Archive for November, 2008

Black Friday Treats

28 November 2008

Here are a few things you might want to check out today or tomorrow.

An extra 20% off selected books at Westminster Bookstore (including a number of children’s titles).

25% off most everything at Backcountry – if what you want is not on sale, use 3PU-1-R38LT to get 20% off (they will give you whichever is the better discount).

An additional 10% off (already low prices) at Solid Ground Books.

For the Mac users out there, give good food 2 your mac. Here you get 20% off if you buy 3 items, 40% off if you buy 4 items, and 50% off if you buy 5 items (some apps are hundreds of dollars, so you could get massive savings, though you’d have to spend more to save more).

Almost every title under $10 at http://christianaudio.com/.

And lastly, in case you were wondering, what was my own personal black friday treat? I uncovered a bumper crop of Hugh Martin (1822-85) articles today at New College Library (5p per copy, and it’s well worth it). This is immensely exciting, but also means lots more reading. Read anything you can by Martin, that’s my advice. He takes you into the heavenlies and sets a wondrous Saviour high in your affections and thoughts. Good stuff.

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Christianity merely remedial!

26 November 2008

This is the opening sentence in a paragraph by Hugh Martin in his review of R. S. Candlish’s The Fatherhood of God, which caused some stir in the mid 1800s. Candlish’s work is dealing with the theme of adoption. In Martin’s paragraph he goes on to explain what he means and how Christianity is NOT merely remedial, it is so much more. It is not Eden restored, but better than Eden. Listen to Martin:

Christianity merely remedial! Are its revelations merely remedial? Does i but sweep away a cloud, or couch a cataract, that we may behold the former light shining as before–at the best but as bright as ever, shewing all things again as they were at the first–all, doubtless, “very good?” Is this all that comes to light by the gospel? Is it old knowledge merely come freshly back like a revelation? Is it old knowledge of God and ourselves–of the attributes of His nature and the capacities of our own–when we look upon Emmanuel and see that Godhead is incarnable and manhood capable of hypostatic union? Was it known before that the anger of the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, could be expressed by the frown of a human face; or the pity of the Most High by the tears of a Man? Is it but Adam’s knowledge–his actual or possible knowledge–of the glorious Trinity we gain when we contemplate with adoration and with awe, the love of the Father, the mission, the death, the intercession of the Son, the outpouring and the indwelling of the Spirit? Did Adam, or did angels, know the Trinity as the Trinity may now be known–now that He which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Ancient of days, is seen on the throne of his glory, and his Only-begotten Son, now the first-begotten from the dead, at his right hand, and the seven Spirits of God before his throne–Father, Son and Holy Ghost enthroned thus, the Divine object, the Divine intercessor, the Divine author and paraclete, of prayer? Is it but the former things disclosed anew, when we read in the cross the consistency of sin-avenging justice and invincible redeeming love, and are taught that the angels, when they witness righteousness and peace embrace each other, shout aloud that “the whole earth is full of his glory?”

I think what Martin is saying, and goes on to say, is that in the gospel there is a knowledge of God, an experience of God, a relationship with God that is better than if Adam had never fallen.

King Ahaz – Grace in the face of Evil

24 November 2008

In a previous post I mentioned how Christ was better than all of the kings of Judah.

To add to the list as we are making our way through 2 Chronicles the next few are:

Uzziah – his pride caused him to act out of bounds to his proper God-given role and he tried to burn incense taking the role of a priest
Jesus – always fulfilled the role that God had given him glorifying the Father and doing the works of the Father

Jotham – would not go into the temple of God
Jesus – is the new temple of God

Last night I heard a sermon on King Ahaz (2 Chron 28). There was something that was almost unbelievable that was brought to our attention. Of all the kings of Judah, Ahaz was one of the worst (child sacrifice, idolatry, etc.). In 2 Chron 28.24 we read that he shut the doors to the temple, in a very real way saying ‘God, I will not go into your place.’ And yet, in Isaiah 7.14, it is to Ahaz that the prophecy is given of the coming of Immanuel, where God says to Ahaz (and us), ‘You will not go into my place, but I will come into your place.’ Grace in the face of evil. The promise of God to come into our place because we would not, and could not, go into his place.

