Creeking John Mahtani

There was excitement at the Grove last Thursday besides studying for finals. My good friend Jon Mahtani has been engaged for quite some time and he has escaped the Grover tradition of being creeked.... the video explains it all.... enjoy

(Jon and his fiancee are getting married next weekend! That is going to be a fun road trip.)


John Owen is my homeboy

"Temptation is like a knife that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or his poison, his existence or his destruction." Owen

Jesus Christ faced temptation and did not sin. That is an amazing truth. Many time we are tempted and we give in solely for the reason that we want to. We want to sin. But Owen, who is a surgeon of the soul, points out that we do not have to give into Sin when we are tempted. I John 4 tells us to that the person who abides in us is stronger than our sinful nature and the Devil. This soundbite from Owen challenges me to pursue righteousness, to hunger, to thirst; that i may be filled. As Jesus faced temptation he learned obedience, not that he was ever disobedient - he learned through experience, what it would be like to look temptation in the eye and cry out no with drops of sweaty blood on his forehead. As Christ did that, I can as well- for Christ abides in me and He is more powerful than this world.

if you see a temptation, see an obstacle and cast it aside looking to the author and perfector of your faith.


C.S Lewis is my buddy

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”


RP Sermons

It is nice seeing that some RP pastors got together to put collections of sermons on the web. I just want to point out two sites containing a plethora of Biblical wisdom. The first is powered by Sermon Audio I really want to point out that author and teacher, Edward Donelly is also on there. (a gold mine my friends, a gold mine). The other one is from the Indiana churches, it is mainly for iPods and other mp3 devices.

I would also like to give a little plug in for my friend Steven Steele (a good irish man) he has been doing work like this for quite some time on his blog.

blessed listening


the walk of the Christian life

Henry Martyn, the brilliant missionary and translator of the last century looked at his conversion four years afterward and said,

"The work is real. I can no more doubt it than I can my own existence. The whole current of my desires is altered, I am walking quite another way, though I am incessantly stumbling in that way."


Sin and the Crown of Life

In my Systematic Theology class we just finished our study on man. The big theological term for this is anthropology. As we were in this discussion we looked at what sin is. Dr. Schaefer described it as “missing the mark with God.” Which I think is a good overall definition that is based on Scripture (see Romans 3). But it lacks a little something. It lacks what sin does. I have often thought on my own personal sins. The conclusion of that reflection has led me to see my sins as the person taking nailing Christ to the Cross.

I remember when The Passion of the Christ came out 3 years ago and seeing one of the interviews that Mel Gibson did with a reporter who asked him “who is nailing Jesus to the Cross in that scene?” And Mel properly responded “I am.” Since hearing that I have pictured myself as the one who swings that hammer because every time one sins they spit at God and despise the great love He has shown this world. Sin is the personal act of rejecting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. It is saying “I do not want you to be God, I want to be god!” When I think of myself and my sins as what killed Christ that leads me to mourn because I recognize my own personal spiritual poverty.

CS. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia, shares a delightful insight into the nature of sin and redemption in the persons of the Pevensee Children. In his development of Edmund we see one who knows the truth and suppresses it. When he goes into Narnia for the second time he despises the coat he wore as it was a ‘ladies coat.’ But Lewis draws our attention to what it signified – it made them look royal. Edmund despised the potential crown that awaited him (though he did not know it awaited him) instead he longed for the crown that the wicked white witch promised him upon his return.

We are creatures created by God to glorify Him. For those who believe in Christ’s name a crown awaits you in heaven. When we sin we say to God “no thanks, I will take my own.”

What Crown will you take?


Speaking to yourself

I am currently reading CJ Maheney's great book Humility: True Greatness (it is short so you can read it in a few days if need be). It is a convicting short read, with many good insights and built upon many champions of the faith. Mahaney quotes men like Owen, Bunyan, Stott, Dever, and Martin Lloyd-Jones.

One tidbit by Dr. Lloyd Jones that he referenes is particularly convicting to me; throughout the course of today I have been meditating on his counsel. Mahaney points out that we are Totally Depraved Sinners, and that we need Christ if we every want to be Humble. Pastor Mahaney forther points out that as sinners we speak sinful thoughts to our hearts if we do not look to the cross... The tidbit that i mentioned earlier is:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in your life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself, instead of talking to yourself?

One thing that i have noticed today is how true it is that when i do not preach the Gospel to myself, I am listening to Satan's evangelist that is within my heart, trying to swoon me over to him. To battle my sinful heart I must preach the Gospel to myself. This is a learning lesson that I have been grasping over the past few months, from working with Pastor Stivason, reading Mahaney's Living the Cross Centered Life, and even now as I continue to grow in Christ.


