Sunday, September 27, 2015

Baptismal Improvement

We were privileged to witness a baptism this morning -- a simple ceremony -- prayer, some questions, the baptism, and more prayer -- no celebrating the subject of the baptism, no applause (Thank You, Lord!), no hubbub. A simple reminder of the promises God gives to parents of children in His Church and the sign and seal applied.

As always, witnessing a baptism (attendant folderol or not) made me think of my own, as well as my children's baptisms. Something I should do more frequently, I confess. Which is what we're supposed to do when we see it administered -- as well as at other times -- to improve our baptism. It's a concept foreign to American Evangelicalism (whatever that means), but not that long ago, it was the aim of Protestants.

Now, I admit is crossing confessional streams (with apologies to Dr. Egon Spengler), for me but the tool I use to help me meditate on baptism is from the Westminster Larger Catechism.

Q. 167. How is our Baptism to be improved by us?
A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others, by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of the Baptism and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that Sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

By the grace of God, my baptism has been slightly improved today -- with plenty of room for further. But today's a little better than yesterday.

S. D. G.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Do NOT Want to Read the Ingredients

I can't imagine there's any actual "food" to be found anywhere on this label:

But hey, Box Tops for Education.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This is Really a Thing?

Couldn't believe my eyes while wandering through Ye Olde Dairy Section today when I saw this:

and the accompanying Thin Mint flavor as well.

The cookies are great -- wonderful. But the officially licensed Ice Cream was maybe going too far (as tasty as it is). The candy bars are a stretch (and, yeah, they're pretty tasty, too). But this? This is just ridiculous, girls. Rein it in, already.

(no, I resisted the siren song of Carmel Coconut/Samoa. As difficult as it was.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thought for the Lord's Day - #63

And as a man of holiness prays for more holiness, so a man of holiness believes for more holiness. Psalm 51:7—in the Hebrew the words run in the future thus: "You will purge me from sin with hyssop, and I shall be clean: you will wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." In the sense of all his sinfulness and vileness, he believes that God will give out greater measures of purity and sanctity to him: "You will purge me, and I shall be clean: you will wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Just so, in Psalm 65:3, "Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, you shall purge them away." Though for the present iniquity did prevail—yet he had faith enough to believe that God would purge him from his transgressions, and that he would mortify prevailing corruptions.
 - Thomas Brooks
The Crown and Glory of Christianity,
HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Thought for the Lord's Day - #62

Every one seeketh not God, and far fewer find Him, because they seek amiss. He is to be sought far above all things, if men would find what they seek. Let feathers and shadows alone to children, and go seek your Well-Beloved. Your only errand to the world is, to woo Christ; therefore, put other lovers from about the house, and let Christ have all your love, without mincing or dividing it. It is little enough, if there were more of it. The serving of the world and sin hath but a base reward, and smoke instead of pleasures; and but a night-dream, for true ease to the soul. Go where ye will, your soul shall not sleep sound but in Christ's bosom. Come in to Him, and lie down, and rest you on the slain Son of God, and inquire for Him. I sought Him, and now, a fig for all the worm-eaten pleasures and moth-eaten glory out of heaven, since I have found Him, and in Him all I can want or wish. He hath made me a king over the world. Princes cannot overcome me. Christ hath given me the marriage-kiss, and He hath my marriage-love; we have made up a full bargain, that shall not go back on either side.
- Samuel Rutherford
Letter to John Carsen

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Thought for the Lord's Day - #61

It is evident, from the scripture doctrine of divine Providence, that God brings about every man’s lot, and all the parts thereof. He sits at the helm of human affairs, and turns them whithersoever he listeth. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth, in the seas and all deep places’ (Ps. 135:6). There is not anything whatsoever befalls us, without his overruling hand. The same Providence that brought us out of the womb, brings us to, and fixes us in the condition and place allotted for us, by him who ‘hath determined the times, and the bounds of our habitation’ (Acts 17:26). It overrules the smallest and most causal things about us, such as ‘hairs of our head falling on the ground’ (Matt. 10:29, 30); ‘A lot cast into the lap’ (Prov. 16:33). Yea the free acts of our will, whereby we choose for ourselves, for even ‘the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water’ (Prov. 21:1). And the whole steps we make, and which others make in reference to us; for ‘the way of man is not in himself; it is not man that walketh to direct his steps’ (Jer. 10:23). And this, whether these steps causing the crook [some one or other piece of adversity] be deliberate and sinful ones, such as Joesph’s brethren selling him into Egypt; or whether they be undesigned, such as manslaughter purely casual, as when one hewing wood, kills his neighbour with the ‘head of the axe slipping from the helve’ (Deut. 19:5). For there is a holy and wise Providence that governs the sinful and the heedless actions of men, as a rider doth a lame horse, of whose halting, not he, but the horses’ lameness, is the true and proper cause; wherefore in the former of these cases, God is said to have sent Joesph into Egypt (Gen. 45:7), and in the latter, to deliver one into his neighbour’s hand (Exod. 21:13).

