Wednesday, January 22, 2020

I was thankful to get a good night’s rest last night, and to follow that up with a good breakfast, coffee, and fellowship with brothers at the hotel.

The morning was invested in private devotions, getting things settled in my room, planning the day, and catching up on some emails.MVIMG_20200122_132707

During the early afternoon I got some walk exercise in which also included touring the mall. The hotel I am staying in is connected to a huge mall, five stories tall, and busy with people! When I first noticed the number of children and young people I must admit my first thought was, “Wow, they have a lot of homeschooling families here!” Then I remembered that it is summertime here so most likely they are on break 🙂

I did some work returning back to my room, read another chapter, prepared my clothes for the next few days, and went over my sermon I will be preaching Friday night.

The ICCC had to make some significant changes to their program because of the unrest in Chile, affecting particularly transportation for attendees and delegates. With that said I had no trouble getting to the venue. The city of Puerto Montt provided their arena for use of the service, and a good thing too, as it was full!

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Following the service we had dinner–Chilean style, evidently! That means starting dinner at 10pm and finishing with dessert at 11:15! We had a good time of fellowship, and I made some new friends. I’d like to say my Spanish is improving, but it’s still muy mal 🙂

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Technically this part of the post is from Monday night, but since my last post ended when I boarded, I’ll pick up on the flight leaving Atlanta.

IMG_20200120_215952I didn’t purchase an expensive plane ticket–coach, in fact–but the amenities on my Delta flight were nice. They provided a small pillow, blanket, earbuds, and an eye shade. A nice menu was provided though I didn’t take anything; it was night time and my diabetic body has to follow a schedule, and dinner before bed isn’t part of it! 🙂 Beverages were made available anytime they were desired. While it wasn’t cramped, my 6’2″ was missing its bed. IMG_20200121_073152

After a night of that, I was ready to get out. I felt like a squirmy toddler 😁 The view coming in to Santiago was beautiful.

After disembarking the next stop was immigration. Getting there however was quite a jog! Took a long time to walk there. Even with those walking escalator things! I waited a half hour in the immigration line for a 20 second interview. Then went over to customs had my bags checked thankfully no problem there.

The next challenge was then figuring out where to go to check my bags for my last flight; that took awhile, but thankfully the various officials I asked were patient with this Americano, IMG_20200121_120555haha. Got checked in, went through their “TSA” (very easy compared to the US), and then the waiting game for 4 hours until my flight boarded. Occupied the time by texting with family, checking email, getting tomorrow’s post for the ACCC website up, I even called Trish for a little bit! I’m thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to communicate with my loved ones back home.

The flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt was uneventful. The view was beautiful! Unfortunately I had a middle seat for this flight so was unable to get any pictures. There’s a couple of big, beautiful lakes, and a snow-capped mountain to boot. During the flight I read more of Lectures of the Nature and End of the Sacred Office, by John Smith (1810). Chapter VII was “A minister of the gospel should be heavenly-minded.” Again, like yesterday, a powerfully challenging chapter. Here’s a couple of selections:

  • “A strong love to the world, and to the things of the world,may be called the basest, and most sordid of passions.”
  • “Like the chariot-wheel in the mire, the soul will move heavily towards heaven when it’s affections are deeply set upon the world.”
  • “Let us acquaint ourselves more and more with God, and seek our felicity and joy in the contemplation, love, and adoration of his glorious perfections; in meditating on his word, trusting in his providence, relying on his promises, and imitating his moral attributes.”
  • “Our happiness will be always growing in proportion to the progress which we make in this heavenly study.”

After getting my bags I met a man with an “ICCC” sign ready to transport weary travelers. It was good to meet him, and a good dozen other ICCC folks as well. I should have taken pictures of the group and the young man who drove me to the hotel but I forgot. I will try to do better with that.IMG_20200121_211302

The hotel is very nice, with an astounding view. It almost makes me miss the snow back in Ohio! 🙂 I walked to a nearby grocery store and picked up a few things (most importantly, a big thing of water). Had a nice video chat with Trish and Lydia. This traveler is t.i.r.e.d. but thankful for the Lord’s grace and mercy on this trip.

A closing prayer request for the night: Pray for the salvation of a young lady I sat by on the flight from Atlanta to Santiago. Her name’s Rebecca, 18 years old, and is down here to go bike riding for six months! We had some good talks, but she needs the Lord.

