Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Staying in Scotland

Warm Christian greetings from wet and windy Edinburgh!

Angela and I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you that we will be staying in Scotland a little longer than we anticipated. While this may come as a surprise, I can assure you that it is not because I have taken a call to a Scottish church or that Angela has decided to make a career at the Royal Infirmary or that I have had to extend my coursework. The reason for our delay is that we are expecting our first child!

This news brings closure to what seemed like a never-ending period of ‘waiting upon the Lord’ and ‘leaning not upon our own understanding.’ Thank you to those who have harboured us in your prayers. As always, God’s timing is impeccable. He faithfully ‘directs our steps’ at every intersection of life. And he does so with fatherly care and flawless wisdom. This baby is his—a heritage from the Lord God Almighty (Ps. 127:3). To him all praise and glory!

Angela has just begun her twelfth week. She is due in mid-September. As I have come to expect from my beloved wife, she has adjusted to her new role as an expectant mother with (tough and tender) grace. The little one has already caused a fuss, as Angela has not only endured ‘morning sickness’ but 24/7 sickness! Nevertheless, she steadily continues her duties at work, weekly serves the little children in her Sunday school and others at church, and has even made a trans-Atlantic round trip flight to Florida. She is scheduled for an ultrasound on 10 March and her first meeting with a mid-wife on 12 March. All-in-all both mother and baby seem to be doing well. I am a proud husband and father-to-be.

Angela and I have decided to stay in Edinburgh to have the baby. We are fully covered under the National Healthcare Service, so we do not need to return stateside for the delivery. American friends who have had children here in Scotland have enjoyed excellent maternity care. We are confident that we will receive similar treatment. Our provisional plan is to move back to the states approximately in late November or December. This should give us a wee bit of room to adjust to family life, allow me to finish my thesis, and provide some time for us to visit family. In an ideal world we hope to start our new post (wherever that may be!) in January of the New Year. But as they say, this schedule is subject to change!

Joy overflows in the Tweeddale home. But how do we even begin to express it? While singing with the congregation at Buccleuch this past Lord’s Day (on 2 March 2008) from Psalm 22 I was struck deeply by one particular stanza.

Posterity will serve the Lord;
And generations still to come
Will tell a people yet unborn
The righteous acts that he has done
(Ps. 22:30-31).

These inspired words summarize well the burden of our hearts. Our chief prayer is that our child will know Jesus. We long for our baby to serve the Lord from its earliest days. We long that he or she would be able to tell a people yet unborn of the righteous acts that Christ has done. We long for our baby, like John the Baptist, to leap for joy in Jesus—even in his/her mother’s womb (cf. Lk. 1:39-45). “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

As for a few matters of prayer and praise:

  • Pray for the health of mother and baby. Pray also for the conversion of this child. Praise God for his covenant faithfulness and for the little one he has given us!

  • Pray for Angela’s work. She was finally approved at the end of February for a job she was promised over a year and a half ago. This will give her a measure of greater liberty to practice in her field as a radiographer. A start date however has yet to be determined. For now she plans to work until mid-August—the time of her birthday! She has done an awesome job executing her post at the Royal Infirmary amidst a demanding first trimester. I could say much more. She is an excellent wife and is far more precious to me than all the jewels in the world (Prv. 31:10). Praise God for the strength he has given her to perform her duties with excellence, and praise him for the new job.

  • Pray for stamina and mental clarity for me as I try to finish my thesis. Praise God for this rare privilege to study, live, and serve in Edinburgh. We love this great city. We want to make the most of these remaining months as we anticipate taking the lessons learned over the past three years back with us to the states.

We appreciate and cherish your continued prayers and support. Please drop us an email at your convenience. We would love to hear from you. And, if you would be so kind, spread the news!

