Virtues in Affection

Walter Hilton in The Scale of Perfection (1.14):

There is many a man that has virtues, such as lowliness, patience, charity towards his fellow Christians and so on, only in his reason and will, but without any spiritual delight or love in them. Often he feels grudging, sad and bitter as he practices them, and nevertheless he does it, stirred only by reason and the fear of God. This man has virtues in his reason and will, but not love of them in affection. But when by the grace of Jesus and by spiritual and bodily exercise the reason is turned into light and the will into love, then he has virtues in affection, for he has so well gnawed the bitter bark of the nut that he has broken it and feeds upon the kernel.

The Glory of Corporate Worship

In Exodus 38, Moses describes the cost of constructing the Tabernacle. In addition to various animal skins and fine linens, the Tabernacle’s curtains, supports, furniture, and sacred instruments required “29 talents and 730 shekels” of gold and “100 talents and 1,775 shekels” of silver (Ex 38:24–25). If those measurements don’t make much sense to you, they didn’t to me either. But I did some math.

According to archaeological evidence, a talent—a unit measuring an object’s weight—was between 65 and 75 pounds, and a talent was equal to 3,000 shekels.[1] So the total weight of gold used in the Tabernacle’s construction was between 1,900.795 lbs (29x65 + .243x65, since 730 shekels = .243 talents) and 2,193.225 lbs (.243x75+29x75). That’s between 30,412.72 and 35,091.6 ounces. On February 3, 2019, 1 oz of gold is worth $1,317.93. Therefore, the gold required for constructing the Tabernacle was worth between $40,081,836.07 and $46,248,272.39.

I’m just a pastor, so you’ll have to forgive me if my math doesn’t check out and for leaving it to you to figure out the silver. My point stands. The Tabernacle might seem to us like a dusty tent, but it would have been glorious to behold. And it didn’t compare to the Temple, which Solomon constructed using the “100,000 talents of gold and 1,000,000 talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weight” (1 Ch 22:14) that David had saved up.

The opulence of these sacred gathering places puts the world’s greatest cathedrals to shame, not to mention the plain and undecorated rooms in which we Baptists worship. But that’s alright, our worship is glorious, not for its surroundings (gold that adorns walls, doors, pulpits, or pews), but for its object. Christians gather each week in unassuming buildings, high school cafeterias, and movie theaters to enter into the presence of God through Christ, the One who “tabernacled” among us and revealed the glory of the unseen God (Jn 1:14), and that’s the glory involved in corporate worship. The gold of the Tabernacle shined bright in the sun of ancient deserts, but it was as a shadow compared to the light and glory revealed in Christ.


1. Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Weights and Measures,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 2138.

The Basis for Spiritual Stability and Peace

How tranquilizing and stabilizing it is to us when we consider that we have a personal interest in all the eternal acts that passed between God the Father and the Lord Christ on our behalf even before man was created, as well as in all those acts that were transacted between the Father and the Son in and throughout the whole of His mediatorial work that He wrought and finished here below. It is this covenant salvation, in its full blessedness and efficacy, apprehended by faith, that alone can lift us out of ourselves and above our spiritual enemies, that can enable us to triumph over our present corruptions, sins, and miseries. It is wholly a subject for faith to be engaged with, for feelings can never provide the basis for spiritual stability and peace. Such can only be obtained by a consistent feeding upon objective truth, the Divine counsels of wisdom and grace made known in the Scriptures. — A.W. Pink, Effectual, Fervent Prayer (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 50.

Our machines

 “We only do what humans can do, and our machines, however they may appear to enlarge our possibilities, are invariably infected with our limitations. Sometimes, in enlarging our possibilities, they narrow our limits and leave us more powerful but less content, less safe, and less free. The mechanical means by which we propose to escape the human condition only extend it; thinking to transcend our definition as fallen creatures, we have only colonized more and more territory east of Eden.”

Wendell Berry, “Two Economies,” in Home Economics  (San Francisco: North Point Press,  1987).

When I consider the short span of my life...

He nails my experience too. I’m thankful to know a God who orders my steps and knew me in my mother’s womb. Without confidence in Him, terror is the only appropriate emotion.

“When I consider the short span of my life absorbed into the preceding and subsequent eternity...I am terrified, and surprised to find myself here rather than there, for there is no reason why it should be here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who put me here? On whose orders and on whose decision have this place and this time been allotted to me?” - Blaise Pascal, Pensèes, 102. 


Astrology and the rejection of truth

In case you didn't see Julie Beck's article in The Atlantic"Why Are Millenials So Into Astrology?," here are a couple high—or low—points:

"'I think it’s become generally less acceptable to just arbitrarily s**t on things as like "that’s not rational," or "that’s stupid because that’s not fact,"' says Nicole Leffel, a 28-year-old software engineer who lives in New York."

"Stevens’s story exemplifies a prevailing attitude among many of the people I talked to—that it doesn’t matter if astrology is real; it matters if it’s useful."

I'd encourage you to read the whole thing, then weep for those who willfully reject the truth. What a mess. 



Trust & Rural Communities

In his new book, “Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump,” Stiglitz argues that economists missed something important about these towns: They have social capital. Trust is what you might call the “magic fairy dust” that helps economies thrive. When people trust each other, they work better and harder and they tend to live happier lives, as Harvard professor Robert Putnam's research has shown. Overall, trust has eroded substantially in the United States in recent years as fewer and fewer people have a bond with their neighbors, let alone the government, businesses or civic institutions. But trust still exists in many of these smaller towns where people talk to and watch out for each other. That can be harnessed to transform the town for the 21st century, Stiglitz says...


The minister's knowledge

"Not to read or study at all is to tempt God: to do nothing but study, is to forget the Ministry: to study, only to glory in one's knowledge, is a shameful vanity: to study, in search of the means to flatter sinners, a deplorable prevarication: but to store one's mind with the knowledge proper to the saints by study and prayer, and to diffuse that knowledge in solid instructions and practical exhortations—this is to be a prudent, zealous, and laborious Minister."

— Quesnel quoted in Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 50.

Good Christian liturgy

That of course is the difference between liturgy and spontaneous worship. There is nothing wrong with spontaneous worship, just as there’s nothing wrong with two friends meeting by chance, grabbing a sandwich from a shop, and going off together for an impromptu picnic. But if the friends get to know one another better and decide to meet more regularly, they might decide that…a better setting for their friendship, and a way of showing that friendship in action, might be to take thought over proper meals for one another and prepare thoroughly. In the same way, good Christian liturgy is friendship in action, love taking thought, the covenant relationship between God and his people not simply discovered and celebrated like the sudden meeting of friends, exciting and worthwhile though that is, but thought through and relished, planned and prepared—an ultimately better way for the relationship to grow and at the same time a way of demonstrating what that relationship is all about.
— N. T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 222.

Church library

Ron is a very active librarian. He sends out a monthly list of new books (with short summaries) to the congregation (250 members), he contacts individual members of the congregation when a new book arrives that falls within their area of interest, encourages his pastor to mention new books from the pulpit, and produces a daily e-mail list of links related to new books, author interviews, and reviews. The Community Bible Chapel is used extensively by church members, community members, local clergy, and seminary students from nearby Dallas Theological Seminary. Ron’s diligent work has cultivated a spirit of reading, conversation and a Christian life of the mind in his church and in the wider community.
— John Fea