Monday, January 26, 2009

Associational Beginnings!

Last week held the first official meeting of the Texas Area Association of Reformed Baptist Churches. We had Arden Hodges from CA come and preach. Here is a link to his encouraging message on Church Unity from Ephesians 4:2-3.

The Gospel: A Feast of Rich Food

Daniel Rowland, one of the Calvinistic Methodist Fathers I have been reading about (pictured at the right - in case you thought that was me), preached on the following gospel text from the prophet Isaiah:
Isa 25:1-9 ESV O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. (2) For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners' palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. (3) Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. (4) For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, (5) like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down. (6) On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (7) And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. (8) He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (9) It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

The book I have been reading was written in the 19th century about the state of the country of Wales in the 18th century and the impact of the Spirit of God on that region during that time through the preaching of the word. It takes a look at that period of church history by way of biography. One of the most influential early preachers of the period was Rowland. There is a record of him preaching on this very text, in particular, v.6. The one who heard him preach was John Williams and he said of that occasion:

You never heard such a thing in your life. He began to tap the barrels of the covenant of grace, and to let out the wine well refined, and to give to the people to drink. It flowed over the chapel. I also drank, and became, as I may say, quite drunk. And there I was, and scores of others, in an ecstasy of delight, praising God, having forgotten all fatigue and bodily wants.

This brother had just walked 60 miles to hear Rowland preach the gospel. And from the sound of things – it was worth the effort. Of course the gospel is always worth the effort isn’t it? May God give us many times of refreshment – getting drunk – at the table of the gospel feast.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What I am reading...

The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales, by John Jones and William Morgan. This is a new translation and reprint by Banner of Truthand was first published in 1890. Jones and Morgan were two Calvinistic Methodists from the 19th century. Yes, that's right - Calvinistic Methodists! The following is taken from inside the dust jacket:
It was the French novelist Anatole France who, when feeling tired and discouraged, said, “I never go into the country for a change of air and a holiday. I always go instead into the eighteenth century.” For an entirely different purpose, the great Welsh preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, frequently borrowed France’s words when speaking to his fellow Gospel preachers: “Go to the eighteenth century! In other words read the stories of the great tides and movements of the Spirit experienced in that century. It is the most exhilarating experience, the finest tonic you will ever know. For a preacher it is absolutely invaluable … There is nothing more important for preaching than the reading of Church history and biographies.” His own biographer, Iain Murray, says that for “sheer stimulus and enjoyment there were no volumes which he prized more than Tadau Methodistiaid … the lives of the fathers of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism. They were constantly in his hands.”

I am looking forward to a trip back in time myself. Recalling God's work in the past, praying that he might so work again in our day.
Psa 77:11-14 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. (12) I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. (13) Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? (14) You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.