Archive for April, 2007

I Joyed When to the House of God go up, They Said to Me

Sunday, April 29th, 2007


Today I’m thinking what a soul-refreshing blessing it is to go up to the house of God, to worship the Lord with His people on the Lord’s Day.

What are the specific aspects of the public worship of the Lord for which I am thankful? Well, I find an excellent list of the parts of public worship in The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXI – Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath-day, paragraph 5:

The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear;

the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence;

singing of psalms with grace in the heart;

as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:

besides religious oaths and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner. (Emphasis added.)

Yes, today I was especially blessed by the pastor’s sermon taken from the text Philippians 4:6,7:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

At this point I’ll not give a summary of his uplifting exegesis of God’s Word, nor of the applications he made to our lives as Christians. Rather, I wish to consider the simple fact that the Lord brings blessing and growth in grace to His people in the group He has appointed, and through the means He has appointed. I read in I Corinthians 12:28:

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (Emphasis added.)

The Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 16:18, tells us that He is the One building His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The church of the Lord, then, is the group He has promised to build, and through which He blesses His people. The Lord has not promised to bless:

  1. Individuals who stay at home reading their Bibles and praying instead of joining with the public worship of God in the church.
  2. Families who stay away from the church, choosing rather to “home church”.
  3. Groups of families who stay away from church, meeting in religious societies, rather than joining with a local church where the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV – Of the Church, paragraph 4).

Within the church which He is building, the Lord places particular emphasis upon the preaching of His Word as a means of grace to His people. We see this truth expressed in such verses as Romans 10:13-17:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Emphasis added.)

We must do things God’s way if we hope for God’s blessings. In John 14:15,21, Christ said,

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

And in Luke 6:46 He asked, And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

When Christians join with other believers in God’s church, and attend upon the preaching of His Word there, only then do they have biblical reason to believe that the Lord will bless them with growth in grace. The Lord says to attend upon faithful preaching of His Word, in His church. It reveals our love to God when we take Him at His Word, and obey Him in this matter. This is what He has ordained to bless,

  1. Reading and studying the Bible at home, instead of going to church, to attend upon the public preaching of God’s Word.
  2. Listening to recorded sermons at home instead of meeting with God’s people in a local church to attend upon the preaching of God’s Word.
  3. Reading printed sermons of godly men from days gone by instead of attending a local church and hearing God’s Word preached there.

Psalm 122, Scottish Metrical version

I joy’d when to the house of God go up, they said to me.

Jerusalem, within thy gates our feet shall standing be.

Jerus’lem, as a city, is compactly built together:

Unto that place the tribes go up, the tribes of God go thither:

To Isr’el’s testimony, there to God’s name thanks to pay.

For thrones of judgment, ev’n the thrones of David’s house, there stay.

Pray that Jerusalem may have peace and felicity:

Let them that love thee and thy peace have still prosperity.

Therefore I wish that peace may still within thy walls remain,

And ever may thy palaces prosperity retain.

Now, for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes, peace be in thee, I’ll say.

And for the house of God our Lord, I’ll seek thy good always.

John Calvin on the Importance of Remaining Peaceably in a True Church

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

The following quote is from John Calvin’s Institutes, as found online at the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.

12. Heeding the marks guards against capricious separation

When we say that the pure ministry of the word and pure celebration of the sacraments is a fit pledge and earnest, so that we may safely recognise a church in every society in which both exists our meaning is that we are never to discard it so-long as these remain, though it may otherwise teem with numerous faults.

Nay, even in the administration of word and Sacraments defects may creep in which ought not to alienate us from its communion. For all the heads of true doctrine are not in the same position. Some are so necessary to be known, that all must hold them to be fixed and undoubted as the proper essentials of religion: for instance,

  • that God is one,
  • that Christ is God, and the Son of God,
  • that our salvation depends on the mercy of God, and the like.

