Saturday, January 26, 2013
This blog entry supplies a link to the first class session for a new podcast which I am creating called the Lens of Glory. The intent behind the class is to show that since the Bible is a Christ-centered, Christ-oriented and Christ-saturated book, the linkage between Jesus and the Glory of God leads us to the conclusion that the Bible can be read through the lens of the glory of God. This posting links to the first class session for this podcast. The class sessions were recorded during Sunday School at Troy Christian Chapel in Troy, Michigan.Click on the link to hear the Session 1 of the podcast. Lens of Glory Class Session 1
Friday, December 7, 2012
Today's episode of Finding Hidden Treasure has a discussion of the book From Death Into Life by William Haslam. It is a wonderful autobiographical slice of Haslam's life in a twenty year period in early Victorian England in which he had just begun being a member of the clergy of the Church of England in 1841. Despite the surprising death of his fiancee, he becomes resigned to God's will for her and for him.
Perhaps even more surprising is how Haslam described his attitude toward God in those years before his conversion (happy, prayerful, etc). What he describes as his pre-conversion state would, unfortunately, pass for a testimony of conversion to Christ in many churches today. Yet, Haslam was still unconverted and living a life in which he placed faith in his role in the Anglican Church rather than in Christ.
The podcast episode, covers, in part, his conversion, which happened while he was in church, preaching a sermon on conversion. It is a wonderful story but a sober reminder that simply because we live an outwardly good and upright life, it is no guarantee that we are converted and in Christ.
The program can be found at http://restoringthecore.com/?p=146
You can subscribe to the Finding Hidden Treasure podcast via iTunes
Friday, October 19, 2012
The opening of the sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah is one of the most intriguing passages in all of the Bible. The first three verses read as follows:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
First, we find from reading John 12:37-41 that the one who Isaiah sees seated on the throne is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Second, we see that in this vision given to Isaiah, he hears angels in heaven worshipping God. Yet, consider what they are saying; They refer to Him three times in succession as holy. Such repetition in Hebrew serves the same purpose as saying in English that the Lord is holy, holier, holiest.
What I would like to draw your attention to is what is said after this. Angels in heaven, worshipping God conclude their brief and repeated chorus of praise by saying that "the whole earth is full of his glory."
In God's sight, linking Earth with Heaven is important. But note what is said of the Earth: It is full of the glory of God.
If we reflect on this, I think that we will come to the conclusion that the world around us doesn't simply have bits and shreds of God's glory. Rather, it is filled with that glory. That has implications for us. We need to recognize God's glory all around us. We can see it in nature. I think that we can even see that glory in our everyday circumstances. There are so many cases in which humanity's sins have marred the evidence of God's glory in this world. Yet, according to Scripture, that glory is present.
What I have concluded from all this is that I need to take up the joyful task of looking and seeking out God's glory in my environment and in the circumstances of this life. While history awaits a new Heaven and new Earth at some point of time in the future, God has not left this present-day Earth without the mark of His glory. It may be hard to recognize in the humdrum circumstances of everyday life. Yet, it is there.
God has not left this Earth as a spiritual wasteland, devoid of His glory.
I suspect that looking for that glory will be like looking for a hidden treasure. We might not see it at first, but it is there. Look for it in how God guides His church here on Earth. Look for what He does for His people and in our individual lives. Remember that the sovereign Lord guides and directs the path of human history so that His purposes will prevail.(Proverbs 19:21) Such a direction of our lives, on the planetary and the individual scale, so much reflects His glory.
Pray to be given eyes to recognize and see this glory in the world around us.
Friday, September 28, 2012
The program can be found at
In the course of the podcast, I read from a section of Brakel's great work, The Christian's Reasonable Service, to present a wonderful summary of the Gospel. It is among the best which I have ever encountered. I offer the text for your benefit and blessing:
All felicity [a state of great happiness], full satisfaction, and enduring joy of man consists in having communion with God—such was Adam’s life prior to the fall. After the fall, man’s understanding has been darkened; he has become a stranger to the life of God, is deprived of the glory of God, and thus travels upon the broad way to destruction. In His goodness God has revealed a way by which a condemnable sinner can be reconciled with, and enjoy God, this being his felicity, satisfaction, and joy. In this life, this is but in principle, but after death and the general resurrection of the dead, this will be enjoyed in perfection in the third heaven—in the paradise of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is this way, being the one, eternal, living, and only wise God and the eternal Son of the eternal Father. He has assumed our own human nature out of the holy Virgin Mary and has united it to Himself in singleness of person. He is thus true and eternal God, and a perfectly holy man. He was ordained by the Father in the eternal Counsel of Peace—or in the eternal covenant of redemption—to be Surety and Savior. In having given Himself to that end, He as Surety has removed all the sins of all the elect and taken them upon Himself. By His suffering and death He satisfied the justice of God, thereby reconciling the elect with God. Furthermore, by His obedience in fulfilling the law, He has merited a perfect righteousness for them. He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and no man comes unto the Father, but by Him (John 14:6). Salvation is in none other, and He can save to the uttermost all those who come to God by Him.
