...about things that interest me and are (hopefully) edifying!

But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases. Psalm 115:3

Soli Deo Gloria!!


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Why Christianity is the superior worldview

Christianity, particularly the reformed branches, is by far the most consistent and reasonable worldview. It can answer the Big Questions and gives/enables a purposeful existence.

Compare Christianity's answers to any other worldview:

Why is there something rather than nothing?

All things have been made through and for the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

What is the purpose of the universe?

To reflect the glory and majesty of God to humanity through Jesus Christ.

What is the purpose of humanity/why are we here?

To glorify God through Jesus Christ as objects of Justice/Wrath or objects of Mercy/Grace.

How do you explain human nature?

Human nature facilitates humanity's purpose and justifies God's wrath as well as magnifies the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

What happens to a person at death?

All humanity will be judged by God through Jesus Christ. Those that are covered by His righteousness will receive mercy and enter into eternal communion with God in Heaven. Those that are not will experience His eternal wrath in Hell.

How do you determine right and wrong?

God has embedded a certain moral law within humanity, that is summarized as “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

How do you know that you know?

Humanity can only have certainty by the Word of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A few high level thoughts for church music leaders

by JD Longmire

Church music leadership is not complicated, but it is tricky and requires due consideration. Here are a couple of thoughts that I try and keep in my mind as I prepare and lead.

Pick music with intentionality - not just in terms of subject matter (very important!), but also keep in mind the “shape” of the service - lead off with exuberant music to engage and excite, and gradually taper down to more contemplative songs to focus into prayer and the word. For example - Your Grace is Enough, Your Love Makes Me Sing, God of Wonders, Amazing Grace. In terms of intensity - High, Med-High, Med-Low, Low.

Don’t feel like you have to introduce or explain the music - if you have chosen well, it speaks for itself. Invite the congregation into worship and get going! Then taper or dovetail the songs together - doesn’t mean they all have to be in the same key (although that helps), but don’t let a lot of time sag between each song - jump right in - and don’t feel like it has to be a long intro - just make sure you have set the key and go.

It is critical to understand that over-performing can distract, but under-committing can lose engagement. Stay focused on what you are there to do - worship the Lord and lead others into worship - you are not responsible for their commitment to worship, but you are responsible for demonstrating a proper attitude as an example. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own worship that your expression and movement is inward focused, nor should you get so caught up in exhorting that you become a parody.

Sound level and quality is an important component, too - whether you are solo leading or if you have a small or large ensemble - the idea is to have the sound robust enough to match the size group you are leading. Too soft and you lose the congregation, too loud and you overwhelm them. It is important to never override the vocals with the instruments - the text sets the context of worship - don’t lose them!

In terms of song selection, don’t feel like you have to introduce a bunch of new songs frequently. In fact, it is best to have a large group of familiar songs in the repertoire (traditional as well as more contemporary - also in medium range keys), in order to most effectively engage the larger group. Introduce news songs sparingly and very intentionally - songs that will have enduring meaning and “engagability”.

It is important not to over-complicate. Simple, direct and accessible worship is honoring to God and pleasing to Him, as well. Worshiping in spirit and truth is achievable by simply and effectively aligning the intentions and activities of praise with the proclamation of the Word and the unity of the Spirit. We don’t have to force engagement, but we do have a responsibility to encourage it.

Hope this is helpful and richest blessings in Christ!

Friday, January 14, 2011

JD Longmire's Theology Folder

Here is a collection of documents and other artifacts I have collected/developed over the last few years around doctrine/theology - more to come - Soli Deo gloria!

JD's Theology Folder

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Wrote this to a friend - thought it might be useful to others:

You mentioned in conversation that there was no condition except "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" in which you can lose your salvation.

I'd like to orient your thoughts about that :) - and to make sure we are starting from the right place - some Scripture:

Mark 3:29 "whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"
Luke 12:10b "the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven"

Romans 1
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Psalm 14
1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
2The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
3They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

John 14:16-18 (English Standard Version)
16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Bottom line - fallen humanity's default state is to deny truth in blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) - unless God intervenes and changes a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, we'd all be lost forever.

God's gracious gift of salvific faith - a one time deposit purchased by the blood of Christ - eternally seals us by the Holy Spirit - thus eternally removing us from our blasphemous state.

We can't ever lose our salvation, because it does not belong to us.

Psalm 3:8
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lord's Prayer - Mallotte - Guitar Chords

link to google doc

The Lord’s Prayer - Mallote
Transposed by JD Longmire
(Give me some love if you repost - this was hard!)

