As we have just recently celebrating Thanksgiving, it is good to give thanks the very first thing, as we have so much to be thankful for. The salvation that we enjoy through the precious blood of Jesus Christ should be reason enough to have an attitude of gratitude in all things; and that we are not always grateful, sometimes short, and have even complained to God about this or that, is evidence of the condition of sin that so easily besets us, and therefore, when those moments of ingratitude arise, it should remind us once again of how thankful we should be for God’s amazing grace and His incredible mercy.
We were delighted to have Danny Roten with us in October. He shared what the Lord was currently opening up in bringing the Gospel of our crucified Savior and the doctrines of grace to Chile. Please pray that all the ministry partners and missionary financing is made available for this wonderful and wide-open opportunity in South America.
Bro. John Hunter has planned a short-term mission trip to Guyana between January 12-20, 2009 with Terry and Sherry Gidden. Please keep the plans and preparations for that trip in your prayers. Please continue to pray that wherever and whatever the Lord would have for the Hunters be made known to them.
Trevor Johnson and family are preparing to return to Papua New Guinea and we are scheduled for a visit from Bro. Trevor, along with Paul Snider on Thursday, January 14, 2010.
Prem Waghmare has been sick in India. Please continue to pray for Brother Prem and his family as they continue in the work of the Lord there.
SOVEREIGN GRACE BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP
The SGBF met at New Hope Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, VA on September 8, 2009 for its annual meeting.
There were three encouraging messages from God’s Word by Gary Long of Springfield, MO; Larry Dean of Nesbit, MS; Lloyd Sprinkle of Harrisonburg, VA. Their sermons are available on the Internet at http://www.sermonaudio.com/vayahiy.
Horizons Baptist Church of Pikeston, OH was gladly accepted as the newest member of the Fellowship. Jason Boothe is pastor.
The newly elected officers of SGBF are chairman, Tom Henry of Bible Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO; vice-chairman, Jon Cardwell of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Anniston, AL. Returning officers are secretary, Larry Dean of Bridgetown Baptist Church, Nesbit, MS; treasurer, Ron Staley of New Hope Baptist Church, Mechanicsville, VA.
If you don’t receive the SGBF publication, The Sovereign Grace Messenger, contact Pastor Ron Staley at SGBF, c/o New Hope Baptist Church, 5452 Spotslee Circle, Mechanicsville, VA 2311. It is absolutely free.
If you already receive The Sovereign Grace Messenger, consider a gift that we might send in as a church; or send it yourself to the address above as a love offering for the wonderful publication that goes forth farther than we even know.
REGIONAL PASTOR’S FELLOWSHIP
We had a blessed time at Vineland Park Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL on October 15th. The next regional fellowship will be in Winston, GA on the third Thursday in January at Calvary Baptist Church. Terry Worthan is pastor.
ALS? WE DON’T KNOW!
Having returned from the VA Hospital in Birmingham on November 12th, we were delighted to receive some good news and some bad news. First, the good news: after three years of testing they’ve decided that they don’t think it is ALS. Now, the bad news: they may be naming a disease after me.
The visit to the VA provided no diagnosis for the symptoms I’m experiencing. Whereas once thought that it might be ALS, now my current doctors say that it’s not ALS; yet, they cannot say what it is.
The symptoms are very ALS-like, however, through all the testing the neurologists don’t know what to make of it… yet. In the meantime, I’ll be going to physical therapy and perhaps they might offer some helpful input. I have already been exercising three times per week or more with no physical improvement nor lessening of symptoms. In fact, it is sometimes quite difficult to exercise with my decreased dexterity and coordination being just two of my several symptoms.
Nevertheless, all my ailments are still only a light and momentary affliction. I certainly do serve a sovereign God and I am tremendously thankful for all He has allowed me to go through with this. Here are just a few of the wonderful things I have learned in the last three years with these increasing symptoms:
1. My wife, Lisa, loves me deeply, dearly, and sincerely. God has used my oft times helplessness, falling, and dropping things to manifest Lisa’s love toward me, her patience with me, and her care for me. Is that not an incredible blessing?
2. Sometimes we wonder what would happen to our faith if we were suddenly struck with some life-altering or life-threatening news. Would it cause us to cling more closely to Christ and serve Him more fervently? Because of my ailments, I believe that, by God’s grace, He has allowed me to see how He has grown me in grace and built me up from faith to faith.
