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reports, reviews, thoughts, news (and fun) posted by Gary Ware


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The Quiet Time (via David Cook)

David Cook writes about the Christian devotional custom of Quiet Times.
And yes, I did read through to the end with his comments about social media.

From David’s page at the PCA website:

On my way to pick up my newspaper recently, I passed by the local taxi rank and one of the drivers had spread his prayer mat on the footpath and was praying, facing Mecca.
Here I was on my way to read the paper, here he was at prayer!
It used to be called the Quiet Time, personal devotions, time alone in the presence of God for prayer and Bible reading.
It is not much emphasized these days, maybe because we see all of life as worship or too often, we judge the health of our relationship with God on the basis of the regularity of our Quiet Time. But we must not stop doing something that is good, simply because it has the potential of attracting our trust.

Here are three reasons why I believe daily devotions are a healthy discipline:
1. The distinctive Christian understanding of God is that He is our Father. His fatherhood is perfect and according to the Confession of Faith, revolves around his providing, protecting and pitying of us. I am to live in that relationship 24/7, but it is surely a healthy habit and honouring to the relationship, to spend time with God with a devoted, single mind. I don’t find it easy to think of two things at once, to speak to God and to understand what he says in his word, requires a single minded intention.
2. Christians duplicate the offices of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus is prophet, he is the revealer of God;
Jesus is priest, he intercedes for us at God’s right hand;
Jesus is King, he rules over all things.
The believer has a prophetic ministry, proclaiming God’s truth; a priestly ministry, interceding before God; a kingly ministry, ruling over all things, because the ruler has promised to work in all things for our good, to make us like Christ.

For each of these ministries to flourish in our lives they need to be nourished by truth –
I need to know the truth to be proclaimed:
I need to be reminded how crucially God regards the prayers of his people;
I need the reminder that every event which seems out of control, is actually a gift from God’s hand, driving me into the secure arms of the Shepherd King.
To be an effective prophet, priest and king, I need time in the nourishing word and the strengthening relationship of my heavenly Father.
Because of the way we grow in our knowledge of God. Human relationships grow as time is invested, and depths of thoughts and fears and insights are shared.
To be an effective prophet, priest and king, I need time in the nourishing word and the strengthening relationship of my heavenly Father.
3. J I Packer on page 20 of Knowing God, writes of turning our knowledge about God into knowledge of God, “the rule for doing this is demanding but simple. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God, into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”

Here are three hints:
1. Try and take the same time and place each day. For early birds this may be early, for night owls, later on, whenever your brain is at its best.
2. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to content – read with aids, without aids, according to a Bible overview plan or more thoroughly through one book. The 1:4 rule is a good one, read for one minute think about it for 4 minutes. Take notes.
3. Focus your mind for prayer – pray through a Psalm or a hymn, pray down a list or through a family or missionary photo album.
Remember your goal is to know God better and for you to be more like Him, to clothe yourself with the righteousness of Christ (Colossians 3:12 – 14, Galatians 3:27).
Time cannot be created, there are only 24 hours in the day.
Time needs to be made, the greatest time killer used to be TV but, without a doubt, these days it is social media.
Shut down the social media and spend focused, uninterrupted time with your heavenly Father.

David Cook


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Spiritual Warfare by Borgman & Ventura – A Book Review

Spiritual-Warfare-194x300Spiritual Warfare – A Biblical & Balanced Perspective by Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura (Reformation Heritage Books, 2014) aims to provide a framework for Christians to contend against spiritual darkness.
In doing so the authors affirm a biblical worldview in which supernatural and natural coexist, guarding against both a naturalistic approach to Christian life which lives without regard to spiritual realities, or at another extreme, treating life as a Christian version of ‘Ghostbusters’.
Though the book references both these tendencies, it is remains focussed on providing constructive instruction and exhortation about spiritual warfare using Ephesians 6:10-20 as a framework.
So, rather than criticising other positions, the tone throughout is pastoral. I appreciated the earnestness of the writers (who it appears have co-authored the work seamlessly). It was encouraging to be reminded that all the weaponry of spiritual warfare is given to the Christian through their salvation; while being challenged to lay hold of each aspect of Christ’s saving work as it relates to resisting temptation to sin and growing more like Jesus.
This emphasis on Christian growth and sanctification enables the reader to see how their neglect creates vulnerabilities to spiritual assault.
Of great value are two concluding chapters dealing with the proactive warfare practice of prayer. As the church to which I belong has recently emerged from an intense season of prayer arising from an accident which one of our own suffered, the content of these chapters reinforces a conviction regarding the need to continue in prayer now that the emergency has passed.
Helpful study questions serve to both summarise the content of each chapter and provide avenues for further exploration. The book is well referenced and each chapter’s end notes provide sources for further reading.
Spiritual Warfare is a biblical, accessible and concise introduction to an important intersection between Christian growth and Christian life. Pastoral and constructive in tone, it offers readers a guide as they consider what the Bible teaches about the reality of conflict with spiritual evil. Those who heed the counsel it offers will be vigilant without being fearful, and prepared to act without constant anxiety about the conflict.