4/4 time

G - for 3 beats
D G
Our Father
C D C Am D
Which art in heaven
G C G/B
Hallowed be thy name
Em Bm
Thy kingdom come
Em Bm G C
Thy will be done on earth
Bm Em Am G
As it is in heaven (interlude)
C G C G Em C G (end interlude)
C G C G Em C G
Give us this day our daily bread
Em Bm
And forgive us our debts
Em F# Em F#
As we forgive our debtors
Bm D Am
And lead us not into temptation
C#m Am-D
But deliver us from evil
G C Am
For thine is the kingdom
C Am
And the power
C D G--- Em C-D G C G C G Em C G
And the glory, forev----er, A---men

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dethroned - by my friend, LA Lamar

Dethrone
King takes rook, HIS truth captures my lies
The omniscient one has calculated my demise
The moves I see are clear as day
Nervously, anticipating the final blow to L.A...
Staring into the marble at the reflection of a stranger
Spider sense is tingling, in the presence of my danger
Forever running hard to escape what awaits
Stuck in a zugzwang of which my opponent mates
Allowing King L.A. to reign was my first blunder
His nature from my ideology of him I tried to sunder
His depraved gambit & my ruination to accept
Willfully foolish or worst inept
Running out of time, I hear HIS clock’s cadence
Absent of free will, or choice but providence
My king lays prostrate, by the light of HIS brilliance
On my face, I obtain a glimpse of the magnificence of HIS countenance
Once my bĂȘte noire now my Sovereign Lord
A released slave to myself for which I whored
Now with HIS strength I stand erect, gripping my Sword
A gracious, submissive piece on HIS side of the chessboard

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Oil reaches the MS Gulf Coast Islands






This is on the north side in the middle of Horn island and also at the east tip. You can see the shipyard crane (Pascagoula) in one of the pictures.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Puritan Prayers from the Valley of Vi...

Puritan Prayers from the Valley of Vision

Puritan Prayers

Confession and Petition Consecration and Worship 
Contentment | The Deeps Devotion | Divine Support 
Evening Praise Evening Prayer Evening Renewal 
Grace Active Heart Corruptions In Prayer 
Longings after God | Meeting God Morning 
Morning Dedication Morning Needs | Openness 
Purification Refuge Resting in God Spiritual Helps 
The Valley of Vision

Confession and Petition

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.

I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be upright.

 

Consecration and Worship

My God, I feel it is heaven to please Thee, and to be what Thou wouldst have me be. O that I were holy as Thou art holy, pure as Christ is pure, perfect as Thy Spirit is perfect! These, I feel, are the best commands in Thy Book, and shall I break them? must I break them? am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?

Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner, that I grieve this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace! O if He would punish me for my sins, it would not would my heart so deep to offend Him; But though I sin continually, He continually repeats His kindness to me.

At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love! But, alas, I cannot live and not sin.

O may angels glorify Him incessantly, and, if possible, prostrate themselves lower before the blessed King of heaven! I long to bear a part with them in ceaseless praise; but when I have done all I can to eternity I shall not be able to offer more than a small fraction of the homage that the glorious God deserves. Give me a heart full of divine, heavenly love.

 

Contentment

Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love, know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings. It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants, for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them. Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations, if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil, and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee, acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.

When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin He became more dear to me than sin had formerly been; His kindly rule replaced sin's tyranny. Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued I must not only labour to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and He must become to me more than vile lust had been; that His sweetness, power, life may be there. Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin, but must not claim it apart from Himself.

When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have ability to do all things. Though now I have His graces in part, I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state where Thou wilt show Thyself fully reconciled, and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely, with sin abolished. O Lord, hasten that day.

 

The Deeps

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour, master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

 

Devotion

God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with Thee and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of Thee, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to Thee and the full enjoyment of Thee; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with Thee and with my heart.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending Thee, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive from glorifying and delighting Thee. I long to fill all my time for Thee, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in Thy hands; to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to Thee for ever, to make Thee my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.

 

Divine Support

Thou art the blessed God, happy in Thyself, source of happiness in Thy creatures, my maker, benefactor, proprietor, upholder. Thou hast produced and sustained me, supported and indulged me, saved and kept me; Thou art in every situation able to meet my needs and miseries.

May I live by Thee, live for Thee, never be satisfied with my Christian progress but as I resemble Christ; and may conformity to His principles, temper, and conduct grow hourly in my life. Let Thy unexampled love constrain me into holy obedience, and render my duty my delight. If others deem my faith folly, my meekness infirmity, my zeal madness, my hope delusion, my actions hypocrisy, may I rejoice to suffer for Thy name.

