“Every breath in your life is a gift of mercy.”

George Swinnock, 1627 – 1673

From Mortification of Sin:

Biologos has as its mission to spread the message that the Bible cannot be relied upon as a trustworthy guide to human origins (or anything else related to creation). If Biologos were an arm of a secular university or agnostic think tank, that agenda would make perfect sense. But the profane irony is that Biologos purports to be a Christian organization.

Read it all.

From the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC:

Pope Francis began the Humanum Colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage by stating that “this complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.” Throughout the message, he was clear about the necessity and value of marriage despite progressive “ideological notions” on the family in our day.

“Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage, and that this cannot be redefined by ideology or by the state,” said Russell Moore. “I am glad to hear such a strong statement on this, and on how an eclipse of marriage hurts the poor and the vulnerable.”

In a brief address to 300 people representing a variety of world religions affirming male-female marriage, Pope Francis reflected on the value of marriage for couples and for society. “I am grateful for the colloquium because of the benefits that marriage can supply to children and society,” he said. Marriage provides “unique, natural, and fundamental good for families, humanity, and societies.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that “marriage and family are in crisis” as the culture is “giving up on marriage as a public commitment.” The “decline of marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of social ills” and has “brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.” He noted it is “women, children, and the elderly” who “suffer the most in crisis.”

Because of the collapse of marriage in culture, it is necessary to foster a “new human ecology” that renews the value of marriage between one man and one woman. This renewal of marriage must include a “permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love” that “responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.”

He reflected on the value of marriage for social and family stability. “The crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection,” Pope Francis stated. “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

Pope Francis also expressed concern about the state of marriage among younger generations. “I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future,” he said. “Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”

Read the rest.

I harvested this nice 7×6 bull:



And, this 4×4 mulie:



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From Housewife Theologian:

What are your convictions? Are they true? Does it matter? The writer to the Hebrews emphatically exhorts them to persevere by holding fast to their confession of hope, as a covenant community, and to do it without wavering (Heb. 10:23). What is your confession? Is it the confession of hope based on God’s promises that has been faithfully delivered in his word and proclaimed by the church for over 2,000 years? Do we confess that Jesus is Lord? Who is Jesus and what does it mean that he is Lord?

The office of the pastor is important. He is proclaiming God’s word to his people in an authoritative way. The preached word is a means of grace by which God’s people are sanctified. What is the state of theology of American pastors? What would that survey look like? Probably a lot like this one. That is why it is so important for laypeople to understand their responsibility as theologians as well. Like the title of Dr. Sproul’s book, Everyone’s A Theologian. That survey interviewed 3,000 theologians. Many of them are terribly poor theologians. The results should be informative for pastors.

What is the state of your theology? Every week we are called out from our ordinary work to gather together as a peculiar people: God’s church. By grace, we are receivers of God’s promised blessings in Christ and we are sent back out with a benediction. A Christian without conviction should be an oxymoron. And yet we need to be warned to hold fast to our confession because there are many opposing forces. Our sinful natures are tempted to waver. We need theological stamina! We get that by actively engaging in God’s word, training ourselves by it, and exercising our faith. We are new creations who are given a fighting faith to persevere.

Read the rest.

From Carl Trueman:

We live in a confessional age. Not in the good sense of, say, the Westminster Confession or of principled Presbyterianism. Rather, the grim cult of counterfeit authenticity seems to mean that every scoundrel and charlatan can find absolution for their sins simply by declaring them in public. We have come to expect this from Hollywood stars and politicians but it has started to make inroads into a Christianity which has been subject to the corrosive effects of sentimental emotivism and had its tastes shaped by an age which loves to excuse its excesses. Putting on a hang-dog expression and clearing your throat with a ‘I broke this and that commandment’ are now apparently the only preparation needed before opining on anything as a moral authority.  Even those of more personal integrity are scarcely immune to this plague of humble self-promotion. Some pastors seem to think that the pulpit (or the plexiglass lectern) is transubstantiated every Sunday into Oprah’s couch.
Frankly, the Bible gives little basis for the kind of baring of the soul which has become so popular. Paul is very thin on details when he talks about his own sins. The examples of sermons in the Bible contain little parading of personal peccadilloes. The failings of the preacher when referenced are merely of the order of brief bridges to discussion of issues which transcend the particularities of the preacher’s own existence.
Yet, interestingly enough, confession lay at the heart of Luther’s own personal Reformation Christian life. But it was not the confession of the self-obsessed exhibitionists of our social media age. It was the private confession of one Christian to another. Our confessional age is an age where the baring of souls is seen as an act which makes the confessor vulnerable or ‘authentic’ and thus serves ironically to enhance their authority or invulnerability. That might sound strange, but who in this present age can criticize the person who has told the world that they suffered abuse as a child or has wrestled with some addiction for many years?   The canons of taste offer immediate, and sometimes total, protection.
Luther’s notion of confession was somewhat different. It took place in two contexts.


From The Anxious Bench:

Two men, born twenty-six years apart and moving within different circles, followed remarkably similar and typically American paths to the pinnacle of fame and leadership.

The first came from humble origins and endured a challenging childhood.  His father died in an car wreck while his mother was pregnant, leaving her as a single mom.  At the time of his birth, that situation meant social stigma and the stresses of providing for a family as a single parent.  In order to do so, she left him with her parents–with whom she did now always see eye-to-eye–in order to obtain vocational training in a city over a day’s travel away.  Soon, his mother remarried, but rather than bringing increased stability to the family, his stepfather brought further chaos as alcohol-fueled arguments and domestic abuse often defined his home life.  Turmoil characterized his formative years.