Above all Earthly Powers Recap

I sit in this chair (a fairly comfy one too) reflecting on what i am reading on this years Desiring God National Conference "Above All Earthly Powers." I am envious of my two good friends Dan and Hallie who spent the last of their honeymoon money on going to this conference. I had to rely on Tim Challies, Josh Harris, and a final recap by CJ Mahaney.

I urge you all to read these selections as talented men of the gospel reflect on what they heard from Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and David Wells. It had to of been very edifying... and i cannot wait for the web broadcasts of Keller's, Carson's and Well's sermon to get here. :-)


Coming to Know Christ

[HT] Girl Talk
Charles Spurgeon, describing the origins of his understanding of the doctrines of grace:

One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, "How did you come to be a Christian" I sought the Lord. "But how did you come to seek the Lord?" The truth flashed across my mind in a moment--I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."


Spurgeon's Conversion

[HT] Josh Harris

How did Charles Haddon Spurgeon come to saving faith in Jesus Christ? Later in his life, Spurgeon took delight in telling the story. It was January 6, 1850 and he was 16 years old. Though he was knowledgeable of the Bible, he had not been born again. He was despairing and desperate to find some comfort for his soul. That Sunday because of heavy snow he couldn’t reach the church he planned to attend and instead wound up at a small Primitive Methodist church.

There were only 15 people present and, because of the weather, there was no preacher. So an uneducated and—by Spurgeon’s own estimation—not-very-bright member of the congregation was forced to give an impromptu sermon. Spurgeon remembered the man as "thin-looking," and either a tailor or shoemaker. He was not impressive in appearance, nor in his delivery of his sermon. According to Spurgeon, he didn’t even pronounce his words correctly as he read Isaiah 45:22, which said, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” I’ll let you hear the rest of the story in Spurgeon’s own words:

“Blessed be God for that poor local preacher. He read his text. It was as much as he could do. He was an ignorant man, he could not say much; he was obliged to keep to his text. Thank God for that. He began, 'Look, that is not hard work. You need not lift your hand, you do not want to lift your finger. Look, a fool can do it. It does not need a wise man to look. A child can do that....Look unto Me. Do not look to yourselves, but look to Me, that is Christ….Look unto Me; I am sweating great drops of blood for you; look unto Me, I am scourged and spit upon; I am nailed to the cross, I die, I am buried, I rise and ascend, I am pleading before the Father’s throne, and all this for you.'

Now that simple way of putting the Gospel had enlisted my attention, and a ray of light had poured into my heart.

Stooping down, he looked under the gallery and said: 'Young man, you are very miserable.' So I was, but I had not been accustomed to be addressed in that way. 'Ah,' said he, 'and you will always be miserable if you don’t do as my text tells you; and that is, Look unto Christ.' And then he called out, with all his might, 'Young man, look; in God’s name look, and look now. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live.'

I did look, blessed be God! I know I looked then and there; and he who but that minute ago had been near despair, had the fullness of joy and hope. The cloud was gone, the darkness rolled away, and in that moment I saw the sun. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard the word Look, I could almost have looked my eyes away. I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith that looks alone to Him.”


Andree Seu on Forgiveness

[HT World Magazine]
She Writes:

"Forgiveness is a brutal mathematical transaction done with fully engaged faculties. It's my pain instead of yours. I eat the debt. I absorb the misery I wanted to dish out on you, and you go scot-free. Beware the forgiveness that is tendered soon after injury; be suspicious. Real forgiveness needs a time lag, for it is wrought in private agony before it ever comes to public amnesty. All true acts of courage are thus done in secret.

Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Church in Manhattan shares the following letter from a man who once had to forgive a woman:

"I forgave her and it took me a whole year and I had to forgive her in small sums over that whole twelve months. I paid those sums whenever I spoke to her and kept myself from rehashing the past. I paid them whenever I saw her with another man and refused self-pity and rehearsal inside for what she'd done to me. I paid them whenever I praised her to others when I really wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments but she never knew them. However, I never knew her payments, but I know she made them. I could tell."

And now the unthinkable: not only to forgive but seek the good. Nature abhors a vacuum and Jesus admits of no middle ground between hate and love. Pray for him."


The Sword of the Spirit

For a few months now I have used an analogy to illustrate the various needs of Scripture. Part of this is accredited to my good friend Ron who is a Musical Therapist at the nursing home that i used to work at.

