Monday, December 22, 2008

What is the gospel?


“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”


- Timothy Keller


HT: First Importance


Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Blog Title

Well, I had to make a change...
I hated to do it, but I simply can't be associated with some of what comes up in the search engines when you type in "gregology".

Hopefully those that know me will not even need to consider whether I am connected in any way to those with whom I, up until this morning, shared the former name of this site - but I didn't want to take the chance. Frankly, I didn't even dig deep, but just reading some of the captions of the other sites was enough to get outta dodge... I know some of you will be curious, so it was the stumbleupon page that broke the proverbial camels back... I just don't need that kind of speculation.

And so it goes... with the chagrin of losing the nickname given to me by the great Nigerian pastor Raymond Chikwura, I am moving forward.

Now, the name above may only be a place holder. I chose it in honor of a Canterbury Tale I wrote in high school by the same name. Ask me and I'll let you read it. (If I can find it) Maybe I'll even post it. :-)

I'll also take suggestions on a new name for the blog if you can think of something better. I won't burn to much energy on it, but if something good comes along (my mind or yours) I will revisit.

For now, welcome to The Gentryman's Tale.

Abortion ---> Anarchy?

Over at Between Two Worlds, JT posts a few things RE: abortion that are worth looking at.

I thought the most poignant thing was his reference to a John Piper quote that I will re-post along with the context:

In response to a document urging President Elect Obama to advance "reproductive rights"...

James Grant writes:

It is hard to believe that while my wife and I are desperately doing everything we can to make sure our baby, at 23 weeks, survives and continues to grow in the womb for the next few months, there are others who in this country actually have abortions at this stage.
Think for a minute about what James writes above. What is the difference between the baby growing inside [Mrs. Grants] womb, and a baby growing inside the womb of a mother undergoing abortion?

The difference comes down to one word: want. Few words carry more power in the world today than these: I do not want this child at this time.

Listen to John Piper address this issue:
. . . in a world without God, the will of the strong creates (or nullifies) the personhood of the weak. . . . And the awesome thing is that we endow her will not just with sovereignty over her unborn baby, but with the authority to define it: If she wants it, it is a baby, a person. If she does not want it, it is not a baby, not a person. In other words, in our laws we have now made room for some killing to be justified not on the basis of the rights or crimes of the one killed, but decisively on the basis of the will, the desire, of a stronger person. The decisive criterion of personhood and non-personhood, what is right and wrong, what is legal and what is illegal, is the will of the strong. Might makes right. Might makes personhood. Might makes legal. This is the ultimate statement of anarchy. It is the essence of the original insurrection against God, and against objective truth and right and beauty.

No culture can survive this kind of anarchical thinking indefinitely. Part of the remedy is to spread the truth: Might does not make right. Desire does not define duty. Wanting does not create worth. All of us know intuitively that if someone desires our destruction, that desire does not justify our murder. We know this. We should say it over and over again.
[emphasis Greg's]

Greg:  I had not thought about the issue on these terms before. Kinda scary... </understatement as a means of emphasis>

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Lighter 'Note'

This is probably more important an issue than these folks make it, but I would like to see more of this kind of thing.


Now, in my church we don't have a praise band, and I am thankful for that.  There is nothing wrong with a praise band per say, but my preference is for hymns and psalms.  I am definitely not opposed to new hymns, but I would certainly want to stay away from the emotionally driven, repeated choruses that for many are the only way to 'tap-in' to the Holy Spirit... That being said... These guys do a great thing... the music falls apart, and they stop playing...  They don't trudge through it, trying to make something happen that is clearly not working.  But they stop, they reset and do it with the excellence that God deserves for His worship.

Now, again, we don't have a praise band - but if we are singing a hymn that few people know, or the accompanist is going to slow or too fast, why can't we stop and do the same?  Switch to a new hymn if it is not making the cut, tell the musicians to slow it down or pick it up - and then just start again.  We should be able to do this without embarrassment or condescension - we are talking about the worship of God.  If it is not all that it can be, should we not take the necessary steps to make it so?

Of course, you have to be judicious about these things - what happened in the above video was clearly a train wreck - nobody could worship or follow with that going on... the pint being you don't stop for every little thing.  But if you are singing a difficult hymn that no one is following and you are trying to open a worship service for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords... stop.  Pick another joyful hymn and start again... it's not about us. It's about God's glory.

Comments?

HT: Pure Church

What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then...

I wish an older brother would have pulled me aside when I was a young teen and talked to me like this...



I can't say for sure if I would have listened; I didn't listen to much back then... But perhaps something like this would have made a difference. This, coupled with a warning for how sexual sin can destroy your mind, your memories, and make what is meant to be a wonderful gift into a source of deep pain, confusion and difficulty later in your life when you actually want to use the gift of sexuality like God wants you to...

If any young man reads this, take heed...

HT: Desiring God Blog

Monday, December 15, 2008

Had to Share This Too

The awesomeness speaks for itself...




I just absolutely love the people who take the gospel into the culture and let it do its thing.  Thanks Shai Linne for the great example. As Thabiti says in the post where I found this,

No altar call. No manipulation. No mood lighting. Just Jesus crucified, resurrected, reigning. Just the call to repent and believe. Could it be that simple?


HT: Pure Church

Never Thought I'd See it...

John MacArthur on TBN!
And amazingly, it seems like they love him! Then again, I don't watch much TBN, so it's quite possible that the people who are making noise are only a small fraction of the audience... but anyway, this is good stuff, so I thought I'd share. Each video is about 10 minutes, but well worth it.





