For many years I have endeavored to read through Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. I confess upfront that I have often started it only to find myself getting away from it long enough that I recall very little of what I read previously. I also confess that I struggle to understand Calvin. His writing can be dense at times, and that is where he sometimes loses me (or I lose him?). There are many good supplementary books out there to help read through The Institutes, such as:
A Reader’s Guide to Calvin’s Institutes (Anthony Lane)
Analysis of the Institutes of the Christian Religion of John Calvin (Ford Lewis Battles)
A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis (David Hall and Peter A. Lillback, ed.)
Piety’s Wisdom: A Summary of Calvin’s Institutes (J. Mark Beach)
Recently, however, David Calhoun’s book Knowing God and Ourselves: Reading Calvin’s Institutes Devotionally has attracted my attention, and, my money. I recently ordered the book and will be using it to supplement my reading through the Institutes. There are twenty-six chapters devoted to helping the student of the institutes. The helpful aspects of this book are the reading assignments that accompany each chapter, a notable quote preceding each chapter, a scripture to memorize and a prayer. Each chapter summarizes the sections read in the Institutes. I appreciate Dr. Calhoun’s work greatly and look forward to one day completing Calvin’s biggest contribution to the church.
Here are the items and resources for April 19, 2017:
- Deceit in Church Courts — a useful article for any that serve as an officer in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- What is Worship? — This article sets forth some foundational issues regarding corporate worship.
- Patrick Gillespie on the Covenant of Works (1) — Part one of a seven part series authored by my friend and Professor at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Ryan McGraw.
- Preaching and the Danger of Compromise — This sermon was recommended by a friend. I have not listened to it, but plan to shortly. Preached by Kenneth MacRae.
- Knowing God and Ourselves — I ordered this book and should be receiving it today. After I read it, I will write a brief review. Author: David Calhoun and published by the Banner of Truth.
- The Church’s Responsibility to Its Pastor — Interesting article and there is much I agree with, especially as one who is a minister of the gospel. For instance, point #1 under the sub-heading “Honor and Respect.” He writes,
“Being on a first name basis. Today, everyone is on a first-name basis with the pastor. This is a definite show of disrespect for the ministry. Part of the problem is with pastors. We don’t expect it. I used to feel the same. I wanted to be everyone’s friend. I found out the hard way this causes many difficulties. When people really need help they need their pastor, not a friend. It also makes it difficult when you must assert pastoral authority. People can usually deal with things coming from their pastor, but it’s much harder coming from a friend. I don’t have any problem using “Pastor…” with their first name. That’s a step in the right direction.”
There are things where I think the author goes too far. For example,
“Disrespecting the altar area. The platform and altar is an area where sanctity must be preserved. It’s a place where worship is led and the Word of God expounded. It should be off limits to anyone who is not there to minister. Children should never be allowed to play on the platform. It’s not only disrespectful, but the equipment could be damaged or dangerous to the children.”
I am not willing to sanctify a platform. We should give that area of the building the same respect we would give to any other area. Overall it is a good article and worth considering carefully.
- My wife suggested I watch this program. So I started, and now I can’t stop. Season 1 and 2 is on Netflix.
Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain. — John Calvin
Here are the items and resources of interest for April 10, 2017:
- The ten best smartphones of 2017 — Imagine my joy when I saw that the Galaxy S8+ is listed as the #1 best smartphone of 2017. It hasn’t even been publicly released yet! Well, that is certainly the opinion of one man (and it may be mine when I get it near the end of April). By the way, it is listed ahead of the iPhone. With that said, if you are in the market for a new smartphone, take a look at this list.
- Killing Bugs! — Have you ever wondered how Microsoft gathers the information necessary to roll out updates to users? This article explains the process.
- Alexa — Do you have an Amazon Echo? Then you know about “skills.” Now you can open any skill without enabling it first. Read more to find out how.
- Are you looking for a new phone? — A review of the yet to be released Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus can be read here. You can also search for other phone manufacturers and see those reviews as well.
- More on classical music — a friend of mine shared this resource with me in response to the April 7th Daily Roundup. Excellent!
- The importance of Grammar — I see it all the time, and I hear it all the time. Undoubtedly I do it. However, poor grammar is typically something that I am often tempted to correct when I see it or hear it. Sometimes I listen to my sermons, and I hear poor grammar come out of my mouth. It is annoying. This article highlights the importance of proper grammar. It is possible I am the product of the grammar nazi’s I met during my seminary days.
- More on the subject of grammar — This article highlights the importance of grammar and gives some very helpful advice on the subject.
- A useful tool for writing — I use Grammarly all the time. The browser plugin checks your writing and offers to assist to in correcting over 250 grammar errors. It has a standalone app that you can use as well as a Word and Outlook plugin. The plugins will offer corrections on the fly. It has a free version with limitations as well as a paid version that unlocks the full power of the tool.