Keep me walking steadfastly towards the country of everlasting delights, that paradise-land which is my true inheritance. Support me by the strength of heaven that I may never turn back, or desire false pleasures that will disappear into nothing.  As I pursue my heavenly journey by Thy grace let me be known as a man with no aim but that of a burning desire for Thee, and the good and salvation of my fellow men.

 

Evening Praise

Giver of all, another day is ended and I take my place beneath my great redeemer's cross, where healing streams continually descend, where balm is poured into every wound, where I wash anew in the all-cleansing blood, assured that Thou seest in me no spots of sin. Yet a little while and I shall go to Thy home and be no more seen; help me to gird up the loins of my mind, to quicken my step, to speed as if each moment were my last, that my life be joy, my death glory.

I thank Thee for the temporal blessings of this worldthe refreshing air, the light of the sun, the food that renews strength, the raiment that clothes, the dwelling that shelters, the sleep that gives rest, the starry canopy of night, the summer breeze, the flowers' sweetness, the music of flowing streams, the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends. Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort. My cup runs over. Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies. Thy hand bestows blessings: Thy power averts evil. I bring my tribute of thanks for spiritual graces, the full warmth of faith, the cheering presence of Thy Spirit, the strength of Thy restraining will, Thy spiking of hell's artillery. Blessed be my sovereign Lord!

 

Evening Prayer

O lover of Thy people, Thou hast placed my whole being in the hands of Jesus, my redeemer, commander, husband, friend, and carest for me in Him. Keep me holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; may I not know the voice of strangers, but go to Him where He is, and follow where He leads.  Thou hast bathed me once for all in the sin-removing fountain, cleanse me now from this day's defilement, from its faults, deficiencies of virtue, harmful extremes, that I may exhibit a perfect character in Jesus.  O Master, who didst wash the disciples' feet, be very patient with me, be very condescending to my faults, go on with me till Thy great work in me is completed. I desire to conquer self in every respect, to overcome the body with its affections and lusts, to keep under my flesh, to guard my manhood from all grosser sins, to check the refined power of my natural mind, to live entirely to Thy glory, to be deaf to unmerited censure and the praise of men. Nothing can hurt my new-born inner man, it cannot be smitten or die; nothing can mar the dominion of Thy Spirit within me; it is enough to have Thy approbation and that of my conscience. Keep me humble, dependent, supremely joyful, as calm and quiet as a sucking child, yet earnest and active. I wish not so much to do as to be, and I long to be like Jesus; if Thou dost make me right I shall be right; Lord, I belong to Thee, make me worthy of Thyself.

 

Evening Renewal

My Father, if Thy mercy had bounds, where would be my refuge from just wrath? But thy love in Christ is without measure. Thus, I present myself to Thee with sins of comission and omission, against Thee, my Father, against Thee, adorable redeemer, against Thee and Thy strivings, O Holy Spirit, against the dictates of my conscience, against the precepts of Thy Word, against my neighbours and myself. Enter not into judgment with me, for I plead no righteousness of my own, and have no cloak for iniquity. Pardon my day dark with evil.

This night I renew my penitence. Every morning I vow to love Thee more fervently, to serve Thee more sincerely, to be more devoted in my life, to be wholly Thine; Yet I soon stumble, backslide, and have to confess my weakness, misery and sin. But I bless Thee that the finished work of Jesus needs no addition from my doings, that His oblation is sufficient satisfaction for my sins.

If future days be mine, help me to amend my life, to hate and abhor evil, to flee the sins I confess. Make me more resolute, more watchful, more prayerful. Let no evil fruit spring from evil seeds my hands have sown; Let no neighbour be hardened in vanity and folly by my want of circumspection. If this day I have been ashamed of Christ and His Word, or have shown unkindness, malice, envy, lack of love, unadvised speech, hasty temper, let it be no stumbling block to others, or dishonour to Thy name. O help me to set an upright example that will ever rebuke vice, allure to goodness, and evidence that lovely are the ways of Christ.

 

Grace Active

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to Thee. I Lord Jesus, great high priest, Thou hast opened a new and living way by which a fallen creature can approach Thee with acceptance.

Help me to contemplate the dignity of Thy Person, the perfectness of Thy sacrifice, the effectiveness of Thy intercession.