 

Monday, January 20, 2020

IMG_20200120_160928I’m on my way to Puerto Montt, Chile for the International Council of Christian Churches Congress, January 22-29. I’m representing the American Council of Christian Churches, and will be preaching Friday evening and participating in a panel discussion on Wednesday, January 29.

I want to try to give folks–especially Orwell Bible Church–periodic (hopefully daily!) reports on my days. Not everyone has Facebook, so giving updates there would miss folks. Most of OBC’ers have email, so hopefully this will do 🙂

During the morning I cleared our driveway of last night’s 4-5 inches of snow, then finalized things for Sunday (bulletin, opening congregational reading of Psalm 79), published an ACCC Ketcham post, and finished packing.
Drove to Cleveland airport (CLE) with Trish and Lydia, flew through TSA (precheck!!!!). A long day and a half before me: depart CLE at 5pm with a 3 or so hour layover in Atlanta. Then leaving Atlanta at 10:30pm for Santiago, Chile, arriving there by 10am Tuesday. After a 7 hour layover and customs there the last leg of the trip will take me to Puerto Monty, Chile, arriving there by 7pm God willing.
Having some extra time before boarding, I worked up tomorrow’s post for the ACCC IMG8926035349230961333website, which will be part 1 of our Bible Doctrine of Separation. It’s scheduled to post at 7:30am. I’d encourage you to sign up for email notifications whenever new posts are published.
While on flight to Atlanta I read Lecture VI “a Minister of the Gospel should bet Self-denied and mortified to the World,” from Lectures of the Nature and End of the Sacred Office, by John Smith (1810). It was excellent, very challenging and encouraging. May the Lord help me to mortify my flesh even more.
After reading that chapter I reviewed the previous ones, noting the highlighted sections. This was a challenging exercise, one I should do again. (FYI I’m reading this book on Google Books for free, which is easy to highlight and thus review.)
IMG_20200120_203742Arrived in Atlanta, got dinner, went to my gate. Waited. Read. Did some work. Watched people (a favorite past-time). Finished this post. Did a video call with Trish. Good night! 🙂

Ecclesiastical Separation from Brethren is Not a New Doctrine

Image result for daniel baker presbyterianThis has been a canard foisted upon biblical fundamentalists for some decades, and I’d like to share an example from church history demonstrating that ecclesiastical separation from brethren is not a new doctrine.

I’ve been reading a biography of Presbyterian pastor and evangelist Daniel Baker (1791-1857) titled Making Many Glad: The Life and Labours of Daniel Baker, by William M. Baker (Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858; Banner of Truth edition, 2000). It has been an interesting and encouraging read.

About mid-way through Baker’s ministry a controversy arose between the Old and New School Presbyterians.

At the risk of being overly simplistic (which is good, as I’m not an expert on this!), Old School Presbyterians (OSP; examples: Ashbel Green, Charles Hodge, William Sprague) were theologically conservative holding to traditional Calvinistic orthodoxy, believing that conversions and revival were by sovereign grace.

New School Presbyterians (NSP; examples: Albert Barnes, Nathan Tyler, Charles Finney) denied total depravity and advocated human ability of the Pelagian variety, and the adoption of Finney’s “new measures” whereby revival could be accomplished at any time by following prescribed steps.

OSP was concerned with doctrinal purity, whereas NSP was concerned with enabling professions of faith.

Enter Daniel Baker.

Baker ministered primarily in the South, and admitted that “their wranglings grieved me much. I was wont to say, ‘I have no horns; I know not how to fight; I am one of the working ants.’ On account of my not coming out strongly on either side, I was called a ‘fence-man;’ and upon the fence I remained until, so to speak, every rail was taken down” (pp. 205-06).

Despite his professed inherent non-militancy, once the battle lines were clearly drawn he was avowedly on the OSP side.

Things came to a head when the NSP seemed to rally enough political influence to carry the day. Some of Baker’s NSP friends joyfully triumphed at his expense and asked what he and his Old-school brothers would do? Baker’s response is the first illustration of the doctrine and practice of ecclesiastical separation:

“Well,” said I, “if our goodly temple is taken from us, we will put up a shanty and get along as well as we can,” (p. 207).

