Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog Organization

I'm trying to transition off of this blogger account and onto wordpress. I've had a few wordpress accounts for the last couple of years, and I've finally settled down into 4 blogs that I plan on updating regularly.

My faith related blog is called Cure of Souls.
My sailing blog is BVI 2010.
My scuba diving blog is called The Misadventures of a Landlocked Diver.
And finally, my genealogy research is collected at The Bradley Project.

After spending a couple of years in both "worlds", I've found Wordpress to be far better and easier to navigate. Having all my active blogs in one place will be easier for me as well. I've put most of my old posts from here onto the appropriate blogs (or will have in the next few days). I will also keep this blog intact. For my three followers, I hope you join me over at wordpress!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Books Every Lay Person Should Read: Living in God's Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen

Our next book is Living in God's Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen.

Who is the author? David is a professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California and an ordained minister in the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

What is the book about? The book explains in mostly general terms how we are to live as Christians in the culture.

Why is this book worth reading? Where to begin? First, the book is thoroughly biblical and soundly theological. In fact, even if you don't agree with his conclusions about interacting with culture, you will come away from this book with a profound understanding of God's redemptive work, the place of Adam in that work, the centrality and priority of Christ in that work, and who we are and how we fit into that work. This alone is worth the price of the book. However, these things have implications for how we relate to culture. There is a popular idea that is growing more and more common among groups such as the "emergents" that somehow we are suppose to "redeem" culture. This leads churches to use the tithes and offerings they have received and dedicated to use in God's kingdom in inappropriate ways, it confuses Christians about who we are and what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf, and it leads to a loss of focus on the part of the Church. This book will reorient your understanding of the Church and how it relates to culture. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Brief? It may stretch the definition of brief for the average reader, but it qualifies!
Easy to read? This book will stretch you. But with careful reading, most shouldn't have any trouble.
Biblically and theologically sound? Check
On an important topic? Check

Books Every Lay Person Should Read: Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung

Our first book up in the series is Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung.

Who is the author? Kevin is a pastor in the RCA in Lansing, Michigan.

What is the book about? This book deals with the question of how to know God's will.

Why is this book worth reading? There is a lot of confusion out there among those who identify as evangelicals. People typically aren't sure how to know God's will or they are too confident that they know His will. One paralyzes and the other becomes coercive. Kevin does a great job of laying out a biblical understand of God's will, what we can know, what we can't know, and how we are to live as those who wish to please our Father in heaven. Even if you aren't currently struggling with a major life decision or you think you know what God's will is, I highly recommend this book.

Brief? Check
Easy to read? Check
Biblically and theologically sound? Check
On an important topic? Check

Books Every Lay Person Should Read: A Series

I'm going to start a series of posts here on the blog recommending books that I think are well-written and thoughtfully argued; on topics that are of importance either because they are so commonly impacting the lives of believers, or they are so commonly misunderstood, or they are simply important, period; and which are written at a length or level that most lay people will be willing to stick with it and get through the book.

As a pastor I'm always thinking about this when I read books. Is this a book I can recommend to the people to whom I minister? And so, to keep track of those books, I'm going to post them here with a brief review of each.

Another guiding principle in this project is that I generally just want to find one book to recommend on a given subject. I know on most subjects there are several great books at least. And perhaps I will list a very brief biography at the end of some of the posts, pointing folks to more reading if they wish to do it. But finding a book that is clear, concise, biblically and theologically sound, written for the non-professional-theologian, on an important topic, is actually hard enough that just finding one will often be a challenge.

So I hope the three of you who follow this blog will find these recommendations helpful. Enjoy!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Final Report

Well, the 38th General Assembly of the PCA is adjourned.

Here are some highlights:

1) The Assembly instructed the AC to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of holding Assemblies every other year.

2) The new funding proposal for the AC was approved, requiring some amendments to our standards which will have to be ratified by the Presbyteries and voted on again next year. This basically will require each church to pay a percentage of their annual budget to fund the AC in order for their elders participate at the Assembly.

3) Overture 20 (to study the possibility of virtual attendance at GA) failed.

