Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Concluding a year with the Institutes

I’m experiencing mixed feelings about coming to the end of a year of reading daily through Calvin’s Institutes. On one hand, it’s taken a lot of effort to avoid getting behind—some days required serious mental fortitude to get through. On the other had, it has been a marvelous learning experience, full of surprises and wonderfully edifying insights. Certainly, my appreciation for Calvin only increased as I read, due to his pastoral heart and his seemingly comprehensive grasp of the entire Bible’s contents. It never ceases to amaze me that such a work could be produced prior to the advent of computerized concordances and modern word processors.

Today’s reading, section 4.20.24-27, provides a great example. Contemplating the Christians duty to civil authority, he reasons from numerous scriptures that Christians are bound to obey even wicked magistrates, because their authority comes directly from God.

Here’s a sample of how he gets at this:

“When we hear that a king has been ordained by God, let us at once call to mind those heavenly edicts with regard to honoring and fearing a king; then we shall not hesitate to hold a most wicked tyrant in the place where the Lord has deigned to set him. Samuel, when he warned the people of Israel what sort of things they would suffer from their kings, said: "This shall be the right of the king that will reign over you: he will take your sons and put them to his chariot to make them his horsemen and to plow his fields and reap his harvest, and make his weapons. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. Finally, he will take your fields, your vineyards, and your best olive trees and will give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards, and will give it to his eunuchs and servants. He will take your menservants, maidservants, and asses and set them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks and you will be his servants" [1 Sam. 8:11—17, with omissions; cf. Hebrew]. Surely, the kings would not do this by legal right, since the law trained them to all restraint [Deut. 17:16 ff.]. But it was called a right in relation to the people, for they had to obey it and were not allowed to resist. It is as if Samuel had said: The willfulness of kings will run to excess, but it will not be your part to restrain it; you will have only this left to you: to obey their commands and hearken to their word.”

All in all, reading the entirety of the Institutes has been a demanding but satisfying journey.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Because of the major snowfall we didn’t have church today, so I thought I would take the opportunity to listen to a sermon by one of my favorite teachers, R, C. Sproul. I have heard many of his lectures, but haven’t yet heard him preach since he became a pastor. So I went to his website, and chose to listen to his message on the prologue to John’s Gospel. I clicked the link, and began to hear a voice very unlike Dr. Sproul. It didn’t take long to recognize the voice of another of my teaching heroes, John Piper. I was hearing Piper preaching on Paul’s doxology at the end of Romans. The website says Ligonier, the window displays St. Andrew’s, the text reads The Prologue of John's Gospel, but out of the player comes Piper and Romans 16:25-27 from his message from November 26, 2006. I can only conclude that God really wants me to hear this message.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Update on Don Coleman—good news!

Earlier today I received news of significant improvement in Don’s condition from our mutual friend, Dr. James Anderson. Here is the note from James:


  I visited Don this morning (Thursday) and he had not needed the respirator during the night at all. This is a big step forward. He has no fever. The kidney dialysis is still needed and we'll have to trust the Lord for restoration of kidney function. This hopefully will show steady improvement. There has been no recurrence of the blood clots but this is a concern until he his physically active and up out of bed. He sat in a chair yesterday.

He is communicating by writing presently. He should be able to talk when the trach tube is plugged, hopefully soon.

The Lord be praised. Lord bless you. Thank you for sending this to folks who are eager to know Don's status. In Christ, James

James C. Anderson, MD

Friday, December 04, 2009

Update on Don Coleman

I know thousands are praying for Don, but I discovered someone had come to this site by searching blogs for Don’s name, so I thought I would forward this update that I received moments ago.

A mutual friend, Dr, James Anderson, was able to visit with Don and the physician who is treating him, and gives this report:

1. Infection-----seems controlled and probably treated successfully with toe amputation and antibiotics.

2. Shock lungs----improving a little each day. He'll need the respirator for 1-3 more weeks but he is being slowly weaned off of it. He is tolerating the withdrawal of support.

3. Kidney failure----today his kidney function improved which gives hope that the kidney dialysis may not be permanent.

4. Blood clots----on Monday, Nov. 30, he survived a clot that went from his leg to his lung. This is God's mercy. He cannot tolerate the 2 main drugs used to treat this but the intenivist today said the 3rd drug they are using is working. This is the most fragile situation presently and makes the whole situation very unpredictable. The intenivist believes that this situation has definitely improved in the last 24 hours.

5. Nutrition---- Don will get a tube from outside his abdomen through the abdominal wall into his stomach. It is felt he will need this only for as long as he is on the respirator. Nutrition will be maintained very well with this.

May God hear our prayers.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Today’s Gleaning 12/1/09

A friend and I commiserated today about the inordinate interest and passion that so many of our Christian friends devote to things political. He and I agreed that a person has but so much attention to spend, and if politics are taking up a disproportionate share, this is likely a sign that faith is being placed in solutions sought in that realm. He brought up the observation by Francis Schaeffer that one our most tempting idols is the God of personal peace and affluence. Could our infatuation with politics be a symptom of this particular idol’s sway?


Justin Taylor quotes J. I. Packer  in World Magazine pointing out that I spend too much time on the internet:

“I’m amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I’m not against technology, but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power, instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger—and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful.”


So now, doesn’t it make sense that I would commend an article about politics that I read on the internets? I couldn’t resist, though, because this essay by John Mark Reynolds (concluding a series on Sarah Palin’s new book) helpfully and excellently describes what we ought to look for in a president.