As things turned out, the OSP’s carried the day and enacted the Exscinding Act in 1837 that put out several synods found guilty of NSP. Baker considered this “a strong measure” and “I did not like it much, but I knew of no other that would meet the exigency.” His conclusion provides the second illustration of ecclesiastical separation:

And now, after many years have passed away, I believe it was, so to speak, the very salvation of our Church; for certain forms of heresy and wild measures were coming in like a flood, which, if not checked in time, and effectually, would have led to most disastrous results. (p. 208, emphasis added)

Thus, ecclesiastical separation, while “a strong measure,” is a necessary one to preserve the church by protecting her from destructive error.

Godly Soil

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William Baker describes Midway, GA, where his father, the godly Presbyterian pastor Rev. Daniel Baker (1791-1857), arose from:

They were a race, the chief culture of whose heart, conscience, and understanding, was at the family altar, and in the closet; was in the Sabbath sanctuary, that central home of their souls; was in often repeated seasons of fasting and prayer, and gathered in real as well as outward brotherhood around the table of the Lord’s Supper.With them religion was a matter of their brightest hopes, their warmest feelings, their deepest convictions; it was the knowledge in which their servants and children were chiefly instructed; the thing to which they instinctively and habitually subordinated every thing else. Knowing all this so well, the writer understood how, with the blessing so often and so fully promised of God in such a case, it was but in the order or things that there should have been trained up there so many holy men and women serving God in private life; so many ministers of the gospel to serve God over a vast empire, but just born when this spot was first settled; so many servants of God to go thence to preach Jesus, even beneath the palm-trees, and beside the pagodas of heathen lands.

Making Many Glad: The Life and Labours of Daniel Baker, pp. 16-17

My Grandpa’s WW2 Navy Experiences

My Grandpa, Norman Greenfield, is still alive at 96 and lives in Florida. We’ve always been proud of his service for our country during World War II. Some of that he relates below. In addition to the Normandy Invasion on D-Day he also served during campaigns in Northern Africa. In his account (below) he mentions his “girl,” Arline, who would become his wife and eventually my Grandma. Grandma went to be with the Lord in 1999, and shortly afterward Grandpa married “Grandma Pat.” Cute couple! 🙂

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Grandpa’s ship was a Landing Ship Tank, the USS Cheboygan County (LST 533). I remember Grandpa telling us they said LST stood for “large, slow target”!

USS Cheboygan County (LST-533)

Here’s two pictures of Normandy beach; Grandpa’s LST 533 is on the far right

Dropping anchor at Normandy:

Norman Greenfield’s Navy Experiences
November 1942–January 1946

As a boy growing up on the farm you had to sign up for the military draft when you reached the age of 18. I didn’t want to go in the Army so I signed up for the Navy…just after that I received a call to go to the Army. Too bad it was too late for the Army. In due time I was called to go to Lansing and join a group that was going to Detroit to be sworn into the Navy. Then we were sent to Great Lakes for six weeks of military training. A bunch of us were assigned to gunnery school in Gulfport, Mississippi for four weeks. During that time we were learning about different guns and went out on a ship practicing, etc.

Following the Gunnery school, we were put on merchant ships out of Newport News, Virginia for a year. Then we were sent to New Orleans to get on a Landing Ship Tank (LST 533) to go to France for the invasion at Normandy. We went in DAY 2 with a load of Army personnel, supplies, guns, tanks, etc. back and forth for a whole year. We couldn’t get very close to the shore because of obstructions hidden…back and forth the Germans above on the cliff were firing at the boys as they were being dropped off. They had to be let off in three feet of water and carrying 80 lb. packs on their back. The area was supposed to have been prepared to be free and clear but that took a while. It was hard seeing so many of the Army guys get injured so quickly and many died.

After getting back to the Armed Guard Center in New York for a week or so then we were transferred preparing to go to California to get on a destroyer in the South Pacific. On the way to California we were in a train wreck which delayed us to be on time in California and when I handed the papers of our group we were told we were AWOL. The railroad finally let them know and they were okay—nothing we could do about it anyway. I ended up in sick bay and couldn’t go when the group went even though I had looked forward to be on a destroyer. The powers that be looked over my time in the Navy and decided I had put enough time to be discharged. Norm’s feeling about that piece of news: “I never was so glad in my life when I got the word, I was told I was being transferred to go home. I had a girl waiting for me in Michigan.”

The Lord watched over me all the time, but I didn’t know the Lord then. The only Bible training I knew was when we were on the farm and in bed upstairs, my mother would sit on the stairs and read the Bible to us every night. I was the youngest of eight and the only one left.