3. As I am reminded that doctors are mere mortals and can’t figure out what it is that God has allowed in my life by His divine providence, I now look ahead with the questions, “Will my Christian witness be strengthened even more to persevere?” or “Will my zeal fade and my fervor wane because I’ll be around for longer than I thought?” I pray that, by God’s grace, I will endeavor to be more diligent to keep at the Cross of Jesus Christ, clinging to the Savior alone for strength, and grace in time of need.
Meanwhile, having gone to physical therapy here locally, I may have progressed from a cane to crutches. I am also tremendously blessed with the wheelchair accessible pulpit Brother John Hunter has made for us. I was able to use it for the first time on Sunday, December 6th. Do you think I preach better sitting down than wobbling while I stand? Yup, me too. Many thanks to Brother Hunter, Jack Turner, and everyone who has helped in making the new pulpit a reality.
BOOKS AND BLOGS
We currently have five books available for sale on the through my web log, Vayahiy Press, (http://vayahiypress.blogspot.com). The books are also available on Amazon.com. When ordering through Vayahiy Press, however, you will find a discount code for each book for a reduced price sale until just after the new year. The available titles are Essential Spurgeon for Today’s Reformed Pastor; Fullness of the Time; Teach Us to Pray; Christian Behavior; and A Puritan Family Devotional. Some books that are forthcoming are Christ, and Him Crucified, John Bunyan’s A Holy Life edited in modern English, and a hymnal containing the Scottish Psalter and other great songs, hymns, and spiritual songs of the past.
I’ve started a new web log (blog) on the Internet. It can be found at www.justificationbygrace.com. Though it is primarily geared toward short articles of a doctrinal or practical nature, this site will also contain links to audio sermons, video presentations, as well as some pertinent articles on relevance and interest. One of the articles that has appeared in the new blog is below, “Unashamed of the Gospel.”
I’ve also begun posting a series of articles on three blogs, The Ante-Puritan Page, The Puritan Page, and The Post-Puritan Page. Articles from Calvin’s Institutes, Bunyan’s Holiness, and Spurgeon’s All of Grace will appear in these blogs as time permits. Remember, I promised that I would only keep these other resources going, including this newsletter, as long as it did not interfere with the pastoral ministry to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.
UNASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” —Romans 1:16
There’s an old joke that went something like this: A man went for an annual check-up with his doctor and went through all kinds of tests. The Dr. told him, “We’ve got good news and bad news. First, the good news: you don’t have cancer.”
“What’s the bad news?” the patient asks.
“The bad news is that we’re going to name a disease after you.”
The joke is a joke because it has an ironic punch line. Good news, then bad news.
The world today says that they don’t want bad news. Marketing strategies today are, for the most part, made up of only good news. “Have I got a deal for you!” “Hey, it’s a win-win situation!” “You’re asking, ‘what’s in it for me?’ and I’m going to tell you exactly what’s in it for you…” and so forth and so on. There’s never any bad news.
Evangelical Christianity in America today has rushed to adopt that in the past 20 years, and in the past decade especially. From the pulpit this is preached: “Let me tell you the good news!” …and there’s never any bad news. It’s just all good. In fact, many congregations throughout the United States today even boast that this is how they approach the gospel; that this is how they approach public worship; that market-driven techniques are the methodology they use to grow the mega-churches. But, folks, that is not the approach the Scriptures reveal concerning the gospel and its proclamation.
Gospel is a word that means “good news” and there’s a reason why it’s good news. Certainly, there is a benefit for the recipient of the good news; nevertheless, the good news revealed from the pages of Scripture comes by the revelation of the truth that there is some exceptionally bad news first. The bad news is what makes the good news so good… and both truths come by revelation; that is, it is revealed supernaturally by God’s Spirit through the proclamation of His Word. The Gospel presentation, the good news, is not the gospel unless the wrath of God is revealed against sin, and that God’s wrath against sin is dealt with sufficiently so that the sinner can stand justified before a holy God. If it does not contain the wrath of God, it is not the gospel. The central point of the gospel is the Cross of Jesus Christ, where God pours out His holy wrath upon His Son as a propitiation for sin. If you remove that, you DO… NOT… HAVE… THE… GOSPEL… PERIOD!