First we have the dagger of the spirit, something that you can keep in your pocket... easily seen if yu wish, but also very readily concealed for those emergencies. Plus you do not need a concealed weapons permit. This eapon is a favorite for those who do street evangelism and do not want people to see this great and powerful weapon in their hands. (a Pocket New Testament)

Second is the Saber. The Saber was the weapon of choice for the cavalry in the 19th century. Very light and fast.. but also managable in a compact space. This is ideal for ladies who would like a light Bible to carry around instead of carrying around the normal Sword or dagger.

These previous swords of the spirit are classic for 'sneak attacks' on unbelievers because they are easily hid. But also they are very accessible if they are in your purse or car. Our next model is the classic Sword of the Spirit.. The Pew Bible - we all know what these are so it is rather pointless to illustrate with a nice picture.
But this model is the best to train the soldiers of the faith in the Bible drills and other necessities. (a note of reference the author is partial to the ESV or NKJV)

Lastly, there is the biggest model of them all.. this is the study Bible. There are a lot of Study Bibles that are shoddy, with all their notes - this makes them heavy and cumbersome with a lot of unneeded ornateness... but there is one that surpasses them all.. and this is the Claymore... That when someone objects to you or your truth claim... you have this at your side.. with one swipe nothing is able ot stand in the way of this living sword...

Finally what you have all been waiting for: The Claymore of the swords... the Reformation Study Bible



More Spurgeon Quotes

"The hearing of the gospel involves the hearer in responsibility. It is a great privilege to hear the gospel. You may smile and think there is nothing very great in it. The damned in hell know. Oh, what would they give if they could hear the gospel now? If they could come back and entertain but the shadow of a hope that they might escape from the wrath to come? The saved in heaven estimate this privilege at a high rate, for, having obtained salvation through the preaching of this gospel, they can never cease to bless their God for calling them by his word of truth. O that you knew it! On your dying beds the listening to a gospel sermon will seem another thing than it seems now."

"Do you know, my dear unsaved hearer, what God’s estimate of the gospel is? Do you not know that it has been the chief subject of his thoughts and acts from all eternity? He looks on it as the grandest of all his works. You cannot imagine that he has sent his gospel into the world to be a football for you to play with–that you may give it a kick, as Felix did when he said to Paul, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 24:25). You surely cannot believe that God sent his gospel into the world for you to make a toy of it, and to say, as Agrippa said to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28), and then put away all thought of it out of your souls. You cannot even speak of it irreverently without committing a great sin."

"Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul."

"Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted."

"Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching - where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus."

"If God does not save men by truth, he certainly will not save them by lies. And if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival."

"On Christ, and what he has done, my soul hangs for time and eternity. And if your soul also hangs there, it will be saved as surely as mine shall be. And if you are lost trusting in Christ, I will be lost with you and will go to hell with you. I must do so, for I have nothing else to rely upon but the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived, died, was buried, rose again, went to heaven, and still lives and pleads for sinners at the right hand of God."

"We have an unchanging gospel, which is not today green grass and tomorrow dry hay; but always the abiding truth of the immutable Jehovah."

"If the Lord's bearing our sin for us is not the gospel, I have no gospel to preach."

"The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ."

"When we preach Christ crucified, we have no reason to stammer, or stutter, or hesitate, or apologize; there is nothing in the gospel of which we have any cause to be ashamed."


Update: I am currently interning at Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church in Meadville Pennsylvania under the direction of Jeffrey Stivason. (Graduate of Grove City, RPTS, Pittsburth Theological Seminary and a student at Westminster Theological Seminary.) The church website is curently under construction but the address is Covenantrpc.org.

Here is an article that i wrote for Covenant's monthly newsletter (to be published).

I have lived, worked and served among you for the past 10 weeks. I would like to share with you a portion of my walk with God, something that captures my mind and pushes my knees to the ground to bow before the God on high.

I was raised in a covenant home under two godly parents always being taught to serve Christ’s kingdom. That did not mean that my parents pushed me to be a pastor, actually they discouraged it. But why would someone ever want to devote a life of service to being a pastor, or an elder, a deacon, a missionary? Why?

The answer is what makes every believer love Christ, that is the gospel. Because of Christ’s work, those who call on Christ’s name will see heaven.