Praise God that even TBN gets the goods sometimes. I've actually seen a lot of Kirk Cameron recently that is much better than I recall in recent years. He may be getting more reformed as he grows as a Christian. It can only be good for TBN, so long as they keep him around.

HT: Pure Church

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why We Protestants Are Still Protesting...

This is from Reformation Theology ... I am just going to re-post it here because a link simply will not do.

So many people over the years have asked me what the difference is between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. It's not a short answer, but this article briefly points out some of the major ones. Obviously you can't get into all the theology behind these things in a brief synopsis like this, but I wanted to post it here both for myself as a go to reference if I ever need it, and for you, in case you do. (Whoever 'you' might be.)

Here is the post:

Ten Differences Between the Reformation and Rome


This article by Guy Davies appeared in the September/October issue of Protestant Truth. Guy is Joint-Pastor of Penknap Providence Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Wiltshire, England.

1. The Roman Catholic Church believes that its traditions and teaching are as authoritative as Scripture. The Reformed value tradition, but accept the Bible alone as their authority, and sole rule of faith and practice.

2. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Pope, as successor of Peter and Bishop of Rome, is head of the visible Church. The Reformed believe that Christ alone is head of the Church and that no man may claim universal primacy over the people of God.

3. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Bible cannot be properly understood apart from the official interpretation of Rome (the Magisterium). The Reformed believe that Christians have a responsibility to judge the truth of all teaching by the extent of its conformity to the teaching of the Bible as it has been commonly accepted with the help of responsible exegesis and the witness of the Spirit.

4. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that we are justified by baptism and that justification must be supplemented and improved by works. The Reformed hold that the Bible teaches that justification is God's declaration that a sinner is righteous in his sight, on the basis of faith in the finished work of Christ, apart from works. We are justified by faith alone. Baptism does not effect justification; it is the sign of it, as well as of the believer’s cleansing from sin and reception of new life in Christ.

5. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Lord's Supper is a re-offering of the sacrifice of Christ and that the bread and wine are actually changed into the body and blood of the Saviour. The Reformed hold that that in Scripture the Lord's Supper is a fellowship meal that is to be kept by believers in remembrance of the finished work of Christ. The bread and wine are significant symbols to believers of Christ's body and blood. At the Lord's Supper, they enjoy communion with the risen Christ, who is present at the Table by his Spirit.

6. The Roman Catholic Church regards its ministers as priests. They re-offer the sacrifice of Christ at the Mass and act as mediators between God and the faithful, taking Christ’s role. The Reformed teach that all Christians are priests, who offer a sacrifice of praise and worship to the Lord. Some, called to be teachers and pastors, are ministers of the Word. Their task is to give themselves to prayer, the preaching of the gospel, and to care for the flock.

7. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that after death the souls of departed believers who have not made sufficient satisfaction for their sins in their lifetime go to purgatory in order to do that prior to going to heaven. The living can affect how long the departed have to spend in purgatory by observing Mass, obtaining indulgences, and praying for them. The Reformed hold that purgatory is not taught in Scripture. They believe, in accord with Scripture, that at death the souls of believers will depart from the body to be with Christ in heaven, awaiting the resurrection to life, glory and immortality.

8. The Roman Catholic Church believes that Mary can be invoked as mediatrix with Christ and that the faithful should pray to her and show devotion to her. Rome also teaches that believers should pray for themselves and for the dead to the faithful departed whom the Pope has designated as saints. The Reformed honour Mary as the mother of our Lord and see her as an example of obedience and love to God. They maintain that there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, and that, despite the protestations of Rome, its teaching takes away from the sole mediatorship of Christ. Prayer and worship is to be offered to God through him alone.

9. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that there are seven sacraments and that these sacraments work ex opere operato, effectively conveying grace to those who receive them. For example, baptism regenerates and justifies, and participants in the Mass actually feed on the body and drink the blood of Christ. The Reformed find only two sacraments or ordinances in Scripture, baptism and the Lord's Supper. These are means of grace that are only effective when received by faith.

10. The Roman Catholic Church regards herself as the one true Church through the apostolic succession of her bishops. Non-Roman Catholic Christians are regarded as 'separated brethren' who have schismatically divided the body of Christ. Reformed ministers are not truly ordained to the apostolic ministry. The Reformed define the Church not institutionally, but as a company of believing, godly people where the gospel is truly preached, baptism and the Lord's Supper rightly administered and Church discipline graciously applied. The true apostolic succession consists not in the physical laying on of hands as understood by Rome, but in believing and preaching the gospel proclaimed by the apostles and recorded in Scripture.


Me again: Now, there are some in the RCC who will argue that some of these things have passed out of the church and are no longer held as doctrines, but the fact of the matter is that the councils that put these doctrines in place have never been overturned, and so in the highest orders of the RCC, they still stand.

Disclaimer: I very much love my Roman Catholic friends and believe that they are just as able to be saved by God's grace as I am, in spite of whatever bad theology they hold to - I'm sure mine isn't perfect either.

This Post is Already Obsolete...

This is an amazing video on how fast the world is changing and how technology is affecting our lives.
This generation is in for a roller coaster ride - but I suppose we are already somewhat used to it...



Just thinking back 15 years to when I entered college - even in those 4 years everything changed so drastically - the world was truly a different place when I came out. I went in having never heard of the internet, and I got to watch it be born (commercially) and blossom right before my eyes. I left college with a desktop PC, having easily logged thousands of hours on the web and having started a website advertising business with a friend.

