energetic proselytizer for neo-Gnosticism, is correct when describes what he calls the “American Religion” as “solitude, individuality and pragmatism of feelings, acts, and experiences rather than thoughts, desires, and memories.” Bloom points his disciples to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, in his infamous “Divinity School Address” prophetically declared,

“That is always best which gives me to myself. . . . The Puritans in England and America . . . their creed is passing away, and none arises in its room. I think no man can go with his thoughts about him, into one of our churches, without feeling, that what hold the public worship had on men is gone, or going. It has lost its grasp on the affection of the good, and the fear of the bad. In the country, neighborhoods, half parishes are signing off. . . . It is already beginning to indicate character and religion to withdraw from the religious meetings. . . . Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone. . . . Dare to love God without mediator or veil.”

“Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty, he lived in it, and had his being there. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world. He said, in this jubilee of sublime emotion, 'I am divine. Through me, God acts; through me, speaks.' . . . But what a distortion [of] his doctrine and memory . . . [in] the following ages!”

Don’t miss Dr. Peter Jones’ seminar on “Neo-Paganism.” Dr. Jones is one of the world’s foremost authorities on neo-paganism. He will specifically address “The Presence and Nature of Paganism in Christian America” and “Christian Evangelism in Pagan America.” For more information on Dr. Jones, see his website at http://www.spirit-wars.com/index.html.

Place: Patterson Hall, First Presbyterian Church
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2006
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

There is no cost for the seminar and no registration is required. If you have questions call Jeremy Smith at 601-973-9121.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Miles Coverdale and the English Bible

Miles Coverdale died on this day in 1569 being the first to publish a complete Bible in the English language (on October 4, 1535). He had assisted William Tyndale (as had John Rogers) in the last six years of his life before Tyndale's execution. Coverdale was to complete the process of translating the Old Testament into English overseas. The Coverdale Bible was deeply significant in the formation of the King James Bible (1611). It was the Coverdale Bible that gave us the following phrases:

'the pride of life'

'the world passeth away'


'tender mercy'

And two of my favourite verses:

'so yt thou shat not nede to be afrayed for eny bugges by night' (Psalm 91:5)

'there is no more Triacle at Gilead' (Jeremiah 8:22).

The preface to the Coverdale Bible contains some wonderful instruction on how to read the Bible, especially when one comes across a passage that we do not understand:

'Now will I exhort thee, whosoever thou art that readest scripture, if thou find ought therein that thou understandest not, or that appeareth to be repugnant, give no temerarious nor hasty judgment thereof; but ascribe it to thine own ignorance, not to the scriptures. Think that thou understandest it not, or that it hath some other meaning, or that it is haply overseen of the interpreters, or wrong printed. Again it shall greatly help thee to understand scripture, if thou mark, not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and unto whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after.'


Hollywood's back-breaking attempts at glory..

Let's be honest: there's nothing particularly "brave" and daring about portraying a gay theme anymore despite Hollywood's attempt to claim a "moral victory" with its gay-themed Brokeback Mountain. The moral relativism of our time has moved way beyond the horror of discovering that a cowboy might, after all, be a homosexual. It is all so very blah.

What would be daring would be for Hollywood to spend its millions on portraying something really unacceptable, the angst of minorities who feel brutalized by being publicly labeled as "bigoted" and "intolerant," a throw-back to "puritan" views of sex within a monogamous and faithful marriage. Now that would be daring! A risky capital venture in the interests of defending minority rights. Something truly worthy of an award.

Truth is, Bible-believing Christians are now the minority, the abused sector of society whose rights are constantly being called into question. How can we say, "practicing homosexuality is wrong" without being labeled a bigot? Witness Al Mohler on Larry King this week who smiled and politely pointed his accusers to the gospel of Jesus Christ through it all. Every day our world gets closer and closer to the world of the New Testament when Christians were villified for being truly counter-cultural, who were "insulted because of the name of Christ" (1 Peter 4:14).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"The customer is always wrong"

A recent movie portrays Cowboys regularly "escaping" the drudgery of life with their wives and children to renew their homosexual affair. A High Times article asks "Was Jesus a Stoner?" NBC's The Book of Daniel's Jesus pontificates about questionable ethical actions: "He's a kid, let him be a kid." A recent blog is entitled, "2006--A Bad Year for Jesus." The upcoming Da Vinci Code posits that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't so much a savior and redeemer as a "spiritual" person who marries Mary Magdalene and whose progeny helps establish the Merovingian dynasty in Dark Ages France.