Do we bear witness against ourselves that we are ashamed of the Gospel because we do not want to offend anyone by preaching that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18)?
A HOLY LIFE ~ Introduction
A Treatise by John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Edited in Modern English by Jon Cardwell
When I write of justification before God from the dreadful curse of the law; then I must speak of nothing but grace, Christ, the promise, and faith. But when I speak of our justification before men then I must join to these good works. For grace, Christ, and faith are invisible things, and are not seen by another, other than through a life that becomes so blessed a gospel as has been declared unto us the remission of our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ. He that would then have forgiveness of sins, and is delivered from the curse of God, must believe in the righteousness and blood of Christ: but he that would show to his neighbors that he has truly received this mercy of God, must do it by good works; for anything else to them is just talk: as for example, a tree is known to be what it is by its fruit, namely, whether it is of this or that kind. A tree without fruit, as long as it is living, gives every reason to doubt what kind of tree it is.
A professor of faith is just that, one who makes a profession, even if he has no good works; yet to suggest that he is truly godly, it is foolish to conclude such a thing (Matthew 7:17, 18; James 2:18). Not that works makes a man good; for the fruit does not make a good tree. It is the principle, specifically, that true faith makes a man good, and his works show him to be so (Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:44).
What conclusion do we draw from this? that all those who profess faith in Christ, that do not have good works flowing from their faith, are not saved; they are bramble bushes; they are “near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:8). For professors, by their fruitlessness, declare that they are not planted by God, nor are they the wheat, but “the weeds [which] are the sons of the evil one” (Matthew 13:37, 38).
It’s not that faith needs good works to help justification before God. For in this matter faith will be ignorant of all good works except those done by the person of Christ. In this case, the good man “does not work, but believes” (Romans 4:5). Because, in his justification before God, a man has not good works to bring to God; but to receive from His hand the matter of his justification by faith; nor is the matter of his justification before God from anything else other than the good deeds of another man, namely, Christ Jesus.
Yet, is there no need of good works at all, seeing that a man is justified before God without them? or can that be called a justifying faith if it does not have good works for its fruit? (Job 22:3; James 2:20, 26). Truly, good works are necessary, though God does not need them; and as far as justification with God is concerned, faith without works, that abides alone, is worthless.
Therefore, there is a twofold faith of Christ in the world, and as to the notion of justifying righteousness, they both concur and agree; however, as to the way they are applied, there they vastly differ. The one, namely, the non-saving faith, stands in speculation and naked knowledge of Christ, and so abides idle; but the other truly sees and receives Him, and so becomes fruitful (John 1:12; Hebrews 11:13; Romans 10:16). For this reason the true justifying faith is said to receive, to embrace, to obey the Son of God, as offered in the gospel: and through its expression shows both the nature of justifying faith in all its actions for this point of justification, and also the cause of its being full of good works in the world. A gift is not made mine by my seeing it or because I know the nature of the thing that is given. It is mine if I receive and embrace it; yes, and as to the point at hand, if I yield myself up to stand and fall by it. Now, he that will not only see, but also receive, not only know, but also embrace the Son of God to be justified by Him, cannot but bring forth good works because Christ, who is now received and embraced by faith, thoroughly seasons the spirit of this sinner through his faith, to the making of him capable of being justified (Acts 15:9; Genesis 18:19; Hebrews 11:11). Faith made Sarah receive strength to conceive seed, and we are sanctified through faith, which is in Christ. For faith has joined Christ and the soul together, and being so joined, the soul is one spirit with Him; not essentially, but in agreement and oneness of design. Besides, when Christ is truly received and embraced to the justifying of the sinner, in that man’s heart He dwells by His word and Spirit through the same faith also. Now Christ, by His Spirit and Word, must season the soul He dwells in: so then the soul being seasoned, it seasons the body; and body and soul, therefore, seasons the life and conversation.
We know that it does not come by sight, but of taking that eternal medicine that makes it work as it should; nor does the blood of Christ purge this or that conscience, unless it is received by faith (Hebrews 9:14).