God has, by an eternal decree, immoveable as mountains of brass (Zech. 6:1), appointed the whole of every one’s lot, the crooked parts thereof, as well as the straight. By the same eternal decree, whereby the high and low parts of the earth, the mountains and the valleys, were appointed, are the heights and the depths, the prosperity and adversity, in the lot of the inhabitants thereof determined, and they are brought about, in time, in a perfect agreeableness thereto.

The mystery of Providence, in the government of the world, is, in all the parts thereof, the building reared up of God, in exact conformity to the plan in his decree, ‘who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will’ (Eph. 1:12). So that there is never a crook in one’s lot, but may be run up to this original. Hereof Job piously sets us an example in his own case, “He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doth. For he perfometh the thing that is appointed for me; and many such things are with him’ (Job 18:13, 14).
- Thomas Boston
The Crook in the Lot:
Living with that thorn in your side

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thought for the Lord's Day - #60

For how in general doth the Holy Spirit teach us and enable us to pray? It is by these three things.

(1.) By giving us a spiritual insight into the promises of God and the grace of the covenant, whereby we know what to ask upon a spiritual view of the mercy and grace that God hath prepared for us.

(2.) By acquainting us with and giving us an experience of our wants, with a deep sense of them, such as we cannot bear without relief.

(3.) By creating and stirring up desires in the new creature, for his own preservation, increase and improvement.

And in answer unto these things, consisteth his whole work of sanctification in us. For it is his effectual communication unto us, of the grace and mercy prepared in the promises of the covenant through Jesus Christ; hereby doth he supply our spiritual want, and sets the new creature in life and vigour. So are our prayers an extract and copy of the work of the Holy Spirit in us, given us by himself.

And, therefore, by whomseover he is despised as a Spirit of supplication, he is so as a Spirit of sanctification also.

Now consider what it is that in your prayers you most labour about? Is it not that the body, the power, the whole interest, of sin in you may be weakened, subdued, and at length destroyed? Is it not that all the graces of the Spirit may be renewed daily, increased and strengthened, so as that you may be more ready and prepared for all duties of obedience? And what is all this but that holiness may be gradually progressive in your souls, that it may be carried on by new supplies and additions of grace, until it come to perfection?
- John Owen
Or, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit,
Wherein an Account is Given of His Name, Nature,
Personality, Dispensation, Operations, and Effects;
His Whole Work in the Old and New Creation is
Explained; and the Doctrine Concerning it Vindicated

(I added the paragraph breaks for clarity)

Worth Waiting For

The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.
On June 6, 2004, Rev. David A. Bass applied the waters of baptism to our son Arnold (he'd be the one in red there).  The grace offered and exhibited to him then was conferred to him recently.  This morning, he made his public profession of faith and was made a member of the fellowship the rest of us joined last year.

Again, seeing this was a privilege I don't deserve.  Helping him to this stage has been a blessing (though, honestly, not one I always remember to see as such).  He took a big step in improving his baptism this morning, but he has many others before him, Lord willing.  Hopefully, his mother and I can continue to help him in this lifelong effort, but our hope and trust is that he who began a good work in Arnold will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

This is just me talking about my convictions.  This is not a reflection of the beliefs of the Fellowship to which I currently belong.  In the incredibly unlikely event that any other member of this Fellowship is reading this, do know that I am not seeking to foment any type of rebellion against the statement of faith there.  If God, in His mercy, grants a change in the Fellowship's position on the sacrament, I will welcome it, but I will not have had a hand in it beyond my prayers that He would sanctify the body by His truth.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thought for the Lord's Day - #59