This cultural craziness reminded me this morning of something that C.S. Lewis said fifty years ago:

“Until quite recently—until the later part of the last century—it was taken for granted that the business of the artist was to delight and instruct his public. There were, of course, different publics; the street-songs and oratorios were not addressed to the same audience. And an artist might lead his public on to appreciate finer things than they had wanted at first; but he could do this only by being, from the first, if not merely entertaining, yet entertaining, and if not completely intelligible, yet very largely intelligible. All this had changed. In the highest aesthetic circles one now hears nothing about the artist’s duty to us. It is all about our duty to him. He owes us nothing; we owe him 'recognition,' even though he has never paid the slightest attention to our tastes, interests, or habits. If we don’t give it to him, our name is mud. In this shop, the customer is always wrong" (from "Good Work and Good Works," Harcourt, 1959).

One place to find sane, balanced commentary on recent films and other cultural expressions is Gene Edward Veith's, http://cranach.worldmagblog.com/cranach/

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Governor Haley Barbour's Proclamation on the 33rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

A Proclamation

WHEREAS, January 22nd, 2006, marks the 33rd anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court of the United States; and

WHEREAS, legal abortion has since taken the lives of more Americans than the sum of all of America’s war casualties with untold thousands of Mississippi's unborn children among the more than 43 million unborn children nationwide; and

WHEREAS, unborn children have no voice to speak in their own defense and we as public officials and concerned citizens must do everything legally in our power to protect the lives of the unborn; and

Whereas, we have to start by changing hearts and minds one at a time if we are ever going to end the tragedy of abortion; and

Whereas, we must promote other choices, like adoption, so that instead of an unborn baby’s life ending in abortion, the baby can grow up in a loving home; and

WHEREAS, the time has come for the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn its decision in Roe v. Wade which is neither good law, nor good policy:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Haley Barbour, Governor of the State of Mississippi, hereby proclaim the week beginning January 15 through January 22, 2006, as

in the State of Mississippi and authorize the placement of small white crosses, or other suitable small symbols of remembrance subject to my approval, on the lawn of the State Capitol during this week in memory of the unborn children who die each day in America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi to be affixed.

DONE in the City of Jackson, on the 12th day of January in the year of our Lord, two thousand and six, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and thirtieth.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Growing up is soooo hard!

A 2 month old lion cub taking a little afternoon siesta in Pretoria, S. Africa

Growing up is difficult. Ask any teenager!
But we are meant to grow.

"Grow in grace" (2 Peter 3:18).

We are to grow in our love for Jesus;
grow in in our usefulness;
grow in wisdom and discernment.

But we are also to grow downwards! "He [Jesus] must become greater and I must become smaller" John the Baptist said (John 3:30). Pride blows up like balloons, but grace punctures. Just like some modern clothing that claim to be "shrink-proof", some Christians also appear resistant to shrinking in the presence of God.

The puritan Philip Henry, father of the more famous son, Matthew Henry, when accused of making too much of repentance said that he wished to carry repentance with him to the very gates of heaven.

"May the Lord make your love grow and overflow." (1Thess 3:12)
"Faith is flourishing and you are all growing in love for each other" (2Thess 1:3)
"I pray that your love may abound more and more" (Phil 1:9)
"Train yourself to be godly" (1Tim 4:7)
"Let us become mature" (Heb 6:1)


Saturday, January 14, 2006

South Africa

Aslan having lunch and a sunset view of Table Mountain (Cape Town). The latter taken from the roof of the home I stayed at for a couple of days.

Well, someone had to go!

Yes, I'm back home and finally a little rested after a 42 hour journey home and more issues with luggage. And if you're wondering about what my mother called "smalls", I had packed some in my "carry-on" but since I was the last one to board, I heard the attendant say, "No more roller boards" and my hand luggage was put in the hold and I never saw it again!