Should that be counted right believing in Christ unto justification when it amounts to nothing more than idle speculation or naked knowledge of Him? I ask you, should that knowledge of Him be counted as saving faith when it only causes the soul to look at Him, but never makes one move toward good works? No, certainly not; for the true beholding of Jesus, that has justification and life, changes from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The man that has truly believed, and by his faith received and embraced Christ for life before God, cannot be lacking of good works: for, as I said, the Word and Spirit comes by this same faith and dwells in the heart and conscience. Now, shall a soul where the Word and Spirit of Christ dwells be a soul without good works? Shall a soul that has received the love, the mercy, the kindness, grace and salvation of God through the sorrows, tears, groans, cross, and cruel death of Christ, be a fruitless tree! God forbid. This faith is like the salt that the prophet cast into the spring of bitter water, which makes the soul good and serviceable forever (2 Kings 2:19-22).
If receiving a temporal gift naturally tends to make us bow our heads in humility and gratitude, and binds us to be indebted to the giver, shall we think it will leave him who has received Christ by faith to be as unconcerned as a stone or a tree stump; or that its utmost excellence will provoke the soul to mere lip-service and give Christ a few nice words for His pains and grace, and then be finished with that business? No, no; “the love of Christ controls us” in such a way as to determine that it is only reasonable that since He gave His all for us, we should give our some for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).
Let no man, then, deceive himself, as he may and will if he does not take heed with true notions. He must examine himself concerning his faith; specifically, whether he has any? and if he does have some, whether it is the kind that will turn to account in the day when God shall judge the world.
My prayer for you, beloved of God, as before and always, is that you have been both edified and encouraged by this humble publication. I pray, by God’s grace that we, as a congregation, will be kept at the truth and by the truth of God’s love through His crucified Son. I pray that, by God’s free grace, that we may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. I pray that, by God’s sovereign grace, we will rejoice evermore and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I pray that, by God’s amazing grace, we will ever remember that the Word of God apart from the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is intellectualism; the crucifixion of Christ apart from the Word of God is sensationalism. The former has no spirit; the latter has no substance.
I am ever…
…at the Cross and in God’s Word by His sovereign grace until He comes,
We have a few articles to bring to your attention, as well as some discounted publications that might interest you (or at least I hope that might interest you).
Two recent articles are made available through The Renewed Mind web log. The first is may seem a bit controversial to some; and may even step on the toes of others. It contains links to a short clip for the radio broadcast, “Pastor’s Perspective,” from Calvary Chapel. Chuck Smith, Don Stewart and Brian Broderson, of Calvary Chapel, attempted to answer a caller who asked for an exegisis of Romans 8:28-29 because a friend of hers had become adamantly Calvinistic. Brian Broderson commented that “Calvinism is Christianity without Jesus.” Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries comments in his own blog concerning this program, as well as providing comments on his own radio program, “The Dividing Line.” You can check out that article and all its associated links by CLICKING HERE or opening a new window and copying and pasting this link, http://spiritofyourmind.blogspot.com/2009/10/calvinism-is-christianity-without-jesus.html.
The next article has much more of my own comments and perspectives on it than the previous one. In this Renewed Mind post, John Piper was invited to speak at a conference held by the American Association of Christian Counselors. At the beginning of his message, while apparently attempting to humbly express is own struggle with sins in a very genuine manner, the audience laughed as Dr. Piper listed sin after sin. You can check out that article and all its associated links by CLICKING HERE or opening a new window and copying and pasting this link, http://spiritofyourmind.blogspot.com/2009/10/after-laughter.html.
The last article I’ve made available at this time is on the Our Light Affliction blog. A lot more people have been asking me how I have been doing lately. I think I attempt to answer that an article I just wrote a little while ago. You can check out that article by CLICKING HERE or opening a new window and copying and pasting this link, http://ourlightaffliction.blogspot.com/2009/10/howre-you-feeling-today.html.
Also, I didn’t get to post this on Our Light Affliction blog or include it before I wrote my last newsletter. If you have not had a chance to watch the video made of Rachel Barkey’s encouraging words just weeks before cancer took her, this is a MUST SEE! You can check out that article by CLICKING HERE or opening a new window and copying and pasting this link, http://ourlightaffliction.blogspot.com/2009/08/death-is-not-dying.html.
