The Lord’s Supper

Tonight is Maundy Thursday.  Some Christian traditions call it Holy Thursday, while others reference it as Passion Thursday.  However we refer to it, we mean the same thing.  This is the night that the Western church–irrespective of denomination–commemorates the betrayal of Our Lord at the hands of Judas Iscariot, and we remember that tonight is the night that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  But tonight none of us met together.

I’ve heard of some churches and denominations observing some type of “virtual communion”.  This is not only irregular but a clear violation of the 2nd Commandment.  The 1st Commandment tells us who to worship —the One True God; the 2nd Commandment instructs us how to worship Him.

We Reformed and Presbyterian folk call this the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW).  Put simply, this is the doctrine that states that God is in charge of commanding us how we may worship Him.  We are not at liberty to innovate the manner in which we worship God, nor are we allowed to implement any aspect of worship that is not either explicitly stated in God’s Word, or can be reasonably inferred from it.

The Lord’s Supper is a holy sacrament.  It is one of only two New Testament sacraments, the other being Baptism.  Tonight was the first Maundy Thursday in 18 years that I didn’t have the privilege and honor of officiating the Lord’s Supper.  That was a bitter pill to swallow.

May God Almighty, lift His hand and deliver us from this virus, this plague on humanity, so that we may reunite and worship Him publicly as the people of God.  Until then we must pray and we must study.  And we must feel the pain in our hearts that can only remedied by the fellowship of the saints.

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Posted by on April 9, 2020 in Uncategorized


Thoughts On Holy Week

As we move into Holy Week I think it would be beneficial if we took advantage of the opportunity that The Almighty has given to us.  Opportunity?  Yes, we have an excellent set of circumstances to quiet our hearts, our minds, and our bodies before Him.  Psalm 46.10 tells us to… Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  In doing so we can recall with greater appreciation the Passion of Our Lord.

That classic verse is essentially a commandment.  I left my normal Bible reading plan on April 2, and decided to read the entire corpus of scripture in twenty-nine days–or at least make a game effort at it.  And in yet another rereading of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) it hit me afresh just how deep a level of stubborn and stiff-necked behavior God’s people can achieve without much effort.  Continually we witness the Israelites complaining and whining and rebelling against God.  He delivered them from over four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, and yet it was not enough for them.  Believe it or not they actually moaned about how much better they had it in Egypt.

Are we any better?  Hardly.  God has been very patient with His people in the West.  While our fellow Christians suffer, bleed, and die for the Name of Christ in multiple arenas, we engage in an array of trivial pursuits.  When was the last time you had a serious discussion with a fellow Christian about the suffering and privation of other Christians–when the pastor wasn’t around?  I once had someone ask me why we had “all these strangers” on our prayer list.  My answer was that they weren’t strangers to the person who asked that we pray for them.  For decades Christians in America have been coasting.  We’ve been lax in attending Sunday worship, and in Europe church attendance is more of an oddity than the norm.  And, suddenly, God has removed that privilege from us.  Yes, you can listen to sermons–and watch worship services on video.  But it is not the same.

I think one thing God is doing is giving us more of what we’ve been asking for with our actions–time away from the people of God, and time in front of a screen.  When the Israelites complained about their food supply, He gave the them so much food from the sky it overwhelmed them.

This is the time of year when we especially meditate on the sufferings of Jesus in the last week of His earthly life.  Do so with care.  Take your time.  Your soul will thank you for the time spent in so doing.

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Posted by on April 6, 2020 in Uncategorized


Busy, Busy, Busy

To say that we’re living in, and through, strange times is to put it mildly.  I was talking to some young people this week, and attempted to gauge their reactions and thoughts on what is occurring.  By “young people” I mean teenagers and early 20’s.  Now, this demographic, although not every individual, is historically known for being simultaneously idealistic, cynical, and confused, which is a terrible trio of viewpoints.  But when I spoke to them I received none of those reactions.  What I sensed was anger.  One of them said, “The whole world is stupid.”  At that point I wasn’t about to give him a lesson in English diction or phraseology.  In hindsight, I believe that the anger was mostly likely caused by wounds that the adult world had inflicted upon his youthful idealism.