I entered college having never desired or even conceptualized having a cell phone, and left college having owned two different ones... I'm sure those are the two big ones so far in my lifetime - as far as commercially usable products. Both of them have advanced beyond anything I dreamed of even back then - and it looks like that trend will continue.

I thought the most intriguing idea asserted in the video was that by the time I am 70 (if the Lord wills I make it that far), a $1000 PC (which today is NOT a top of the line PC) will have more computing power than the brainpower of the entire human race combined.

I hope we use it for more than surfing porn...

HT: Reformation Theology

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tempered Excitement....

It's been a very long time since I posted something sports related (I think it had something to do with the GIANTS winning the SUPER BOWL - remember that?). And while the Giants are not so quietly rolling over the rest of the NFL in defense of their championship, the Mets are quietly busy frying up deals on the Hot Stove at the Winter Meetings in Vegas.

After two disappointing ends to consecutive seasons, whose blame can likely be laid solely at the feet of the Mets bullpen, I am pretty excited to see that the late innings will now be patrolled by what (if healthy) is being called the best 1-2 relief tandem in the game.

Welcome to New York Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz.




I am glad to have you, but this is New York - so don't expect me to pack up my TUMS just yet. I am excited, but it's still December and my heart is still broken from '07 and '08. But here is to hoping that '09 and the new "Bailout Field" (which is very impressive) will set my mending heart aflame once more. Spring seems that much closer...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Follow Up from a Recent Post

Just more from Rev. Piper to help fill in the blanks of his so called "Christian Hedonism".

“God is the one Being in the entire universe for whom self-centeredness, or the pursuit of his own glory, is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he
does all things ‘for the praise of his glory,’ he preserves for us and offers to us, the only thing in the entire world, which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now and always will be, first, for himself. I urge you not to resent the centrality of God in his own affections, but to experience it as the fountain of your everlasting joy.”

- John Piper, “Is God for Us or for Himself?


HT: Of First Importance

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Please, Do Yourself a Favor...

LISTEN TO THIS

Do it. You will thank me... well, no... you will thank God.






HT: Unashamed Workman

What Does it Mean to Love My Enemy?

I have not been privy to the TV talking heads in the last couple weeks, or even those on the radio that I used to enjoy listening to, but have gotten away from in recent years.  So I don't have any first hand exposure to what has been said regarding the recent terrorist attacks in India...

However, apparently there is still a lot of talking going on regardless of whether or not I am listening, which is why I am grateful to those who are listening and writing about it... which brings me to the content of this post.

Go and Read this post by Greg Gilbert on the 9Marks blog.

It is reacting to some of the response on TV and radio by a prominent Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, and how some Christian's have taken it up and embraced it.  It's good stuff, and I think extremely important to think over and reflect on in our current global-political atmosphere, and particularly in light of how terrorism has become a main stream part of our everyday lives.

Here are the concluding thoughts if that trigger finger ain't so itchy:

Not many of us will ever have the opportunity to sit face to face with a terrorist and have to decide what loving that person might look like. But we do have to decide whether we’ll take pleasure in the thought of that person being in hell—or whether we’ll pray and genuinely hope for that person’s salvation and forgiveness. Putting it all together, I think the best and most Christian response is probably this: to be glad when a terrorist is brought to justice and punished, even executed, by the state, but at the same time to pray that someone, somehow, in those final moments is telling him the Gospel of Jesus, and to hope that one day you’ll stand next to him praising Christ as two forgiven sinners who, if it weren’t for him, would both be in hell.

What you simply can’t do, though, is decide that you’re worthy of God’s grace but that other guy is not.

Even if you don't read the whole thing - take that last line to the bank... all day long.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

And Speaking of John Piper...

Here is a recent transcript of a short talk he gave at ETS where he basically outlined, in 7 thesis, what he has spent the last 25 years of his life saying.

It was the spring board for a time of Q&A, which, if the audio does surface, I will try to post here.

But here is what Mr. Piper had to say.

Feel free to discuss.

While we are here... or there, as it were...

While you are over at Pure Church check out these vids from John Piper on retirement:






Now, I'm nowhere near retirement - but I do feel the squeeze of the entertainment lifestyle pressing me in on all sides.  I find it hard to imagine that it could get more difficult than it is to fight it - but I suppose with more time on your hands, all temptation becomes more difficult to fight.

so FIGHT!

How Should A Member Respond to a Divisive Elder?

I thought this post over at Pure Church was very helpful...

Not that the issue they are discussing over there has any bearing on anything happening at our church, but I thought it was helpful in shaping how to think about divisions in leadership at the local church level.

See, every session/board is going to have differences. Even though we all hold to the same confession of faith, there will still be differences among the leadership - differences in Eschatology, in Apologetic approaches, worship preferences, music styles, etc... the list could go on and on - some issues, of course, will be more or less important and serious than others.

But the important thing that Paul stresses through his letters and that is brought out in the aforementioned post, is the united front that the leadership needs to have before the members of the congregation. Now, I always knew this to be the case, but it never really struck me as to how important and how serious it is for the Elders not to promote those differences among the congregation.

Now, I am sure that does not mean that if someone asks you, that you should not be allowed to speak what you believe. But we must be careful how we do so - so that it does not undermine the unity of the leadership or, as Thabiti puts it "draw disciples after you". It takes real discernment to speak about these issues to those outside of leadership, and great care and wisdom when you do.