O what blessedness accompanies devotion, when under all the trials that weary me, the cares that corrode me, the fears that disturb me, the infirmities that oppress me, I can come to Thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding!

The grace that restores is necessary to preserve, lead, guard, supply, help me.  And here Thy saints encourage my hope; they were once poor and are now rich, bound and are now free, tried and now are victorious.

Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in Thee, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells.  To Thee I repair for grace upon grace, until every void made by sin be replenished and I am filled with all Thy fullness.

May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honour Thee by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation.

Do Thou be with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all. May I find thy grace sufficient for all my needs.

 

Heart Corruptions

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Thy tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; Thou art full of grace.

I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man's-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.

I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, dost Thou have mercy on me?

Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride, at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before Thee. But Thou hast given me another master and lord, Thy Son, Jesus, and now my heart is turned towards holiness, my life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to Thee. Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear Thy will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where I may be built in Christ for ever.

 

Longings after God

My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with Thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like Thee as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator! Lord, give me more of Thy likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for Thee. Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do. Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to Thee, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with Thee, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its beloved. Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring Thee, always humble and resigned to Thy will, more fixed on Thyself, that I may be more fitted for doing and-suffering.

 

Meeting God

Great God, in public and private, in sanctuary and home, may my life be steeped in prayer, filled with the spirit of grace and supplication, each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood. Help me, defend me, until from praying ground I pass to the realm of unceasing praise. Urged by my need, invited by Thy promises, called by Thy Spirit, I enter Thy presence, worshipping Thee with godly fear, awed by Thy majesty, greatness, glory, but encouraged by Thy love.

I am all poverty as well as all guilt, having nothing of my own with which to repay Thee, but I bring Jesus to Thee in the arms of faith, pleading His righteousness to offset my iniquities, rejoicing that He will weigh down the scales for me, and satisfy thy justice. I bless Thee that great sin draws out great grace, that, although the lest sin deserves infinite punishment because done against an infinite God, yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible, there Thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep. Bless me by revealing to me more of His saving merits, by causing Thy goodness to pass before me, by speaking peace to my contrite heart; strengthen me to give Thee no rest untiI Christ shall reign supreme within me in every thought, word, and deed, in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world, works by love, fastens me to Thee, and ever clings to the cross.

 

Morning

Compassionate Lord, Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge, ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know Thee as Thou art, love Thee supremely, serve Thee wholly, admire Thee fully. Through grace let my will respond to Thee, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Thy free love alone enables me to serve Thee. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Thy choicest gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.

O ever watchful Shepherd, lead, guide, tend me this day; without Thy restraining rod I err and stray. Hedge up my path lest I wander into unwholesome pleasure, and drink its poisonous streams; direct my feet that I be not entangled in Satan's secret snares, nor fall into his hidden traps. Defend me from assailing foes, from evil circumstances, from myself. My adversaries are part and parcel of my nature; they cling to me as my very skin; I cannot escape their contact. In my rising up and sitting down they barnacle me; they entice with constant baits; my enemy is within the citadel. Come with almighty power and cast him out, pierce him to death, and abolish in me every particle of carnal life this day.

 

Morning Dedication

Almighty God, as I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Thy care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to thy ways. Mould me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay. May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Thy praise. Let those around see me living by Thy Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clad in the entire armour of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings.  Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands. May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth. Order this day all my communications according to Thy wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day.

 

Morning Needs

O God the author of all good, I come to Thee for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without Thee I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Thy power. Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.

Preserve my understanding from subtilty of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Thy blessing, and in which I cannot invite Thy inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, Who is the Lord? or be poor, and steal, and take Thy name in vain.

May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Thy will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians.  And to Thee be the glory.

 

Openness

Lord of immortality, before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces, enable me to serve Thee with reverence and godly fear. Thou who art Spirit and requirest truth in the inward parts, help me to worship Thee in spirit and in truth. Thou who art righteous, let me not harbour sin in my heart, or indulge a worldly temper, or seek satisfaction in things that perish.

I hasten towards an hour when earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain, when it will be indifferent whether I have been rich or poor, successful or disappointed, admired or despised. But it will be of eternal moment that I have mourned for sin, hungered and thirsted after righteousness, loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity, gloried in His cross. May these objects engross my chief solicitude! Produce in me those principles and dispositions that make Thy service perfect freedom.

Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame, so that with firmness and courage I may confess the Redeemer before men, go forth with Him hearing His reproach, be zealous with His knowledge, be filled with His wisdom, walk with His circumspection, ask counsel of Him in all things, repair to the Scriptures for His orders, stay my mind on His peace, knowing that nothing can befall me without His permission, appointment and administration.