It’s vital that we address how this crisis is affecting young people and children.  Yes, they have grown up with many, many conveniences such as cell phones, and streaming music.  But more than a few adults I know–including myself– are a tad frazzled by all of the dazzling electronics at our disposal.  And even though young adults, and many children, are very proficient in the technological use of this gadgetry, they aren’t extremely facile at understanding what a 24/7 world is doing to them.

God gave us the Sabbath.  God instituted the Sabbath a very long time ago.  How long ago?  In the Garden, at the advent of time.  If our first parents needed rest, and they had yet to experience sin and its devastating effects, then how much more do you think we need that day of rest?  And human beings are so muddled in their thinking at times that later in biblical history He actually commanded the day of rest.  Generally, parents institute rules because they know that children need boundaries; the youngsters are inexperienced and need to be protected from themselves.  As the Internet insinuated its way into the fabric of our lives we’ve become increasingly busy.  This is detrimental.  Let me state this plainly:  human beings aren’t wired for this type of life.  The Sabbath institution is the proof of this assertion.

I will not seek to travel into the eternal counsel of the Triune God.  Been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt.  The tee-shirt read, “Did you enjoy that monumental waste of time?”  We are finite; God is infinite.  He knows everything; we lose our car keys–excuse me–the keys are now “fobs”.  No one knows specifically what God is doing in this pandemic.  However, there are certain fundamental truths that we may declare regarding God’s activity in any and all situations.  1) He is molding Christians into the likeness of his Son, 2) He is trying to get us to pay attention.  We’ve put Him on hold in the Church for decades.

The Church (the capital “C” means all denominations) is busier than ever.  Building projects, programs, more buildings, and still more programs.  Jesus is Big Business.  We have metrics that determine “success” not realizing that faithfulness is all we are to attempt.  We’ve adopted a business model for the Church, and that is appalling.  And, yet, despite all of our frenzied activity, we still see our beloved country descending into the sewer of cultural decadence.  Do you see the disconnect?  God isn’t impressed by our projects and our programs, and the reality is this–He’s not blessing the results.  Christians are more biblically illiterate than at any time in our Republic’s history.  Using that King James Bible to teach English grammar was a fantastic idea!  Our children have their lives scheduled months in advance; we’ve stolen their childhoods and replaced them with programatic routines.

What exactly is the purpose to all of this.  Most parents think these activities will benefit their children.  I agree that some scheduled, supervised activities are beneficial.  Children do not play that much anymore.  When was the last time you saw schoolboys playing sandlot baseball–without uniforms and coaches.  That is how they learn to work together, deal with differences, moderate themselves, and observe social mores.

God is most certainly telling the human race to slow down.  Are we listening?

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Posted by on April 5, 2020 in Uncategorized



We hear the term polarized very often.  Everything and everyone is polarized these days, and it’s usually in the context of our current political situation.  The Covid-19 pandemic might be bringing some people groups closer, and I hope the Lord uses this crisis to help us all see that we desperately need one another in some way.  On the other hand, there are some who thrive in a polarized atmosphere.  In fact, they create it, and they swim in it until it becomes their natural habitat.  Such people are to be pitied, because if someone feels the need to divide people into factions, and pit them against each other, often for their own personal reasons, its truly a sad state of being.  Such a waste energy.

But a positives use of the term is available to us, as well.  Many of us insist on wearing polarized sunglasses.  I happen to be one of them.  I’m aware of the advantages and disadvantages, but I think the pros outweigh the cons.  In this instance the term means– to design so as to permit light only of a certain polarization.  That is, they reduce glare when light reflects off horizontal surfaces, such as water or the road that is in front of you as you’re driving.  I’m no scientist, but it seems to me that an apt way of looking at such a complex scientific concept is that polarized sunglasses, in a way, segregate light, and only allow only certain to pass through the lens.  The undesirable light is quickly shown a closed door.  

The ways the term is used seem to have no commonality.  But they do.  Go to a news aggregator such as Real Clear Politics, and simply look at the titles of the articles.  You’ll notice quickly that the mainstream media acts as a pair of polarized sunglasses.  One side lets in this, and the other side lets in that.  They cherry pick what they want us to read, and the news articles have a definite slant.

Our world needs to change.  Never in history have the circumstances of human existence allowed something such as Covid-19.  We travel much more than former generations, we eat out more, we exchange currency more frequently.  The biblical worldview is not, contrary to what some liberals believe, a vantage point where all points of view and behavior are equally acceptable to God.  God is the prime mover of polarization.  He divides the sheep from the goats, the light from the darkness, the good from the evil.  As Christians, we must attune our sensibilities to filter what is godly polarization and what is man-made, or manufactured, polarization.  May God give us the grace to do so.


