Friday, May 22, 2009

My Present Reading List

Books in progress as of May 22, 2009:

"Kingdom of the Occult" by Walter Martin, et. al.

"Baptist History Celebration 2007"

"John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology", ed. Burk Parsons

"Sermons Printed from the Manuscripts of the Late Rev. Benjamin Beddome"

"Theology for the People" by William Plumer

"Foundations of Grace: 1400 B.C. to A.D. 100" by Steven Lawson

"Law of God" by William Plumer

"Living for God's Glory" by Joel R. Beeke

"From Grief to Glory" by James Bruce III

"A Cluster of Camphire: Words of Cheer and Comfort to Sick and Sorrowful Souls" by Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, May 21, 2009

English Standard Version

At the beginning of 2008, I decided on using a different approach for my daily Scripture reading. My two-fold change was:

1. Use a different daily reading plan than I used the year before.
2. Use a different translation each year until I have gone through the primary English translations.

So, my 2008 daily readings were all in the Holman Christian Standard Bible using the John R. Kohlenberger "Read Through The Bible In A Year" chronological plan. I found the HCSB to be very easy reading but the Kohlenberger plan more of a challenge. For obvious reasons, you read no New Testament passages until September 30th. I know the Old Testament is as inspired as the New but, really, don't we all enjoy some devotional reading in the New Testament before the last quarter of the year?!

This year I switched back to the Robert Murray M'Cheyne plan which I have used and enjoyed for many years. For my Bible translation, I am using the English Standard Version. The more I read from it, the more I am enjoying it.

When I am intensely studying God's Word for teaching or preaching purposes, next to the Greek and Hebrew I prefer the New American Standard version. I have found the NAS more often faithfully renders the text than do other translations. But, simply reading the NAS devotionally is a challenge. The wording does not flow as well as the KJV or ESV primarily due to its allegience to the text. It's "literalness" comes across as "wooden" and "stiff".

While I will continue to use the NAS in study, I would rather use the ESV for devotional reading as well as for worship and teaching purposes. I have switched to the ESV in my Missouri Baptist classes and have also found myself using the ESV more and more in my sermon delivery.

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has chosen the ESV as their standard translation. If you would like some reasons why, check it out here. Also, John Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, uses the ESV. You may read Dr. Piper's reasons for selecting the ESV here.

Whatever translation you use, please read the Lord's Word each and every day. May He bless your efforts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bethesda Update #1

Yesterday was my first official day as interim pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church in St. Charles. What a privilege it is to be called to shepherd a flock but what an awesome responsibility it is as well. I do pray for the Lord’s wisdom, patience, strength, and blessing in this calling.

I renewed some acquaintances I have made over the past two months as well as met other folks for the first (or second or third!) time. What used to be a steel trap of a memory has quickly diminished in its capability resulting in my rapid forgetfulness of names or, even worse, membership status of some! A pastor always feels very badly when he greets someone as a visitor only to be told they are members! Hopefully, those to whom I directed my incorrect greetings yesterday will be forgiving since, after all, it was my first official Sunday!

I chatted with a few folks during Sunday School and then walked into one of the adult classes for the final 15 minutes or so. This was followed by our morning worship service in which I began an exposition of the book of Colossians, preaching on the first two verses of the book. After the service, we met in the fellowship hall for dinner and cake celebrating the graduation of two members from school plus my arrival as interim. In the evening, one of our deacons taught a lesson from Proverbs but I only made the last forty minutes due to a teaching commitment at Highland View. Afterwards I visited again with some of the people and then moved in several boxes of my library, stacking the books on a couple of the bookshelves in my office.

Overall it was a great day. The people have been so gracious to me and my family. God has placed some very talented and committed believers in this fellowship and I believe He is doing and will continue to do a great work there.

To be perfectly frank, the only disappointment of the entire day was my message. Despite hours of study and prayer, I have preached much better sermons than I did yesterday. For those who have never preached, it is difficult to explain the feeling a preacher has when he feels very prepared and yet the message comes across as flat. Yesterday was one of those days.

While my pastoral experience is somewhat limited, I have learned that Sunday afternoon is usually my most depressing time of the week. I approach most Sunday mornings with great anticipation only to have the air let out of the balloon by the end of the service. Rarely do I preach a message as well as I think I should and a long Sunday afternoon ensues. And, yet, I have also learned another, far more important truth:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

While my sermon did not meet my expectations, I am thankful the Word of God I proclaimed yesterday will accomplish the Lord’s purposes even if I have no idea what those purposes are. Praise God that He is a sovereign God!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Favorite Poem

There are days from time to time when one's mind is overwhelmed with all that is taking place and all that is left to be done. Such times may cause us to stop and consider whether we are, perhaps, losing our mind!

Today is such a day for me. When I paused briefly to reflect on what lies before me these next few days and found myself a bit dismayed by all I need to do, my thoughts turned to a devoted believer of a prior era who, in fact, fought insanity much of his life: William Cowper (pronounced "cooper"). Anytime I hear the name "Cowper", immediately I recall the words of one of his poems and one of my favorite hymns.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its pow'r,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die.

When this poor lisping stamm'ring tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I'll sing Thy pow'r to save.

The truthfulness of Cowper's words are always a soothing salve to my mind.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"No, Mr. President"

I am thankful for John Piper's boldness and his faithfulness to the Word of God no matter how "politically incorrect" he is! Take time to view this video.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Perhaps you have already seen this little video. But, a link to it was in my e-mail today and, after viewing it, I thought it was worth watching. Please take the time to do so.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Christian Ethics Dilemma Question

Dr. Russell Moore has an interesting and quite challenging question posted on his blog today. His Christian Ethics' students must answer it as part of their course work. I'm glad I'm not in his class and I do pray I do not have to address this situation any time soon in my new pastorate! But, given our society as it is, I may be wise to work on my own answer prior to ever facing this situation.