We only know of three men from Scripture who had a glimpse of heaven. One was Stephen the deacon. Who when he was stoned looked up and saw "the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." Another was the Apostle John on the Isle of Patomos, where he wrote the book of Revelations.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

The other man was Paul whom we will come to in a moment, let me beg you to consider a question posed by pastor John Piper,

The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

From these two passages of Scripture we are told that what makes heaven a place that we want to be, which is the presence of Christ, the glory of God. Jesus will walk among us. Which is awesome! Paul tells us of his picture of heaven in 1 Corinthians 15, regarding the resurrection. (read that glorious chapter)

Imagine for a moment that you are in heaven and your name is read out of the book of life. And you see your precious savior ahead of you and you run with great ease and quickness to Him. When you are before Him you give Christ a warm embrace…. As your hands are on his back you feel the scars of the whip tearing into his body.. you pause and take a step back to look at His hands… to find the holes of the nails of the cross… and you realize once again what He did for you.

Later that ‘day’ you walk into the city of Zion, striding into the sanctuary of Yahweh. As you enter you see every saint, every believer that has ever lived… John Calvin, Augustine, Athanasius, JM Boice, every believer that has ever lived. And you look and see friends from church and their new bodies given to them without any of their handicaps. And the whole congregation begins to sing praises to God. Then a man walks by you.. you see scars on his back… and they stick out to you because no one else has any scars of their life on this planet.. .but this man has scars from a crown of thorns, nails, a whip and the bare rough cross.

Paul exhorts us to believe in the resurrection, saying that it is essential to our faith. (1 Corinthians 15:12ff) If there was no resurrection of the dead, then Christ was not raised from the dead. If he was not raised, then all we have is the cross, which is a truly horrific picture. For that is where Christ became a curse for His children, in and of itself there is no salvation. The resurrection is what gives men life. What makes the cross pleasant is the fact that God poured out all His wrath upon Himself, and when that was finished the Father raised the Son from the dead… It is where Christ bore the punishment for our sins… and later risen from the dead.

This is the gospel, that God the Son became man, later crucified, buried and then rose from the dead for those that call upon His name.

Why do I want to give my life to Christ? I hope at this time, the answer is obvious. May you see Christ’s blood as precious, that is the reason my life is not my own… To end, a prayer from The Valley of Vision,

"Blessed Lord Jesus,
Before your cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin, my iniquity that caused you to be made a curse, the evil that excites the serveity of divine wrath.
Show me the enormity of my guilt by the crown of thorns, the pierced hands and feet, the bruised body, the dying cries. Your blood is the blood of incarnate God, its infinite, its value beyond all thought. Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price
Sin is my malady, my monster my foe, my viper born in my birth, alive in my life strong in my character, dominating my faculties, following me as a shadow, intermingling with my every thought, my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul.
Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light!? The air supply breath? The earth bear my tread? Its fruits nourish me? its creatures subserve my ends?
Yet your compassions yearn over me, your heart hastens to my rescue, your love endured my curse, your mercy bore my deserved stripes.
Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation, bathed in your blood, tender of conscience, triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation."


A Pastor-theologian that has impacted my thinking on the church is Dr. Philip Ryken. I first heard him via the web on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelical website. [Alliancenet.org] I am currently reading his book City on a Hill which my father bought me last year at the Reformation Society Conference in Pittsburgh last September.

Dr. Ryken writes to pastors and church officers, the purpose of his book is to 'reclaim the Biblical Pattern fo the Church in the 21st Century.' Trumpeting Matthew 5:14, "you are a CITY on a hill." Understanding this as a Puritan, We are a city that is visible to the whole world. This is an amazing truth to meditate upon.

Ryken properly suggests that there are eight notions for the church to follow today. They are as follows:
1. expository preaching
2. corporate worship
3. Fellowship
4. Pastoral Care
5. Discipleship
6. Missions and Evangelism
7. Mercy Ministry
8. The Gospel

Each of these mesh with the nine marks of a healthy chruch by Nine Marks Ministries. The Word of God is to be preached in a clear expository manner revealing the truth of Scripture. There is to be congregational worship honoring God for who and what He is in the manner that He has ordained. Christians are not to be lone rangers of the faith but instead a triumphant army that conquers all things. The church is also to be led by pastors caring for the soul, through ways of sharing the gospel in evangelism, missions, mercy, and discipleship.

Ryken also offers a congregational prayer that confesses of our shortcomings in many manners... read it and take heed of what the Lord has commanded you .

Father, we have sinned. We confess that we do not listen to your Word. We read it and hear it, but we do not obey it. We say, “That was a great sermon!” but it doesn’t make a difference, because we are not willing to change.

We confess that we do not worship you the way you deserve to be worshiped. We are more concerned about what we get out of it than what we put it into it. We are often distracted. Our lips keep moving, but our hearts are cold and still.

