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Man Conscious While Wrongly Diagnosed As Comatose For 23 Years

An amazing story.
Here’s a link to a report at The Age website.
A video clip and article can be seen at Skynews.
Another article from Skynews.

Here’s a sponsored CBS clip from YouTube. (You have to watch an ad first)

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The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

The link above will take you to the website of the Manhattan Declaration. The Declaration was released on November 20. The full text is available for download here.

The Declaration is introduced in these words:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The signatories now number over 73,000. These inlude names that have appeared on this blog including Bryan Chapell, Tim Keller, Albert Mohler and Ravi Zacharias. These are brilliant men of reformed conviction.
The document implicitly recognises commonality for all the strands of Christianity named therein. It is also prepared to accept those of any belief who are prepared to agree with and support its contentions. This gives rise to reservations Gospel clarity being compromised by supporting the declaration. Mohler explains his decision to be a signatory here and seeks to deal with these reservations in his post.
The contentions about life, marriage and liberty in the Declaration do represent points in common among Romanists, Orthodox and Evangelicals. Sadly, these positions do not arise from entirely common foundations.
An article from Frank Turk, as one who would not sign the Declaration, can be found on the First Things blog. It sums up the problem that arises from a document that says more than it needs to in areas that are not central to its arguments.

I don’t know if I’ll sign the Declaration just yet. I know they’ll do quite well without me. It is an important statement that deserves study and will serve as a rallying point for the support of a biblical worldview in cultural debate. Reservations about Gospel clarity do not negate the value of its contribution in other significant areas.
After all, it will not be the number who assent to it that determines its worth. Only the truth of its content will make it valuable and lasting.

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‘It Is Very Safe To Operate’

A very tired mgpcpastor is straining to find a spiritual lesson from this. Any suggestions?
(If Gordon Cheng can post Bethlehemian Rhapsody on Sola Panel then I feel no problem with this being my output for the day.)

HT: Justin Taylor (yep, him again)

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When Peace Like A River – Sunday Songs

Tonight at mgpc we sang ‘When Peace Like A River’. The midi arrangement from DM Music takes some getting used to, to say the least. In any case, everyone was very enthusiastic.
It could be observed that this hymn has just about the most famous and remarkable back-story of modern song of praise.
Justin Taylor notes that on November 21, 1873 the steamship Ville du Havre sank. Included among the 246 who were lost were the four daughters of Horatio Spafford. Spafford is reputed to have written ‘When Peace Like A River’ while at sea, on route to be reunited with his wife, who had survived the wreck of the Ville du Havre.
Here’s Taylor’s post.

The lyrics: (check out some more notes at Cyberhymnal)
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

The fourth and fifth verses above are usually absent from modern hymnals. My personal favourite is verse three: my sin is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
In addition to the loss of his daughters Spafford also lost a son and endured financial ruin. Truly his hope was on promises that he would not see fulfilled in this life.

Here’s a Mars Hill YouTube about Spafford. (HT to Taylor for this as well)

Here’s a YouTube of Christian Pop/Rock band Jars of Clay singing the hymn. Their harmonies are not traditional, but it’s still quite nice.

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Resources For Preachers

Three helpful resources for preachers have been posted over the last few days.
You don’t have to be a preacher to benefit from them.
Justin Taylor has posted some notes from Gerald Bray, Research Professor at Beeson Divinity School, answering the question: ‘What are the questions we should ask when approaching a passage of Scripture?’
The first question we must ask of every biblical text is simply this—what does it tell us about God? What does it say about who he is and about what he does?
The second question is: what does this text say about us human beings? What are we meant to be and what has gone wrong?
The third and final question is: what has God done about this and what does he expect of us in the light of what he has done?
Asking these questions and seeking answers to them will help us interpret the Spirit’s message to Christ’s people and to each of us as individuals.

Secondly, Kevin DeYoung, continuing his inexorable conquest of the blogosphere by also posting on the Nine Marks site, has a post entitled: ‘Learning to be Yourself as a Preacher: From One Still Trying to Do Just That’.
DeYoung shares the journey that a young (or new) preacher makes in trying to assimilate the influences of his preaching heroes while finding his own voice. The communication of divine truth through their own personality and not the conglomeration of their influences. Sometimes when I’m preaching I still hear echoes of the man who taught me to preach.

Thirdly, on C.J. Mahaney’s blog a video about ‘The Pastor’s Teaching’ by Jeff Pursell.
The message was recorded at the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s Conference. This outline helpfully includes the timestamps at which the various points are covered.
Message outline:
Introduction [2:25]
“The governing priority for the faithful pastor is devotion to the teaching of God’s Word” [11:52]
Three characteristics that should mark the life of the one whose governing priority is the teaching of God’s Word:
1. Diligent labor [21:18]
2. Divine awareness [31:03]
3. Careful exposition [37:55]
“Your teaching is the primary expression of your leadership.” [44:53]
Correct meaning and clear communication [48:54]
Minimum standard requirements for rightly handling the Word:
A. Is the biblical text providing the substance for my preaching, teaching, and leadership? [51:33]
B. Am I using individual texts in a way that is consistent with their intended purpose? [53:04]
C. Am I accurately understanding and faithfully communicating the meaning of texts? [53:54]
D. Am I accurately and compellingly impressing upon people the appropriate response to texts of Scripture? [56:53]
Personal implications [58:04]
Team implications:
First, let us set out to create on our pastoral teams a company of expositors. [60:42]
Second, we must preserve the preaching of the Word as the pinnacle of our Sunday meetings. [64:46]
Third, look across the landscape of your church and ask: Is every sphere and ministry receiving regular pastoral leadership in the form of teaching? [66:00]
Conclusion [66:50]


Best. Christian Fiction. Ever.

Tim Challies officially wins the internet today.
He proposes a pitch for a work of Christian fiction that incorporates a number of the most popular themes currently evident.

The title: Cassidy: Amish Vampiress of the Tribulation.

Read his draft back cover blurb and sample text here.
Warning: there will be laughter.

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Staying And Departing – A Funeral Sermon

I feel that I should start putting some of these on the blog.
Bringing fresh messages to funerals is something of a challenge, particularly if, like me, you’re ministering in a compact community like a provincial town. Chances are you’re surfing the internet while preparing a message looking for a fresh idea. Hope this helps. Continue reading