¿Eres bilingue? ¿Reformado? ¿Está buscando el ministerio o está interesado en la formación teológica? ¿Le gustaría participar en un ministerio urbano?

¡Me vendría bien tu ayuda! Conozca más sobre nuestro trabajo aquí. Si las circunstancias son las correctas, hay fondos disponibles para pagarle por venir y explorar estas oportunidades. “La cosecha es mucha, pero los trabajadores son pocos”. Envíeme una nota a mjives punto refparish en gmail punto com. O llámame/envíame un mensaje de texto al 515-783-5637.

Además, si puede mejorar esta traducción con GoogleTranslate, comparta sus sugerencias. ¡Todavía estoy trabajando en mi propio español!

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Are you bilingual? Reformed? Are you pursuing the ministry, or are you interested in theological training? Would you like to be involved in an urban ministry?

I could use your help! Learn more about our work here. If the circumstances are right, funds are available to pay for you to come and explore these opporunities. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Drop me a note at mjives dot refparish at gmail dot com. Or call/text me at 515-783-5637.

Also, if you can improve this translation by GoogleTranslate, please share your suggestions. I am still working on my own Spanish!

Here is the video of our last monthly Spanish outreach effort. Puritan Reformed Th. Sem. student Daniel Navarro preached, with our selfless helper, Richard Santos, translating. The advert below is for our next effort this Lord’s day evening. If you would like to join in, go here this Lord’s day evening, September 25, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Would you pray for us? We hope to invite two families in my two respective parishes. Both have turned up for previous meetings, but neither show clear evidence of saving grace.

Learn more about Reformed Parish Mission.

Since our last post sharing Fatima’s housing problems, we had quite the roller-coaster trying to help her find a place to land. We found one seemingly ideal opportunity, but it fell through. My son, Gabriel, and a friend of his helped her move out of her old place on the day of her eviction, with nowhere definite for her to go. Her things went into one of our elder’s garages for the time being. The clock ticked.

A few generous options were offered from folks after I sent this appeal to pastor friends in Rhode Island, but both of those had serious downsides. Eventually, some veterans in our congregation opened their home for her to stay and have been helping her also with getting a better job. She is qualified to practice phlebotomy, but for several reasons has been stuck in a dead-end, low-paying security job. We’ve seen her in church and hope to see her even more. Please continue to pray for her, as this family blesses her with hands-on love in Jesus’ name.

Then, I had another seminary intern for a short, intensive mission weekend. Mr. Daniel Navarro, a Presbyterian student from Mexico City, Mexico, and a student at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary came along side me in my ‘territorial vineyard.’

We had a number of good visits with folks in the S. Providence parish. One of them was “Mahim,” a Muslim from Somalia. A rather polite, friendly fellow, though he tells me he’s a rather devout attender of the mosque. I’ve actually visited with him a couple of times before in recent years, while on my rounds. He’s a Computer Science student at URI, which immediately gave me a point of connection, given my son Gabriel’s studies. From my notes, I see that my last two little ‘Gospel homilies’ with Mahim involved Joseph as a type of Christ, saving his brothers through their cruel betrayal, followed the next year by our Lord’s words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. This time around, after a little friendly exchange, I shared about Daniel’s upcoming message that weekend from Genesis 2 on the Bible’s teaching on marriage. I told him how much our culture has degraded this holy institution, from God’s original “one flesh” design.

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“This arrangement ought, as far as possible, to be commonly observed, that every one, content with his own limits, may not encroach on another’s province. Nor is this a human invention. It is an ordinance of God. For we read that Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters over each of the churches of Lystra, Antioch, and Iconium (Acts 14:23); and Paul himself enjoins Titus to ordain presbyters in every town (Titus 1:5). In like manner, he mentions the bishops of the Philippians, and Archippus, the bishop of the Colossians (Phil 1:1; Col 4:17). And in the Acts we have his celebrated address to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus (Acts 20:28). Let every one, then, who undertakes the government and care of one church, know that he is bound by this law of divine vocation, not that he is astricted to the soil (as lawyers speak), that is, enslaved, and, as it were, fixed, as to be unable to move a foot if public utility so require, and the thing is done duly and in order; but he who has been called to one place ought not to think of removing, nor seek to be set free when he deems it for his own advantage. Again, if it is expedient for any one to be transferred to another place, he ought not to attempt it of his own private motive, but to wait for public authority.”

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. II, pp. 321

The following chart gives a kind of basic taxonomy of various positions on the Sabbath within Christianity. This very helpful piece was designed by my elder, Brad Snyder. Well done, sir!

[Note, this was designed for our catechism class, which focuses on the education of our young people. Some parts could require more elucidation and explanation for adults.]

“The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous: the LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down” (Psalm 146:8-10).