 

In Prayer

O Lord, in prayer I launch far out into the eternal world, and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils on the shores of mortality. Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments never appears so inconsiderate as then.

In prayer I see myself as nothing; I find my heart going after Thee with intensity, and long with vehement thirst to live to Thee. Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.

In prayer all things here below vanish, and nothing seems important but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.

In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear, and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.

In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts at what Thou art doing for Thy church, and I long that Thou shouldest get Thyself a great name from sinners returning to Zion.

In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life, and taste heavenly joys; entering into the eternal world I can give myself to Thee with all my heart, to be Thine for ever.

In prayer I can place all my concerns in Thy hands, to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own.

In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners, the church, Thy kingdom to come, with greatest freedom, ardent hopes, as a son to his father, as a lover to the beloved.

Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying.

 

Purification

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory.

Deliver me from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its gap; that with self-loathing, deep contrition, earnest heart searching I may come to Thee, cast myself on Thee, trust in Thee, cry to Thee, be delivered by Thee.

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that all things are shadows, but Thou art substance, all things are quicksands, but Thou art mountain, all things are shifting, but Thou art anchor, all things are ignorance, but Thou art wisdom.

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it, but do Thou sit at the furnace mouth to watch the ore that nothing be lost. If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace take away my mourning and give me music; remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty; still my sighs and fill my mouth with song, then give me summer weather as a Christian.

 

Refuge

O Lord, Whose power is infinite and wisdom infallible, order things that they may neither hinder, nor discourage me,  nor prove obstacles to the progress of Thy cause. Stand between me and all strife, that no evil befall,  no sin corrupt my gifts, zeal, attainments. May I follow duty and not any foolish device of my own. Permit me not to labour at work which Thou wilt not bless, that I may serve thee without disgrace or debt. Let me dwell in Thy most secret place under thy shadow, where is safe impenetrable protection from  the arrow that flieth by day, the pestilence that walketh in darkness, the strife of tongues, the malice of ill-will, the hurt of unkind talk, the snares of company, the perils of youth, the temptations of middle life, the moumings of old age, the fear of death. I am entirely dependent upon Thee for support, counsel, consolation. Uphold me by Thy free Spirit, and may I not think it enough to be preserved from falling, but may I always go forward, always abounding in the work Thou givest me to do. Strengthen me by Thy Spirit in my inner self for every purpose of my Christian life. All my jewels I give to the shadow of the safety that is in Theemy name anew in Christ, my body, soul, talents, character, my success, wife, children, friends, work, my present, my future, my end. Take them, they are Thine, and I am thine, now and for ever.

 

Resting on God

O God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace. Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills. Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint. Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ's precious blood; revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls. Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit. Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling. Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God.

 

Spiritual Helps

Eternal Father, it is amazing love, that Thou hast sent Thy Son to suffer in my stead, that Thou hast added the Spirit to teach, comfort, guide, that Thou hast allowed the ministry of angels to wall me round; all heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm. Permit Thy unseen servants to be ever active on my behalf, and to rejoice when grace expands in me. Suffer them never to rest until my conflict is over, and I stand victorious on salvation's shore.

Grant that my proneness to evil, deadness to good, resistance to Thy Spirit's motions, may never provoke Thee to abandon me. May my hard heart awake Thy pity, not Thy wrath, And if the enemy gets an advantage through my corruption, let it be seen that heaven is mightier than hell, that those for me are greater than those against me. Arise to my help in richness of covenant blessings, keep me feeding in the pastures of Thy strengthening Word, searching Scripture to find Thee there.

If my waywardness is visited with a scourge, enable me to receive correction meekly, to bless the reproving hand, to discern the motive of rebuke, to respond promptly, and do the first work. Let all Thy fatherly dealings make me a partaker of Thy holiness. Grant that in every fall I may sink lower on my knees, and that when I rise it may be to loftier heights of devotion. May my every cross be sanctified, every loss be gain, every denial a spiritual advantage, every dark day a light of the Holy Spirit, every night of trial a song.

 

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.


Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett

Eternal Life Ministries

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

'We're All Theologians'

'We're All Theologians'

But is it the best or worst of times for doctrine?