With grateful hearts to the Lord of all life,

Blessings in Christ,

John, Angela, & Baby Tweeddale

Picture: John, Angela, and Baby (at 10 weeks) at Grandpa and Grandma Tweeddale's home in Eustis, FL. Click on image for a better view.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Friday, December 07, 2007

Book Release: Tell Me the Story

Last night, I had the pleasure of going to a book launch for the release of a fascinating new book by Alex MacDonald (Senior Minister, Buccleuch & Greyfriars Free Church of Scotland, Edinburgh) entitled Tell Me The Story.

Originally given at evangelistic guest services at Buccleuch, these story-sermons are based upon personal encounters with Jesus recorded in the gospels but are told from the first person perspective. From the back of the book, "The people who tell their stories include: Mary--the mother of Jesus; Gaius Maximus--centurion; Joanna's story of John, the Baptist; the woman at the well; Simon the Pharisee; the Gardarene demoniac; Jarius; Simon Peter; the rich young ruler; blind Bartimaeus; Zacchaeus; the Apostle John and Marcellus, a Roman officer. " These stories creatively narrate firsthand accounts of the greatest story ever told. Using a unique blend of imagination and proclamation, Alex puts you face-to-face with Jesus.

For more details, go to Christian Focus Publications.

Two of the sermons not in the book are available online. Unfortunately, there is no direct link. From the church's website, go to sermons>scroll down>audio stories>'He Died My Death' or 'He Invaded My Dreams.'

Here is what others have said about Tell Me the Story:

Having heard the chapter on Joanna I can appreciate the living situation from which the skilful telling of these stories has come. They are a practical and helpful reminder that we often fail to capture people’s imagination in telling the exciting story the narrative of the New Testament provides. The writer’s motivation is that of an earnest communicator of the gospel who commendably tries every helpful approach to help his readers and listeners to understand the greatest good news there is.

Derek Prime
Former pastor of Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh

Good stories have a way of getting round people's carefully constructed defences. Through imaginative retelling, these tales bridge the centuries. We feel like contemporary witnesses, participants even, seeing the truth and feeling its power. May these stories draw many to the hero of the biggest story of all.

Alasdair I Macleod
St Andrews Free Church

Alex MacDonald has managed here to present us with a series of stories that superbly manage to retell well historical facts in a way that magically take us to the lands and times in which they actually happened. A book for young and old, for seasoned preachers and truth-seekers, and ultimately for anyone who simply likes stories well told.

Manuel Reãno
Principal, Bible Seminary of Columbia
Medellin-Colombia, South America

In his new book Tell Me the Story, Alex MacDonald retells the ancient tale of Jesus in the contemporary tongue of narrative account. With delightful turn of phrase and surprising perspective, we are invited to hear afresh the storyline of the Gospel message...These dozen eyewitness accounts of Bible figures and their companions will stir your heart to treasure again the old, old story of Jesus and His love!

W. Duncan Rankin
Senior Minister
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Autumn Update

On September 4, 2005, Angela and I arrived in Edinburgh filled with a mixture of awe, anxiety, and anticipation. The prospect of three years in wee bonnie Scotland seemed like an endless array of possibility in an ancient world packed with opportunity for our future. We were living in a ‘world heritage’ city steeped in the Protestant reformation, worshiping in a psalm-singing kirk, ministering the gospel in an increasingly post-Christian culture, working in the Royal Infirmary, studying at a first class university, meeting new friends from around the globe, and trying tasty ‘sweets and savouries.’ There was so much to do and (seemingly) so much time.

Now, with two years behind us, three years does not seem like that much time after all. Nevertheless, to look back upon what we have learned together is not to meet disappointment for unmet expectations but gratitude for unparalleled experiences. As we enter our third year, I want to express our deep appreciation for your prayers and support without which our Edinburgh expedition would not be possible. Below is a brief review of our life and ministry from the past six months as well as prayer requests for the year ahead.