Fatima” once again reached out today. Apparently, her nephew and only immediate family in the U.S. changed his mind about having her come out to live with him in Ohio. While it would have been sad to see her go, I cannot help but see this somewhat as a blessing in disguise for her. While we are but “unprofitable servants,” we are the only devout Christians in her life and have shown her an abundance of care for her outward affairs and especially for her soul.

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“Chalmers’ method was simple, systematic, spiritual, and unadorned. It was concerned with reaching souls rather than building brands; it sought them out. A gathered team of committed individuals connected with their local community and the lives of individuals through visitation and interaction. Such a method has massive challenges in a society where community has disintegrated but that is not to say it is impossible. No doubt something resembling it is bearing fruit in some communities.”

In this article below, my good friend Matthew Vogan recounts the old national vision of our Scottish Presbyterian forbears like Thomas Chalmers, who maintained confessional fidelity while also aggressively engaged in home missions. Does anyone among the theological heirs of Chalmers have such a national vision? Or even more pointedly, does anyone care?

Well, I for one deeply believe that they do care. And that they have the almighty Spirit of God dwelling in them and resting upon them. Nothing can defeat the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, nothing can stop these ‘sons of oil,’ for it is “not by might, nor by power, but by [His] Spirit, saith the LORD.” They will hear their charge, and they will go, shaking off all inhibitions and possessing the good land that rightly belongs them–and much more, to the Heir of all!

(There. That’s the closest this stodgy Presbyterian will ever get to ‘naming and claiming!’)

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This article is found in The Bulwark, popular magazine published by the Scottish Reformation Society. To read it more easily, you will likely need to download and rotate view.

Listen to this classic work of Presbyterian church government written by London divines at the time of the Westminster Assembly. But fair warning: not for the faint of heart! But if you’re a thinker and would like to learn as you go, let me do the reading for you. [Project in progress.]

“Arguably the best biblical defenses of presbyterian ecclesiology and explanations of its polity were produced in the seventeenth century. Among these, none has a reputation better than an English work with the Latin title Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici, with the English subtitle The Divine Right of Church Government. In three successive editions, two of which were penned during the time that the Westminster Assembly met, ‘sundry’ London ministers laid out their case. In the first part of the book they demonstrate that there is a government of the church established and revealed by God. In the second part of the book they describe that government, explain its benefits to God’s people, and further develop the biblical and theological justifications for presbyterianism.

Chris Coldwell’s new edition of this classic work will prove a most welcome addition to the Presbyterian minister’s or even church member’s bookshelf. The entire book was addressed to people who were not yet persuaded regarding the merits of presbyterian church government. It hardly needs to be said that such an audience has only expanded in the Christian world and that many people could benefit from understanding a principled form of church government rather than ones where leaders (or members) make it up as they go along. This critical edition is almost a third longer than earlier abridged versions. It offers David Noe’s translations of Latin material and a thoughtful introduction. The edition also evidences Coldwell’s careful editorial work and successful sleuthing, in some cases solving puzzles that have stumped historians for centuries. Editor, subscribers, and publisher are to be thanked for this invaluable scholarly contribution.” 

— Chad Van Dixhoorn, editor of The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly 1643–1652

Read the entire chapter from William Cunningham’s Historical Theology: A Review of the Principal Discussions in the Christian Church Since the Apostolic Age (1863). Or, listen to the audio here.

Years back, my heart got large for missions — especially urban missions to those on the ‘other side of the tracks.’ At about the same time, I became Reformed (a high octane, old school Presbyterian no less!), putting me in a a sub-subset of a subset. My life and ministry has ever since lived somewhat in the frontiers the unlikely and the implausible. A straightlaced, tall gringo Presbyterian goes out among immigrants, trying to evangelize in broken Spanish and recruit sinners to the “outward and ordinary means” in a humble, little Reformed church 15 minutes to the south. And to sing Psalms. Without musical accompaniment. In English.

I admit that there are all kinds of problems with this model, from a human perspective. But it is actually more plausible than one might think. Yet before I deal with the plausibles, let me first set forth some principles.

The first principle is principle! Principle precedes the practical. We must first determine whether something should be done before we decide whether or not we think it is practical. We ought to go out and bring the Gospel to all. None excluded. Politics quite aside, we may and must not discriminate based on sex, ethnicity, gender, or for that matter even sexual ‘preference.’ By the mandate of our King, we must go and tell them. Yes, as Calvinists, we know that not every “all” means “all.” But “every creature” does in fact mean “every creature.” Even if they don’t look like us, eat like us, or even use our language. It doesn’t matter whether they ‘have papers’ or not, vote Democrat or not. How they got here and whether they should by law be here, is a separate issue for a different discussion (and full disclosure: I lean quite “red” when it comes to immigration policy!). But that they are here means they are here for us to evangelize. And not just gripe about and avoid them as much as possible.

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