Only time will tell whether these are the best or worst of times for doctrine. On the one hand, many church leaders seem to sense that evangelicals must become reacquainted with Scripture as understood and taught throughout history. On the other hand, surveys indicate that they may struggle to convince younger believers that God's Word trumps experience and prevailing cultural norms. But new efforts to promote doctrinal formation in evangelical churches are trying to overcome Western culture's aversion to theological precision and exclusivity.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth

I am still a bit skeptical about the rationale and presuppositional approach (God would have to be deceiving if a young earth...), but this is interesting:

PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the EarthShare

David Campbell Lyle D. Campbell, Chip Cates, Gregg Davidson, Keith Long, Richard F. Mercer, Kent Ratajeski, Davis A. Young,

How old is the earth? Does an honest reading of the opening chapters of Genesis confine creation to six days a few thousand years ago, or does it allow for an origin of much greater antiquity? These questions are hardly new. Scientific assertions suggesting an alternate interpretation of the length of creation began more than 200 years ago, well before the days of Charles Darwin. With a debate more than two centuries in the making, one might reasonably expect that Reformed scholars long ago resolved the issue. In fact, the much-sought resolution has proven elusive. In 1998, the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) commissioned a Creation Study Committee (CSC), made up of both Bible scholars and natural scientists, to consider the relevant Scriptures in light of the various existing interpretations and scientific evidence. The report, submitted after two years of investigation, did not recommend a definitive answer, but did at least conclude that it is possible to believe both in an ancient earth and the inerrancy of Scripture. The statement below is extracted from the concluding pages of the 2000 Report of the Creation Study Committee.

Clearly there are committed, Reformed believers who are scientists that are on either side of the issue regarding the age of the cosmos. Just as in the days following the Reformation, when the church could not decide between the geocentric and heliocentric views of the solar system, so today there is not unanimity regarding the age question. Ultimately, the heliocentric view won out over the geocentric view because of a vast preponderance of facts favoring it based on increasingly sophisticated observations through ever improving telescopes used by thousands of astronomers over hundreds of years. Likewise, in the present controversy, a large number of observations over a long period of time will likely be the telling factor.

The geocentric/heliocentric debate refers to a controversy starting some 500 years ago between two conflicting views of nature. The geocentric position held that the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth. In contrast, the heliocentric position held that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. Several passages of Scripture appeared to support the geocentric view, and heliocentrism was considered by many to be a direct challenge to the authority of God's Word. Others recognized more than one possible interpretation of the Scrip-tures in question, and scientific evidence eventually persuaded them that the sun was indeed the center of our solar system.

In this context, it is important to recognize that science did not prevail over Scripture. Scripture was and remains true. Scientific evidence only served as a God-given aid in selecting the more accurate of two plausible, Bible-honoring interpretations. The CSC report suggests we are at a similar crossroads concerning the age of the earth, but without sufficient evidence to tip the scales one way or the other.

The CSC commendably included several scientists, though none were geologists. So what would a geologist add to the discussion? As practicing geologists committed to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, in keeping with Reformed tradition, the eight authors of this article maintain that the "large number of observations over a long period of time" mentioned in the CSC report have already been made, and the data are sufficient to unequivocally answer the question. We also understand, however, the inherent difficulty that people have in assessing a vast body of scientific literature filled with terms and jargon that often require years of schooling in very specific fields to comprehend. Such difficulties have landed even well-read and godly individuals such as Martin Luther on the wrong side of these debates. Luther addressed the heliocentric theories of Copernicus in his day as being little more than the pursuit of vanity since Scripture clearly speaks of the sun moving and not the earth.

In this article, we wish to provide our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ with a few general observations, some clarification of a common misconception about our science, and two specific examples that speak convincingly that God's earthly creation has been around for a very long time.
General Observations

Science can be a contentious business when data can be plausibly interpreted more than one way. One of the best ways of making a name for yourself in the scientific community is to challenge a widely held scientific understanding with a strongly defended alternative theory. It is thus of considerable significance that the tens of thousands of geologists worldwide are virtually in complete agreement that the question of the earth's age has been answered: roughly 4.6 billion years.

The agreement is perhaps even more striking in the world of economic geology (oil and mineral exploration) where theories that lead to increased revenue always win, even if philosophically distasteful. Understanding the age of the earth and its layers plays a critical role in natural resource exploration, yet to our knowledge there is not a single oil or mining company anywhere in the world that uses a young-earth model to find or exploit new reserves. Old-earth models work. Young-earth models do not.
But Isn't an Old Earth Based Entirely on Assumptions of Naturalism?