In August I served a four week placement at Point Free Church of Scotland on the Isle of Lewis. Earlier this year Dr Iain D. Campbell from Back Free Church (also on the island) asked if I was interested in filling the pulpit for a month, as the congregation is without a minister. Needless to say, he did not have to twist my arm! My duties included leading worship and preaching for the morning and evening Lord’s Day services, taking two prayer meetings and bible studies each week, and pastoral visitation. Angela and I were kindly given full use of the manse—handsomely situated along the east coast of the island overlooking the mainland—and a wee car to enjoy the sights and scenes of Lewis and Harris. We felt an immediate bond with these dear folk and were greatly encouraged by their heartfelt (Gaelic!) singing, strong biblically informed prayers, earnest and evident love for Christ, and warm hospitality. For more pictures from our time in Lewis, go here and here.

Angela and I are continually blessed by the ministry of Buccleuch Free Church, where we have attended since our first Wednesday night in Edinburgh. The congregation has welcomed us with open arms and has become our home away from home. We still coordinate the monthly International Meal, and I am actively involved in the weekly evangelism ministry of the church. Over the past year, we have interacted with well over a hundred different people—many of whom are non-Christians—from Scotland, England, Germany, and the far corners of the world, especially Chinese graduate and postgraduate students at Edinburgh University. Some only come for a week, others longer, but at least three have become Christians. At the church, I also regularly meet with a Scottish friend of mine for accountability and discipleship and participate in a men’s weekly morning bible study. Angela has a regular ministry to a handful of single woman in the church, participates in a women's bible study, meets with a prayer partner, and works tirelessly to make our flat an inviting and comfortable place for people to visit for tea or a meal. Additionally, I preach on occasion in the wider Free Church and consistently (every 4-8 weeks) at a small Reformed Baptist church where I am working through 1 Peter. Opportunities such as these have proved an incomparable training ground for what we hope to be a lifetime of ministry in the local church.

Angela’s work at the Royal Infirmary continues to be a blessing and a curse. When she commenced her job in April 2006, she was informed that her qualifications in radiology from the USA would not transfer into the UK. No problem. She could work in the department as a clinical assistant, doing menial jobs, but not as a radiographer. Over a year ago she was approached by her supervisor with a proposal to make her an assistant radiographer. It still was less than what she was qualified for, but it was a start. Thirteen months later, however, nothing has materialised, and the whole situation has created a complex of frustrations. But time and again, Angela has risen above the fray. At one particular low point, her director even exclaimed, ‘What kind of person keeps coming back to this job!’ Beyond filling a husband with pride, Angela’s steadfastness in a less than ideal job has resulted in a tremendous Matthew 5:16-type witness that has enabled her to befriend several non-Christians in her department. For these experiences and more we give praise to God.

My studies are at a crucial juncture. I am in the middle of the writing stage of my thesis, and the pressure to finish is mounting! Lord willing, I will submit in the summer. There are moments of weariness, but thankfully I have found a stimulating companion in John Owen. I am continuing to audit the two year systematic theology course at the Free Church College under Principal Donald Macleod, one of the leading reformed theologians of our day. Other work includes reviews for the Banner of Truth Magazine, the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, and monergism.com, as well as an article on early church exegesis for reformation21. I am also working on another project which I hope to be able to announce shortly.

As Angela and I forge ahead in our final year, please join us in prayer for the following items. First, pray that God would continue to grow our love for Christ and for one another. Second, pray that God would grant us endurance to finish strong in our work (Angela) and study (John) and ministry. Third, pray that God would provide the necessary finances for us to leave Scotland with no debt (so far so good!). Fourth, pray for what’s next as we anticipate where God would have us serve when we leave Scotland. Once again, thank you for your generous support. We could not do this without your help.

Pictures: The top picture was taken on the Isle of Harris; the middle picture is the inside of Point FCS; the bottom is the outside of Point FCS.

The Dever-Thomas Interview

Mark Dever interviews Derek Thomas. Listen to it here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reformed Theology Seminary: Faith in Action for Forty Years

Dr Guy Richardson, President of RTS Jackson, tells the incredible story of RTS in this online video.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Our Favorite Pics from Lewis

Below is a slide show of recent pictures from our trip to the Isle of Lewis.