We confess that we do not love one another very much. We do not want to be bothered with other people’s problems. We think the worst about others, rather than the best.

We confess that we do not always fulfill our responsibilities to one another. We are harsh when we should be gentle, and when we need to be firm, we lack the courage to say or do what is right.

We confess that we are not willing to pay the high cost of discipleship. We try to be as worldly as we think we can get away with. We prefer to squeeze our faith in around the edges of life, rather than to let you stand at the center to control everything we are and have.

We confess that we lack passion for evangelism. We think of missions as something someone else does, somewhere else, rather than something you have called us to do right here and now. We lack the courage to proclaim the gospel. We are afraid to talk about spiritual things, for fear of what others will think.

We confess that we lack compassion. We think it is important to help the poor, provided that someone else actually does the helping.

In the name of Jesus, we ask forgiveness for these and all our sins.


The Dearest Place on Earth... Who would have thought that the church would be known as such. Many people think of the church as the most rotten place on earth. So why did Spurgeon describe the church in such a manner?

He knew that in the church God is there. Fulfilling Christ's promise, "when two or three are gathered in my name I will be there." What makes the church so special is that Jesus Christ is there, the Father is there, and the Holy Spirit is as well. Making God's word come alive to us and resonate within our hearts. This entity is composed of men and women, whoever believes in Christ as their Lord and Savior, and it is Christ's bride.

The Church is designed by God to be the agent of Kingdom renewal in the World not only renewing individual hearts but also renewing forms and structures in society, being redemptive agents of global shallom.

It is in the church where you see sinners become brothers, and when you have a brother lose his way for awhile be welcomed back and carried along with love and care. Change happens because Christ is there.


New Book on the Westminster Confession

Crown and Covenant Publications are publishing a new book on the Westminster Confession of Faith by Dr. Wayne Spear. Dr. Spear was the Professor of Systematic Theology for 35 years at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. He has written Talking to God: The theology of Prayer, which is also published by C&C. It is a good read and i look forward to reading this commentary on the WCF.

Here is a Book review by Jared Olivetti.


The Top few books I want to read

Encountering Religious Pluralism: The challenge to Christian Faith & Mission by Harold Netland. (IV Press) -- I have to read it for contemporary theology, just need to get around to it.

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Written by J.I Packer and IV Press

Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People. By William Metzger and Published by Intervarsity Press (again)


MacArthur on Larry King Live


[HT] Challies Dot Com


Trueman on Psalms

Mark Loughridge is reading Wages of Spin by Carl Trueman at the moment.

HE writes..

"As well as that, he touches on the same issue in the next article, The Marcions have landed. Here's a great quote which made me laugh. I like this guy - he doesn't just make his point, he makes it in style:

Then, in our church practice, we need to take the Old Testament more seriously. It astounds me, given the overwhelming use of psalms as central to gathered worship in the first four centuries, the absolute importance given to psalmody for the first two centuries of the post-Reformation Reformed churches, and the fact that the Book of Psalms is the only hymn book which can claim to be universal in its acceptance by the whole of Christendom and utterly inspired in all of its statements - it astounds me, I say, that so few psalms are sung in our worship services today.

Moreover, often nothing seems to earn the scorn and derision of others more than the suggestion that more psalms should be sung in worship. Indeed, the last few years have seen a number of writers strike out against exclusive psalmody. Given that life is too short to engage in pointless polemics, I am left wondering which parallel universe these guys come from, where the most pressing and dangerous worship issue is clearly that people sing too much of the Bible in their services. How terrifying a prospect that would be! Imagine: people actually singing songs that express the full range of human emotion in their worship using words of which God has explicitly said, 'These are mine!' Back here on Planet Earth, however, there is generally precious little chance of overloading on sound theology in song in most evangelical churches as the Marcion invasion is pretty much total and unopposed in the sphere of worship. Yet I for one prefer Athanasius to Marcion as a patristic thinker and, in his letter to Marcellinus, he gives one of the most beautiful and moving arguments for psalms in worship ever penned. It is a pity more have not taken his words to heart.""

[HT] 3:17 - Mark Loughridge


Do Christians throw people out of their congregations?



Is There a Rise of Radical Islam??

"Unlike radical Islam.. You will not kill to spread your faith, you will die to spread it." - Pastor John Piper.

This week Grove City College hosted a conference entitled, Mr Jefferson Goes to the Middle East. It was a fantastic conference with quite the lineup of speakers (just to name a few), Dr. Paul Kengor, Dr. Paul Marshall, Michael Novak and Daniel Pipes. As the title of the conference indicates the notion in question was democratic prospects is in the Middle East.

