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Read the Puritans, Love the Puritans

YINKAHDINAY

Every now and then I still run into prejudice against the Puritans amongst Reformed folk.  I deeply lament this.  Hundreds of years later, there is still much of value that can be gleaned from these Reformed giants of old.

I was introduced to the Puritans while in university.  An online friend from South Africa moved to Edmonton to study.  He had a nearly complete collection of the Puritan Paperbacks published by Banner of Truth.  He got me hooked.  My copy of Thomas Watson’s classic All Things for Goodwas a gift from this brother — still a treasured gift and one of my favourite books.

We discussed theology and the Puritans endlessly in those days.  We talked about the prejudices that many people have against the Puritans.  He pointed me to two books that dispel the myths surrounding these men.  These books are still worthwhile and I want to recommend…

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The Lord’s Supper is a:

1. Celebration with thanksgiving: “and when he had given thanks” (v. 24a).  If Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with gratitude to His Father, should we not also celebrate the Lord’s Supper with gratitude to Jesus for what He has done for us? Through the finished work of Christ we have received eternal life.

2. Commemoration of Christ’s death: “Do this in remembrance of me” (v. 24b & 25b). In the Lord’s Supper we remember Christ, specifically His atoning death. Christ died that we might live forever.

3. Command: “Do this” (vv. 25-26). It is an ordinance; and thus, believers in Christ must participate in this sacrament. A person who claims to be a Christian and constantly refuses to partake of the Lord’s Supper is living in disobedience to God.

4. Consecration: “Let a person examine himself” (vv. 27-30). The Lord’s Supper is…

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First 10 Things I Will Do On Day 1, if I Am Elected Pope

pope-benedict1. Declare an ex cathedra reinterpretation of the Canons of the Council of Trent.  It turns out that it really says, those who say that Justification is NOT by Faith Alone are anathema.  Must have been a typo.  Also, ban all future ex cathedra statements.

2. Schedule several speed-dating sessions, invite all priests and nuns.  On the way out have them sign up for pre-marital counseling.

3. Clarify that the Real Presence in Holy Communion means Spiritual presence received by faith.

4. Apologize to Muslims for past apologies when my predecessor unfortunately apologized for saying we have important differences.  It turns out we do.

5. Get a new hat.  Preferably something with a wide brim and not so pointy on top, like with a quarterhorse crease.

6. Narrow sacraments down from seven to two.

7. Start a new department, the Congregation of Preachers.  Hire itinerant preachers from the likes of Joel Beeke, Paul Washer, Sinclair Ferguson, David P Murray, Joseph Pipa, Al Mohler, RC Sproul, Bill Shishko, Terry Johnson, Mark Dever, Kevin De Young, and Ligon Duncan as itinerant preachers to make rounds all over Christendom, especially cathedrals in major cities.

8. Remove and bury all the skulls, pig and goat bones on display encased and enshrined around the premises.  Creepy!

9. Call a solemn day of fasting and public repentance for St. Bartholomew’s Day.

10. Plan out my coming year on the calendar of what to be researching in the Vatican library and hire a Latin professor from the Vatican’s Pontifical University as my private tutor.  Why not?

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Free Online English Translation of the Staten Bijbel

Thanks, Wes!

YINKAHDINAY

SV Genesis

Dr. John Byl has an excellent post over here on the Dutch Statenvertaling.  This was a Bible translation commissioned by the Synod of Dort, 1618-19.  It included copious notes.  An English translation of this was published in 1657.  You can find find free downloads of the various Bible books at this site.  According to PRDL, the rare book collection of Dallas Theological Seminary should also have a copy accessible online, but for some reason the link is not working.

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YINKAHDINAY

Lady Jane Grey, Simonetta Carr, Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012.  Hardcover, 64 pages, $18.00.

Like many of you, my family and ecclesiastical roots are in the Netherlands.  As a result, I tend to know a lot about Dutch church history and comparatively little about happenings across the North Sea.  Prior to reading this book, I knew nothing about Lady Jane Grey, though I did know something of some of the other characters involved in her life such as Henry VIII and Edward VI.  This book, written for children, is an excellent way to expand our church history horizons.

