July 29, 2009

Many of you know that I love Chick-fil-A. And my wife knows the first thing I checked when we were looking at Tunkhannock was how close was the nearest Chick-fil-A. Praise God, there is one on the University of Scranton campus a little over 45 minutes away. I can taste it now…

Book Review – Becoming God’s True Woman

July 27, 2009

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, ed. Becoming God’s True Woman. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

What is a godly woman? In today’s culture, many women—even Christian women—struggle with this question. Is she loud and fun-loving, or quiet and reserved? Is she out-there and bold, or does she always work behind the scenes? Is she exceptionally gifted and talented, or is she an ordinary citizen? Is she fit and good at sports, or is she girly and feminine? Is she out in the work force, or is she always at home? Is God’s woman always found at one end of these extremes, or is there room for many different personalities and types of women in God’s program?

These questions are confusing and even frustrating for women as they read their Bibles and try to reconcile what is there with what they see in modern culture all around them. What is worse is that even within the church, women often hear conflicting answers to their most basic questions. For many, who simply have a genuine desire to please God with their lives, answers seem elusive at best.

Becoming God’s True Woman, edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, offers a good starting place for women as they ponder the question of godly womanhood. Since the book has seven contributing authors, it reads almost like a magazine with each chapter being a succinct introduction to a relevant topic.

Part one is entitled The Glory of Womanhood as Created by God. Here, the authors lay a helpful foundation for the rest of the book with three chapters covering femininity, true beauty, and knowing God as Father. Here, the chapter on femininity, written by Carolyn Mahaney, is especially helpful as it offers a broad perspective on many of the roles and responsibilities to which women are called in life. While women are challenged in a counter-cultural way, many will be pleasantly surprised to hear that femininity does not equal being a wall-flower! Instead, there is room for many personalities and types of giftedness in God’s kingdom. The key issue is a woman’s attitude and willingness as she takes on her God-given roles in life.

Part two addresses The Challenge of Biblical Womanhood in a Fallen World. A particularly helpful chapter by Nancy Leigh DeMoss addresses the troubling issue of discretion. As believers living in a sex-saturated society, women desperately need to hear the call to modesty and good judgment as they interact with the men in their lives as well as society at large. I was slightly disappointed by another chapter in this section also contributed by DeMoss on a biblical portrait of a woman used by God. Although the chapter covered many helpful concepts, it stretched the biblical text a bit too far in drawing principles from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus as showing the life of a woman used by God. This chapter could have been stronger if it were supported by additional texts and did not try to draw all its information from the life of one woman in the Bible.

Part three talks about The Freedom and Joy of Women as Helpers and Nurturers of Life. The chapters in this section cover many practical topics including the wife as helper, submission, raising feminine daughters, being nurturing mothers, and finally implementing a Titus 2 ministry in the church. In a time where many mothers and wives feel unimportant and underappreciated, these chapters serve as an encouragement and a challenge to women as they step up to these demanding roles. The chapter on Titus 2 ministry by Susan Hunt offers several practical suggestions for encouraging mentoring in the local church. While interested readers will want to seek further information, the chapter offers an excellent starting point.

A particular strength of this book throughout is the concentrated effort made by the authors to address women in all seasons of life. Married and single, younger and older women will benefit from this book. Many of the chapters offer direct advice to single women which is refreshing in a book that covers many issues directly relevant to marriage and motherhood.

Another helpful feature is an extended list of recommended resources at the end of the book. Because each chapter is short, many readers may find they will want to do additional reading on a topic of particular interest or challenge to them. The recommended resources are grouped by category and readers will find this feature very user-friendly.

The end of the book also features an extensive set of questions for “thinking it over and making it personal”. This book could serve as a wonderful starting point for a group study on biblical womanhood and the well-written questions would be very helpful in that context as well as for individual use.

I would highly recommend this book for individuals or groups who would like an accessible introduction to the topic of godly womanhood. The book does not merely gloss over the issues, but it presents a variety of topics in a readable way that is not overwhelming. It opens the door for women to start talking and thinking through some of these issues, and will motivate many to do further study after they have completed this book.

Tracy Mickle is a homemaker living with her husband Allen. She has a Bachelor of Sacred Music and a Bachelor of Science in Bible from Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, PA. She is also a certified Suzuki piano teacher. She and Allen are currently relocating to Tunkhannock, PA where Allen will begin serving as Senior Pastor of Tunkhannock Baptist Church in the near future.

Calvin on the Gospel

July 27, 2009

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,
all wisdom folly before God;
strength is weakness,
and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God,
brothers of Jesus Christ,
fellow townsmen with the saints,
citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom

the poor are made rich,
the weak strong,
the fools wise,
the sinner justified,
the desolate comforted,
the doubting sure,
and slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.

