Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stott on Self-Aggrandizement

It would be hard to improve on Luther's description of fallen man as *homo in se incurvatus*, 'man curved in on himself'. Human fallenness is human selfishness. Most ambition is selfish ambition. People who 'succeed', because they attain wealth, fame or power, do so mainly because they are driven by an inner urge to self-aggrandizement. This is not pessimism, but the sober realism of Christians who want to look facts in the face.

--From "Life in Christ" (Eastbourne: Kingsway; Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1991), p. 86. Thanks John Stott. 

Scott's Top 7s: California Vaca-Pics #4

Hanging out in Santa Monica.


This is from atop of the Santa Monica Pier Ferris-wheel. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Declaration

The gospel is not good advice to men, 
but good news about Christ; 
not an invitation to us to do anything, 
but a declaration of what God has done; 
not a demand, 
but an offer.

--From "The Message of Galatians" (The Bible Speaks Today series: London and Downers Grove: IVP, 1968), p. 70. Thankful to God for JRW Stott. 

Scott's Top 7s: California Vaca-Pics #5

Nothing like skipping stones. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Scott's Top 7s: California Vaca-Pics #6

Here's Danny Boy and I just maxing and relaxing on the west coast beach. This is at Venice Beach just before I burned my head. A light wind that day, and plenty of sunshine. Water was a bit cold for swimming. Skipping rocks and treasure hunting on the beach. Not a bad day at all. 

Our sin

By 'sin' the Bible means self-centredness. 
God's order is that we love him first, 
our neighbour next and 
ourselves last. 
Sin is precisely the reversal of this order. 
It is to put ourselves first, 
our neighbour next (when it suits our convenience) 
and God somewhere in the distant background.

--From "Your Confirmation" (rev. edn. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991), p. 21. Thanks John Stott

Friday, March 25, 2011

Christianese 101

hmm... I'm considering many resolutions from this: first, speaking straight and not Christian jargon; second, to start labeling my leftover Cheetos.

Scott's Top 7s: California Vaca-Pics #7

This is Ty and I's first day in California. Waking up at the Master's College in Santa Clarita. 
This is a view from just above Slight Hall. We set the timer. Yes, fyi Ty is currently single, 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ask not...

My fellow Christians:
Ask not how your church can serve you, but how can you serve your church? 

Playing off of JFK's inaugural speech, it seems those who aren't serving must be thinking "Jesus served me, he died for me. Shouldn't everyone else in the church should do likewise?" Wrongo - it is the whole body working together - that means preachers and chair movers, that means evangelist and greeter, that means worship leader and cook. But are you just paying your offering as your only act of service? Are you just attending meetings as a wallflower? Some would even say - I don't have a gift. The Apostle Paul actually disagrees with you and, moreso, God disagrees with you.

Two weeks ago, I was at Grace Community Church - not a jumbo church by USA standards, but pretty close; about 8,000 members. Now they hold an annual conference specifically for men, so Tyler, Dan, Dilly and I were able to attend. And during the seminar and session breaks everyone piled into the outdoor walkways & parking lot where we were given meals and snacks; and directions for us Canadians. Some people actually took the week off work to come volunteer. It was ballparked that around 700 members were volunteering throughout that week for us four guys and the other 3300 guests. Every volunteer I talked to, as I got a churro or breakfast donut, happen to be a member of the church. And you wouldn't believe it, I saw 5 helpers there who are constrained to electric wheel chairs! People who can't move their own limbs, are still participating by giving directions and general help. 

That really impacted me. I've got all four working tip top shape - and what am I doing?
So service may be menial, it may be repetitive, it may even be agonizing or a messy one (i.e. nursery!) but when we serve we should be humbled. We should be thankful to serve, and we should be doing it. See a need? fill it! Don't see one? ask your pastor or elder - they'll be glad you asked! Likely, there will be a place and you will be able to start helping out. Join an evangelical church in your area and serve God by serving others. 

Finally, wherever you are, citizens of Christ and his church, commit yourself to the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which Christ has asked of us all. And with a good conscience our only sure reward with history as the final judge of our deeds let us go forth to lead the church we love asking his blessing and his help but knowing here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Christianity without Christ is
 a frame without a picture, 
a casket without a jewel, 
                                                    a body without breath.

 --From "Your Confirmation" (rev. edn. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991), p. 18. Thanks John Stott.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Next Spurgeon eh?

To my young brethren who are called of God to preach "JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED", this little volume is affectionately inscribed. 

Being in no position of elder in my local church, I still found this book fascinating from this seasoned American Presbyterian minister. Theodore Cuyler (1822-1909), a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon and Horatius Bonar, wrote The Young Preacher with the intention to fuel the young men who were considering or had just entered office. Cuyler starts his book, which was bound at the request of many of his public journal readers, with the question "Why should I be a minister?". He works through some necessary skills and gifts for the pastorate office, and what being a pastor will really entail; aka not just preaching. Cuyler covers sermon preparation to the reality of visitation to daily godly living. With a wealth of biblical knowledge and picking up from the wisdom of McCheyne, Spurgeon, Baxter, Finney, and Austin Phelps, this blast from two-centuries-past will bring a breath of comfort and a back hand of exhortment to the leaders of Christ's bride in the 21st Century.