For more pictures--with captions--check out our web-album page. John should (!) have an update about our time later this week.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Tweeddale Clan: Then & Now

Angela and I returned this week from the Isle of Lewis, where I was serving pulpit and pastoral supply for the past month in a local Free Church of Scotland congregation. Our time spent with these dear Christians exceeded our expectations, and our expectations were exceedingly high! More on this very, very soon.

In other news, my father--the chief of the clan--has entered the blogosphere with a fascinating site devoted to all things Tweeddale. Check in out!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Biblical Interpretation: Alexandria vs. Antioch

Below is a link to a short article I recently wrote for the good folks at reformation21 (the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals) for a series on church history called Window on the Past.

Here's the article: Spiritual Truths for Spiritual Minds: The Alexandrian and Antiochene Schools of Biblical Interpretation.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Taking Over?

Recently we enjoyed a mini RTS reunion at Chris and Liz McCune's in Dunfermline.

Chris and Liz (behind Angela) are church planters working with Mission to the World (the foreign missions board of the PCA). Jonathan (between Chris & me) and Lynsey (opposite Angela) Worthington are in Aberdeen where Jonathan is pursuing a doctorate in NT studies and working as a youth worker at the local Free Church. Alicia McJunkin (between Lynsey & me) is serving as a MTW intern in Inverness.

Additionally, our friends Stephen and Lisa Myers (RTS-Jackson) and Jeff and Jennifer Brannon (RTS-Orlando) are living in Edinburgh, where Stephen and Jeff are also studying at New College. Slowly but surely, RTS is (re)taking over Scotland!

Snappy Snapshots

Angela has put together a new web album. We will continue to use "Our Pics" for our favorite pictures and will put everything else on the album.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

John Owen's Commentary on Hebrews

Here is an article I wrote which was recently published online at reformation21.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Update

Every December Edinburgh becomes a winter wonderland. Outside New College, a modest yet elegantly lit Christmas tree overlooks the New Town and a throng of busy shoppers enjoying the seasonal festivities. Just west of New College, the Edinburgh Castle serves as an imposing backdrop to the German Market and ice skating rink which have overtaken the Princess Street Gardens. Just behind New College, you’ll find determined tourists fighting gale force winds as they march up and down the cobblestone Royal Mile and more reasonable folk savouring mince pies and ginger bread lattes at the local Starbucks. While all this seems rather picturesque, I am also reminded that this Christmas marks approximately the half way point of our three year tour in Edinburgh.

We continually thank God for the local Free Church where we worship: Buccleuch & Greyfriars, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this month. Located only two blocks from our wee flat, it shapes the rhythm and rhyme of our week. In addition to attending Lord’s Day services and the mid-week prayer meeting, Angela and I coordinate the monthly International Meal. This ministry is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the global community that have come to Edinburgh primarily through the university. Each month, members from the congregation graciously host these internationals in their homes and provide them with a hot, home-cooked meal. Most who come are non-Christians. These meals not only allow students an inside look at Scottish life, they provide a friendly, informal atmosphere to share the gospel.

The hot food, hearty fellowship combination also formulates part of an evangelicalism program I help with entitled Christianity Explored. This past semester, individuals from Scotland, England, America, Germany, Israel, and China met together in the church hall for a study of the gospel of Mark. For some this was their first encounter with Christianity. Others came interested to learn more about the Bible, and still others wanted to grow in their faith. By the end, everyone wanted to know what was next! As a result, a fellow colleague and I started a follow up course on the book of John. Please join us in praise to God for the privilege he has given us to advance his global glory. He has brought the nations to our doorstep at Buccleuch; it is our prayer that we can bring the nations to Christ.

God mercifully continues to give me opportunities to preach. I have preached in Free Church congregations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, London, and in several other smaller towns. I also preach every 4-6 weeks at a reformed Baptist church in Leith, just outside Edinburgh. We are always treated like royalty and given an endless supply of sweets and savouries. Indeed, this is the land flowing with (hot) tea and biscuits (i.e. cookies). We are extremely grateful for the chance to experience part of the wider community of the body of Christ.