As we shortly enter into our remembrances of the coming of Christ, God with us, may we remember the grace of God in the face of evil.

Martin on the Atonement

21 November 2008

Perhaps the finest teaching on the centrality of the cross and the atonement from this later period comes from the pen of Hugh Martin.
A.T.B. McGowan in The Emergence of Evangelicalism

A bit of fodder to push on with my thesis. Also, I recently discovered a 70 article by Martin on Adoption, interacting with R. S. Candlish’s The Fatherhood of God. Perhaps some quotes from that to come in following days. When you read Martin, you are lifted into the heavenlies.

Old made new – Hymns

18 November 2008

Following on from my christmas album musings, here are a few thoughts in regards to some hymn albums. The modern hymn and worship music movement seems to be massive. There is a lot of good coming out of it, and some drivel. This is by no means exhaustive, but some that I have found rising above the rest.

My focus will be on folks who are primarily redoing old hymns as opposed to writing new ones.

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First, Fernando Ortega. My ‘Fernando Hymns’ playlist is a regular for me. The songs he has chosen to redo and the musical manner in which they are delivered is soul refreshing. I always benefit when he is on. You can buy them individually at iTunes (most of his albums will have 3-4 hymns on them), and a number of them have been combined on his Hymns of Worship CD. His latest, The Shadow of Your Wings, is fantastic the whole way through. I don’t think he can be recommended highly enough.

Next is Jars of Clay Redemption Songs. Musically, it is one of the best and most creative (probably a bigger budget than most, and they are extremely talented). And the songs one it are fantastic. Some well known, others less known, but all with superb content. 

Another fantastic album is Sandra McCraken’s The Builder and the Architect. The first 4 songs on the album are musically and lyrical some of the best around. ‘The Love of Christ is rich and free, set on his own eternally’. ‘Grace Upon Grace’ is a song based upon a prayer from the Valley of Vision book. There are a few original songs on here, but they very much blend in to the genre of the others.

My most recent, and pleasantly surprising find, is Matthew Smith’s All I Owe. He is part of a larger group called Indelible Grace Music, which has lots of good things coming out of it. This particular album is largely made up of songs I have never heard before, but are some of the richest lyrically I have ever heard. A standout among them all is the title track, originally written by Robert Murray M’Cheyne (which I just found out, and somehow makes it even better).

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All I Owe
Words by Robert Murray McCheyne and Matthew Smith
Music by Matthew Smith

© 2002 detuned radio music (ASCAP)

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

All I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I’ve been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

When I stand before your throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see you as you are
Love you with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

All I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I’ve been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

All I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I’ve been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

Wow. The entire album is good, and points your mind and thoughts to Christ.

Another group that is newer to me is Red Mountain Church. They have a number of albums out. I have the Gadsby album. Again, both lyrically and musically it is fantastic. It is so refreshing to hear good music, contemporary music, but with robust words. I also notice that they just came out with a christmas album a few weeks ago.

Also, Sovereign Grace Music has loads of stuff out there. Much of it is original, and some is revamps of older songs.

Along the classical lines, John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers are superb on the album Be Thou My Vision

Lots more out there, if you have any recommendations please let me know. Enjoy and be edified. 

Christmas albums

17 November 2008

This post and the next are going to deal with some music related items. Here I’d like to mention some of my favourite christmas music albums. 

[To my knowledge, everything mentioned here is available at iTunes]

We love listening to christmas music in our home. In some sense, it’d be great to listen to them all year round because of the great focus on Christ that they bring. I think it is more of a music genre that relegates them to December as opposed to the actual content. Anyhow, here of some, in my estimation, of the best.

Behold the Lamb – Andrew Peterson

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This is a wonderful ‘story’ album. It should be listened to in order, and preferably all at once. It is the story of the bible, which is the story of Christ. Musically it is superb, there are a few special guests, and it is Christ-honouring. You can find the music at iTunes, a live DVD of the album being performed here, and there is even a book of ‘The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats’ (which Anna quite enjoys).