The Young Preacher by Theodore L. Cuyler - 1893.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shadows and Breaths

"For I am a sojourner 
with you,
a guest, 
like all my fathers."

David writes this recognition of human frailty in to the end of the 39th Psalm. He is speaking to God. He sees that he will soon depart and be no more. That his life is but a breath. In this time he is recognizing the discipline that God has given him, and wonders in the small time left that he has if God would remove his hand of discipline. He wants to smile again and be happy again. David sees here that he is no different from his father and his grandfather and all his ancestors. They are here for a time and then gone. He is a sojourner on this earth. And what are we? We are alike David, here temporarily. Soon to depart in death. We like David say "my lifetime is nothing before you" YHWH, God. We are a breath. We are a shadow. And what must we say to God, that "My hope is in you"; and ask will you "deliver me from all my transgressions"?

But do we really want those things? 
Do we really want deliverance from sin? 
To not continually deny the discipline of God
but to put our hope and trust in him?
Is that our true desire? If not then who will save us?
Who will deliver us from this evil world which we, not
the system, propagate?
Yes - we love evil, we love our sin,
We love revenge, pride, lust, money - and all of these above God!
We hate God, and we are guilty before him. 
So what are we left to do?

We must put ourselves in his hands. To hope that he will deliver.
That means to ask him to deliver, not in doubt
but in hope.

Don't try to complicate it. Don't try to excuse yourself. Don't put it off. 
Seek God for deliverance through the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Through his life, death and resurrection - the gospel - there is deliverance.
God delivers through him, by him and for his glory. 
But will you willingly submit to God? 
Will you willingly give him glory? 
Will you trust him with the love that he came for sinners, 
for this hating world, for this rebellious world? 
Will you respond and love him in obedience? 
Or will he get glory out of your unwilling sinful self 
and cast you away from his presence into hell? 
That is the question.

We are shadows and breaths - let us be used for God's glory willingly. Let us put our hope in Jesus Christ, alone. 

Scott's Top 7s: Johnny Cash Hits #1

Falsom Prison Blues

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mckenzie's Cooking Up at TBS

Miss Myrtle, our cook here at Toronto Baptist Seminary & Bible College, got sick this past week. So my mom and sister came down on wednesday and cooked up a storm - chicken parmesan! a family favourite back in brooklin. Here are some action shots. Adam and I ate way too much. It was a real treat though. And poor Justine was in florida and couldn't get any.... aw! [if you're reading this Jay, dun worry - my mom put some in the freezer for you : ) ]

Gotta be thankful to God for family like this.

Scott's Top 7s: Johnny Cash Hits #2

Orange Blossom Special

some sweet shredding harmonica riffs
talk about a rambling, she's the fastest train on the line

Friday, March 18, 2011

Scott's Top 7s: Johnny Cash Hits #3

Highway Patrolman

(just the first song/video, this is actually a Springsteen cover)

 nothing feels better than blood on blood

Thursday, March 17, 2011

California Detoxification: part 1

Woah - that was a fast week - Tyler and I had a pretty stellar time in 
Southern California. 
We crashed at Daniel's place at the Master's College in Santa Clarita and got to chill with Dilly Smalls for the week as we attended the Shepherd's Conference. I ate at least 6 cheeseburgers and heard some godly wisdom throughout the week. Encouraged by Stauffer of the west, I wore my sandals and shorts, all week.
It was excellent. More to come.
 I also burned my head...

Scott's Top 7s: Johnny Cash Hits #4

Get Rhythm 

When you get the blues...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cali Take Over

This is Tyler & I catching some wake 
- slash -
our appreciation card to our 6am driver to the airport tomorrow morning

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cali Here We Come

Hey y'all - so I'll be taking a break for the next week - I'm heading to California with my close friend Tyler. 
We're visiting our friend Daniel at the Masters College in Santa Clarita. Ty's looking at attending the seminary there and I'm stoked for some VACA time you know? I'm a little crazy in taking as many courses as I do here at Toronto Baptist Seminary , so I'm pretty stoked to take a deep breath on the west coast and get some of that great LA smog air.
(btw if you read this and are unawares of who TBS is you should come to OPEN HOUSE 
this Tuesday-Wednesday > it'll be awesome). 
Minus the few people who stumbled upon my blog from Germany, Belarus and Russia, those of you guys who read this are my buds from TBS so I'll try and soak up some rays for you while you trek through that left-over snow. Hope Chaps is stellar and Myrtle's chicken nuggets on friday are crispy - save some for me on monday!
What's happening to the blog? 1 week hiatus I guess - I'll be back with some more dead-guy quotes, top 7s, and I've got 2 book reviews for here in the works. And don't you worry Adam, I'll find some more country acts from SOCAL. 

This month's memory verse is:

"Grace to you and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
who gave himself for our sins
to deliver us from the present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father,
to whom be the glory forever and ever.

Galatians 1:3-5

Been fun - hope to be back soon. 