Finally, I’ve published some of my work as paperback books (I’ll be writing some articles in a week or two concerning how this came about and why I’m doing this). At any rate, we have 4 published and 1 more that should be available next week, and they are all discounted until October 31st, Reformation Day. You can check that out on the Vayahiy Press blog by CLICKING HERE, or opening a new window and copying and pasting this link, http://vayahiypress.blogpsot.com.
Thanksgiving has been my typical opening and I see no reason to stop now. I am ever grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in your lives. What a privilege it continues to be to serve the Lord in serving you. Yet, my service to you quite often seems to fall short of where I believe it ought to be. I so desire to be the kind of pastor who has, not only that precious time in prayer and in the Word of God, but I long to be with and among all of you; not only in visitations and phone calls, but in gatherings for fellowship throughout the week. Because my health is not always as energetic as I wish it could be, I am so grateful for your love and prayers for me. It is a comfort and encouragement upon every remembrance of you, especially knowing as I do how often you have bent the knee before our Sovereign to pray for me. What a gracious Lord we have to make you the blessings you are to me. Lisa, Rachel, Mama Virginia, and I are so grateful to the Lord for each and every one of you. Thank you.
MISSIONS & MISSIONARIES
As you all know by now, John and Kathy Hunter will not be returning as long-term missionaries to Guyana. They are, however, planning a short-term mission trip to Guyana with the Giddens. Please keep the plans and preparations for that trip in your prayers. Since Guyana has been withheld by the Lord’s good providence, please continue to pray that wherever and whatever the Lord would have for the Hunters be made known to them. I am personally blessed to have as much time as I can with the Hunters while they are here because I have not had the blessed benefit of knowing them for as long as you all have had; so every moment I have with them is precious.
Meanwhile, we must also remember our other missionaries and continue to seek the Lord to reveal to us how we may more effectively love, support, encourage, and minister to them in increasingly practical and tangible ways. The Johnsons are still on furlough from Indonesia and we are scheduled for a visit from them on Thursday, January 14, 2010.
SOVEREIGN GRACE BAPTIST PASTORS’ FELLOWSHIP
Although I could not attend the regional Sovereign Grace Baptist Pastors’ Fellowship hosted in Fulton, Mississippi on June 18th, we were able to make it to the one held last Thursday, August 20th at Providence Baptist Church in Pulaski, Tennessee. John and Kathy Hunter and I drove up together from Anniston. As you all know, these gatherings are a tremendous time of fellowship and feasting upon the Word, which comes forth from excellent expositors of God’s truth; and this last fellowship was no exception. To say that it was great, awesome, wonderful, &etc. would never begin to scratch the surface in describing the blessing it was to be there. God’s Spirit came forth in such a powerful way that it even moved me, your pastor, to seek our Lord with a special need to repent before His merciful presence. You can read about it in a short article I wrote by CLICKING HERE.
Please continue to pray for the Lord’s blessings to prepare our ways before Him as John and Kathy Hunter, and Lisa and I, attend the National Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship Annual Meeting on September 8th in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Lisa and I will be gone for that whole week, from September 7th, returning the evening of September 12th. We will take advantage of visiting relatives in Fredericksburg while we are in that area. More details for that conference are available by CLICKING HERE.
What a comfort it is to know that our God is sovereign; that all things are in His control and that nothing happens apart from the counsel of His own will. While it looks like I’ve finally been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, my paperwork for disability may be held up for quite some time as a glitch in the VA system caused 1,200 letters to be sent to veterans from offices of certain states informing vets, who do not have ALS, that they have been diagnosed with the disease.
We know without a doubt that we are supposed to be here in Anniston, and serving the Lord in Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in particular. Lisa and I are tremendously blessed to know that you all feel the same way. This excerpt from one of the emails I received this week seemed to capture the exact sentiment every one of you have expressed: “We are still glad that the church called you, and believe that it is the Lord’s will. We love you and the family and we will stand behind you whatever the outcome.” Thank you all.
SOME VIDEOS & WEB REMINDER
On “The Renewed Mind” weblog, I’ve posted two short videos from Dr. David P. Murray. Dr. Murray is the professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The first of these is one you may have already viewed, as a link was provided for that video on the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church website in mid-July. This video was called, “The Clothing Commercial.” It presents practical insights for appropriate Christian dress. You can access that video HERE.