Lectures ranged from the effect of free markets, different interpretations of the Koran, the rise of the caliphate and a warning to neo conservatives.

A question that was raised several times throughout the pass two days was: Is there a rise of Radical Islam directly because of Democracy? Many men and women seemed to indicate and professed that they thought so. A possible example of this is in the past two weeks we saw a Christian man who for the better part of 2 decades was jailed and almost sentenced to death, only acquitted because he was found 'mentally ill.' This leads me to think more pessimisticly about whether or not democracy will work in the Middle East than I have been.

In both constitutions in the newly formed democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a simple clause submitting to Islamic law, being very careful not to contradict it. This brings up the question, does Islam allow for a democratic government? Many scholars these past two days said that Islam potentially provides a foundation for political freedom.


a profession of faith

What is the signficance of our public profession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? I suppose i could ask the question what is the significance of saying you are married or single, American or British, male or female. All of those are impotant but they fall short of stressing the importance of identifying yoruself as a Christian. That is exactly what a profession of faith is. In Paul's epistle to Timothy, we are told of the profession this young elder made. (it is as follows)

1 Timothy 6: 12-16
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time--he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Timothy professed and covenanted to keep the great commandment (Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.) free from reproach until Christ's second coming.

Meditate on this passage of Scripture which is nothing less than an elder's profession of faith from the apostolic era.


An Amazing Gospel Truth

I am currently reading Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change for my Biblical Counseling Class and let me say that this book is fantastic. As a young man aspiring to be a minister of the Word it is refreshing to see someone bring the gospel of truth into discipleship and drawing an amazing picture of transformation in a believers life. The subtitle points this out beautifully, rephrased it could say "People need change and God uses these people to change His bride to be more like Him."

One point that the author Paul David Tripp makes is that Jesus Christ came to this world to bear our sins and to identify with us. That is the entire point of the incarnation! That is amazing... Jesus identifies with our sins. For example when we think that God cannot possibly relate to what I am going through the truth is He most certainly does! Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days and nights till He shedded blood. We might ponder where is someone we can talk to in the midst of a struggle and as we think about what Christ did on the Cross for us we realize that He was in exactly the same situation!! He was abandoned by all His friends (who were powerless to do anything) and even by His Father.

Think of not having either of your parents with you for a certain amount of time. There will come a time that young men will leave his fathers hosue to be one with his wife. But not many of us have a situation forced upon us that one of our parents or both are gone. [ a point by Tripp but expounded upon by me.]

This is one of the many amazing Gospel Truths in Scripture! Jesus Christ relates to everything I am going through (even relationship problems... His bride is the church and she does not listen to Him that much at all).


difference between two religions

Muslim Man Accidentally Divorces Wife


[HT] Justin Taylor - Between Two Worlds


The Power of Worship

If you are from a reformed church or even a confessional evangelical background you have certainly heard something like "the worship wars." It seems the significance of worship has been lost, in many congregations catering to the masses [seeker services]. Listen to RB Kuiper as he tells you what worship was to him:

"How lofty a conception of corporate worship Scripture rpesents!! when Gods people assemble for worship they enter into the place where God dwells.....God meets them, and they meet God. They find themselves face to face with none other than God himself. Their worship is an intimate transaction between them and their God."

To Kuiper worship is nothing less than a celebration of our eternal life before the living God, when we are drawn into His most holy presence. A parallel can be drawn here to the tabernacle in the Old testament. In the Israelite society the priests went into the Holy place and the Holy of Holies to pray for the people that they might be redeemed. When Christ came and died for our sins we all became priests and when we worship it is like going into the holy of holies to see God. It is there that we encounter Him in all His fullness and Glory. And what we do and say in worship must point to God in all the fullness of His glory.

This has a direct bearing on Evangelism. Many times we might feel guilty about inviting people to church with us because we might feel embarrassed or something like that, because our church is not entertaining. How we worship is to reflect who God is and all He has done for us, and to show who God is to those who both know Him and do not. For those who are Christians, to encourage them in their daily walk with God, and those who are outside of Christ that they might see His love for His people and come running to Him in repentance.

a question to ponder..... does your worship show who God is? and do you personally show who God is in how you worship... is there joy in your worship or is it only 'going through the motions?'


eaten by cannibals

In 1852, a man by the name John Paton left his comforts at home in Scotland to go to little Pacific islands called New Hebrides. (Named after islands off the coast of Scotland.) When he was leaving his congregation a dear old friend (and supporter of Paton) came to him and said... (and exploded with great passion and love for Paton).