Posted by on April 3, 2020 in Uncategorized


The Bible Is Not a Single Book

Reading the Bible consistently is a challenge for all of us–even ministers.  Don’t let anyone kid you on this matter.  It’s unquestionably among the top half-dozen or so perplexities of life that continuously baffles me.  For those of us who believe that the Bible is literally, the word of God and the only rule of faith and obedience, it only makes sense that we would strongly desire to have God speak to us through this collection of writings.  A collection of writings?  Yes.  You hear Christians with nothing but good intentions say things such as, “The Bible is a book written by a single author–God.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Peter was an eyewitness to the ministry and suffering of Jesus, and in his second epistle he writes–And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:19-21)

The part of the passage I draw your attention to is the final clause–but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  This clause proves both that men wrote the writings contained in the Bible, and that God inspired their prophetic writings.  It’s essential that we realize that the Bible contains various types of literature, because that in itself proves the Bible is no mere work of human ingenuity.  We find history, personal letters, apocalyptic imagery, poetry, love poetry, genealogies and more within the Bible.  There simply is no other collection of writings in history that comes close to its depth and range.  Written in three ancient languages (Classical Hebrew, Koine Greek and a smattering of Aramaic) by dozens of authors over a span of more than a thousand years and yet… it all comes together as one story with a singular meta-narrative theme–God’s love and grace in the salvation of His people.

When you read the Bible it’s good to realize that all of the writings find their respective fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  We are saved by grace alone, and justified by faith alone.  So, I end with the only question that matters in life– have you trusted Christ to eternally save you?


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Posted by on April 2, 2020 in Uncategorized


I Want My Apple Store Back

This is just one man talking, here.  But I think the Apple Store should be classified as an “essential business”.  My iPhone is so ancient that’s it’s trade-value is a whopping $15.  Air Drop is miscuing; my iPhone and Mac do not recognize each other even if they’re within a foot of each other.  If I try and use the built in email on my Mac it opens dozens of tabs and will not stop until I quit the app.  And I’m convinced that a foreign government is trying to incite me to insanity because iCloud suddenly holds a grudge against me, although I’ve neither offended, nor misused it.  It cooperates with other Mac users, but not me.

I record my sermons on the iPhone, which isn’t optimal, but functional.  Did I mention my iPhone’s trade-in value?  But I digress.  Anyway, the format for such recordings is m4a, and please do not ask me what that means.  My “secretarial assistant”–that’s code for my loving and patient wife– is able to upload them with zero problems.  But not this Sunday.  No, sireee, Bob.  The technology ghosts of the Internet were haunting me once again.  I deduced that if I converted the file to mp3 all would be fine.  I made a brief test recording of me trying to hum an old jazz ballad and low and behold, the file uploaded in an instant.

So, I made a backup copy of the recent sermon (smart move, right?), and went for the conversion, a term which has serious religious overtones.  I retrieved a fresh coffee from my French Press, which is low-tech and gives me no stress.  Ten minutes later the file was still converting.  The familiar angst of technological futility arose within my gut.  Maybe it’s just the bandwidth, I thought, all the while knowing I was lying to myself.  Something was wrong.  The MacBook Air had decided to convert the entirety of my voice memo library to mp3.  I had 677 individual files.  No, that’s not a typo, and no they’re not all sermons, not even a quarter of them are.  I decided that maybe that was a good thing.  I came back 45 minutes later and the completion time was… 6 days and some odd amount of minutes.  Not. Helpful. At. All.

I found the file I wanted and it had already converted.  Taking a risk I dragged it unto the desktop and it remained place!  I then quit the conversion and quickly–the coffee had me revved up and ready to go– got the desired file unto an old Olympus recorder.  The sermon is safely ensconced on the Middlesex PCA website.

Technology and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love it– it hates me.  Members of the church I pastor are well aware that I often fervently pray before I hit “print”, because the printer in my office sometimes acts as if it’s possessed.  I even made a video for one of my elders as proof.  The printer was going berserk and the off button would not comply.