The second of these has just been posted. This video is called, “Can I Preach Against My Own Sins?” You can access that video HERE.
Did you know that I have a website that has been up and running since 2005? We’ve used it as a missions website for our ministry to Alaska. After leaving Alaska, and especially since coming here, I’ve made some minor tweaks and adjustments to it and it is good to go. You’ll want to check out the three links pages that will provide you with hours of informative Christian web surfing. That site address is www.vayahiy.com.
BOOKS, BOOKLETS & A BOOK REVIEW
BOOKS. In my last newsletter I mentioned that I’ve edited and compiled two books, Essential Spurgeon for Today’s Reformed Pastor and Christian Behavior. These are not only freely available online in electronic format, but they are also available as printed paperbacks through I-Proclaim.com. You can click on the book titles in this paragraph to find out more about these resources. There’s another book that’s been compiled, edited, and available as a printed paperback through I-Proclaim.com. It’s called A Puritan Family Devotional. In one printed book, it contains Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Daily Bread, Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s A Puritan Catechism, and a modern English language edition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. You can access information for that book by CLICKING HERE.
BOOKLETS. Lisa mentioned that the print for our local booklet containing the Daily Bread and A Puritan Catechism is too small. She’s right. Though it’s fine for the younger folks, it doesn’t due us over-40s to strain our eyes on print smaller than 10 pts. Therefore, I hope to have a large print edition available for the congregation before the end of September.
BOOK REVIEW. Because my previous years as a missionary has caused me to amass and distribute many, many, many books every time we’ve moved, I’ve discovered a very good way to replenish my library is to write reviews for books through certain publishers supporting such programs. They will send me a book to read and review, and all I have to do is write a review within a month or two of receiving the book and the book is mine. In mid-June I received Trusting God, written by Jerry Bridges. I finally got around to writing the review and you can read it by CLICKING HERE.
Also, don’t forget that our weekly sermons are available for free streaming and downloading from the Internet through www.SermonAudio.com. I have been using SermonAudio.com for uploading and archiving sermons for over three years; and the primary reason that I keep it is because I want to make every resource available to our local congregation. It is wonderful that others around the world, and even in our community, have access to the truth of God’s Word, but what is particularly important to me is that our sermons are available to you, those of whom I have been called to serve, feed, nurture and care for. Please avail yourself, not only to the sermons that I have preached, but to the multitude of great expositors that use SermonAudio as well; and if a particular truth in a message touched your heart in a special way, whether it is my preaching or the preaching of another, post a comment for that sermon. Your comment may be an encouragement to a preacher who may especially need an encouraging word from some thoughtful saint like yourself. The Sermon Audio website address for Sovereign Grace Baptist Church is www.sermonaudio.com/vayahiy.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Three months ago I ended our last newsletter with the same title shown above: “What Would You Choose?” Now, many a free-willer has quipped that sovereign-grace-people deny that man has a free will at all. You and I know that is not so. Man’s will is free to choose to freely sin, apart from the sovereign grace of God to save such an one. The depravity of fallen man is so radically corrupt that every choice, and action based upon those choices, is tainted by sin because he is dead in his sins and trespasses. Yet, once God converts a sinner, and translates him into a state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and by God’s grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet, because of his remaining corruptions, he does not only or perfectly will that which is good, but also wills that which is evil.
Therefore, we can legitimately ask the question, “What would you choose?” If you had every resource available to do so, what three places would you choose to visit with your family (or by yourself if you’re single; that is, you alone with God)? These are my top three:
3. Great Britain
CLOSING COMMENT. This newsletter will be made available in print this Sunday for the members and attendees in our congregation who do not have Internet access.
I am ever grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in Anniston, Alabama. Although I miss my beloved Yup’ik brethren daily, I recognize God’s sovereign grace and hand of providence upon every one of us; and Lisa and I know, without a doubt, that Sovereign Grace Baptist Church is where He called us to be for this season of our lives. Time certainly flies and it hardly feels like four months as already passed since coming to Anniston. We are so grateful to the Lord for your love, prayers, and encouragement. Thank you.