In spite of these challenges, during his high school years the young man excelled academically, served in student government, and became an accomplished musician.  In college, he earned a prestigious Rhodes scholarship before returning to the United States to earn a law degree from an Ivy League school.  Along the way, he emerged as a gifted communicator and a charismatic young star in a political party populated with older men.

Decades later, the second young man followed a similar path.  Born into a family where the men were alcoholics and wife-beaters, he grew up in a tough neighborhood full of all sorts of illicit activity.  In high school, he excelled academically, served in student government, and became an accomplished athlete.  His senior year, he was student body president and was voted “most likely to succeed.”  He also worked in politics.  In college, he underwent an evangelical conversion experience, going on to complete several degrees.  Along the way, he emerged as a gifted communicator and a charismatic young star in an religious tradition populated with older men.

Both men excelled due to their charisma and ability to connect with “the people.”

Read the rest.

Dear Friends,

This month’s Congregational Letter is written by Matt Alexander. In addition to being a St. Andrew’s member, Matt is the Executive Director of Palmetto Medical Initiative. Over the past 6 years PMI has accomplished amazing work in both East Africa and Central America and I am grateful for the opportunities that St. Andrew’s has had to partner with PMI in this work. My hope is that as you learn more about PMI you will be moved to join them in their mission. You can find out more about PMI by clicking through to their website   In the family, +Steve


PMIIt was late 2008 and two St. Andrew’s members, Dr. Edward O’Bryan and Matt Alexander, had just finished surfing at Folly Beach. Their conversation over lunch began questioning how to live out faith through service and action (1 John 3:18). The conversation continued to include healthcare and how to meet health needs of people living in the world’s poorest nations. But they wanted more than a simple, short-term relief approach.

As a result of this conversation and through the support of St. Andrew’s Church, 24 volunteers from the lowcountry traveled to Masindi, Uganda to deliver medical care through makeshift clinic sites in churches, schools, and abandoned buildings in March 2009. Through that trip, the desperate need for basic healthcare was confirmed and Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI) was born with the mission to provide quality, affordable healthcare to people in need. The next step was to begin planning for what would become the organization’s pilot project, the Masindi Kitara Medical Centre (MKMC).

Today, much has changed but the mission remains the same. Rather than creating dependency on American funds or talent, PMI empowers communities to bring about their own improvements in health and quality of life. To put it simply, PMI:

1.  Offers a full-scope of medical services through facility-based projects
2.  Those services are delivered by trained nationals
3.  Care is provided at a price-point affordable to the majority of the population
4.  Patient fees offset the operating costs of the health center

PMI’s approach has produced powerful results. The organization opened the first-phase of the MKMC in January of 2011 and within 13 months it became 100% financially self-sustaining. Today, that project has now grown into a regional referral hospital, staffed by more than 50 full-time Ugandan medical and administrative staff, who provide care to approximately 1500 patients per month. And, most importantly, they are covering all of their costs in doing so.

To date, PMI has provided medical care to more than 100,000 patients through MKMC and additional projects in Uganda, Nicaragua and Burundi. To support the local projects and staff, the organization has also sent nearly 1200 US medical volunteers to participate in training and delivery of care. PMI has also been blessed to develop partnerships across different sectors and geographical areas as people become aware of the sustainable impact being achieved.

As excited as we are about all that God has done, we’re even more excited about what He has in store. Our goal over the next five years is to add to our existing projects and produce 20 health centers serving communities in East Africa and Central America by the year 2020. Whether through prayer, financial support or joining us on a trip, we would love to have you join us on that journey.

Around-the-Horn[1]Jimmy Carter On Gay Marriage and Religious Liberty
Jimmy Carter doesn’t think marriage laws should be decided at the federal level.  “I’m kind of inclined to let the states decide individually,” the former president told WFAA, an ABC affiliate, in an interview that aired Sunday.

May Mcllvaine Not Be In Vain: The Cardinal Doctrine of Justification
Charles Pettit McIlvaine, the illustrious Bishop of Ohio (in office 1832-1873), was one of the greatest advocates of Evangelicalism within the [Protestant] Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Able scholar, accomplished theologian, and earnest preacher of the Gospel, McIlvaine served his country in various spheres apart from the parish and the episcopate. He was appointed chaplain of the U.S senate and also of West Point Military Academy. President Lincoln assigned him as a special negotiator with the British authorities to persuade their government not to support the Confederacy in his nation’s tragic civil war.

Forgotten Providence
Providence is so sixteenth century.  We seem to have moved past needing to talk about God’s providence—we’re quite sophisticated these days.

When Jesus Says Stay
He wanted to follow Jesus. He wanted to be close to Jesus. He wanted to live a life of radical obedience. But Jesus told him to stay, not to go. Do not follow me.

America’s Spiritual Founding Father at 300
George Whitefield is the greatest evangelist in American history. He is also perhaps Britain’s greatest evangelist. Indeed, few figures in church history have made such a seismic impact for the gospel as Whitefield.

Two Solutions for the Terminally Ill
Here are two heart-breaking stories of women with terminal brain cancer.  The first is moving to Oregon so she can avail herself of physician-assisted suicide, searching for control of her life and “death with dignity.”  The second says why she is rejecting that option and how she is putting her faith in Jesus Christ.  Read them both.

High Maintenance Christians Are Better Than Nice Ones
From Housewife Theologian: It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills costs Him crucifixion.

Reformed Tradition Taking Root in China
China may be emerging as another global center of Reformed faith and practice. If so, East Asia would seem to be well on its way to becoming the heartland of the Reformed tradition in this century. – See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/10/reformed-tradition-taking-root.php#sthash.ZotqdzFd.dpuf