Lady Jane Grey briefly took the throne of England after the death of the Protestant boy-king Edward VI in 1553.  It was his wish that she would rule instead of his step-sister Mary.   Lady Jane Grey was a Protestant too; she loved the gospel and would have strengthened the work…

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They omitted part of the tweet, but it was nice to get a mention on the CNN belief blog. Indeed, God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. I intend to write a new blog post addressing the Aurora shooting shortly. Our thoughts and prayers go with the victims and their families. This was a heinous crime.

CNN Belief Blog

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) — Where was God in Aurora?

It’s a fresh take on an age-old question: Why does God allow suffering, natural disasters or if you believe in it evil?

We put the question to Twitter on Tuesday and got some starkly different responses.

“In short, God was in complete control, exercising His will,” wrote @PastorRileyF, who leads a church in Bethune, Colorado.

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Is there such a thing as a Christian who is not a member of a local church? Read this article to find out.

“Does God’s Word Command Believers to Join the Visible Church?”

by Dr. Allen C. Tomlinson, Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Merrimack, New Hampshire.

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Letter from the trail

Greetings from Him who causes the spiritual growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love! (Eph 4:16)  This is Pastor Riley Fraas.  It is with joy and anticipation that I am getting ready to fulfill this ministry to which God has called me at Hope Congregational Church in Bethune, Colorado.  Many prayers and encouraging words go with me, as well as the verbal challenges and warnings I heard from my dear brothers in the faith at my ordination one week ago, as they set me apart for the work to which God has called me, shortly before I set out for Colorado.  These words of encouragement, challenge, and warning are precious to me, and I will always carry them with me.  As I type we are at a stop along the way.

Hope Congregational Church has a rich and blessed history of faithfulness to God and His word, of faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, and obedience after His example.  It is a history to love and cherish as we look forward to what blessings God still has in store for us as a church!  Let us give thanks to God for the past, in faith that He who has blessed before will continue to bless us!  My hope is that we can draw from this rich past and find a renewed appreciation for that tradition and heritage of Hope Congregational Church which is firmly rooted in Holy Scripture, as we look to the present and to days ahead.

God is now giving us an opportunity to examine ourselves as a church.  I so much look forward to getting to know our life together as a church, and our spiritual walk as we follow Christ together.  As we do so, there are several things which we ought to continue to emphasize, which have always been an integral part of community life at Hope Congregational Church, but which in times of transition like this can provide a renewed focus:

The Word

When the Word of God is read, studied, contemplated, (and especially) preached, (Romans 10:14-17) God works in the lives of his people to make them more like Jesus.  He does this by his Spirit who shines a light in their souls to comprehend and apply what is taught in God’s Holy Word.  The Word is not dead, but living—dividing the bone from the marrow, exposing the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts, and performing surgery to remove all obstacles to our growth in the Lord in faith and holiness.  God uses this same word to convince and convert those dead sinners who do not yet know Him, bringing them from death to life.

Prayer

Prayer to the Father in Jesus’ name is a powerful instrument because God has promised to answer it, and he is the most powerful of all!  Prayer is essential to the life of Christians individually, and to the body of Christ as a whole precisely because it is the Holy Spirit who gives life.  God is pleased when His people acknowledge this utter dependence upon Him and plead for His favor.  (James 5:16)  The Bible not only commands us to pray, but it also gives us specific examples and guides to help us learn to pray as we should, like for example the Lord’s Prayer, which is both a prayer and a guide/outline for prayer.  (Matthew 6:9-13)  It is critical that we as a church spend time in prayer together, learn to pray together using God’s instructions in the Bible, and pray for one another as well as those who do not know Him.

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

These two God-given sacraments are means that God has given for His people to be reminded and assured of their salvation in Jesus Christ and of all His spiritual gifts and blessings in the New Testament.  They place a dividing line between the body of Christ and the world, and provide a format for entrance into the church (Baptism) and a regular rhythm for continuing growth in Christ (the Supper).  We can’t expect to be able to get very far in spiritual growth if we devalue or misuse them (in other words, use them differently from Christ’s instructions in the Bible.)

If you’ve noticed that these are the basics of church life, you are right!  These are the basics!  Let us never forget that God works powerfully and mightily through His Spirit in those ordinary and common activities which we do in faithful obedience to Him on a regular basis.  If church renewal and revival is ever to occur, it is by diligently using these means that God has given us to draw closer to Him and to be a witness in our community, trusting the results to Him!

Blessings to all of you and we hope to see you very soon, Lord willing!

Pastor Riley

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Flyer for new sermon series in Bethune, Colorado

       WHO IS JESUS?

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