Why Our Bodies Die

We read in Genesis 5:5 that 'Adam ... died.' Why did he die?  What was the origin of death?  Was it there from the beginning?  Certainly vegetable death was.  God created 'seed-bearing plants ... that bear fruit with seed in it' (Gn. 1:lff.). That is, the cycle of blossom, fruit, seed, death and new life was established in the created order.  Animal death existed too, for many fossils of predators have been found with their prey in their stomach.  But what about human beings?  

Paul wrote that death entered the world through sin (Rom. 5:12).  Does that mean that, if he had not sinned, he would not have died?  Many ridicule this notion.  'Obviously', writes C. H. Dodd with great self-confidence, 'we cannot accept such a speculation as an account of the origin of death, which is a natural process inseparable from organic existence in the world we know ...'(1)   We have already agreed that death is 'a natural process' in the vegetable and animal kingdoms.  But we must not think of human beings as merely rather superior animals, who on that account die like animals.  On the contrary, it is because we are not animals that Scripture regards human death as unnatural, an alien intrusion, the penalty for sin, and not God's original intention for his human creation.  Only if Adam disobeyed, God warned him, would he 'surely die' (Gn. 2:17).  Since, however, he did not immediately die, some conclude that it was spiritual death, or separation from God, which was meant.  But when God later pronounced his judgment on Adam, he said to him, 'Dust you are, and to dust you will return' (Gn. 3:19).  So physical death was included in the curse, and Adam became mortal when he disobeyed.  Certainly the Rabbis understood Genesis in this way.  For example, 'God created man for incorruption, and made him an image of his own proper being; but by the envy of the devil death entered into the world...'(Wisdom 2:23f.). This is why the biblical authors lament death, and are outraged by it.  They see it as demoting us, levelling us down to the animal creation, so that we (God's special creation) have become 'like the beasts that perish' (Ps. 49:12).  

The author of Ecclesiastes feels the indignity of it too: 'Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other.  All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal' (Ec. 3:19).   It appears, therefore, that for his unique image-bearers God originally had something better in mind, something less degrading and squalid than death, decay and decomposition, something which acknowledged that human beings are not animals.  Perhaps he would have 'translated' them like Enoch and Elijah, without the necessity of death.  Perhaps he would have 'changed' them 'in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye', like those believers who will be alive when Jesus comes (1 Cor. 15:51f.). Perhaps too we should think of the transfiguration of Jesus in this light.  His face shone, his clothing became dazzling white, and his body translucent like the resurrection body he would later have.  Because he had no sin, he did not need to die.  He could have stepped straight into heaven without dying.  But he deliberately came back in order of his own free and loving will to die for us.

--From " The Message of Romans" (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester, IVP, 1994), p. 165. Thanks John Stott.

Two Rare Things

"Two things are said to be very rare 

in the sights of the world:

one is a young man humble, and 

the other is an old man content."
John Charles Ryle

Scott's Top 7s: Hymns on the Atonement #1

Jesus, Thank You

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One crushed your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin, Jesus, thank you
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied, Jesus, thank you
Once your enemy, now seated at your table, Jesus, thank you

By your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy you made your friend
Pouring out the riches of your glorious grace
Your mercy and your kindness know no end
Lover of my soul, I want to live for you

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scott's Top 7s: Hymns on the Atonement #2

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone – who took on flesh –
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross, as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

scott's Top 7s: Hymns on the Atonement #3

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts no power no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scott's Top 7s: Hymns on the Atonement #4

Here is Love

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Your love accepting,
Love You ever all my days;
Let me seek Your kingdom only
And my life be to Your praise;
You alone shall be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
You have cleansed and sanctified me,
You Yourself have set me free.

In Your truth You do direct me
By Your Spirit through Your Word;
And Your grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in You, my Lord.
Of Your fullness You are pouring
Your great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

Scott's Top 7s: Hymns on the Atonement #5

And Can it Be?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Saviour in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Social Justice Reflection

It is right to campaign for social justice and to expect to improve society further, 
in order to make it more pleasing to God, but we know that we should can perfect it.  
Christians are not utopians.  
We know the transforming power of the gospel and the wholesome effects of Christian salt and light, but we also know that evil is ingrained in human nature and human society.  We harbour no illusions. Only Christ at his second coming will eradicate evil and enthrone righteousness forever.  
For that day we wait with eagerness.

From "The Contemporary Christian" (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1992), p. 390. Thanks John Stott

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Learn about God?

Come on down to the T-dot and check out your potential centre for a theological education, Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College.

Scott's Top 7s: Hymns on the Atonement #6

The Gospel Song

Holy God, in love, became
Perfect Man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again

Hell, is that a little extreme?

We don’t take sin seriously because 

we don’t take God seriously.

We have [become so familiar with the] God-belittling spirit of the age that our sins hardly trouble us at all. 
Our sin seems small because we regard God as small. 
And thus the penalty of hell—
eternal conscious suffering under the wrath of God—
always seems like an overreaction on God’s part. 
If we knew God better, we wouldn’t think like that.