Years later after Arline and I were married and had two of our three children, my daughter, Penny, wanted to go to Sunday School, so we let her. The pastor called on us and led us to the Lord. I thank the Lord for His watchcare over my life and for His continuing care even though some of my health isn’t too pleasant some of the time. Maranatha!

Pope Francis and Roman Catholic Charismaticism

Here’s an interesting article from today’s Crux: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/12/10/bishop-on-new-oversight-body-says-pope-has-affinity-for-charismatics/

Summary: “At the request of Pope Francis, the Vatican has established a new body to oversee the global Catholic Charismatic Renewal.”

At first Francis questioned the legitimacy of Catholic charismatics, but as he has seen the effect on others his skepticism has changed to enthusiasm. NOTE: experience, not doctrine, is the driving force here.

The North American representative of the new committee, Bishop Peter Smith, said three themes tie legitimate church movements together:

  1. “an encounter with Jesus Christ or the Trinity,”
  2. “a desire that leads to people seeking a deeper communion with others that share the faith,”
  3. “and a greater sense of the importance of the apostolate and the mission of the Church.”

Lots could be said here, but it boils down to experience and faithfulness to Rome/the pope.

Scripture alone must determine the truthfulness or error of anything and everything.

See this resolution by the American Council of Christian Churches on the theological dangers of evangelical charismaticism.

The Golden Rule

If you’d like to stir the pot, tell folks that the “Golden Rule” doesn’t apply to everyone.

If you’d really like to stir the pot, say the same thing about the entire sermon encompassing the Golden Rule (Matthew 5-7, the “Sermon on the Mount”).

Lest one think my dispensational convictions have carried me too far, listen to another, who was definitely not a dispensationalist:

The fact is that the ethics of the discourse, taken by itself, will not work at all. The Golden Rule furnishes an example. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—is that rule a rule of universal application, will it really solve all the problems of society? A little experience shows that such is not the case. Help a drunkard to get rid of his evil habit, and you will soon come to distrust the modern interpretation of the Golden rule. The trouble is that the drunkard’s companions apply the rule only too well; They do unto him exactly what they would have him do unto them—by buying him a drink. The Golden Rule becomes a powerful obstacle in the way of moral advance. But the trouble does not lie in the rule itself; it lies in the modern interpretation of the rule. The error consists in supposing that the Golden Rule, with the rest of the sermon on the Mount, is addressed to the whole world. As a matter of fact the whole discourse is expressly addressed to Jesus’ disciples; and from them the great world outside is distinguished in the plainest possible way. The persons to whom the Golden rule is addressed are persons in whom a great change has been wrought—a change which fits them for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Such persons will have pure desires; they, and they only, can safely do unto others as they would have others do unto them, for the things that they would have others do unto them are high and pure (J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 37–38).

Mesopotamia

Not that Mesopotamia, but the Ohio Mesopotamia, called “Mespo” for short. 🙂

Last night I took my family for ice cream to Ohio’s oldest general store, End of the Commons. They have great sugar-free butter pecan ice cream! Afterward we wandered the area a bit.

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We made our way to the cemetery across the street from the store, and saw a number of interesting head stones. I liked this one–

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There was a cool old barn too–

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A fine summer evening, for which we praise the Lord.

The Effect of Unbelief in Ministers

autumn-2182010_640In Words to Winners of Souls Horatius Bonar challenges us in the Lord’s service:

Thus did they preach and thus did they hear in those days of terror and death. Men were in earnest then, both in speaking and hearing. There was no coldness, no languor, no studied oratory. Truly they preached as dying men to dying men. But the question is, Should it ever be otherwise? Should there ever be less fervor in preaching or less eagerness in hearing than there was then? True, life was a little shorter then, but that was all. Death and its issues are still the same. Eternity is still the same. The soul is still the same. Only one small element was thrown in then which does not always exist to such an extent; namely, the increased shortness of life. But that was all the difference.

Why then should our preaching be less fervent, our appeals less affectionate, our importunity less urgent? We are a few steps farther from the shore of eternity; that is all. Time may be a little stronger than it was then, yet only a very little. Its everlasting issues are still as momentous, as unchangeable. Surely it is our unbelief that makes the difference! It is unbelief that makes ministers so cold in their preaching, so slothful in visiting, and so remiss in all their sacred duties. It is unbelief that chills the life and straitens the heart. It is unbelief that makes ministers handle eternal realities with such irreverence. It is unbelief that makes them ascend with so light a step “that awful place the pulpit,” to deal with immortal beings about heaven and hell.