Everything I wrote is true.  And I hope/trust/pray that you realize I’m attempting a bit of humor.  A little bit won’t hurt at this time–the world is bleak enough.  But thinking about what’s occurring at this moment is sobering.  You might say that computer issues are a First World problem (not realizing how degrading that term is), but it’s not.  It’s more like 10% or 5% or dare I say it… 1% problem.  The reality is harsh– if a family of four grabbed some burgers at the drive-through of a fast food eatery today,  they shelled out more money in those few minutes than many people in the world will ever spend on food at any one meal.

I write this to give us perspective, not to inflict shame.  God has blessed us.  If you live in the USA you live in a place that many people would think was…heaven.  We’d all do well to get on our knees and thank The Almighty.


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Posted by on March 31, 2020 in Uncategorized


Silence and Stillness

Very often, when I leave my office at night, I stop at a certain place in the parking lot.  It’s not a ritual, but it is something of a personal tradition for me.  The first time I stopped at this spot was immediately following the March Session meeting way back in 2003.  I even recollect some of the discussion that the Ruling Elders and I had that night.  Those seventeen years have certainly disappeared!  

When I stop I usually look at the sky’s expanse, then over to the homes in the neighborhood, and I always say a prayer.  Sometimes the prayers are longer. 

As I was leaving my office tonight I did the usual, and the prayer was more contemplative, and rather brief.  I looked at the neighborhood first and not the night sky.  The stillness and the silence was nothing if not chilling.  You have to understand that even if I leave my office at 2 a.m. there’s at least some traffic out on the highway, which is maybe a quarter mile west of  the church.  Not tonight.  No late night truckers, no rumbling diesel engines, no young people trekking down the road with the music blaring.  Silence.

I recalled how many times I’d stopped there and heard the usual commotion, and wondered what the countryside looked like and how it sounded two hundred years ago.  I’m all for modern progress; I’m no luddite.  But I do not enjoy the noise that comes with modern technological society.  Tonight, I longed to hear a car engine, or a radio.  Even the animals were quiet at that moment.

I called out in a fairly loud voice, and said, “It’s going to be okay.”  I was hoping, but not expecting, for a response from someone across the street.  But there was no reply.  Maybe someone heard it and whispered assent to themselves, maybe someone heard it and muttered a disagreement.  I’ll never know.

God is most definitely trying to get our attention in the midst of this social isolation.  The silence is a call to think.  He wants us to realize that we’re living too fast, but not living enough.  What I mean by that is that we’re a busy society, but much of what we do has little or know lasting value.  It’s important to keep abreast of what’s occurring in the world, our country, and our local communities.  But I suggest we turn off the blare of the news, and think about what’s actually important in life.  We’re living in serious times.  Let’s get serious about life.  Have a restful Lord’s Day.

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Posted by on March 28, 2020 in Uncategorized


On Reading Your Bible

Shortly before He was betrayed, Jesus, in a manner of speaking, took his disciples on a tour of Jerusalem.  They marveled at how glorious the Temple and its adjacent buildings appeared.  It was then that Jesus gave them a terrifying lesson.  The lesson was that the Temple was to be destroyed, and when the Romans came to town in 70 AD, they forcefully fulfilled that horrifying prophecy.  Jesus warned the disciples that those would be trying times.

Many bibles have inserted “title headings” over various paragraphs.  For the most part they cause no harm.  But in Matthew 24 we see this heading–The Great Tribulation, and this is a linguistic marker that gives many of us a miscue.  Many American Christians think that this passage is about some future event.  It is not.  The event was futuristic for the disciples, but we live 2,000 years after them, so it is a past event for us.  I’ve actually heard some Christians say that we don’t have to even read Matthew 24 because it’s not about the church.  I told one such person that with that reading strategy we could easily do away with much of the bible.  He wasn’t advocating that position, but it was the logical conclusion of his stance.

These headings are not part of the biblical text, and the Word of God must be read with as clear a mind as we can muster when we open its pages.  So, it’s generally good to overlook them because those headings can give us preconceived notions of what the text intends to teach us.  We want God to speak to us.  We always come to the bible with a basic set of presuppositions, assumptions, life experiences etc.  These influence our reading, and that’s fine.  The key is to become conscious of the filters that our minds possess.  That way, when we sense that the filters of our life experiences are coloring our interpretation of a text, we can take steps to put the filters on hold.