Others, again, which are the subject of controversy among the churches, do not destroy the unity of the faith; for why should it be regarded as a ground of dissension between churches, if one, without any spirit of contention or perverseness in dogmatising, hold that the soul on quitting the body flies to heaven, and another, without venturing to speak positively as to the abode, holds it for certain that it lives with the Lord? The words of the apostle are, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you,” (Phil. 3: 15.) Does he not sufficiently intimate that a difference of opinion as to these matters which are not absolutely necessary, ought not to be a ground of dissension among Christians? (Emphasis added.) The best thing, indeed, is to be perfectly agreed, but seeing there is no man who is not involved in some mist of ignorance, we must either have no church at all or pardon delusion in those things of which one may be ignorant, without violating the substance of religion and forfeiting salvation.Here, however, I have no wish to patronise even the minutest errors, as if I thought it right to foster them by flattery or connivance; what I say is, that we are not on account of every minute difference to abandon a church, provided it retain sound and unimpaired that doctrine in which the safety of piety consists, and keep the use of the sacraments instituted by the Lord. (Emphasis added.) Meanwhile, if we strive to reform what is offensive, we act in the discharge of duty. To this effect are the words of Paul, “If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace,” (1 Cor. 14: 30.) From this it is evident that to each member of the Church, according to his measure of grace, the study of public edification has been assigned, provided it be done decently and in order. In other words, we must neither renounce the communion of the Church, nor, continuing in it, disturb peace and discipline when duly arranged.

19. The example of Christ and of the apostles

Then what kind of age was that of Christ and the apostles? Yet neither could the desperate impiety of the Pharisees, nor the dissolute licentiousness of manners which everywhere prevailed, prevent them from using the same sacred rites with the people, and meeting in one common temple for the public exercises of religion. And why so, but just because they knew that those who joined in these sacred rites with a pure conscience were not at all polluted by the society of the wicked?

If any one is little moved by prophets and apostles, let him at least defer to the authority of Christ. Well, therefore, does Cyprian say, “Although tares or unclean vessels are seen in the Church, that is no reason why we ourselves should withdraw from the Church; we must only labour that we may be able to be wheat; we must give our endeavour, and strive as far as we can, to be vessels of gold or silver. But to break the earthen vessels belongs to the Lord alone, to whom a rod of iron has been given: let no one arrogate to himself what is peculiar to the Son alone, and think himself sufficient to winnow the floor and cleanse the chaff, and separate all the tares by human judgement. What depraved zeal thus assumes to itself is proud obstinacy and sacrilegious presumption,” (Cyprian, lib. 3. Ep. 5.)

Let both points therefore, be regarded as fixed;

  • first, there is no excuse for him who spontaneously abandons the external communion of a church in which the word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered (Emphasis added);
  • secondly, that notwithstanding of the faults of a few or of many, there is nothing to prevent us from there duly professing our faith in the ordinances instituted by God, because a pious conscience is not injured by the unworthiness of another, whether he be a pastor or a private individual; and sacred rites are not less pure and salutary to a man who is holy and upright, from being at the same time handled by the impure.

It’s a Bright, Bright Sunshiny Day

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. – Ecclesiastes 11:7, King James version

The nickname of the state of Washington, the Evergreen State, refers to our expanses of evergreen forests. However, I like to think of it as meaning everything is always green here. And why is everything always green here? Well, we get plenty of rain. In some parts of the country, rainstorms appear suddenly, there’s a downpour, and then the sun appears once again in its glory. Here, however, the rain usually distills down gently. This means that life can proceed as usual. We ladies still go on our walks in the rain, and the children’s sports activities such as soccer and baseball and track competitions, continue. We are so used to the gentle, prevalent rain, that we rarely even use an umbrella. The only down-side to our precipitation pattern is, not only can the skies be cloudy all day, they can be cloudy day after day after interminable day. After so many grey days, I start to reminisce about the deserts of Arizona, the land of blazingly clear skies. This morning, however, I am reminded of why I love it here. Yes, everything is green. Fresh spring growth is bursting forth, the grass is getting bushy, the daffodils have come and gone and the tulips are almost past, too. But, best of all, the rain has stopped. The sky is a clear, misty blue, and the growing green-ness all around is almost electric in the SUNSHINE! Yes, I am enjoying the rare springtime occurrence of a sunny day. I could think of many more spiritual blessings for which to thank the Lord, but I heartily thank Him for this, for this cheering, warming, encouraging SUNNY DAY.

