mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

If The Doctor Asks You… (via Kathryn Butler at Desiring God)

Last Saturday night I participated in a phone conversation that dealt with directions about various medical treatment choices that may or may not be needed for someone who is not capable of making those choices themselves.
I found this article by Kathryn Butler at Desiring God covered a lot of the considerations that were being put before us, and approaches how those options can be thought of from a biblical perspective.
It is more positive to have given some thought to this beforehand, and to have even discussed them with those for whom you may end up making choices (or who may be making them on your behalf).
Butler is/was a trauma and critical care surgeon, her reflections do not come from a place of pure theory.
Well worth a read:

Making life-or-death decisions for loved ones cripples many with feelings of guilt and doubt that persist for years, and which can progress to depression, complicated grief, chronic anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
So how do we make compassionate, Christ-honoring decisions about our loved ones’ care when the unthinkable happens? How do we discern the right path when time to reflect is nonexistent, and when the mind balks at the ramifications of our choices?

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


Leave a comment

Therapeutic Lying (via Larissa MacFarquhar at The New Yorker)

An in-depth article in The New Yorker dealing with dementia care and the way its practictioners struggle with the lying and untruths that are part of the life of carers and patients.
Over the decades and even within among practitioners differing points of view and practices have been dominant and then given way to others.
Consider what it is to work day by day in a world where truth is often judged as being what the patient needs to hear.

In dementia care, everybody lies. Although some nursing homes have strict rules about being truthful, a recent survey found that close to a hundred per cent of care staff admitted to lying to patients, as did seventy per cent of doctors. In most places, as in Chagrin Valley, there is no firm policy one way or another, but the rule of thumb among the staff is that compassionate deception is often the wisest course. “I believe that deep down, they know that it is better to lie,” Barry B. Zeltzer, an elder-care administrator, wrote in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias. “Once the caregiver masters the art of being a good liar and understands that the act of being dishonest is an ethical way of being, he or she can control the patient’s behaviors in a way that promotes security and peace of mind.” Family members and care staff lie all the time, and can’t imagine getting through the day without doing so, but, at the same time, lying makes many of them uncomfortable. To ease this “deception guilt,” lying in dementia care has been given euphemistic names, such as “therapeutic fibbing,” or “brief reassurances,” or “stepping into their reality.”

Read The Comforting Fictions Of Dementia Care at The New Yorker.


Leave a comment

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 35

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 35

Q & A 143
Q Which is the ninth commandment?
A The ninth commandment is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.

Q & A 144
Q What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things: Whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging gossips, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requires; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of: Whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

Q & A 145
Q What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice;speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults;hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering: What we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.


Leave a comment

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 29

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 29

Q & A 111
Q Which is the third commandment?
A The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”.

Q & A 112
Q What is required in the third commandment?
A The third commandment requires, That the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the Word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, His works, and: Whatsoever else there is whereby He makes Himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others.

Q & A 113
Q What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
A The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious, or wicked mentioning, or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarreling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God’s decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the Word, or any part of it, to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or anywise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.

Q & A 114
Q What reasons are annexed to the third commandment?
A The reasons annexed to the third commandment, in these words, “the Lord your God”, and “for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”, are, because He is the Lord and our God, therefore His name is not to be profaned, or any way abused by us; especially because He will be so far from acquitting and sparing the transgressors of this commandment, as that He will not suffer them to escape His righteous judgment, albeit many such escape the censures and punishments of men.


Leave a comment

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 26

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 26

Q & A 100
Q What special things are we to consider in the ten commandments?
A We are to consider in the ten commandments, the preface, the substance of the commandments themselves, and several reasons annexed to some of them, the more to enforce them.

Q & A 101
Q What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.1 Wherein God manifests his sovereignty, as being YHWH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God;2 having his being in and of himself,3 and giving being to all his words4 and works:5 and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people;6 who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivers us from our spiritual thraldom;7 and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.8

*1 Exodus 20:2.
*2 Isaiah 44:6.
*3 Exodus 3:14.
*4 Exodus 6:3.
*5 Acts 17:24, 28.
*6 Genesis 17:7; Romans 3:29.
*7 Luke 1:74-75.
*8 1 Peter 1:15, 17-18; Leviticus 18:30; Leviticus 19:37.


