Resolved…

December 31, 2009

With the New Year upon us, many people will be making New Years Resolutions. While this is neither commanded to do nor commanded not to do in Scripture, the principle is a sound one. We, with the help of the Holy Spirit can resolve to do things different this year in 2010. In light of that, I want to include Jonathan Edwards resolutions he wrote while he was 18 and 19 in the years 1722 and 1723. They are an excellent example on how to approach the new year with a desire for holiness and doing all to the glory of God!

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is

perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14′ and July ‘3’ 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

For more on Edwards and his resolutions be sure to check out Steven Lawson’s excellent book, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards.


A Noble Task

December 30, 2009

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim 3:1), ESV.

December 27, 2009 became my first Sunday in a row of many Sundays to come as Senior Pastor of Tunkhannock Baptist Church. Through many ups and downs and much patience (and still more patience demanded) I find myself in the most difficult, most dangerous, and most noble task a man could ask for. Jesus Christ has entrusted me to serve as an under-shepherd in His body. I am entrusted with the esteemed task of preaching and teaching the Word of God and pastoring a small portion of the greater flock of Jesus Christ.

Since high school I have wanted to serve in this noble calling. Paul tells us that one who desires to serve as an overseer desires a noble task. Paul does not say that one should not seek the office of overseer. The desire of this office is seen as a good thing. It is noted this is a noble task and one that men should seek if they feel the Lord calling them to it. What a great privilege it is to communicate week in and week out the riches of the Word of God? What a privilege it is to love and to lead a flock of people into full maturity in Jesus Christ? It is indeed a noble task, in fact probably the most noble. It is a task that comes often with little thanks or appreciation. It rarely causes one to be rich in the worlds eyes, but the one who serves Christ by serving the church as pastor, is truly rich.

Yet, it comes with much fear and trepidation. What follows Paul’s statement about a man desiring a noble task is a great and heavy passage regarding the qualifications of an elder. Paul goes on in vv. 2-7:

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,  sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

When I see these words I tremble. For I look at qualifications I do not feel I have? Am I above reproach? Can someone rightly accuse me of sin in my life? Do I manage my household well or do I fail to lead my wife rightly? Do I control myself? Am I sober-minded? At times, perhaps, at others, I cringe to think of myself. Like Paul I find myself to be the worst of sinners…

but by the grace of God…

The thing is, that while I feel that I do not measure up to the standard that Paul lays out here, I know someone did measure up to it, the Lord Jesus Christ. He obeyed the Law perfectly so that when I do not, the Father sees His obedience not mine. No pastor is perfect in any way. We will fail constantly and continually. In fact, to the chagrin of our congregations, we will frequently make the same mistakes! But like every believer in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and are justified in Jesus Christ. So, through Jesus Christ my Saviour I can do anything. I have the power through Him to conquer sin in my life and pursue purity so I can be a worthy example for my flock to follow.

The pastorate is a noble task. But it is one to also be feared. If we do not fear for our own souls or the souls of our congregations we do not understand the sacredness and importance of our duty. But, if through the recognition of our own weakness we realize we can do nothing apart from Christ and everything through Him we will serve as the best of all ministers of the Gospel. We will be blood-bought and forgiven men, just as we year for all within our reach to also be. And we will be able to point people not to us or our success but through our failure and weakness to Jesus Christ and His success.

I pray that through the many years of Sundays I will be with Tunkhannock Baptist Church I will be able to say with Paul, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4:5), ESV.


Another Giveaway!

December 17, 2009

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.


2010 Book Give-a-Way!

December 16, 2009

To encourage a year of reading godly and edifying books, Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling and my favourite publishing company, Crossway Books, have partnered together for the 2010 Book Give-a-Way right here! Each month I will give one brand new Crossway release to the readers of my blog.

Here’s how it works. You will receive one entry for doing the following things:

1) Subscribing to my posts either through RSS or e-mail feeds.

2) Follow me on Twitter.

3) Write a post about this contest on your blog. Please provide me the link to your post.

4) Put a link to my blog on the sidebar of your own blog.  Please provide me the link to your blog.

5) Tweet about the contest! Something like: RT @allenmickle: “2010 Book Give-A-Way” (http://bit.ly/5nDa8V). 1 New @CrosswayBooks titles each month for 2010

You need enter only once for the whole year and you will be elligible for the monthly draw. The winner will recieve the bright and shiny new Crossway title in the mail directly from Crossway. And through the above options you have up to 5 ways to win each month! You must leave a comment on this post letting me know which ways you entered this contest so I have a record of your entry!

As a tantilizer, here are the books available for the first six months of the contest (the last 6 months will be announced later.

January – Raised with Christ: How the Ressurection Changes Everything by Adrian Warnock

February – Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D. A. Carson

March – Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears

April – What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul  David Tripp

May – Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels by Tullian Tchividjian

June – Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Reviewer by Grant Horner

Good luck and good reading!


Speaking of Book Give-a-ways!

December 15, 2009

Trevin Wax over at Kingdom People has an excellent give-a-way featuring $240 worth of quality books including the award winning ESV Study Bible. Check out his give-a-way here.

Christian Book Notes is also giving-a-way a number of Don Whitney’s books! This is an amazing offer as well. Check out this one here.


Drum Roll Please… New for 2010!

December 13, 2009

Entering 2010 there is a lot going on for my family! We’ll be regularly preaching now at our new church, Tunkhannock Baptist Church. Our small family will grow by one come January as well! Big changes are happening! And some big changes will be happening here at Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling.

First, expect me to post now at least once a week. I’m hoping to begin posting regularly with some original written pieces hopefully helping to drive us closer to Christ.

Second, I am also hoping to have regular posts on the writings of John Gill, who is the subject of PhD dissertation and who has much to say to the modern church.

Third, in our church I am hoping to begin an explanation of the “Baptist Catechism” (also known as Keach’s Catechism) weekly through my Pastor’s Corner bulletin handout and will include that here on the blog as well.

Now, even better, there will be a special 12 month book give-a-way being featured here on the blog! More to be announced shortly but let’s just say, my favourite publishing company has agreed to give-a-way a different book each month of 2010 to the readers of my blog. I promise to post more about this in the next two weeks.

So, stay tuned! There is much happening in 2010 and I hope that Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling can be a help in your spiritual growth in the New Year!


How to Listen to a Sermon

December 10, 2009

Tim Challies has a great new post on how to be an effective listener to the Sermon that your pastor preaches each Sunday. Be sure to read it and apply the very appropriate advice!

Being a Diligent Listener