Thinking about Sunday…

After another Sunday of worship, here are some helpful reflections on and applications of Scripture from two historic Reformed catechisms:

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563)
Q.103: What does God require in the fourth commandment?
A.: First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; (1) and that I, especially on the Sabbath, that is, on the day of rest,(2) diligently frequent the Church of God to hear His word, to use the sacraments,(4) publicly to call upon the Lord,(5) and to contribute to the relief of the poor,(6) as becomes a Christian. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in me; and thus begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.(7) Continue reading

Worship Starts in the Bathroom

The following article is a guest contribution by Jeff and Joan Kingswood. Jeff has served as a minister for twenty-five years; he and Joan have six children and five grandchildren. This article was originally released as a pamphlet for the benefit of the congregation. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of the authors.

Having our children worship with us each Sunday can be both wonderful and terrible! Wonderful, because God promises to bless even our tiniest children when we bring them into His presence as we worship with the visible church. Terrible, because their behaviour often disturbs the congregation’s ability to concentrate and because it can sometimes show up our failures in child discipline. Continue reading

When I Consider Your Heavens

Yesterday several media outlets prominently featured a story on the possibility of “many earths out there.” The realities of scientific knowledge of these potential planets, thirty of of which have been confirmed as real (out of 2,326 sightings of distant spots that might be planets), are a long ways from finding a livable planet. Statistically only 48 of the total sightings of “something” fall in a potentially habitable range in terms of temperature in relation to the nearest star at sighting. But the variables that need to be met beyond this are vast and complex. At this point the only certain reality is that this is an appeal for continued funding for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and NASA.

Continue reading

Patristics: Fulgentius on Desire for Human Praise

“In all good works, be careful lest you be stirred by desire for human praise.  You ought to be praised in your good works, but insofar as you do them, you ought not to expect human praises.  The human tongue may praise you, but desire praise from God alone.  And thus it may come about that while you do not seek human praise, God may be praised in your deeds.  Recall how much the Lord forbids us to do our righteous works to garner human praise, saying, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”  Therefore, when he says that we should look out lest we do our righteous deeds before human beings, that we may be seen by them, and again he commands that our light shine before human beings, is he not commanding contrary things?  Certainly not, but he commands that good deeds be done in such a way that we wish, not that we ourselves, but that God be praised in our works…”

Fulgentius of Ruspe, To the Widow Galla, 36. [c.500AD]

Discipleship and Planting Churches

Several months ago I was privileged to take part in a discussion on church planting and discipleship with Barry York (senior pastor, Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church of Kokomo, Indiana) and Dale VanDyke and Francis VanDelden (senior and associate pastors, Harvest Church) who minister at a growing OPC here in Grand Rapids. We talked about the Reformed Presbyterian Churches (RPCNA) in Indiana as a case study of church planting: beginning with one small congregation in Bloomington in the late 1960′s, there are now eleven across the state.

Over at Reformation 21, the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, I summarize some of the valuable points of this discussion.