Getting Acquainted with the Heidelberg Catechism

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

My first love and familiar friend as far as Reformed Christian subordinate standards go are the Westminster Standards, such as the Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms. In the past year, however, we have been attending a Reformed church of Dutch background, where the subordinate standards are The Three Forms of Unity, which pre-date the Westminster Standards:

  1. The Belgic Confession
  2. The Canons of Dordt
  3. The Heidelberg Catechism

We were only familiar with these faithful standards in a distant sort of way, so have started reading through them, discussing them, and will continue studying them in more depth.

Tonight, one part of family worship involved reading Question and answer 122 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

What is the first petition [of the Lord’s Prayer]?
Answer: Hallowed be thy name. That is: grant us, first, rightly to know Thee, and to sanctify, glorify, and praise Thee in all Thy works, in which Thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, and truth shine forth; further also, that we may so order and direct our whole life, thoughts, words, and actions, that Thy Name may not be blasphemed but honored and praised on our account.

Contemplating this answer gave me such a burst of joy, like a heavenly sunbeam shone for a moment on my soul. The thought that blessed me so much was, Not only does the Lord graciously gift a person with salvation through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, He makes it really possible for folks like us to bring honor and praise to His Name. Makes life seem worth living, doesn’t it?

I’ll conclude with a portion from Psalm 145, verses one through three, from the Scottish Metrical Psalter, which expresses for me this joy and gratitude I feel to the Lord:

O LORD, thou art my God and King;
Thee will I magnify and praise:
I will thee bless, and gladly sing
Unto thy holy name always.
Each day I rise I will thee bless,
And praise thy name time without end.
Much to be prais’d, and great God is;
His greatness none can comprehend.

An Excellent Article on the Regulative Principle of Worship

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

I just finished reading an article online entitled Calvin and the Worship of God by W. Robert Godfrey, Ph.D. of Westminster Seminary California. I found Dr. Godfrey’s article to be edifying and encouraging.

The subheadings of this article are:

  • Importance of Worship
  • The Practice of Worship
  • Basic Principles of Worship
  • Music for Worship

The following quote is from Dr. Godfrey’s conclusion:

For Calvin true worship must wed inward sincerity to outward faithfulness to God’s Word. Worship must be outwardly obedient to God’s inspired direction and also flow from the heart: “…it is not sufficient to utter the praises of God with our tongues, if they do not proceed from the heart…” In true worship the believer exercises faith and repentance as he meets with God and grows in grace. As Hughes Oliphant Old stated, “The outward form of worship and the inward adoration of the heart must remain firmly joined together.

Calvin’s labor to relate the inward and outward dimensions of worship properly flowed out of his theology as a whole. Reformed Christianity for him was an integrated whole. His doctrine of sin made him deeply suspicious of human instincts and human desires in the matter of worship. His doctrine of grace led him to expect God to be sovereign in directing worship. He would have insisted that those who think that they can preserve Reformed systematic theology while abandoning a Reformed theology of worship are wrong. Rather he would suggest that where theology stresses the sovereign power and work of God, where the priority of his action and the regulative authority of his Word are recognized, there a form of worship very like Calvin’s own will emerge. The church today needs to listen anew to Calvin on worship so that its worship will not be man-centered, but God-centered and God-directed.

Ah, joy! Another quiz!

Monday, April 16th, 2007

You scored as Elinor Dashwood. You’re Elinor Dashwood, the “sense” of Sense & Sensibility! You tend to hide your emotions, but you feel deeply. You also feel obligated to carry the burden of keeping everyone in your family under control.

Elinor Dashwood


Fanny Price


Anne Elliot


Elizabeth Bennet


Emma Woodhouse


Catherine Morland


Marianne Dashwood


Which Jane Austen heroine are you?
created with

My Tyrannical “To Do” List ;)

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Yesterday was one of those days. At the end of the day, I was disappointed with how much I had gotten done, or rather, hadn’t gotten done. I successfully took one of our young people to do some necessary clothes shopping, did some Costco shopping, got all the laundry for a family of nine done, went over to my mom’s to help out a bit, and cooked a good dinner, but . . . I did not get everything on my “To Do” list done. This feeling of disappointment is a recurring thing, and I want to know why I so often am disappointed in myself.