For, he was

sold, to buy us back;
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us;

he was

made a curse for our blessing,
[a] sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him

fury is made gentle,
wrath appeased,
darkness turned into light,
fear reassured,
despisal despised,
debt canceled,
labor lightened,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
difficulty easy,
disorder ordered,
division united,
ignominy ennobled,
rebellion subjected,
intimidation intimidated,
ambush uncovered,
assaults assailed,
force forced back,
combat combated,
war warred against,
vengeance avenged,
torment tormented,
damnation damned,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
hell transfixed,
death dead,
mortality made immortal.

In short,

mercy has swallowed up all misery,
and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are

comforted in tribulation,
joyful in sorrow,
glorying under vituperation,
abounding in poverty,
warmed in our nakedness,
patient amongst evils,
living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

John Calvin’s preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament (1534).

HT – Justin Taylor (Justin did this layout of the text)

New Ministry!

July 27, 2009

Many of my readers will know that my wife Tracy and I have been seeking the Lord’s will when it came to our next step of ministry. The Lord had directed us out of our last place of ministry and we have been out of work ever since. Yesterday, the Lord provided His next place for us. The people at Tunkhannock Baptist Church in Tunkahnnock, Pennsylvania voted for me to become their new pastor. Tracy and I have accepted this offer and hope to begin soon this next stage of life and ministry.

Please continue to pray for us as we seek housing in the Tunkhannock area as well as to secure a work visa so I can work in the US. Pray for the congregation that their hearts will be prepared for a new pastor. Pray for me that I would be loving, kind, and gracious with my new charge and that I would faithfully preach the Word, equip the saints, and lead the flock. Pray for the community of Tunkhannock that the Holy Spirit would begin working in people’s hearts and preparing them to come into the Kingdom.

This is an exciting time for our family so please continue to pray for a smooth transition and many years of fruitful service to Christ with the body of Christ at Tunkhannock!

Baptist Spirituality Conference

July 17, 2009

For those church history or Baptist history buffs out there, seriously consider taking in the upcoming The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies conference on the theme of “Baptist Spirituality.” More details about registration and such can be found here.

The speakers for the schedule are excellent. I seriously recommend you give consideration to attending this event August 24-25 at the beautiful campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, August 24

7:30-8:45 am Registration

9:00 am Plenary session 1: Crawford Gribben
“Irish Baptist Piety in the 17th Century”

10:25 am Plenary session 2: Robert Strivens
“The Piety of English Dissent: Philip Doddridge and 18th Century Baptists”

11:45am Plenary session 3: Gerald Priest
“A. C. Dixon: Exemplar of Fundamentalist Spirituality”

1:00-2:30 pm Lunch Break: conference participants on their own

2:30 pm-4:45 pm Parallel Sessions

a. J. Stephen Yuille “Saving Faith Discovered in Three Heavenly Conferences: A Look at the Pastoral Ministry of a 17th Century Baptist Pastor”
b. Steve Weaver “Piety in 17th Century Baptist Pastoral Ministry as Seen in Three Funeral Sermons”
c. Allen Mickle “A Fountain of Gardens, a Well of Living Waters”: A Survey of Christian Spirituality from John Gill’s (1697-1771) Exposition of the Book of Solomon’s Song
d. Josh Carmichael “The Hymns of Anne Steele: Baptist Spirituality in Verse”

a.  Michael Haykin, “Spirituality in the Marriage of Samuel and Sarah Pearce”
b. Terry Wilder “The Life, Thought, and Preaching of 19th Century Scottish Baptist, Peter Grant”
c.  Ian Clary “Alexander Carson: A Plea for Further Study”
d.  Jeff Straub “C.H. Spurgeon—Mr. Greatheart with a Great Heart for God!”

a.  Aaron Menikoff “Do Baptists Hold to the Spirituality of the Church? A Historical Look at the Causes and Consequences of the Nineteenth-Century Temperance Movement”
b.  Roger Duke “The Pietistic Thought of Basil Manly, Jr.”
c.  Gordon Heath “Canadian Baptists and Late-Victorian imperial Spirituality”
d.  Jeff Robinson “The Piety of Henry Holcombe Tucker”

6:15 pm Dinner (Banquet Provided for all Conference Registrants and Speakers)

8:15 pm: Plenary session 4: Greg Thornbury
“Baptist Spirituality and Theological Education”

Tuesday, August 25

10:00 am SBTS Convocation

11:40 am Plenary session 5: Tom Nettles
“The Piety of James Petigru Boyce”

12:50-2:30pm Lunch Break: conference participants on their own

2:30-3:30pm Plenary session 6: Greg Wills
“Relevance, Severity, and Spiritual Power in Baptist Piety”

3:40-4:50 pm Plenary session 7: Kevin Smith
“A Distracted Piety: African-American Baptists”

5:00-6:45 Dinner Break: conference participants on their own


6:45 pm “Spirituality of Historic Baptist Hymnody: A Hymn Sing”

7:45 pm Plenary session 9: Malcolm Yarnell
“ „We Believe with the Heart and with the Mouth Confess‟: The Engaging Piety of John
Smyth and the Early General Baptists”

9:00 pm “Reformed and Anabaptist: Strength and Shortcomings of Two Traditions”
A Late Night Discussion between Drs. Yarnell and Haykin