God causes this Savior and Surety, being the only way unto salvation, to be proclaimed in various places in the world by means of the gospel, that is, good news. He makes it known to men and calls them; He urges everyone to desire this salvation—and for the obtaining of it, to receive this Savior as their Surety, and surrender to Him in order to be led by Him unto salvation. Is not a person wicked who insists on remaining in his wretched condition; who despises the salvation, eternal bliss, and joy in the perfect enjoyment of communion with God; who despises God, rejects the Surety, disdainfully rejects all friendly invitations, and thus goes lost forever—is he not frightfully wicked? On the contrary, is not he blessed who is acquainted with the necessity of, the full salvation in, and the friendly invitation to come to this Surety, Jesus Christ? Is not he blessed who delights in this salvation, desires this way, and becomes a partaker of it in this way?” (2.601-602).
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Episode 2 of the podcast is now up on the net. The topic is the book The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. The webpage is at http://restoringthecore.com/?p=54
The program is also in iTunes. Go to http://tinyurl.com/9k6qcd3 for details.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Today, my new website and podcast are officially online. The new website is at
This website is the platform for my new podcast Finding Hidden Treasure. This weekly podcast will feature something or someone not widely known in the Christian community and turns out to be a kind of hidden treasure which I want to share with others.
Currently, I am planning to post a new podcast every Friday. Today's first episode features a book written by the 17th century British minister John Owen entitled The Glory of Christ.
You can listen to the podcast in a number of ways. There is an audio player embedded on the episode page on the Restoring the Core website for each episode. You can also do a direct download from the same episode page on the site. The program is also available for subscription through iTunes or RSS feed. You can subscribe by going to the side panel of the Restoring The Core website.
The podcast has its own Facebook page
Please stop by the Facebook page and "like" us.
We're also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/restorethecore
My name is @restorethecore
I will continue to post to this blog (School of the Solitary Place). It is actually part of the Restoring the Core initiative. While more can be found about the nature of the initiative on the "About Us" page of the new website, my goal has been to use the Internet to supply Christian resources to those looking to go deeper into the Christian faith. The Internet is where the early 21st century goes for answers to the questions of life. It is my goal to have the existing blog, the new website and podcast, as well as my book be a contribution to this new market place of ideas and resources.
Please visit the new site.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
The glory of God has been a theme on which I have been reflecting throughout this year of 2012. I've been re-reading a book which I first read two years ago concerning the glory of Christ. It is called "The Glory of Christ" by the 17th century Puritan minister John Owen.
I highly recommend this book. If you are new to the writings of John Owen, you may wish to get the Banner of Truth version of the book edited by R.J.K. Law to make Owen's 17th century English a bit more readable and understandable to an early 21st century reader.
Here's a quote from that edition about meditating on the Bible to see the glory of Christ in it by faith:
Having come to the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from Scripture or by the preaching of the gospel, let us regard it as our duty to meditate frequently on his glory. It is the neglect of meditation that keeps so many Christians in a feeble state, regardless of their privileges. They hear of these things and assent to the truth of them or at least they do not question them. But they never solemnly meditate on them. They think that meditation is above their capabilities, or they are totally ignorant of how to go about it, or they are not too concerned about it, or they treat it as fanaticism. Many cannot meditate because their minds are so cluttered up with earthly things. The mind must be spiritual and holy, freed from all earthly clutter. It must be raised above things below if we wish to meditate on the glory of Christ. So many are stangers to this duty because they do not mortify [put to death] their earthly desires and concerns.
I highly recommend this book. It put me into the mindset of recognizing how central, how marvelous and how transforming is our beholding of the glory of God.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Recently, I have run across a number of references to an essay (actually originally composed as a sermon) by C.S. Lewis written in the early 1940's. I took the time to read it about a month ago. C.S. Lewis had some profound insights into how we humans are anything but ordinary.
I was especially moved to post about this after reading my son's Facebook post from yesterday in which he (independent of my prompting, I think) came across an extended quote from Weight of Glory. With all of these "co-incidences" in which I keep running into references to this essay, I must conclude that "coincidences take a lot of planning"... planning on God's part that is. I have needed to read this essay for a reason. So, here is a link to the essay in pdf form.
I conclude with a quote from the essay:
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Exploring something new can be a bit intimidating. The excitement to pursue an interest to learn or do something new is often accompanied by a level of fear. There can be the fear of looking foolish in front of friends or family members when your enthusiasm in starting a new hobby isn't matched by your skill at it.
There can be a fear that others might not understand your desire to explore something new. It is only natural that you might want to begin to explore this new interest without a lot of people watching you. As much as possible, you'd like to be anonymous.