In case you are too lazy to click over, here are the important parts of the post:

Basically, a person commented asking what they should do about an Elder who was promoting a view of preaching that was divergent from the churches commitment to Expository preaching. I'm sure you can use your imagination and plug in any other serious concern. Here is part of the response:

1. Insist that he raise these issues with the elders directly (Matt. 5:22-25; 18:15) and immediately cease talking with others outside the elders about this(Rom. 16:17; Titus 3:10). If the eldership is advancing one view of teaching and preaching, and he another, that should be addressed inside the eldership so that unity may be maintained (Eph. 4) and the sheep led in a consistent and healthy direction.

If he has integrity, he should resign from the eldership if he finds himself out of keeping with the ministry commitments of that church and its leaders. If this is beyond the bounds of acceptable divergence, he should step down cheerfully and voluntarily, if he loves the church and has godly integrity.

2. If he refuses to address things with the eldership, let him know that you will go directly to the other elders along with two or three witnesses, others who can testify to his spreading his basic disagreement with the rest of the leadership (1 Tim. 5:19). Demonstrate your support of the entire leadership by helping them to keep short accounts with one another and pointing out difficulties of this nature that they may not be aware of.

Essentially, you want to close the court of public opinion and limit the potential for this man to "draw disciples after himself" by bringing this to light in the court of the eldership. As a member, you shouldn't have to try and address these things alone with someone charged to watch over you. Insist that he speak with the other elders. If he will not, yet holds to his contrary convictions, involve the other elders immediately. Let them judge the matter and keep the unity of the church.

3. Pray for and support your elders if they must rebuke this man publicly and sharply. That will be to the benefit of the entire body (1 Tim. 5:20) and help to make this man sound in the faith (Titus 1:13). Your elders may find this a difficult thing to do, so your prayers for wisdom and courage are needed. Hold them up before the Lord so that they would be able to teach, care, and lead their fellow elder well, and shepherd the congregation through the process as well. Since this man has been quietly spreading his views with others, at the least the elders may need to address this publicly for concern stemming from not knowing how far the comments have gone.

5. In all of your interactions and reactions, seek to love deeply from the heart (Col. 2:14), watch and continue in prayer (Col. 4:2), and joyfully submit to those in authority (Heb. 13:17). Be a model of joyful membership in the church. Do everything to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4).
Again, my perspective here is the big picture. How do the members of the congregation respond to an elder who they feel has overstepped their authority or is undermining the rest of the leadership? I'm not sure I have taken these questions as seriously as I should have in the past. As I think on it, perhaps I myself have spoken ill-advisedly in matters where I disagree with the session I am a part of and need to repent? These are matters to be taken seriously, and I am not sure I have done that to the extent that I ought as I execute the office I have been called to. Let's all be more mindful of these things in our churches and encourage our leadership to be the best leaders they can be under the light of the gospel.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pastor and Evangelism

This video is helpful in thinking about your pastor and evangelism.  I know many people who have been frustrated by their pastor's lack of immediate involvement in the evangelism ministry in the local church, and I think Mark Dever gives some insight into the pastor's role in evangelism and why you may not see your pastor on the front lines...




Now, that being said - we ought now to seek to take what our pastor's have equipped us with each week, and apply that to our own evangelism ministry in and outside of the church.  Much of the pastor's job is to equip YOU to do the things you wish he was doing for you.  And don't assume that if you don't see it, it isn't happening!


HT: Unashamed Workman

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Snow of 2008

It's a little after the fact, but it's been awhile since I posted here and I wanted to share these.
So there it is. :-)


It was an unexpected storm... we got about 8 inches or so. But not the damage that occurred in other ares near us. Where we used to live, a tree fell across the street and crushed 4 cars!
It was a very heavy and very wet snow...


Abby didn't care about any of that. She was absolutely thrilled to be out in it. She knew what a snowball was somehow, since even before she was dressed to go out she was yelling "snowball! snowball!" And she was throwing them at us as soon as she could get it in her hands.






A fun morning...

Monday, October 13, 2008

hoo boy... Convicting



HT to JT

I confess I have had mornings like that and then stepped into the pulpit... it's sad, it's wrong, and I take full responsibility. May God have mercy on me to love my family better, and not just Sunday mornings... and thanks be to God through the Lord Jesus Christ that His grace abounds to cover far more than bad mornings.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Surpised by ... Hip Hop?

I have not listened to rap music in quite some time. I was seriously into in my last year or two of High School (think Special Ed, Heavy D, and just on the scene gansta rap NWA... wow). I got back to my Rock roots in college, but rap was not off the table, and I still listen to some of my favorite tracks every once in a while (protect ya neck - Wu-Tang - clean version of course), but hip hop has not been on my radar very much at all in the last few years. Even the Christian Rap I had heard in recent years, while decent in content has not really grabbed my attention musically.

Now, because of my exit from the rap music scene, I apparently have missed out on a few really good Christian Rap artists. I could not list them here, but here is something I came across through JT's Blog (where else?) that I really like.

Enjoy this track from Lecrae - I just bought the album on iTunes. (Thanks to the Siebolds!)



If you have given up on Rap for one reason or another, you might want to peek in again. The 1:16 Clique is probably the first place you should look, which includes Lecrae, Trip-Lee and others.
(Romans 1:16)

There is a short written interview and a longer video interview with Lecrae here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The 2:4 Principle

Below I am just going to repost Justine Taylor's recent blog.