The Kindle edition of Spiritual Warfare upon which this review is based was provided by Cross Focused Reviews as part of a Spiritual Warfare blog tour. A positive review was not required.


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The Top Fifty Countries Where It’s Hardest To Be A Christian In 2014 (via Open Doors)

This graphic features Open Door’s 2014 ranking of the fifty countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.
You download a (larger image size) pdf copy with further information here.
More information at this page.
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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 49

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 49

Chapter 30 – Of Church Censures
I. The Lord Jesus, as king and head of his Church, has therein appointed a government in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.
II. To these officers the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.
III. Church censures are necessary for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren; for deterring of others from like offenses; for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump; for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel; and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.
IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition, suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season, and by excommunication from the Church, according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.


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Why Sing Laments In Corporate Worship? (via John Starke)

John Starke writes about the place of lament in corporate worship.

… the Bible gives us several good reasons why lamenting should be a part of our normal Christian worship, even if we are not lamenting our own circumstances. In no particular order of importance, here are four such reasons.

  1. We sing songs of lament even when we are not lamenting in order to weep with those who are weeping.

  2. We sing songs of lament even when we are not lamenting so that when seasons of mourning come, we know what songs to sing and what prayers to pray.

  3. We sing songs of lament even when we are not lamenting because the New Testament calls us to.

  4. We sing songs of lament even when we are not lamenting because maybe you should be lamenting more than you are.

Read the whole post at the Gospel Coalition.


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Standing Strong by John MacArthur – Kindle Edition Available Free From Amazon For Limited Time

Standing-Strong-199x300Standing Strong is a 2012 republication of John MacArthur’s How To Meet The Enemy, a 1992 book on spiritual warfare.
Coming from solid baptist Bible teacher MacArthur it’ll have a lot of sober and scriptural teaching. As a work originally framed in the early 90’s it seeks to find a biblical path between the extremes of behaving as if there is no active agency of spiritual evil working against Christians or operating as if we’re the Kingdom of God version of Ghostbusters.
Amazon indicates the print copy runs to 288 pages and includes a study guide.
The Kindle edition of the book is currently available free for the next 48 hours or so at Amazon.
Thanks to Gospel eBooks for the link.


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Giving Thanks For Generations Of Grace

This morning’s talk among the pastors of Mount Gambier revolved around those who had prayed for our conversions and those who had been models of Godliness for us as we grew in our Christian lives.
Our different stories revealed the same grace mediated through a great diversity of relationships and circumstances.
God is pleased to work through human interactions to bring us into His family, and to nurture us when we are there.
It also showed that sometimes those who nurtured us finished consistently, and other times they stumbled and resumed the race, while others fell and did not end well.
Which causes us to recall that our loved ones and friends may be the means by which we are called and discipled into the kingdom, but our real Saviour and role model is Jesus.

As we prayed to give thanks to God for His love and for these people, we also were moved to give thanks for those in prior generations who prayed for, witnessed to, and modelled the Christian life for our heroes.
This great flow of grace rolls down generations, and we are the current recipients of it.
We are also called to continue that witness to the generations that follow us.
We are also called to live in a way that will not discourage those who follow from living for Christ.
The work of generations comes to us, but does not end with us.
It continues on.
And for that we prayed with thanksgiving, and for the grace and strength needed to pass on what we have received.