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Today, July 23rd, is my mentor and good friend’s birthday.  Dr. James Grier has been a faithful friend, who has helped shape me, my theology, my view of ministry, my exegesis of Scripture, my affections for God, my care for my wife in ministry, and in countless other ways.  He continues to schedule a ministry calendar full of preaching, teaching, and lecturing dates.  He reads more in 3 hours than I can in 3 days!  He loves wisdom in the Proverbs sense, seeks it and treasures it and helps countless others do the same.  He speaks of the might of God’s awesome deeds, declares God’s greatness, pours forth the fame of God’s abundant goodness, and sings aloud of God’s righteousness.  He loves to think hard about the things of God, and loves to help fellow pilgrims think hard as well.  He is funny, fun to be with, and I have never gone through a meal without enjoying the gift of humor and laughter with him.

But above all these other excellent and praiseworthy qualities, the one that sticks out in my mind this morning is that his passion for the glory of the Kingdom still burns white hot, even at age 77.  He has had amazing ministry experiences, like preaching at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and contributing to a book on John Calvin in honor of his 500th birthday.  But it is his burning passion for God’s Kingdom that I want to imitate. So, thank you, Jim Grier, Olde Pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City, for your service to and servant’s heart for our great and glorious King.  Happy birthday!

Today, July 10th, is John Calvin’s 500th birthday (it also happens to be this guy‘s birthday too!).  The great reformer and servant of the gospel was born in Noyon, France in 1509.  Here is a little blurb about this looming historical figure from this week’s bulletin:

This year the international Reformed community celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. Born in Noyon, France, on July 10, 1509, Calvin studied law before converting to Protestantism (ca. 1530). His magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian  Religion, was a manual for Reformed spirituality, rich in detail about the Christian life, displaying a vital connection between learning and piety. The reforms that he instituted in Geneva spread throughout Europe and the New World. John Knox described the city under Calvin’s leadership as the “most perfect school of Christ…since the days of the Apostles.”

Above all Calvin, must be remembered as a church reformer.  Under his leadership the Geneva church restored the marks of the true church – godly preaching of the Word, proper administration of the sacraments, and faithful exercise of church discipline.  In his Institutes and elsewhere, Calvin placed great stress on the absolute sovereignty and holiness of God. For this reason he is often associated with doctrines such as predestination and election. Calvin is better understood as one who sought to align all life in conformity to the Word of God. Humanity was created for communion with God, and the Christian life was a pilgrimage that meditated on the work of Christ and life to come. It was lived coram  Deo, in the presence of God and for His glory. Commenting on Romans 11:36, Calvin wrote: “[O]ur being should be directed to His glory. How absurd it would be that creatures, whom He has formed and sustains, should have any other purpose than to show forth His glory!”

Amen & Happy Birthday John Calvin!

Over The Grave album coverWhen living in Louisville and going to seminary, we heard about Sojourn Church and started listening to their worship albums.  They have just released Over The Grave: The Hymns of Isaac Watts, Volume 1, with “songs inspired by and adapted from his hymns.”  They hope this album “will point us beyond the music and lyrics to see the glorious Savior who inspires them.”  I believe they have accomplished their mission and the music and lyrics are outstanding.  One of my new favorite worship songs is “Warrior”, based on Watts’ version of Psalm 21, a Davidic psalm anticipating the Messiah.  It is, as they describe it, “a most unusual worship song”… check out the verse:

Honor and majesty divine
Around his sacred temple shine
Grace and might so long foretold
In crowns of glory, not of gold

Your hand shall find out every foe
And as a fiery furnace glows
With raging heat and living coals
They will feel your wrath upon their souls

Oh the warrior will conquer all
The world will fall before His feet

Earth and sea will give up their dead
The nations gathered before Him,
A day of glory, a day of dread
No one dares now ignore Him

That is not your typical Christian worship song!  Great Biblical Theology mixed with a good tune… “With raging heat and burning coals, They will feel your wrath upon their souls”.  But our God is a Warrior and one that loves His glory supremely.  That final day will be one where His glory shines forth, but it is a dreaded day indeed for His foes, for there is nothing they can do when He gathers the nations before Him!

This is a great worship album… one that works hard lyrically and musically to glorify our Great God!  You can listen to it here and buy it here.