I have posted before on this and similar topics - but again, in my opinion, what Piper and Welch are getting at is the biggest obstacle to really engaging in the life of the church, and therefore, really accessing the Christian experience. I've said it before, Life in Christ IS life in the church. There is no other place to learn to be who we are called to be, or better place to actually try to live it out.
Anyone who is in the church that does not have this mindset will be continually disappointed, and hurt, and lonely - never satisfied with any body of believers they join, no matter what is available for them in the church. But enough from me, here is the post:



John Piper's latest sermon, The Mind of Christ: Looking Out for the Interests of Others, is well worth your time. Here's an excerpt:
Why do Christians walk through life feeling a humble sense that we owe service to people, rather than them owing us? The answer is that Christ loved us and died for us and forgave us and accepted us and justified us and gave us eternal life and made us heirs of the world when he owed us nothing. He treated us as worthy of his service, when we were not worthy of his service. He took thought not only for his own interests but for ours. He counted us as greater than himself: “Who is the greater,” he said, “one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27).

That is where our humility comes from. We feel overwhelmed by God’s grace: bygone grace in the cross and moment-by-moment arriving grace promised for our everlasting future. Christians are stunned into lowliness. Freely you have been served, freely serve.

So the crucial relational mark of the culture of our church should be Philippians 2:4: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This is the “mind” or the “mindset” that we should have in life together. This is the relational atmosphere where God will grant wisdom for the perplexing work of living in this world.

I was reminded of a quote from Ed Welch’s book, Running Scared:Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest (pp. 184-185), which I've excerpted here before:
Which do we really need—to give love or to receive it? We resist the question because we want to say both.

Yet Scripture seems to favor the imbalance. Not that we aspire to have our friend or spouse love us less, but that “in humility [we] consider others better than [our]selves” (Phil. 3:4). When the kingdom of God is ruling our hearts, we aspire more to serve than to be served, honor more than to be honored, and love more than be loved. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care about being loved; it simply means that we always want to outdo others in love.

Do we run the risk of a lopsided relationship? Absolutely. That is the relationship we have with God—he always loves first and most. . . . Throughout Scripture God is the one who loves more than he is loved. He always makes the first move. He advertises his extravagant affection for us even when we are indifferent or opposed to him.

When Jesus Christ, God incarnate, walked the earth, the pattern continued. Through his life Jesus was rejected by his people and misunderstood by his disciples. At the most difficult point of his life, he was betrayed, denied, and abandoned. But through it all his love was unwavering. In this, he established the pattern for true humanness. This is the way we were intended to be. This is life in the kingdom. It wants love, but it wants even more to love others deeply. Its treasure is to grow in the fruits of the Spirit, foremost of which is to love others.
This is Greg again: If we as a people, in our churches, in our marriages, in any other relationship we find ourselves in... If we could really live this out we would be far more content, far more at peace, and far more in tune with the life that God would like for us to live. We'd probably suffer a lot more too - another positive.

Monday, August 25, 2008

People Will Get Mad at You if You Do it Right

Here is an interesting clip from an interview with Tim Keller on the Pastor and his family.




This is probably one of the hardest aspects of being a pastor. I can see it from my own perspective, just starting out as a husband (our 4 year anniversary is Thursday) and as a Father (Abby turns 2 in November) - but I can also see it through the eyes of my mentor, who is much further along in his life and ministry.

I hear how others 'get mad' - both at myself and at him - when the balls drop, as they are bound to do. But Mr. Keller is right... if you are doing it right - not to say that I do, or that my mentor does - but if you are doing it right, people are going to get mad at you.

And it is so incredibly difficult to balance your calling as a husband and as a father, with that of your calling as a pastor - the shepherd of God's people... We want to be all things to all people - we are called to be that - but there is an order and a priority of the three which comes from God. And as angry as your people may get at you for doing it the right way - by not doing so you are disqualifying yourself from making the congregation happy anyway...

May as well have them mad at your for a good reason...

This is one of many reasons why it is so important to have a wise and strong session.

HT: Unashamed Workman

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Would Be Remiss...

If I made several posts today and did not add an Abby post...
Here are a couple of vids of she and I playing with a lollipop and talking with mommy...



In the next video, when I ask "Who made you?" - It sounds like she is saying Da-ddy, (which is not entirely wrong) but she is in actuality saying "God Did".
:-)




Until next time...

Tidbits to Share

If you haven't found or been pointed to "First Importance" let me be the one to send you that way. I recommend you add it to your feed-reader, if you have one... and if you don't... shame on you for wasting so much time! (said the man on his third blog post of the day...)

Anyway, I just wanted to share two of the more recent postings I thought were excellent:

“We conclude, therefore, that a Christian lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor. Otherwise he is not a Christian. He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor.”

- Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2003), 62.


“A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved.”

- Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Philadelphia, PA: P&R Publishing, 1965), 101.

The Story of Stuff

Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I hate the huge "green push" that has been going on in our society as of late. I don't hate it because I want to destroy the planet - but I hate it because of the arrogance and presumption and fear-mongering behind the most vocal 'greenies' out there. Do I believe global warming exists? Well, sort of, but not in the way it is being portrayed in the media. Do I believe that we can do something about it? Well, not exactly. I do however believe that we ought to be better stewards of what God has given us - and so in that vein, I am more 'green' than people might expect.

It is in that regard that I share this with you... 'big ups' to This Desert Life for alerting us to its existence.