"The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!"
[missionaries sent there 19 years earlier suffered this death.]

But to this Paton responded:

Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer."

What is the Difference between being eaten by Cannibals and eaten by worms? The manner by which we are judged is how have we lived for God's glory? Patons answer reveals his purpose for going to the Pacific.

How we die glorifies God. Who ever thought that Cannibalism would?


Fathers and Sons

Lately i have been impressed by what is being said by CJ Mahaney on the Together for the Gospel Blog. If you do not know about this blog it is a must see! Seeing 4 of the most prominent reformed evangelicals thinking and discussing various issues together is pretty amazing stuff.

The current conversation is about raising sons especially in regard to playing sports and a passion for church. Both of which resonate very close to my heart and it is good thinking material for me to dwell on as I think through the things my father and I did and also more so when i am going to have my own sons. CJ writes with humility and seeks to glorify God in raising his son.

5 major points that he makes to instill a love for the church are:
* Greeting--serve others by cheerfully greeting them. This also helps him put to death selfishness and overcome the fear of man.

* Serving--love for the church will grow as he serves in the church

* Encouraging--take special note of the army of folks joyfully serving each Sunday and express his appreciation to them. The Savior defines true greatness as humbly serving others for the glory of God...

* Singing--I want to see my son singing sincerely and passionately during worship. Singing is an appropriate response to the Savior for His amazing grace. A parent can discern a lot about their child’s heart by the presence or absence of participation and passion in worship.

* Learning--I believe in the importance of hearing expository preaching as a primary means of grace for the Christian. The preaching event must be a priority for our children. Therefore, listening carefully and responding appropriately to the sermon is very important.


Do you ever wake up in the morning and realize how much you need the Gospel? Christians should think of the gospel of Grace daily. To think and meditate upon the Cross is something that every man is called to do. To think of who we are and to think of what God has done for us. And the thought of something unholy in Gods sight is something that should cause one to think to himself, how can i sin against God?

Are you willing to nail yourself to the cross instead of giving in to the pleasures of the flesh? Jesus Christ resisted temptation to the point of shedding blood and no sin, no unholy figment, faction - was found within Him.


The Power of Song.

Sometimes songs are able to express just what one is thinking, especially me. In the past week or so this song has been in my mind a lot. (plus i have been waking up to it.)

Casting Crown - the Voice of Truth
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes to climb out of the boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
To the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. 'Boy, you'll never win!'
"You'll never win"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what i would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand befoe a giant
With just a Sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Whishing they'd have had the strength to satnd

But the gian't calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on tell me
Time and time again "boy, you'll neve win!
"You'll never win"

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves don't seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When i stop and listen to the sound of jesus
Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth



Book Review: The Enemy Within

Romans 7:19-21 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

What is the nature of Sin? Sin is likened to a rhinoceros in a restaurant. As G.K. Chesterson says, "If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever." It is the same as in the body of the believer, God has promised us with His son Jesus Christ that we are free from sin, in fact we are ded to sin! The power f sin leads to death, and the aim of the gospel of grace is to glorify God and free us from the reign of the beast within us. The nature of sin has great contempt for God. And as God's chosen children we are called to exterminate the presence of sin remaining in us. Kris Lungaard writes in his book "The Enemy Within," killing sin is like a student in biology class when the teacher calls the students to dissect a live wolverine. When you go to kill it, there is thrashing and gnawing of teeth. Sin does not want to be killed and yet when you do so it hurts and the battle to do so is long. There are two chief ways to kill the sin within you.

1.) pray to God with God; focus on God for who He is in all His majesty.
2.) read the Word with the Word; the word is the Lord Jesus Christ, and as we read the revealed word we read it with the assistance of the Salvation of our souls.

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

Leahy and Spurgeon on the Cross

“Here in the cross is where every enemy of joy is overcome: divine wrath, as he becomes a curse for us; real guilt, as he becomes forgiveness for us; lawbreaking, as he becomes righteousness for us; estrangement from God, as he becomes reconciliation for us; slavery to Satan, as he becomes redemption for us; bondage to sin, as he becomes liberation for us; pangs of conscience, as we becomes cleansing for us; death, as he becomes the resurrection for us; hell, as he becomes eternal life for us.” (Spurgeon)

"There is an error to avoid, the danger of seeing the loving obedience of Christ as primarily and exclusively for the sake of man, when, in fact, it was primarily out of love for God that he accepted the cross (Heb. 10:7). Dr. Geerhardus Vos stresses that our Lord's Messiahship was "absolutely God-centered." "Jesus," says Vos, "accepted the cross out of a motive of love for God even more than, and before He accepted it because of His love for man...In dying, as in all else He did, He hallowed God's name." This is a truth too often overlooked, and it in no way detracts from the wonder that Christ loves each one of his people with all of his love." (Leahy)


Evangelism and Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies, and if they perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go there unwarned or unprayed for [Charles Haddon Spurgeon]

Christians are called to preach the gospel to themselves daily. This gospel requires mankind to love God with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That includes a resposibility to preach the gospel to those who are lost.