Here’s an example.  God refers to Himself as “Father”, but we know that God is a pure spiritual being.  He has no body, therefore He has no physical offspring.  But talk to a Muslim and you realize that this is a major stumbling block for them.  They interpret the term “Father” as teaching that God has physical children, which, in turn, means He has a wife, and this idea is abhorrent to Muslims.  Guess what?  It’s abhorrent to Christians, as well.

What’s sadly ironic, is that the Islamic reader is not aware of his or her assumptions when they encounter this word, and they interpret it literally.  Christians understand that the term “Father” is used by God to help us understand His benevolent relationship with His people.  In other words, the bible uses language that accommodates to our limitations.

A good habit to acquire is to calm our minds, and pray before reading the bible.  Confess your sins, ask God to teach you, to give you understanding.  He will honor that prayer.  Bible reading is a skill that takes some time to master.  There are certain parts of scripture that I’ve read hundreds of times.  However, God often gives me a new application to my life, or a He shows me a nuance of the text that I never realized, or I receive a bold reminder that I’ve been forgetting something important.  God’s word is inexhaustible.  It will always give us insight.

So what are you waiting for?  Go grab that bible!




Posted by on March 27, 2020 in Uncategorized


A Message From An Old Puritan

Today, I came across a very intriguing sermon by a Puritan by the name of Daniel Williams.  The Puritans were English and took their Christianity very seriously.  Hence, the nickname.  We can learn a great deal of valuable information from them.  In this sermon he laments the sins of his country; sins committed by believers and unbelievers.  It’s easy for those of us who claim the blood of Christ to look around, and weep over the sins of the general public–especially of those of high profile figures.  But shouldn’t we weep at a greater depth for our own sins?  Indeed, we must because God has lavished his love and grace upon us.  The sermon is entitled What Repentance Of National Sins Doth God Require As Ever We Expect National Mercies?  It’s also just shy of 31 pages long.  His title would not fit on any bulletin, and a sermon of that length, in today’s religious climate, would land him in a scalding hot puddle.  Fear not, I’ve no desire to preach that long.  What’s ironic is that he mentions something as an aside and adds that time didn’t permit him to go into the subject in depth!  Here’s an excerpt from the sermon.

The land is full of sin, after all the means which were sent to cleanse us. The fire hath devoured, yet our dross remains. The plague hath in its rage swept away thousands, yet the provocations of England abate not. How oft hath the Lord cried, “Wilt thou not be clean? when shall it once be?” (Jer. 13:27.) But we have held fast our several iniquities.

Lord! what will the end of these things be? Wilt thou always bear, and seem to observe, our provocations, as slightily as we do? Alas! this would make us more miserable than God’s sorest rebukes. Judgments more awful than any we have yet felt, are become even necessary to our happiness; but though they be needful, what heart can endure them? What terror must attend those dispensations which will separate the precious from the vile; pluck up constitutions so rooted by interest, custom, malignity, and ignorance; disable the irreligious from settling church or state; and embitter our reigning sins to careless, scornful, and resolute offenders!

Nichols, James. Puritan Sermons. Vol. 4. Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981. Print.

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Posted by on March 26, 2020 in Uncategorized


Hope And The Cold Hard Facts

Did you get your dose of the daily news today?  I know I did.  In fact, I’m reading more news than I ordinarily do, and I normally read a great deal.  The news is supposed to be about the cold hard facts; the editorial page in historically where blatant opinion could be read.  I’m uncertain that’s the case in our day.  I grew up in a family of newspaper readers, and in the 80’s I would generally buy three papers each morning.  Ok, one was specifically for the sports coverage!

The point is this: I’m seeing an inordinate amount of editorializing and commenting in places that I want to discover cold, hard facts.  It’s getting more and more difficult with each passing day.  So who can we trust?  They say many Americans trust nothing but money.  I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.  But if you’ve got a dollar somewhere in the house take a look at the back of it.  In 1956, in the Eisenhower era, the 84th Congress passed a joint resolution requiring that “In God We Trust” appear on US currency.

God is the ultimate source of truth.  Therefore, we can trust Him.  We can trust Him fully. Has the Cover-19 crisis drawn you closer to God, or has the amount of information and news coming your way drowned out His voice?  What He says is trustworthy.  So I encourage you to dust off your Bibles.  We’ve got some extra time on our hands, so let’s do what we can to make the most of it.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:15-21

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Posted by on March 25, 2020 in Uncategorized