Leave a comment

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 25

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 25

Q & A 98
Q Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon Mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone;1 and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. The four first commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.2

Q & A 99
Q What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?
A For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:

1. That the law is perfect, and binds everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.*3
2. That it is spiritual, and so reaches the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.*4
3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.*5
4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden;*6 and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded:*7 so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included;*8 and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.*9
5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done;*10 what he commands, is always our duty;*11 and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.*12
6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.*13
7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places to endeavour that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.*14
8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them;*15 and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.*16

*1 Deuteronomy 10:4; Exodus 34:1-4.
*2 Matthew 22:37-40.
*3 Psalm 19:7; Matthew 5:21-22.
*4 Romans 7:14; Matthew 22:37-39; Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37-39, 43-44.
*5 Colossians 3:5; Amos 8:5; Proverbs 1:19; 1 Timothy 6:10.
*6 Isaiah 58:13; Matthew 4:9-10; Matthew 15:4-6.
*7 Matthew 5:21-25; Ephesians 4:28.
*8 Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 30:17.
*9 Jeremiah 18:7-8; Exodus 20:7; Psalm 15:1, 4-5; Psalm 24:4-5.
*10 Job 13:7-8; Hebrews 11:25.
*11 Deuteronomy 4:8-9.
*12 Matthew 12:7.
*13 Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28; Matthew 15:4-6; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Jude 2; Colossians 3:21.
*14 Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 19:17; Joshua 14:15; Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
*15 2 Corinthians 1:24.
*16 1 Timothy 5:22; Ephesians 5:11.


Leave a comment

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 24

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 24

Q & A 91
Q What is the duty which God requires of man?
A The duty which God requires of man, is obedience to his revealed will.*1

Q & A 92
Q What did God at first reveal unto man as the rule of his obedience?
A The rule of obedience revealed to Adam in the estate of innocence, and to all mankind in him, besides a special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree knowledge of good and evil, was the moral law.*2

Q & A 93
Q What is the moral law?
A The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body,3 and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he owes to God and man:4 promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.*5

Q & A 94
Q Is there any use of the moral law to man since the fall?
A Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law:6 yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate.7

Q & A 95
Q Of what use is the moral law to all men?
A The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and the will of God,8 and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly;9 to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives:10 to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery,11 and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ,12 and of the perfection of his obedience.13

Q & A 96
Q What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?
A The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come,14 and to drive them to Christ;15 or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable,16 and under the curse thereof.17

Q & A 97
Q What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
A Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works,18 so as thereby they are neither justified19 nor condemned;20 yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good;21 and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness,22 and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.23

*1 Romans 12:1-2; Micah 6:8; 1 Samuel 15:22.
*2 Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 2:14-15; Romans 10:5.
*3 Deuteronomy 5:1-3, 31, 33; Luke 10:26-27; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
*4 Luke 1:75; Acts 24:16.
*5 Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:12.
*6 Romans 8:3; Galatians 2:16.
*7 1 Timothy 1:8.
*8 Leviticus 11:44-45;. Leviticus 20:7-8; Romans 8:12.
*9 Micah 6:8; James 2:10-11.
*10 Psalm 19:11-12; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7.
*11 Romans 3:9, 23.
*12 Galatians 3:21-22.
*13 Romans 10:4.
*14 1 Timothy 1:9-10.
*15 Galatians 3:24.
*16 Romans 1:20; Romans 2:15.
*17 Galatians 3:10.
*18 Romans 6:14; Romans 7:4, 6; Galatians 4:4-5.
*19 Romans 3:20.
*20 Galatians 5:23; Romans 8:1.
*21 Romans 7:24-25; Galatians 3:13-14; Romans 8:3-4.
*22 Luke 1:68-69, 74-75; Colossians 1:12-14.
*23 Romans 7:22; Romans 12:2; Titus 2:11-14.