What do I recall?

  • a missionary couple with a mother back in Denver with Alzheimer's and wondering what they should do
  • the numerical strength of Reformed Baptist folk
  • a healthy "Church of England in South Africa" congregation which must be friendliest that I've ever been to
  • the ministry of Ronald Kalifungwa of Zambia (who is returning to his native country this month after several years in South Africa) who spoke powerfully on racism and the Bible
  • the gentle piety of Martin Holdt (Pretoria)
  • waking up to discover 3 "Beagle" dogs stretched out on the bed!
  • roast lamb (yum yum)
  • talk of cricket (South Africa are currently playing Australia and doing badly!)
  • being licked by a fully grown cheetah (with a video to prove it!)
  • the beauty of the country
  • a visit to the Huguenot museum near Stellenbosch and seeing a copy of Calvin's 1536 Institutes

And in case you're wondering, I spoke on the following themes at three different conferences (mainly to ministers):

  • The Relevance of Gresham Machen in a postmodern age
  • Spiritual Desertion: the masks of melancholy in Bible portraits
  • Romans 6 as a biblical-theological motif in the understanding of the Christian life


Archbishop Kolini in Jackson

Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of the Episcopal Diocese of Rwanda was recently here in Jackson. Since Derek and I both were out of town, Brad Mercer kindly agreed to do a "First Things" radio interview with him. Archbishop Kolini provided the ecclesiastical cover for the formation of the Anglican Mission in America - an effort by Bible-believing Episcopalians to present a Christ-exalting, Gospel-focused witness and ministry here in America, in the face of the increasingly unfaithful theological positions of ECUSA. There is a good article in the Clarion-Ledger on the Archbishop's visit, vision and mission, as well as on the new AMiA church plant here in Jackson, Holy Trinity Anglican Church (presently meeting on Sunday evenings at Ascension Lutheran Church, at the corner of County Line and Old Canton roads), pastored by our friend, Father Tim Smith. The picture, above left, shows Deb Primos, Archbishop Kolini and Tim Smith, and was taken by Rick Guy of the Clarion-Ledger.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thomas Stearns Eliot and the Christian Reader

I am frequently asked questions with a familiar ring: "what should a Christian think about Harry Potter?" "Should a Christian read fiction?" "Why does C.S. Lewis populate Narnia with Naiads, Dryads, Witches, and Dufflepuds?" My usual response? "Whoa, wait, back up! Your first question should be, 'As a Christian, how can I become a more discerning reader?'"

I want to highly recommend The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing, edited by Leland Ryken. In the preface Ryken writes, "I know of know other book that brings together this much information about Christianity and literature." I agree. I certainly don't support all the conclusions of all the contributors, but the book has much to teach us about cultivating discernment as we read and enjoy good books.

For example, here's a taste from one essay, T.S. Eliot's, "Religion and Literature."

Reading priorities

"And there never was a time, I believe, when the reading public was so large, or so helplessly exposed to the influences of its own time. There never was a time, I believe when those who read at all, read so many more books by living authors than books by dead authors; there never was a time so completely parochial, so shut off from the past. There may be too many publishers; there are certainly too many books published; and the journals ever incite the reader to 'keep up' with what is being published."

You are what you read

"The author of a work of imagination is trying to affect us wholly, as human beings, whether he knows it or not; and we are affected by it, as human beings, whether we intend to be or not. I suppose that everything we eat has some other effect upon us than merely the pleasure of taste and mastication; it affects us during the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe that exactly the same is true of anything we read."

No insignificant reading

“But I incline to come to the alarming conclusion that it is just the literature that we read for 'amusement,' or 'purely for pleasure' that may have the greatest and least suspected influence upon us. It is the literature which we read with the least effort that can have the easiest and most insidious influence upon us. Hence it is that the influence of popular novelists, and of popular plays of contemporary life, requires to be scrutinized most closely. And it is chiefly contemporary literature that the majority of people ever read in this attitude of 'purely for pleasure,' of pure passivity.”