Angela is diligently working at the Royal Infirmary as a clinical assistant in the radiology department. In fact, she returned early this morning at ten ‘til seven from working a night shift. Since her certification from the states is not recognized, she cannot work as a radiographer. However, a small window of opportunity has opened for her to work as an assistant radiographer. She would be the first in Scotland in this position. Sympathetic to the non-transference of her credentials and appreciative of her organizational skills and hard, friendly work ethic, her supervisors approached her with this possibility. If all goes as planned, she will start this new post shortly after the New Year. She continues to sacrifice her all for me to study. She is the unsung hero of our time in Edinburgh.

My studies are progressing slowly but surely. Last September, my research proposal on John Owen passed my review board without exception or qualification. If all goes as planned, I will finish my thesis by summer 2008. Over the summer, I presented a paper on Owen’s commentary on Hebrews at a post-graduate theology conference here in Edinburgh. I’ve also written a book review which was published in the fall edition of The Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology and an article on Owen for the January edition of reformation21.

God’s provision sees us through each and every day: spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually, and also financially. We are unsure where the necessary funds will come from for our final year. But we have always had more than our daily bread and are confident that God will continue to guide and sustain us.

Your prayers and encouragement play a vital role in our Edinburgh endeavour. We believe that every experience is not merely preparation for ministry in the future but also an opportunity for us to engage in the work of the gospel here and now. As you can see, we have so much to praise our Sovereign for. We are grateful for living in this historic city, grateful for your continued support, and most grateful for the unfailing mercy of God.

As they say here in Britain…


John & Angela Tweeddale

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wouldn't It Be Nice...To Be Nice?

In a recent article in The Times (London) entitled Evil-minded parishioners making life hell for clergy, Cambridge psychology and religion researcher Dr Sarah Savage (no kidding) reports that a new illness has developed amongst ministers called Irritable Clergy Syndrome.

According to Dr Savage, clergy in the Church of England are tired of being bullied by "neurotic worshippers who spread havoc with gossip and manipulation." She states, "Priests are being torn by the pressure of having to be nice all the time to everyone, even when confronted with extremes of nastiness." As a result, say goodbye to Mr. Nice Priest and hello to Cleric the Commando.

Ministerial mistreatment and burnout are real problems not to be deminished. However, we should remember that the church is a place for sinners - for evil-minded parishioners and clergy alike. Local churches may indeed be a "toxic-cocktail of bullying and terror" filled with gossips and manipulators. But should we be surprised?

This problem is nothing new. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul addressed this situation head on. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor theives, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (I Cor. 6:9-11).

Lest we forget what we once were apart from Christ, let's not bolt the lock on the doors of the church just yet. The church may be a hellish place at times. But we should take comfort. Christ promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail.

For a helpful article on ministerial burnout, see Donald Whitney, "The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister...And How to Avoid It."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Book Review: Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Review of John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, Wheaton: Crossway, 2006.

John Owen is widely recognized as one of the premier theologians of the post-Reformation. One need not balk at placing his name alongside giants of the faith such as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards. His ministry was vast and varied: preacher, statesman, political advisor, advocate, author, polemicist, and defender of faith. But perhaps his greatness is most clearly seen in his pastoral works on mortification, temptation, and sin. At least this was the opinion of one of Owen’s biographers. Andrew Thompson states, “We have not seen him in all his greatness until, in such practical works as his treatise on the “Mortification of Sin in Believers,” he brings the truth into contact, not so much with the errors of the heretic, as with the corruption and deceitfulness of the human heart” (Works, 1.cx).