...there is no faith without God's word, for of his faithfulness we cannot be convinced, until he has spoken. And this of itself is abundantly sufficient to confute the fiction of the sophists respecting implicit faith; for we must ever hold that there is a mutual relation between God's word and our faith. But as faith is founded chiefly, according to what has been already said, on the benevolence or kindness of God, it is not every word, though coming from his mouth, that is sufficient; but a promise is necessary as an evidence of his favor. Hence Sarah is said to have counted God faithful who had promised. True faith then is that which hears God speaking and rests on his promise.
-John Calvin

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Offspring had a good day yesterday, pt. 2

The Princess (who can feel free to skip this post) was supposed to go to Church Camp yesterday. But her mom and I decided this weekend that she and her brother wouldn't be attending for reasons that I don't want to get into here, essentially it boils down to some differences between American Evangelicals and Reformed Christians (iow, we can be uptight about worship and sacramentology).

It would've been her first time going away for something like this, and she was really looking forward to it. But it was the right call -- even though it carried the special kind of difficulty only known to Dads of daughters with fully-functional nasolacrimal ducts. But the three of us talked about it, and she understood our thinking.

A couple days later, for fun I read the Offspring questions 107-110 of the Larger Catechism -- not really to teach them anything, but to make them appreciate that they're memorizing the Shorter Catechism 49-52 instead. Still, something must've clicked as I rushed though that.

Yesterday, when her friends were posting statuses and pics to Facebook about getting ready to leave, etc., what's my little girl do? She posts:

Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.
We didn't prompt it, didn't push it -- didn't even see it 'til a couple hours later, actually. Honestly, I didn't even try to convince her we were right in our thinking -- we just explained our position and that we thought it was important -- the Spirit did the rest to her conscience.

I'm not posting this to brag on her, really. But when I read that post, I choked up a little. She's such a precious gift, and seeing the Spirit work in her as He is doing is such a privilege. More than a miserable sinner like me deserves, that's for sure. And I'm glad for the opportunity to express my gratitude for that display of grace.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Offspring had a good day yesterday, pt. 1

Frodo's been helping out with an elementary school robotics camp that Arnold's attending. That's really all I can say because I haven't witnessed any of it, and what they've talked about has been beyond my ken. Sorry, guys, just nothing for me to talk about.

Samwise, on the other hand, has been really pushing himself with his guitar lately, learning gobs and gobs of songs. He seemed pretty stoked yesterday for me to hear what he'd worked on -- Precious Death's "You Can't Break Me." He's not done with this by any means, but was still excited to show it to me. I was excited because I've been trying to get him to pay attention to Precious Death for at least 5 years. Give it a listen (sorry for camera work, was really just going for audio, but it was okay enough to go with this format, I thought)
(if you want to hear the original -- and see the lyrics -- click here)

Now we just need someone to provide the vocals. Maybe Frodo can do his Christian Bale Batman for the verses.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thought for the Lord's Day - #58

God saw it needful for Adam to have a Sabbath in paradise. And if it were needful for him that was without sin, and had no clog of corruption to hinder him; nor ill example to seduce him; yet (l say) if he had need of this (as God in his wisdom saw he had) because his calling (though followed without tediousness) would yet partly have withdrawn his heart, that he could not so freely and wholly have given himself to the praising of God, and considering of his power, wisdom, and goodness; and therefore was to set one day apart from all works of his vocation, that he might wholly addict himself to religious and holy exercises, and with greater liberty and comfort do them; then what need have we, and how far is our necessity greater which are burdened with many corruptions of our own, and have temptation from many ill [precedents], and many allurements of the world, to pull our hearts from the worship of God, which are men of polluted lips ourselves, and dwell among people of polluted lips; and which cannot without far greater distraction, and weariness also, follow our callings. If Adam had need of a Sabbath when he had no corruption to hinder him, how much more have we, which both within and without are beset & on every side compassed with such strong impediments from ourselves and others, that when we have a Sabbath to bestow wholly and only on godliness and religion, can hardly and with much ado keep our hearts from wandering after the world and earthly things? If Adam had need in his innocence of this help, then no man in this world is so strong, as that he for that cause might exempt himself from keeping a Sabbath.

- John Dod
A Plain and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments 
(hat tip: The Westminster Standards)