Christian standards for reading

"The two forms of self-consciousness, knowing what we are and what we ought to be, must go together. It is our business, as readers of literature, to know what we like. It is our business, as Christians, as well as readers of literature, to know what we ought to like. It is our business as honest men, not to assume that whatever we like is what we ought to like. And the last thing I would wish for would be the existence of two literatures, one for Christian consumption and the other for the pagan world. What I believe to be incumbent upon all Christians is the duty of maintaining consciously certain standards and criteria of criticism over and above those applied by the rest of the world; and that by these criteria and standards everything that we read must be tested. We must remember that the greater part of our current reading matter is written for us by people who have no real belief in a supernatural order, though some of it may be written by people with individual notions of supernatural order which are not ours. And the greater part of our reading matter is coming to be written by people who not only have no such belief, but are even ignorant of the fact that there are still people in the world so 'backward' or so 'eccentric' as to continue to believe. So long as we are conscious of the gulf fixed between ourselves and the greater part of contemporary literature, we are more or less protected from being harmed by it, and are in a position to extract from it what good it has to offer us."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

David Jussely at Prayer Meeting

RTS Prof, David Jussely (who chairs the Practical Theology Department at RTS-Jackson) , preached at our Mid-Week Bible Study and Prayer Meeting last night. It was a rich, biblical, challenging, devotional and practical message on James 4:13-17 - a model exposition. I am so thankful for David's heart, giftedness, faithfulness and friendship. Make sure to read it and listen to it online if you missed it. Check it out here. You'll probably need to look under the "Visiting Ministers" category.

Derek is on his way back from South Africa. We hope to have him "on the ground" (as the airlines say) in Jackson by this evening. Pray for his recovery from jet lag and his preaching on Sunday evening.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On this date in 1739

On this date, January 10, in 1739, George Whitefield was ordained to the ministry in the Church of England. The Lord used Whitefield's powerful preaching to help spark colonial America's first Great Awakening.

His booming voice could be heard for miles. Benjamin Franklin, one of Whitefield's friends, once estimated that Whitefield, without any amplification, could be heard by more than 30,000 people.

Whitefield’s farewell sermon on Boston Common drew between 23,000 and 30,000 thousand people—more than Boston’s entire population. It was probably the largest crowd that had ever gathered in one place in America up to that time.

Whitefield often awoke at 4 a.m. before beginning to preach at 5 or 6 a.m. In one week he often preached a dozen times or more and spent forty or fifty hours in the pulpit. He traveled seven times to America, more than a dozen times to Scotland, and to Ireland, Bermuda, and Holland. In his lifetime, Whitefield preached at least 18,000 times. He addressed perhaps 10,000,000 hearers.

About 80 percent of all American colonists heard him preach at least once. Other than royalty, he was perhaps the only living person whose name would have been recognized by any colonial American. He preached at both Harvard and New Haven College (Yale). At Harvard it was reported that “The College is entirely changed. The students are full of God.”

He was honored and respected by Charles Wesley, William Cowper, and later, John Greenleaf Whittier, who described Whitefield as “That life of pure intent / That voice of warning yet eloquent, / Of one on the errands of angels sent.”

But Whitefield pushed himself so hard and preached with such intensity that after preaching he often had “a vast discharge from the stomach, usually with a considerable quantity of blood.” He died in Newburyport, Massachusetts on September 30, 1770. He is buried underneath the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of Newburyport, Massachusetts (pictured above).

Let us remember the sense of urgency with which this man took his calling and ordination as we reflect on our callings, whatever they may be, today.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An Important Article from Mark Steyn - WSJ

The Opinion Journal, online editorial page of the Wall Street Journal had an important and stimulating article on the dramatic demographic changes ahead for Europe and the West in general. Read it and think about it.

Here are a few choice quotes:

"Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there's still a building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West."

"The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mid-South Men's Rally, January 27

Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Men, mark your calendars for January 27, 2006.

Our annual Mid-South Men's Rally will begin with dinner at 5:15 p.m., Friday, January 27. Our speaker this year is Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr. Dr. Mohler serves as the ninth president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. He has been recognized by influential publications such as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals. Widely sought as a speaker, columnist, and commentator, he has been quoted in the nation's leading newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal/Constitution, and The Dallas Morning News. He has also appeared on such national news programs as CNN's "Larry King Live," NBC's "Today Show" and "Dateline NBC," ABC's "Good Morning America," "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS, MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" and Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor."