Next to Peterson’s album of original songs (in that they are written by the artist performing them, as opposed to tradition songs made original in a musical sense) is the fabulous album done by Sovereign Grace called Savior. This is a truly fantastic collection of songs exalting Christ. What a treat!

Probably my single favourite album, if I had to choose one, would be Bebo Norman’s Christmas from the Realms of Glory

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Here is my review from iTunes:

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If you click on the picture it will be big enough to read:)

A new album this year is from the hands of Fernando Ortega. Anything by him is worth having. To be fair, I expected a bit more from his christmas album, but it is still a fantastic album.

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Another favourite, but sady, I don’t think you can get it anymore, is Noel. It is original. A similar album came out a number of years back called City on a Hill – It’s Christmas Time. This one has a number of the same songs, but the first album was better.

A classic, and another album you need to listen to in order, is Michael W. Smith’s Christmas. I’ve haven’t heard his newer christmas albums (Christmastime, It’s a Wonderful Christmas), but this one is superb.

Jars of Clay have a christmas album that came out last year. It doesn’t have the normal christmas feel to it as most others would. Probably the most helpful review I read said to think of it as a new Jars of Clay album, as opposed to a new christmas album. Reading that made me like it more.

Hang in there, we’re almost done.

Some good instrumental stuff:

Trace Bundy – O Night Divine, A Few Songs for Christmas

George Winston – December

Some good classical stuff:

My favourite song – ‘The Wexford Carol’ found on Yo-Yo Ma’s Songs of Joy & Peace.

There are a few albums of John Rutter Carols sung with the Cambridge Singers, which are all fantastic.

Next time I hope to give a few ideas in regards to hymns. Enjoy!

Friendly-minded toward sinners

13 November 2008

One of the themes with gospel preachers throughout the centuries is that God is friendly-minded towards sinners. Here is an excerpt from Hugh Martin on this wondrous theme.

The promises are sure—in God’s own mind. As originally in the mind of God, the promises indicate His eternal good will to sinners. And in this respect they are steadfast. They reveal a stable, sincere, unchangeable disposition of mercy, kindness and compassion. The God of compassion, and the compassion of God, are not fickle. They are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. In this respect He is of one mind. And he knoweth the end from the beginning. I know, saith He, the thoughts that I think concerning you. God is love. As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that he should turn and live. From ‘Yea and Amen’

In Christ

4 November 2008

Union with Christ seems to be the paper that the gospel is written on. Whatever aspect of the gospel and salvation you are looking at, union with Christ is there. Sinclair Ferguson’s The Christian Life has some excellent thoughts on this topic. Though having a chapter on union with Christ, union tends to be a thread woven throughout the whole book. Consider the following:

In Christ. It is in Christ we receive all the blessings of the Christian life. We are chosen in him. In him we are predestined to be like him. In Christ we are called, and in him born again to newness of life (1 Pet 1.3). In him we have faith, and receive the Holy Spirit. In him we are brought into the privileges of brotherhood in the family of God. In Christ is our sanctification (1 Cor 1.30). When we see him, we will be made like him, for when he appears in glory, we shall also appear with Christ (1 Jn 3.2; Col 3.4). From beginning to end all blessings are ours in Christ.

It is interesting that Fersuson (and the bible) don’t talk about getting things ‘from Christ’, but getting things ‘in Christ’. That is a massive and significant difference. How often do we hear about getting things from Jesus, as opposed to having Jesus himself, and all of these other things in him.

What is the result of all of this? Well, Ferguson goes on to mention it should produce a deeper humility, steadier assurance, and lead us to worship. A few more words on a steadier assurance:

Lack of assurance is often caused, like a sense of inferiority, by being too taken up with ourselves. But our assurance does not lie in what we are, be we great or small. It lies in what God has done in his plan of salvation to secure us to himself. ‘Believe God’s word and power more than you believe you own feelings and experiences’, wrote Samuel Rutherford to a correspondent. ‘Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea’. The more we know the strength of our Rock, and understand that we have all the blessings of the Christian life secure in him, the more steadily assured we will be and the greater will be our joy.