Since their original publication in the seventeenth-century, Christians have valued Owen’s writings on sin and temptation for their uncommon insight into the wonderful depths and wild deceitfulness of the heart. These devotional writings were the product of a man who made it his chief design in life to promote the mortification of sin and the pursuit of personal holiness for the glory of God and the adornment of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, p. 42). In a day of empty purpose statements, this may not mean much. But for Owen, overcoming sin and temptation was his life – a fact confirmed by his younger colleague, David Clarkson, who at Owen’s funeral sermon in 1683 stated, “I need not tell you of this who knew him that it was his great design to promote holiness in the life and exercise of it among you.” In other words, Owen preached what he first practiced.

Overcoming Sin and Temptation is an updated, unabridged, and edited collection of three of the best known and most beloved of Owen’s writings on the subject: Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers (1656), Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It (1658), and The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of Indwelling Sin (1675). As Kapic explains, these “three treatises can be read as early modern attempts to explore human psychology as affected by sin and renewed by the Spirit” (p. 29).

Though written over three hundred years ago, this volume is relevant for any tired soul aching for victory over the inner struggle between the Spirit and the flesh. Conquest will not come easy. This civil war within is a daily battle. As Owen states, “The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin” (p. 50). And how is triumph found? “Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of your sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and you will die a conqueror; yea, you will, through the good providence of God, live to see your lust dead at your feet” (p. 131, emphasis original). Time and again in these three works, Owen outlines a battle plan for attacking sin by affixing our attention on Christ.

At this point, you may be asking, why re-edit these works? Taylor states, “In this volume we are seeking to present something new: an unabridged but updated edition of Owen’s three classic works that preserves all of Owen’s original content but seeks to make it a bit more accessible. In so doing, we hope to play a small part in reintroducing Owen to both the church and the academy (p. 17). The editors are to be applauded for accomplishing the near impossible: retaining the original style, shape, and substance of these works while recasting them in a more user-friendly format.

This edition begins with a helpful and challenging forward by John Piper, an explanatory preface by Taylor, historical and theological introduction by Kapic, and overview of each of the works by Taylor. In addition to the ever useful and practical indexes (General and Scripture), this volume also includes a glossary of difficult words and provides outlines of Owen’s three treatises for assisting the reader to grasp the flow of argument in each work. Perhaps the most important of the new features to this volume are the ubiquitous but almost unnoticed editorial enhancements of the three texts. Kapic and Taylor have included footnotes to difficult words and phrases (which are compiled in the glossary), modernized spelling and punctuation, transliterated Hebrew and Greek terms, translated Latin phrase, provided Scripture references, etc.

Clearly, the editors of the present volume have been hard at work. Kapic and Taylor are to be applauded for a job extremely well done. Not only have they given these classics by Owen a new lease on life, but they have successfully produced what will hopefully become the standard text for anyone interested in overcoming personal sin and temptation.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Book Review: Contending for Our All

Review of John Piper, Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen, Leicester: IVP, 2006, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 24:2 (2006): 252-253.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Traveling Tweeddales

Here are some more pics of our recent holiday with my parents and other adventures!

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick

The Highlands


There is loads more to come from York, Stirling, the Borders, and more...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Preaching in London

This past weekend, while Angela was slaving away working night shifts at the Royal Infirmary, I preached at London City Presbyterian Church. I preached from Ephesians 1:15-23 and Hebrews 4:14-16 which can be accessed here. However, the sermons are switched. So the listen to Ephesians 1 click on Hebrews 4. And for Hebrews 4, vice versa.

The church is located on the site of John Wesley's conversion at Aldersgate Street where on 24 May 1738 he heard someone reading from the preface to Luther's commentary on the book of Romans and he felt his 'heart strangely warmed.' He wrote in his journal,

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Scottish Munro

Several weeks ago, I joined two good friends of mine (Jeff Brannon on my left and Stephen Myers on my right) and climbed Buachaille Etive Mor (pronounced something like bookil but buckle will do).

BEM is one of the most famous Scottish munros (a Scottish mountain at least 3,000 feet) and derives its name from the Gaelic meaning 'Great Shepherd of Etive.' Nicely situated between Glen Coe and Glen Etive in the Highlands, its pyramid-like face provides for post-card perfect pictures and is one of the most beloved munros in Scotland.