I recommend watching this video with your propaganda detectors firmly in place. There is plenty to go around in this video, particularly in the first two sections of the video. It's not that I deny the premises in and of themselves, but the drama is a bit over the top and the numbers only tell half the story.

That being said, the sections on distribution and consumption are very, very good, and the last section to a lesser degree - a bit more fear mongering than I think is appropriate... but overall this is a helpful bit of info, something I think people should watch, though with a certain level of caution.

To the dismay of my wife, it does bolster my desire and my argument to have the cable shut off in our home (I really just don't want to pay for it)... however, that is not a hill I am willing to die on. There are much bigger fish to fry.

Enjoy, and do feel free to leave your thoughts.

PS - If I may point out ONE major nit-pick in the very beginning of the film - our narrator says passionately that "it is the governments job to TAKE CARE OF US" - I have to firmly jump ship right there... this is not and never has been the job of the government, and this is the major reason why we are in such dire straights economically as a nation... but that's enough about that for now.

OK, This May Be a Little Selfish...

But is anyone else discouraged by the fact that the majority of Reformed Christian Conferences worth going to are always held in middle America or some other far away place?

PCRT is held in Philadelphia, and that's great. But there are all these other great gatherings I'd love to go to, Like New Attitude, Together for the Gospel, Resolved, Desiring God and the most recently announced (as far as I know) The Gospel Coalition...

I would have loved to go to any one of these, but they are all so far away that the travel makes it impossible. The church could never afford to send me, and I surely could not afford to send myself... I suppose I will have to be content with downloading the audio after the fact. At least it's free! For that I truly am thankful.

But I think these conferences should do what our GA does, and rotate the location every year. That way more people who want to go are able to at least every few years. That would be great. Not to confuse a conference with the Church - it is not the same... but that's an entirely different post for another day.

Monday, June 30, 2008

This is One of the Greatest Sermons I Have Ever Heard.

Tim Keller preaching on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Nothing flashy... No emotional strings... No big show...

Just good, clear, gospel preaching.

And it is AMAZING.


From what I understand, it is the basis for his forthcoming book:





I am currently trying to find time to read his current bestseller:



Time to get on my horse!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oh Yeah... There was this:

Yup, I am now officially the Reverend Gregory Rather Gentry Jr.
And I have the photos to prove it!


taking my vows...


They are laying hands on somebody...


aw man, who is it? Can't ... see...


Still no luck... It's me, I assure you it is!


See, my name is on the cake and everything!


I thought this was so cool...
II Timothy 4:1-2 if you can make it out.


Here is the article that we wrote up for PR:

On May 18, the Presbytery of New Jersey ordained Gregory R. Gentry as a minister and installed him as the Assistant Pastor of Church of the Covenant, OPC in Hackettstown, NJ. He joins the ministry of Senior Pastor Rev. Ron Pearce, whose ministry Gregory has sat under since his youth as a member of Church of the Covenant, where he was married in 2004 and where he and his wife Natalie baptized their daughter Abigail in 2006.

The Rev. Ron Pearce led the service and The Rev. David Harr Preached from 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5, asking why Church of the Covenant would possibly want “Another Preacher?” He focused on the centrality of the ministry of the Word in the Worship of our God. The Rev. James Cassidy, moderator of the NJ Presbytery, administered the vows to Mr. Gentry and to the congregation, followed by the laying on of hands. Rev. Pearce followed with a sobering charge to Mr. Gentry from 1 Timothy 4:15-16 and Rev. Stanford Sutton charged the congregation from 1 Thessalonians 5:9-14.

The glorious day of worship ended in celebration and fellowship as the many who gathered shared a light dessert reception after the service. This was a joyous day in the life of Church of the Covenant, to the glory of God and for the proclamation of Christ Jesus.



(from left to right): Elder Gerry Cruz (CoC), Rev. Tom Foh (Reeders, PA), Rev. Ron Pearce (CoC), Rev. Stan Sutton (Westfield, NJ), Rev. Jim Cassidy (Ringoes, NJ), Rev. Jeff Waddington (Ringoes), the Ordinand Rev. Greg Gentry(CoC), Rev. Mark Stewart (Newton URC), Rev. David Harr(Medord, NJ), Rev. Andrew Graham (Knowlton PCA), and Elder Keith Cuomo(CoC).

:-)

Dancing Baby




Thursday, May 22, 2008

Self or Christ?

“Self has no claims upon us, for it has done nothing for us. It has been a wall of iron between us and Christ. Is that a reason that we should serve it? It has been a mountain of ice between us and the world to come. Is that a ground of claim over us?

No, brethren, self has done nothing to make us either live to it or die to it. It never can do anything; shall we then bow to it; shall we serve it; shall we do it homage?

We ask on the other hand—What has the Lord not done? What indissoluble, innumerable bonds are there between us and him, as the living, the dying, and the rising one.

The whole of our life is to be his, as his life was for us. Surely he has earned this, if he has earned anything at all. The least that we can give him is our life; the undivided service of our being, in every part; in our doing, in our speaking, in our planning, and in all our daily round of business, so that every part of our life shall be a witness-bearing for him.”

—Horatius Bonar, “Self or Christ; Which Is It?”


The above is, in my mind, one of the clearest statements of one of the most important truths the church needs to grab hold of in order to become what it is meant to be - Both corporately, in caring for one another and meeting diaconal needs, (which are incredibly important) and also individually, in marriages, in child rearing, friendships... the list goes on and on. If there is one word that ought to be able to be used to describe the Christian man or woman, it is the word "selfless."