There is some confusion over the term naturalism because it is variably used as an approach to day-to-day research and as a philosophical worldview. As a philosophical position, it is better termed materialism, which holds that all that is real is observable or testable using natural tools. Supernatural phenomena and beings unconstrained by time and space--such as angels, demons, or God himself--are deemed impossible by simple definition. Ironically, materialism lacks the tools to test its own postulates and is devoid of real merit. It is nonetheless the mantra of many atheistic scientists who have latched onto evolution and deep time as ways of getting around God. This has led to an unfortunate misrepresentation of the age of the earth debate among Christians.

The debate over the age of the earth is frequently characterized as science versus religion or as naturalism/materialism versus theism/Christianity, but these are utterly false dichotomies. In Christianity and the Age of the Earth, Davis Young notes that many of the early advocates of an ancient earth were devout Christians. Among geologists such as Deluc, Buckland, Sedgwick, Conybeare, Fleming, Hitchc*ck, Guyot, Dana, Winchell, Dawson, and Walcott, several were Calvinists. These men did not regard the scientific evidence as challenging the veracity of Scripture, but only as challenging one aspect of the traditional interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. The central message of God's authorship of creation was and remains undisputed by evidence of great age. It was not a commitment to naturalism that convinced Christian geologists of the antiquity of the earth, but rather a belief that the history of nature recorded in the earth's rocks should be consistent with the unchanging, truthful nature of its Author. In their estimation, the rock record in outcrop after outcrop in all parts of the world clearly told a story extending far beyond a few thousand years.

This sentiment underlies the current position taken by most Christian geologists today. The Creation Study quote at the start of this article implied that a roughly equal number of Reformed scientists could be found on either side of the age of the earth controversy. This perception is understandable given the high-profile nature of young-earth organizations, but it is not what we have encountered in our experience working among Christian geologists. Of those who claim belief in an inspired, inerrant Bible, an overwhelming majority fall within the "old earth" camp. In fact, we are not aware of a single practicing geologist who was convinced of a young earth by studying God's physical creation. Though an exception may well be out there somewhere, the few young-earth geologists we have seen in print or have spoken to privately arrived at their position solely on an assumption of how Scripture should be interpreted, not on a study of God's creation.
Evidence for the Earth's Antiquity

When selecting examples to convey the strength of the evidence for the earth's antiquity, we faced two challenges. One was selecting examples that can be easily explained in just a few paragraphs to those unfamiliar with geology. The more difficult challenge, however, was selecting a mere two out of the literally thousands of good candidates from every corner of the globe.
Lake Suigetsu, Japan: Rocks and Sediments Aren't Just Old, They Have a History

In many places around the world, rocks and sediments preserve evidence not only of their age but also of the processes that produced them and the order in which events took place. Consider Lake Suigetsu in Japan, starting with the loose sediments that have been slowly accumulating at the bottom. The bulk of these bottom sediments consist of darkly colored silt and clay particles that settle out after being washed into the lake by streams. In the spring, single-celled organisms called diatoms living in the water increase in number. As they die off, their microscopic shells settle to the bottom to produce a whitish layer that gets covered during the following season by more silt and clay. Each pair of light and dark layers, collectively referred to as a varve, represents the passage of one year. Lake Suigetsu contains more than 100,000 of these varves, which strongly suggests the lake has been collecting sediment in excess of 100,000 years.

And there is still more to this story. Those 100,000-plus layers lie on top of bedrock that has its own history. The solid rock beneath and around the lake sediments is a complex assortment of granites that formed from intruded magma (melted rock) and tilted sandstones, mudstones, limestones, and cherts that formed from accumulating sediments in an ocean environment. The abbreviated history all this reflects starts with deposition in a shallow ocean environment, followed by multiple changes in sea level, cementation of grains to harden sands and mud into rock, intrusion of magma, tilting and uplift above sea level, erosion of these rocks to present level, and finally formation of the lake where sediments and diatoms began to accumulate on the bottom.

No single event can be called upon to plausibly produce all these observed changes. Each feature and rock unit records a unique aspect of earth history. Dating techniques applied to these rock units yield the same sequence of ages inferred from logically sorting out the order of events from visual observations. The fact that the order of ages follows the logical sequence of events that must have taken place lends credence to the absolute values, but again, we do not have to depend on untestable assumptions to accept that ages in the millions of years are credible. This leads us to Example 2.
The Atlantic Ocean: Plate Velocity Confirms Measured Ages of Rocks

The details of how radioactive dates are determined are irrelevant for this example. It will be sufficient to make a general observation about their application and proceed with an example of how the dates can be independently verified.