One cause of my disappointment, I realize, is that I have unrealistic expectations for myself. At the beginning of each day, the world is new and fresh, and anything seems possible. Full of hope, I place so much on the “To Do” list, that any rational being would realize the impossibility of completing it. Why do I do this?

Well, all of the things on the list are good things to accomplish, and are within the scope of my calling as a wife and mother. I want to excel in my calling. In 1 Timothy 5:9,10 I read:

Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,

Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. (Emphasis added.)

I earnestly desire to follow every good work that pertains to my calling. This I should continue to do. What needs to change is my attitude toward myself. Intellectually I assent to the fact that I am a finite creature. I have only a certain level of strength and endurance; I get sick; I require sleep; I need to stop and eat, and so on. However, I do sincerely regret these limitations. Many a time, for example, I have wished that I didn’t need to sleep. “Just think how much more I could get done!”

The Lord enabling me, I acknowledge my creature-hood, my finiteness. As He enables me, I will labor diligently, and then, when it’s time to quit, I purpose to thank Him for that which was done, and not mourn over what didn’t get done.

I will allow myself time to go for a walk, and will not begrudge myself that wee bit of down time which is necessary for my health and well-being. No matter how diligently I work, it will never be completely, perfectly or totally satisfactory. Ecclesiastes 1:15 states,

That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

So, impossibly large “To Do” lists will continue (I don’t want to forget something, after all), but irrational disappointment in myself when all is not done will cease, the Lord willing.

Time to Repost This Blog Entry – Nehushtan, “A Piece of Brass”

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Nehushtan – “A Piece of Brass”
Filed under: Bible Thoughts — September 10, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.
He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
– 2 Kings 18:1-4

In Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the entry for Nehushtan states:

Of copper; a brazen thing, a name of contempt given to the serpent Moses had made in the wilderness (Num 21:8), and which Hezekiah destroyed because the children of Israel began to regard it as an idol and “burn incense to it.” The lapse of nearly one thousand years had invested the “brazen serpent” with a mysterious sanctity; and in order to deliver the people from their infatuation, and impress them with the idea of its worthlessness, Hezekiah called it, in contempt, “Nehushtan,” a brazen thing, a mere piece of brass (2 Kings 18:4).

And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
– 2 Kings 21:8,9

At one time, Moses was commanded of God to make the brass or brazen serpent, and the Lord blessed it to the people as a means of healing. When the people idolized the brazen serpent, godly Hezekiah called it Nehushtan, and was commended for destroying it.

As an application, I take the idolizing of means of grace, such as historical vows, to be a snare to God’s people, as the old brazen serpent made by Moses became to the Israelites. One means of grace to God’s people is the swearing of covenants which more specifically bind to duties. These public social covenants, which are an aid to performing duties, are of great use, as long as they may be used. But when circumstances have changed to such an extent that men can no longer keep them, they must not be idolized, and made to be more than what they are. They are not a representation of God’s covenant of grace. They are not Scripture. They are MEANS OF GRACE.

In the Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 22 Of Lawful Oaths and Vows, Section 3, we read:

Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act; and therein to avouch nothing, but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet is it a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.

The Scripture proof for the italicized portion is Genesis 24:2-9, in which Abraham holds his servant responsible to bring home a wife for Isaac only if the woman is willing to leave her homeland and travel to the land of Canaan. He does not bind the servant to perform that which is impossible.

Then said they, We will restore [them], and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.– Nehemiah 5:12

It was not enough that the priests made a vow. They had to actually be able to do what was promised, and then do it.


This is so much fun :D

Monday, April 9th, 2007
My Fortune Cookie told me:
Small change can often be found under seat cushions.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

This one’s a teeny bit scary:

My Fortune Cookie told me:
You have been selected for a secret mission. You will hear from us again.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

Some Thoughts on Revelation 15:1-4

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

angel-with-trumpet.jpgAnd I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

As I meditated upon this passage of scripture this morning, I started thinking particularly about them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.

Those who are about to execute God’s righteous wrath are the angels. Those who witness this judgment upon the beast and those who follow him are faithful Christians, or them that had gotten the victory over the beast (Rev. 15:2). The commentator Matthew Henry identifies these victorious ones as Christians: (more…)