This can be true particularly when it comes to attending a church. Walking through the doors of a church for the first time can be a rather intimidating experience. There are some churches who ignore new attendees while there are others, on the other extreme, which pay so much attention to newcomers that those visitors feel as if they are being smothered and have become an open spectacle for all to see.
There are many churches which have purposely sought to find a balance in their approach in welcoming visitors. It is a learned skill on the part of members of a church to greet newcomers but not try to become their new best friends within the first five minutes after meeting each other.
Christians have often been on the leading edge of using new technology to help spread the faith in new and interesting ways. When a revival which started in New York City in the autumn of 1857 began to spread to other places in the United States, pastors in New York, Boston and Philadelphia used the 19th century version of the Internet, the telegraph, to stay in daily communication with each other with news about the spread of the revival in their cities. When Americans started moving westward as pioneers, some evangelists began to use railroad passenger cars as "chapel cars" so that a chapel could come to the people even if people could not otherwise get to a chapel or church building.
In the same spirit, with the continued expanding role of the Internet in our lives, one local church has developed an approach to allow visitors a sense of anonomity and to be able to observe a church service in a way that allows interaction in a virtual community using the Internet. Toward that goal, Woodside Bible Church of Troy Michigan has recently launched an "Internet Campus." The purpose of their effort is to give those who want to know more about the Christian faith the ability to observe a worship service, sermon or a Sunday School class and to do so anonymously. It would be like attending a church service in a room with a one-way mirror. The visitor can see out into the church but others cannot see him.
You can link to the Internet Campus here. There are opportunities to watch a video of the most recent church service, participate in a chat room, read the Bible online, create a customized Bible reading plan and even to ask for prayer with one of Woodside's online staff. None of this is meant to replace the in-person gathering of believers for worship and hearing the Bible explained and taught. However, it is a great way to reach out to people who are curious about Christianity and the church by using the same technology that they now use to search for answers to life's questions, namely through an online presence.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
During my seminary days back in the 1990s, one of the classes I was required to take was Biblical Hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is a word we usually don't use in everyday conversation. Perhaps the class title should have been what the original class name really means...Biblical Interpretation.
The professor who taught the class was a man named Haskell Stone. He had been a Christian for many decades. I'm thankful for not only his academic knowledge of guidelines for correctly interpreting the Bible but also what he could teach us in the class based on his experience as a believer in Christ.
The one piece of counsel he gave us that has stuck with me over these years has been that we should systematically, over time, read through different translations of the Bible. Professor Stone remarked that the slight differences in the way in which a translation renders certain words and phrases could give us a broader understanding of what the Bible means in a given passage. I have taken up the challenge. Over the years, I have read through the Bible in the King James Version, New International Version and the New American Standard Bible translation. During this year, I have been reading through the English Standard Version.
Following through on Professor Stone's advice to us has really been a blessing. There are variations in these four translations which in many passages provide a depth of meaning of which I would not be aware had I not read that passage in a different translation. These variations can happen for a number of reasons.
One of those reasons happens to be the method in which a translation was made. Of the four translations which I have read, the King James version is probably the most literal translation (i.e. word for word) among the four. The New American Standard and the English Standard Version are also translated more literally, but in contemporary English and not the English of 400 years ago. The New International Version is translated as a "dynamic equivalence" work. This means that a priority is given to translating the Bible in an "idea for idea" method.
Sometimes, there are variations in the way that one biblical manuscript will read from another. These "textual variants" can occur for a number of reasons (which I may explore in this blog at another time). The overwhelming number of variations occurred due to a difference in spelling or simply repeating a word when visually copying a manuscript by hand. However, some variations reflect what a scribe may have thought a word meant rather than the word itself. One example can be found in Jude 1:5. In most of the translations I have read, there is a reference to the Lord saving a people out of Egypt. However, in reading the English Standard Version, the manuscripts from which it was translated used the word "Jesus" and not "Lord". That really grabbed my attention. Really early in church history, some scribe correctly understood that while God saved His people out of Egypt, since Jesus is God, Jesus saved His people out of Egypt.
In reading the Bible, one big help can be reading a translation with cross-references and a list of the textual variants all in one place. In 1 Peter 2:24, we read: "and He Himself (Christ) bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." The versions of the New American Standard have those cross-references and alternate readings. In some manuscripts, the word "cross" is replaced with "wood." When I discovered this, the meaning of this verse took on a deeper signifance for me. Jesus was placed upon the wood of the cross. However, to read this passage as Jesus was laid on the wood, the imagery of the burnt offerings referred to in the Old Testament really comes out. Jesus being laid on the wood reminds us that of all the Old Testament burnt sacrifices which needed to be done over and over again, Jesus performed one sacrifice perfectly (once for all according to the book of Hebrews).
There are many other examples which I can raise. First, let me encourage you to read the Bible, in its entireity from Genesis to Revelation. Once you have read through the entireity of a translation of the Bible, please consider doing another full reading in another translation. You will be presented with a deeper sense of what God is telling you in the text. It is worth the effort.