4) Overture 24 (17-point call to renewal in the PCA) was adopted with amendments.

5) All of the Themes, Goals, and Means of the Strategic Plan were adopted with the following exceptions:

Means (Specific) #4 under Theme #2: Establish standards for voluntary certification of men and women for specific non-ordained vocational ministries. Failed.

Means (Specific) #2 under Theme #3: Ruled out of order. (It dealt with AC funding which had already been addressed).

6) The MNA committee recommended that Overtures 12, 17, and 22 be answered in the affirmative with amendments. This passed. The substance is that the Department of Defense has asked the religious organizations which sponsor military chaplains to give insight into the impact of removing the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy and allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the Armed Forces. A letter was submitted in these overtures to answer that inquiry. Some of the language in the letter was tweaked and it was approved by the Assembly. We normally don't approve letters to politicians or the government, but in this case that government has asked the church for its input, so it was deemed proper by the Assembly.

7) This brings us to the Overtures referred to the Overture Committee. See my post below for the Overtures Committee's recommendation for each overture. All of the recommendations I list below were adopted by the Assembly.

In order to understand what this means in each case, you'll need to review the Overtures and the committee's recommendation. However, I'll summarize a few key overtures.

Overture 15, which is a significant rewrite of BCO Chapter 5, was passed.

Overtures 7, 2, 9, 13, and 16 all had to do with women and the diaconate. All were answered by reference to the Assembly's answer to #7. Seven was answered in the affirmative with an amendment. The result is that the Assembly approved an amendment to BCO 9-7 adding the following language: "These assistants to the deacons are not officers of the church (BCO 7-2) and, as such, are not subjects for ordination (BCO 17)."

If you didn't already know we don't ordain women to the office of deacon, this might come as a surprise to you. But the fact is, this language changes nothing of substance in our polity.

That's the substance of this General Assembly. Women's relationship to diaconal ministry, the Strategic Plan together with the new AC funding proposal, and a letter to the government on homosexuality in the military.

Next year GA is the first week in June at Virginia Beach. See you then!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Latest from the PCA GA

We have recessed until after worship this evening. We'll reconvene around 9pm. The new AC funding plan has been approved, but must go to the Presbyteries this year for approval, and then be reaffirmed next year at GA.

We are about halfway through the Strategic Plan and everything has passed so far.

We'll hopefully complete the Strategic Plan tonight and I suspect have to push overtures off to tomorrow morning.


Just a quick update. We are still debating the Strategic Report. However, barring some unanticipated speech or action, it seems to be passing quite easily. Lots of discussion and speeches against, but when it comes time to vote, it's all passing.

We are 30 minutes from a recess for dinner. Worship follows dinner. We will either have to reconvene at 9pm this evening and then continue work in the morning, or simply continue work in the morning.

Here we go.

The Assembly will reconvene in a few moments (1:30 pm). We basically have two reports left this afternoon. At 2pm will be a special order to receive the AC's Strategic Plan. Following this the Assembly will take up the overtures recommendations from the Overtures Committee. They are sending the following overtures to the floor with the stated recommendations:

No recommendations will be made with regard to Overtures 12, 17, and 22. They were sent to this committee in error.

Overture 5: Answer in the Negative
Overture 18: Answer in the Negative
Overture 14: Answer in the Negative
Overture 28: Answer in the Affirmative as Amended
Overture 11: Answer in the Affirmative
Overture 15: Answer in the Affirmative as Amended
Overture 7: Answer in the Affirmative as Amended
Overtures 2, 9, 13, 16: Answer by reference to the GA's action on Overture 7
Overture 10: Answer in the Negative
Overture 25: Answer in the Negative

They are asking that we not be on the WIFI during the session, so I will post results afterwards.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

General Assembly 2010

GA 2010 is in full swing. Committees began meeting on Monday and last night we began with our first assembly worship service. We elected a moderator (Harry Reeder) and will begin business this morning at 10:30.

There are a few links you'll need if you're following along this week.

First, you can watch online at:

Once on the page, click on the link to start the live stream.