The trail took us approximately six hours. But we took our time and savoured the sheer majesty of the scenary. For more pictures, click here. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Two weeks ago (23 July), Angela and I traveled north via train to Dundee where I preached the morning service at St. Peter's Free Church of Scotland. David Robertson is the current minister of SPFC and is an able preacher and shepherd and has close ties to the PCA. My first interaction with David was over three years ago when he spoke at the Twin Lakes Fellowship in Jackson, MS. He gave one of the finest addresses on apologetics and evangelism in a postmodern world I've heard.

SPFC is also known as the place where the young and much beloved Robert Murray M'Cheyne served in the early nineteenth century. M'Cheyne was born in Edinburgh on 21 May 1813 and called to St. Peter's in November 1836. His work was marked by simple and searching sermons, a wide-reaching pastoral ministry, psalm singing classes, a strong commitment to family worship, and zeal for foreign missions (with his famous tour to Israel in 1838). He died at the young age of 29 on 25 March 1843. His memoirs and sermons were collected into one volume by his friend Andrew Bonar. It truly deserves to be called a Christian classic; I highly recommend reading it.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at St Peter's. The singing was solid, the fellowship was warm, and the preaching...well, let's move on to other things. That afternoon, we were treated like royalty. We stayed with a family who live in a farmhouse about 30 minutes outwith the city. The food was healthy and the portions hearty. We enjoyed a host of delicious produce from the garden and fresh salmon from the Isle of Skye made with a tangy whole grain mustard marinade. The sumptuous meal was topped with a gigantic serving of pavlova piled high with plump, sweet strawberries. I'm ready to go back!

One of the unexpected blessings was interacting with a brother in Christ I met earlier in June at a pastor's conference in Glasgow. He is a youth minister in Dundee, and the son of the family we stayed with! Well, to make a long story short. He informed us that Eric Alexander was preaching at his church (Logies and St. John's Cross Church of Scotland). Eric Alexander is one of the finest expositors alive today and a humble, godly churchman. He preached a magnificent sermon from Mark 2:1-12 and the healing of the paralytic and spoke with the authority of heaven. You can listen to the sermon here.

For more pics of the day, click here. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It's all 'bout the ice cream!

Last Saturday (15 July), Angela and I spent the day in Musselburgh - just 7 miles east of Edinburgh. The 'toun' is pleasantly situated on the River Esk and was originally a Roman settlement (c. AD 80). It's name derives from the abundant mussel beds in the estuary and has a wonderful coastal view of Leith and Edinburgh.

Allegedly James IV played golf here in 1504. But enough history. The real interest of the town is the local ice cream parlor - S Luca's. You won't get 301 flavors here. They only serve the classics: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. But they've nearly perfected these favorites. And you would expect so. Luca's has been making ice cream for almost one hundred years!

We had a wonderful day. Here are a few other pictures Angela took. Posted by Picasa

4th of July High!

On the 4th of July, Angela and I were asked by Donald and Mairi Forsyth (our landlords and members of Buccleuch) to climb Arthur's Seat - an extinct volcanic rock approximately 825 ft. It is the highest peak in Edinburgh and provides the best panoramic view of the city. It is less than 10 minutes from our flat to boot!

Well, like a typical Scottish evening, it was overcast and extremely foggy. Nevertheless, we made the trek up the famous crag. Due to the fog, the city below, with all its hustle and bustle, was completely masked from our sight. But when we got to the top, Mairi surprised us when she pulled out two American flags, sparklers, and oreos (the quintessential American 'biscuit')! Here are a few pics of our 4th of July high.

Posted by Picasa

Here is a picture of Arthur's Seat when you can actually see it!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Preaching in Scotland

Please pray for Angela and me as we go to Glasgow on Sunday, as I have the occasion to preach morning and evening at Govanhill Free Church of Scotland. I will also be preaching at St Peter's Free Church in Dundee (where Robert Murray M'Cheyne was the former minister) on 23 July. This past week, I had the wonderful opportunity to take the mid-week prayer meeting and bible study at Buccleuch (our home congregation) and the Sunday evening service at Bellevue Baptist Church also here in Edinburgh. The Lord is incredibly good in giving us the privilege of worshipping and interacting with other Christians in other congregations.