Unfortunately, it is not only one of the most important concepts to realize, but it is also one of the hardest concepts (the hardest?) to actually manifest, and only by God's Spirit working in us.

May each of us pray hard for a more selfless spirit and truly desire to give up our "rights" for the sake of the others around us and the church. The Lord knows I need to pray as hard as anyone...


HT - Of First Importance


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rosa May Flowers

The following post is meant for our Missions Trip team.

Here are some pictures and commentary for what we will be working on for at least the first few days down in Fairmont.

Our host is Rosa May Flowers, she is a 76 year old single woman who loves the Lord.
Starting today, she is your newly adopted Grandmother.


This is her home... Starting today, this is our home. Her prized possessions will be our prized possessions. We will love and care for them as she loves and cares for them.



Most of us will be spending much of our time on the roof. But a bad roof also leads to indoor damage, so I will start on the inside and work our way out...


The roof has been leaking for some time. These pictures show the damage...

Best case scenario, we're looking at one or two replacement sheets of drywall, puddy, and then do our best to match the ceiling, which is painted with texture paste/paint as you can see below.

This is in the kitchen, not nearly as bad as the living room. After we fix the roof, we can probably just put some primer on the spot and paint it.

Now we head outside to the roof... We will be stripping and re-shingling the entire space, including both porches. We estimated it to be approx. 1300 square feet.



I'm guessing we will find some wild life in that insulation.


The shingles are literally crumbling under our feet. Rosa May has been here for 25 years. Who knows how long the roof has been here. There are no trees or shade on the house itself, so these are pretty weather beaten.


The pitch on the rood is not bad at all. We should not need to worry about roof jacks or anything like that.

MTW has already put a tarp on the roof to keep it from leaking any further.

Here is the fascia work that needs to be done. This is the back porch, which has almost no pitch at all. We were surprised there wasn't more internal damage under this section of roof.


We will have to contend with a family of buzzers before we start the job...

Mark climbed up into the attack to see if there was any hidden damage, so there will be no surprises. If you look into the corner you can see the black water damage. One or two rows of ply wood will likely need replacing.

She also asked us to fix this electrical socket which apparently has no juice. Hopefully we can figure that one out.

That's the tour. It doesn't look all too daunting, and if we get a good rhythm going, we may be able to finish pretty early and help other teams finish other jobs as well. It will be the end of the summer at MTW, so there will be lots of loose ends to tie up, so be preparing yourselves mentally for just about anything!

Start praying now for how God is going to use you on this trip, and how He is going to change you on this trip. Be praying for Rosa May, and how we can minister to her, or how she may minister to us. Be praying for the unexpected, for safety, and most of all for God to be honored and glorified in our work, and for him to give us many opportunities to show and share Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Abby and Friends Play the Piano

My parents got Abby this cute little piano for Christmas, but we have not been able to set it up until today, because out apartment is about the size of a postage stamp. :-)

But we finally got it out and wanted to share (mostly with my parents) that she is finally able to enjoy their very cool gift.



After getting it situated in the bedroom, Abby gave her first concert to a group of fine stuffed animals, whom she quickly employed to help her complete her concerto. I'd have gotten more, but my batteries died... my bad.



This comes on the heels of another very special gift...

My dad, who is extremely gifted, made Abby a little desk.
He called me when he began the project and told me he was getting Abby a dog.
I must admit that I took him seriously and was not entirely pleased since, a) we live on a postage stamp, and b) our postage stamp does not allow pets! :-)

I was relieved when I saw this:


As you can see... not a real dog. But a cute one! Abuelito loves his nieta.

She took to it right away.


And even tried to take off with it! But it's pretty stable front to back... it's side to side you have to worry about.

And just because she has a cool new desk does not mean we have to be any less watchful of her eating crayons... she's chomping on the blue one here... That's a crayon-eating-grin.

Thanks Lito and Grammy!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Not sure if I mentioned this...

But, by God's grace and to His praise, I did finally pass my ordination exam before Presbytery on April 22nd.

So, unless the Lord returns, (Which would be so much cooler) I will be ordained and installed by the PNJOPC as the Assistant Pastor of Church of the Covenant on May 18th at 3pm.

If you are reading this, YOU are invited.

There will be a luncheon after morning worship and a reception after the ordination service. You should come spend the day honoring God's faithfulness with us.

Please let me know if you are coming so we can be adequately prepared.

Can I get a woot woot?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Let nothing divide you...

I don't think this is a huge issue in my own church - at least not as much as it may have once been. But there is so much in this short clip that goes beyond the main point and focus of Josh Harris' talk that I think every believer ought to watch this.



I think he is getting at something so vital to the life of the Church - it is so vital, and yet we so easily miss it. The life of the Church IS LIFE IN CHRIST. All of life is meant to happen in the Church, and we are meant to be united in that life. Josh is focusing on a particular aspect of that life, but the same things could be said about any and all aspects. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!

Amen Mr. Harris, Amen.

HT: JT

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vid at the Park

In spite of my own silly commentary, I will share some video from the park today.





Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spelling Bean

Well, sort of...



but still very cute!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ben Stein and RC Sproul - A Great Meeting of the Minds

This is one of the most informative and entertaining 30 minutes I have watched in some time. These two are a joy to behold.

Now, if we can only get the rest of the world to watch...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Man, I Wish This Guy Was Conservative

I am not a Barack Obama supporter.