Next, I will be posting primarily about overtures. I won't take the time to explain each overture (there won't be time!). Instead I'll use the overture numbers. If you would like to understand each overture a bit better, you can read the overtures themselves here:

Click on each overture and it will open as a pdf. In each overture, scroll down to the "Therefore" statement to find out what they're asking the Assembly to do.

These overtures go through a committee which sends them to the floor with a recommendation to affirm or reject the overture. These recommendations will then be voted on by the Assembly. Two issues of particular concern this year are the ongoing discussions re: women in diaconal ministry and the presentation of the denomination's strategic plan, which has been a source of concern for quite a few folks.

The Strategic plan will come to the floor at 2pm tomorrow (Thursday). This is a special order, which means that it really will come to the floor at that time. The overtures are scheduled for 4:30pm Thursday, but are not a special order, which means we'll get to them when we get to them.

So stay tuned!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Duties of Parents

To say I've been delinquent on the blog isn't at all true. I've stopped blogging altogether during the past year. Today's contribution should not be taken as any indication that I intend to begin again. However, in my reading today I came across something I just had to share (although due to my inactivity, who I am sharing it with is a valid question).

I'm currently working through a little book entitled The Duties of Parents by Jacobus Koelman. As a parent myself, I'm looking for wise counsel on how best to raise my boys up in the Lord. Koelman was a Dutch pastor of several hundred years ago, but his counsel remains sound in so many parts.

A heavy emphasis (historically) among the Presbyterian and Reformed churches has been family worship and catechizing your children. Catechism is the use of question and answers to train children in doctrine and piety. Two popular catechisms in our tradition are the Heidelberg and Westminster Shorter (the latter being a part of my denomination's confessional standards). But the practice of catechesis is broader than question and answer. It becomes a means by which we fulfill the command of Deut 6 - Always telling our children about God and his promises to his people.

While our churches have largely forgotten this discipline with regard to our children, there are those still committed to its practice. Many of them are gathered at a pastor's fraternal I attend in Jackson, MS each year. Although this subject isn't a focus of our time together, I am encouraged in personal conversations by what I hear. Not only that fathers are taking the practice seriously, but that they are also struggling in their attempts. It has so long ago ceased to be a part of our culture (as a Church) that it is foreign even to many of us who embrace it in principle.

Anyway...let's get to the quote. Koelman opens with an appeal to parents, who in his day and age were already abandoning the Christian training of their children.
The covenant whose seal they received demands faith and repentance. Should you not then nurture them in the knowledge of divine things and for faith and godliness? For you have not wished to lie before the Lord, as I may hope, and you are not sorry that you dedicated them to God in the sacrament. Then follow your conscience in this matter. Try to save them with all appropriate means prescribed by God; try to turn them away from evil and to spur them on to all good work. From you they have inherited the origin of evil, which is a thousand times worse than leprosy, gall stones, kidney stones, and similar physical ailments they might have inherited from you. It is fair, therefore, for you to do your utmost to seek their healing by trying to surrender them into the hands of the physician of souls, Jesus Christ, by making him known, recommending him, and leading them to him as it were by your hand - to him who said, "Let the little children come unto me" (Luke 18:16). He will bless and embrace them!
He continues in this vein for sometime. It is both convicting and encouraging. May our families (starting with our young pastors!) recover the practice of family worship and catechism for the health of the Body and the glory of God!

Friday, November 20, 2009

On Baptism

I was recently asked about the difference between the Baptist and Presbyterian views of baptism. I wrote a series on this a couple of years ago, so I thought I would post briefly and point to it to make it easier to find. You can read the entire series here. However, you'll have to start at the bottom post and read the posts in reverse order. Read only the posts first, then if you want to read the comments, go back for those. The comments get really technical and will only confuse.

I also did a series answering the question "Why did you leave the Southern Baptist Church?". You can read that here.

To answer the baptism question briefly...

The real difference is this: Baptists do not believe their children are members of the covenant community, so they don't give them the sign. Presbyterians believe that they are members, so they do give them the sign. Who's right? Well, read the series linked above and you'll get my biblical argument for infant baptism and against the baptists.


Monday, August 24, 2009


I wore a fleece to the office this morning! We are in the 50s! In August!