We are tremendously blessed to have Brother John Hunter, and wife Kathy, back with us after 15 months in Guyana. All the work that God has done through them in such a short time is truly amazing. I encourage you to check out our website, http://sgbcanniston.wordpress.com, for links to John and Kathy’s blog, as well as the websites and web logs of other missionaries we support.
Everything is in God’s sovereign control. That’s the wonderful comfort of walking in His marvelous grace. Since being in Alabama, I have been seen very quickly by the Neurology Department at the Birmingham VA Hospital. There has been a repeat of all the tests I had taken in the past: MRI, NCV, EMG, extensive blood tests, and standard neurological examinations. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.
Although my symptoms have increased, it has progressed very slowly; and that may be the reason why an official diagnosis has not yet come. In fact, someone emailed me with the comment that I sound very strong when preaching the Word. As you all know, from seeing me in the pulpit and as I get around, although I may be weak in body at times, by God’s grace, He has allowed me to be strong of voice, and steadfast in His Word.
For encouragement through suffering and affliction, check out my weblog, Our Light Affliction.
DRIVING TO ANNISTON
My flight out of Atlanta on May 26th was wonderful. I flew First Class for the first time in my life through the gift of a dear, dear friend. I arrived in Ontario, California at 2:10 pm and was picked up by the same dear friend that got me my ticket.
Arriving at the house in Moreno Valley, where my family had been living for nearly a year, was a pretty neat thing because the grandbabies were there. Little Melissa had her 2nd birthday in late March while I was in Alabama. She only said a few words when I left California in late January, but she was talking a mile a minute now. She remembered me and couldn’t stop talking to me.
The plan is to have our belongings picked up on May 27th, clear and clean the house on May 28th, turn over the keys of the house on May 29th, and be on the road that day.
We will travel using the northern route on Interstate 70 rather than the very, very, very hot southern route on Interstate 20 (the route I took when driving to Anniston in January). I have been invited to preach at Elm Avenue Baptist Church in Grand Junction, Colorado on May 31st. We may also have the opportunity to stop in to see Brother Lawrence Justice in Kansas, and possibly Brothers Holmes Moore and Tom Henry in St. Louis. We hope to be in Anniston by Friday, June 5th or Saturday, June 6th at the very latest.
Lisa and Rachel are excited to see all of you and can’t wait to get to their new home.
As many of you, if not all, are already using the booklets containing C. H. Spurgeon’s A Puritan Catechism and R. M. McCheyne’s Daily Bread, the Lord has laid upon my heart to provide another resource for our growth in grace: John Bunyan’s CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR. I’m making booklets available for the congregation, but it is also freely available on the Internet as an e-Book in pdf format (using Adobe reader). We have also made it available through I-Proclaim.com as a 66-page printed paperback.
Although it has been available as a free e-Book on SermonAudio.com for several months, my book, Essential Spurgeon for Today’s Reformed Pastor, has been made available through I-Proclaim.com as a 304-page printed paperback. Many people like to read from the printed page in a book rather than strain their eyes reading from a computer screen.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Someone asked me once, “If you could only have your Bible and ten other books in your library, which ones would you choose?” Well, for me, the top 5 was easy. Here they are in no particular order of importance:
1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
2. Christian Behaviour by John Bunyan
3. All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon
4. A Puritan Catechism compiled by Charles Spurgeon
5. Daily Bread by Robert Murray M’Cheyne
And if I could only have 3 of those above, for my family’s sake, as well as the congregation’s, I’d have to say, (1) Christian Behavior; (2) A Puritan Catechism; and (3) Daily Bread. In order to round out the 10, I had to think upon it for a moment, but my secondary 5 would be:
6. Old Testament Scriptures in Hebrew (& Chaldean)
7. New Testament Scriptures in Greek
8. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
9. Hebrew Lexicon
10. Greek Lexicon
So, what books would you choose?
I’m heading out on the road to Anniston, Alabama this morning. I’ll be taking I-10 through Palm Springs to Phoenix; then past El Paso, where I-20 begins and goes through Pecos, Midland, and Dallas, rather than the more southerly route on I-10, which goes toward San Antonio. On I-20, I hope to be somewhere between Midland and Abilene for church on Sunday. I-20 will take me straight to Anniston and I hope to be there Monday or Tuesday. See you soon.