The utility, if not the absolute accuracy, of radioactive dating methods is evident from the sheer number of analyses performed every year, with the vast majority yielding ages consistent with independent observations of layering, cross-cutting, or presence of unique fossils. Since the discovery of radioactivity, literally hundreds of thousands of samples have been analyzed from all over the world. If the various radioactive methods yield random or inconsistent dates as often claimed, few researchers (including some of us) would waste valuable resources on these measurements.

A simple method for checking the accuracy of radioactive dating methods makes use of our knowledge of plate tectonics: the movement of plates making up the earth's crust. If we consult a map of the Atlantic Ocean floor, a ridge--aptly named the Mid-Atlantic Ridge--is readily visible exactly dividing North and South America from Europe and Africa. Lava observed welling up along the ridge attests to modern day separation of the continents and expansion of the ocean floor. Seafloor ages determined using radioactive methods are consistent with this observation; the farther one moves away from the ridge, the older the seafloor. Maximum ages of about 180 million years are obtained at the edge of the continents. Intermediate ages determined for seafloor samples between the ridge and continents suggest that the rate of spreading has been relatively constant at about 2.5 cm per year since the continents first started splitting 180 million years ago.

Now for the test. Satellite stations on different continents allow precise distances to be measured down to the centimeter scale. Long-term measurements of the relative position of North America and North Africa document a steady current spreading rate of 2.5 cm per year--the same value calculated using positions and radioactively determined ages of ocean crust.

From these examples, there are only two possible conclusions: either the earth is very old or God intentionally made the earth to appear old. At first glance, apparent age may not raise a red flag, but it should not take much thought to recognize a serious theological problem. Ocean spreading rates and radioactive decay rates are entirely unrelated. If the earth is truly young, it means that God started rapid plate movement and rapid radioactive decay and diminished these independent rates precisely so that today the observed rate of spreading would only appear to confirm the accuracy of radioactive dating methods. From the previous example, the 14C (carbon-14) decay rate is unrelated to the number of tree rings or sediment layers formed in a year, meaning God started creation with a higher 14C decay rate, and a dozen or more tree rings and varves formed each year, and then he diminished each independent process in such a way to only appear to confirm that one varve and one tree ring typically forms each year.

In other words, God designed the earth intentionally to mislead all those who are unwilling to ignore the obvious history his natural creation reflects. Reformed believers should be quick to reject this possibility on the grounds that it denies the truth of Romans 1:20, where Paul assures us that God's character is evident in the universe he created. Apparent age makes God a deceiver.

Young-earth advocates counter that Creation had to have the appearance of age, without deception, because Adam, mature forests, and even flowing rivers would all of necessity have the appearance of age. This confuses maturity with history. A miraculously created tree might well appear mature, but apparent age arguments suggest that if Adam cut down several of these trees, he may have found 50 growth rings with matching patterns of variable growth and burn marks at rings 21 and 43. These data represent not just maturity or age but history--a history that never actually occurred. This is not the Creator described in Romans 1. We may not always have a complete understanding of the history revealed in the earth's layers, but Reformed theology should insist it is a real history.
Does My Belief Regarding the Age of the Earth Make Any Practical Difference?

If the PCA recognizes that mature believers fall on either side of the age of the earth debate, does it ultimately make a difference which side you fall on? We suggest it does matter for two important reasons.

The first is a greater appreciation of God's handiwork. If creation conforms to God's trustworthiness and looks old because it is old, we are free to marvel at each new discovery that further reveals the incredible complexity and grandeur of his creativity. If the earth is old and we insist it is young, every new discovery can be met only with distrust and disdain--disdain of his creation!

The second reason is of perhaps greater importance. If the earth is old and Christians insist it is young, we risk becoming a tragic obstacle to faith for those both inside and outside the church. Non-Christians who logically understand geology conclude that the path to Christ requires belief in an intentionally deceptive god and choose to place their faith elsewhere. Covenant children who are raised with the impression that a young earth is integral to Christianity have their faith needlessly undermined when they are later confronted with the overwhelming evidence of the earth's antiquity, and many leave the faith. It is our prayer that no Christian would be such an obstacle!

--
Respectfully,

JD

Qui cantat, bis orat (to sing once is to pray twice!) - St Augustine

Chosen

Chosen

John 15:16
" You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

We play no more part in "choosing" Christ than we do with "choosing" our eye color. We only acknowledge the result, not determine the outcome. (Romans 8-9, John 6, John 10, John 17, Ephesians 1-2, 1 Peter 1, etc..,etc...)