In fact, it is safe to assume that I disagree with almost every facet of his platform. To a conservative like me, he is the most frightening kind of liberal progressive. Some of the ideals he supports are great, but the means by which he believes we ought to pursue them are not.

He is the kind of politician that scares me for the future - my own and my children's. I do not believe that the status-quo is the way things should go, but I truly and firmly believe that if Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton are elected that the "change" that they pursue, while they cannot possibly inflict permanent damage to our country, will produce long term global damage that could take generations to fix.

I do not intent to make this a long list of reasons not to vote for the democrats this year. The reason why I am writing any of this is to make sure that my readers (all 5 of you) understand where I am coming from when I make the following statement:

This was the single greatest political speech I have ever read.

Never before have I felt like a politician actually 'got it' and truly understood the country that he is attempting to lead and represent in the world. Granted, there are several paragraphs towards the end of the speech that made me cringe rather violently, but if half of this speech is actually how Obama understands this nation (as opposed to merely his speech writers understanding) - then he really does get it.

And if I may interject some theological analysis, the reason that this speech was so powerful is because he hit on some universal and biblical truths that will resonate with every human being.

- He drew out an oft suppressed reality that everyone can be both racially compassionate and hateful, depending on the context. (I would draw this out beyond race as well, but that is the context of the speech) All men have the capacity for 'good' (humanly speaking), but are all the more so plague by the strong capacity for evil (sinful nature).

- He focused on the fact that in spite of our overall human tendencies toward shunning 'otherness', it is only together that we can truly change. This is, in a very simplistic and Spirit-stripped nutshell, the doctrine of the Church. It is only as we sharpen one another under the gracious workings of the Holy Spirit, in the family/community of His people (the Church, His body of which He is the head), that we can ever hope to 'change' (read: become more holy).

- This is not theological, but he did something I'm not sure anyone has ever done publicly before: He spoke intelligently and correctly for both sides of the race issue and in a way that will help the other side to see and understand, even empathize, with their counterparts.

I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with this particular speech, and also with the Obama campaign on the whole. I am monumentally impressed with his integrity in dealing with his attackers, his graciousness towards them in how he responds, and his overall demeanor. He seems truly genuine and like an incredible man, someone I would love to get to know and converse with.

Now I just wish I could vote for him...............


****UPDATE****

I made myself watch it on YOUTUBE...

Not as impressive as reading it... my imagination of Obama is better than the real thing. but feel free to judge for yourself:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Warner Brothers FINALLY Gets it RIght

Yes, at long last, the film making industry has heard me.

You may remember my famed review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Poo), where I brought up the idea of doing with Harry Potter what studios had done previously with films like "the Matrix" and "Lord of the Rings", filming and making much much longer movies and splitting them into two or even three part releases.

It seems that the good old WB finally got the memo.

The last of the 7 films (Deathly Hallows) will be made into two films, to be released within short order of one another in 2010.

But seriously, why in the world did it take two additional sub-par films (one for sure in Order of the Phoenix, and undoubtedly a second in the forthcoming Half-Blood Prince) to get to this point. There is beyond enough movie worthy content in books 4-7 to make at least two films for each one, and really, the ones who would make out the best from having gone this route would have been the studio! Yes, they likely would have doubled their budget, but they also would have doubled their PROFIT - which we all know will consistently smash the budget numbers for this franchise. And then they wouldn't have to put up with whiny fans like me yibbering on about what rubbish they have made of the books (well, the last couple anyway, the first three were not bad at all).

I will say that Yates did do an OK job with Order of the Phoenix, it wasn't great, I'm not even sure it was good, but it wasn't Goblet of Poo either. It's been some time since I watched it - but nothing sticks out in my mind that was important in the books that didn't make it to the screen. And with a 900+ page book, I'd say that's an accomplishment, if nothing else. I will be interested to see how he handles Half-Blood Prince, as it will perhaps be the most challenging film to bring to the big screen.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Candied Baby

I had a unique opportunity, through a friend at church who works for M+M's, to participate in product testing and experimentation. And let me say, when you get the chance to do product testing for M+M, you accept!

Enough from me, the photos will explain it all...



They look like fairly unassuming M+M's ...


But as you get closer...


You notice something funny...


Faces??


Cute baby faces?!?!


Cute Abby faces!?!


Abby on M+M's... what will they think of next?



This is the original photo I sent in for the project.
Not too bad a likeness.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dejavu ... All Over Again

Last year, almost to the day, my theology examination for licensure on the floor of Presbytery was continued to the following meeting in April.

Today, my theology examination before the committee (one step before the floor) was continued to the next meeting in April.

I was not properly prepared for this exam. I did not understand what was expected of me and so I simply studied the wrong way. Fault noted, problem corrected. See you in April, Lord willing.

It goes without saying then that the tentative Ordination ceremony of March 16th is now the tentative Ordination ceremony of sometime in May... maybe.

On a positive note, the committee was quick to commend my orthodoxy... which means I'm not a heretic. *phew*

Ordination Trials - you have earned your moniker.

Monday, February 18, 2008

ER Exposes Liberalism and Post Modernism

Of all places to find such a screaming example of the reality of liberal Christianity, I did not expect it to be on this particular TV show. I wept when I watched this clip because this is what the majority of professing Christians are 'fed' with on a week to week basis. I just hope the audience saw themselves as the man in the hospital bed...



HT: Kingdom People

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Fun...



It's almost too good to be true.
And yet it is true.

Sign him up Wilpons, open the purse.
Looks like it will all be done tomorrow, as per Metsblog.com