Visit Dr. Mohler’s website at: www.albertmohler.com.


5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Dinner served in Miller Hall,
Bookstore open

6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Session I

7:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Break, refreshments in Miller
Hall, Bookstore open

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Session II

No advance registration is necessary, and there is no charge for the rally or the dinner. A freewill offering will be taken during the service.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yellow Roses!

I admit it! I'm a longsuffering, diehard Texas fan. No, this blog entry does not contain a statement of profound theological, ethical, or philosophical insight. But the Texas faithful are compelled to rise up this day and pronounce . . .

Hook 'em Horns!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Understanding the Times

Out of Africa (1)
by Derek Thomas

For the first time in thirty years I spent New Year’s Eve apart from my wife. No, it’s not what you may think! I happen to be several thousand miles away, and in another continent. Africa!

To be honest, I can’t even work out the time difference between us: is it seven hours (as I think) or is it ten hours (as my wife’s e-mail seems to think). I’m certain of my accuracy but thirty years of marriage has taught me caution when correcting my “nearest and dearest.” So I’ve allowed the allusion of ten hours to pass.

It makes little difference in the end since, either way, I won’t be able to look at the stars at the same time and think, “She’s looking at these stars too.” For one thing we’re in different hemispheres. And for another, whether it is seven or ten hours, the stars won’t be out for her when they are out for me! Worse: by some trickery of science, I will have experienced the New Year before she does, even though my body will not have theoretically fulfilled a full year’s worth of aging! I will have gained 7 hours by this trip (or is that ten?). Is this how death is tricked?

Truth is, we’ve never been that sentimental about the New Year anyway. Only the Scottish (with their Hogmany) and New Yorkers (who get it three hours before Californians) seem to relish staying up late to “see in the New Year.” Why get sentimental over the passing of time in this way? Do all the bad things cancel out at the stroke of midnight and a brand new opportunity open? Hardly! Will a chorus or two of “Old Lang Syne” really make a difference to the way I live my life in the coming year? Of course not! Why especially do we feel regret over unaccomplished promises this evening? Why single this moment to mention these regrets and make promises about the future?

Regrets I have about this past year. Plenty of them. Too little prayer. Too much time wasted on entertainment. Too little writing. Too little spiritual growth. Too little time with family. The list is always endless. I had wanted to accomplish so much more in this past year, but the New Year has arrived. So in the spirit of Jonathan Edwards, “I resolve…”

I resolve to spend less time writing e-mail (who invented this unforgiving monster?). I’ve been gone two days and already there are 73 e-mails waiting for my attention.

I resolve to know my Bible better than I know the details of last week’s sports result (that’s easy! I’m not that keen on sports).

I resolve to be less critical (that’s not easy!).

I resolve to …

Well, the list is mine and not unlike Edwards, not for public consumption.

But here’s one I will share.

“Teach me to number my days that I may get a heart of wisdom” (Psa 90:12).

Yes, I make that resolution this New Year’s Eve in South Africa, thousands of miles away from those whom I love, but as near to my Savior as any other part of the world.

Teach me that time is short, a commodity not to be wasted.

Teach me to look for that city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Teach me to make short accounts of things here and live for that which is to come?

Give me the spirit of Jim Elliot: to live so as to lose what I cannot keep and gain what I cannot lose.

Lord, make me wise!

Derek's case has arrived!

After 5 days, my suitcase finally made it. I can now get out of these smelly clothes! More importantly, my notes for the third address (on the use of Romans 6 for understanding the Christian Life) were in the case (handwritten!) and it arrived a mere 2 hours before I was due to give it. Mercy! The other two address were on Gresham Machen and Spiritual Depression.

There are over 400 ministers from all over South Africa and northen countries present. The first conferences ends tomorrow and another starts immediately (just press "repeat"). Thank you all for your prayers. I'm rejoicing with you at God's provision for First Pres! What a great God we have!