Pray for those who are lost, yet do more than that... warn them.



::about the site

Thank you for stopping by Relentless Grace. It is my desire that as you read these words on this site, you will be encouraged in your own personal walk with Christ, if you do not have one - I hope that you may come to know Christ more fully and deeply in a way that you can only experience when He is your lover and savior. May Christ be glorified and may you see the Cross and the relentless grace shown to sinners.

::about me

My name is Robbie Schmidtberger, and am the worst sinner that I know. Living in the Pittsburgh area is an eye opening experience as I learn daily of how much mankind needs redemption. My fulltime job is a student at Grove City College as a religion major. On the side I am an assitant to Dr. Iain Duguid, who is one of the best preachers I have ever heard. A lot of what you read on this site are ideas from books (textbook and fun books), sermons, classes and daily experiences as I seek to know Christ more fully and trust in His precious work, along with a personal twist of my life. (movies, friends and job related things)

::about the name

Admittingly I got the phrase from one of Dr. Duguid’s book titles. (Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace, published by P&R) As I read the book and studied God’s word I came to see God’s love for His people as relentless. He pursues us and His commitment to His bride is unwavering, even after she runs away and worships money, sex and pride. He holds me in His hand and refines me very carefully that I may be a reflection of His being and character.

This grace that God gives us is amazing. God bestows Grace upon those He loves and the manner in which He does is like a hound chasing a boar in a great medieval hunt, this grace that is shown to unworthy men and women, of which I am one of them… this grace is nothing less than Relentless. Welcome to Relentless Grace.


Packer on Evangelism

...Forcing tactics can only do damage, perhaps incalculable damage, to men's souls... Evangelism must rather be conceived as a long-term enterprise of patient teaching and instruction, in which God's servants seek simply to be faithful in delivering the gospel message and applying it to human lives, and leave it to God's Spirit to draw men to faith through this message in his own way and at his own speed...

...Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communcation, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action...


The End of the Spear - Review

Last night, along with 5 others, I went to see The End of the Spear. This is the movie that Evangelical Christendom has been telling pastors to cancel church to go see this movie. (Sounds strikingly similar to "The Passion of the Christ" two years ago).

The movie itself is an abbreviated tale of the missionary Nate Saint, his son Steve Saint and Mincayani, the Indian who killed Nate Saint. From an artistic viewpoint, I would argue that it was not well done. The movie had the feeling that it was rushed, lacking a climax (to the point of feleing anticlimatic), with several other flaws. The first 90 minutes of the movie seemed to build up to the point of where Mincayani would profess Christ as his savior (as he did in life). Instead it skipped that portion of life and went to 1994 where Steve Saint found out that this man killed his father. That moment felt like the climax, but the movie did not stress that as the "rising action" and deceived the audience to suspect something else instead of what it delivered.

To be postive however, the 3 men who were the focus of the movie were developed very well. The supporting actors were there to support and add to the three main characters. I think that the movie would be greatly improved if they would tell us why the missionaries were in Ecuador. The gospel of Jesus Christ was hardly mentioned at all where these people were seen to be there to stop the killing (mainly).

in conclusion: a movie that promised so much, delivered so little. A great moving story, but it missed the opportunity it had to make it brilliant.


D.M Lloyd-Jones on Pastors

“I want to get back to the discipline of the church—
discipline for the minister as for the members—
and to recapture the glorious conception of the Christian life,
that men may feel that there is no honour which can be conferred upon them so great as their church membership,
and that ministers may feel that there is nothing in life to be compared with the preaching of this glorious and incomparable gospel.”


Charles H. Spurgeon on Evangelism

"The Holy Spirit will move them by first moving you. If you can rest without their being saved, they will rest too. But if you are filled with an agony for them, if you cannot bear that they should be lost, you will soon find that they are uneasy too. I hope you will get into such a state that you will dream about your child or your hearer perishing for lack of Christ, and start up at once and begin to cry, 'God, give me converts or I die.' Then you will have converts."