Also, please remember the church in Scotland and especially the Free Church of Scotland in your prayers. Sadly, the gospel that once thundered from so many pulpits in this great land is now heard in relatively few. The picture above is of the fiery Reformer John Knox, minister of St Giles in Edinburgh in the sixteenth century and probably the greatest Scottish preacher of all time.

We are particularly grateful to God for the ministry of the Free Church. Though a reasonably small denomination, her witness is a powerful testimony to the enduring light of the gospel. The Free Church originated in 1843 due to increasing liberalism in the mainline church (The Church of Scotland) and a desire to remain 'free' from the interference of the state in ecclesiastical affairs - hence the name Free Church of Scotland. One hundred and sixty-three years strong, the denomination continues to uphold and proclaim the centrality of the word of God in her worship and work. With a theological college in Edinburgh for training Free Church ministers (not to be mistaken with where I study at New College which is next store!), approximately 140 congregations in Scotland, 2 in London, 5 in North America, and several sister churches in India, Peru, and South Africa, the Free Church of Scotland is the largest evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the United Kingdom (and perhaps in Europe).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Beautiful North Berwick

John and I spent last Saturday in North Berwick. A sea-side and harbour town just 25 miles east of Edinburgh on the North Sea. It was a charming and quaint little town even if we were blown away by the strong winds off of the Sea.

North Berwick has become the most expensive seaside town in Scotland. The average house costs £251,109. North Berwick is also home to one of the most famous golf courses in the world.

After spending some time in the city we boarded a bus bound for Dirleton Castle which is known for its fantastic gardens.

The best time of year to visit North Berwick is when the flower gardens are in bloom.

Click Here to see some pictures of our 'day away'.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

9 Marks Video

I just received this month's 9 Marks newsletter and noticed their new informational video. This is a good introduction to the ministries of 9 Marks and Capital Hill Baptist Church, where Mark Dever is the Senior Minister. 9 Marks is ministry that seeks to promote healthy, biblical churches that reflect the character of God. Their website has many helpful articles on the church and interviews with many leading Christian leaders, pastors, and theologians. Bookmark it, read it, and tell others about it.

Monday, May 29, 2006

EPA Awards

The results of the 2006 Evangelical Press Association Awards are out.

1. In its first year of publication, the Presbyterian Church in America's (PCA) magazine byFaith won best denominational magazine of the year. Let me encourage you to check out the online version of byFaith. This is an excellent resource for anyone...not just PCA folk. There are many well written and informative articles related to bible, theology, culture, arts, etc.

2. Dr Miles Van Pelt, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at RTS Jackson, won third place in the Biblical Exposition category for his article "Judging Samson" in the Reformed Quarterly, Fall 2005. MVP was a seminary professor of mine and is one of the premier up and coming OT scholars in the United States.

3. In the category of Cause of the Year: Sanctity of Life, fifth place went to Paul Schwartz, managing editor of the Reformed Quarterly, for his article "The Value of Ruble" in RQ, Winter 2005. This is a gripping story about a recent RTS Charlotte grad who moved five years ago to Nagoya, Japan as a missionary to work in a crisis pregnancy center.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Re-writing History: Antiwar Myths Exposed

Here is a helpful article from the OpinionJournal of the Wall Street Journal. Mr Peter Wehner, Director of the White House’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, exposes many of the revisionist attempts of antiwar pundits to re-write the events of the war with Iraq.

His structures his op-ed according to four commonly held myths:

  • The President misled Americans to convince them to go to war.
  • The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments.
  • Because WMD stockpiles were not found, Saddam posed no threat.
  • Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a post war rationalization.

He then concludes by saying,

These, then, are the urban legends we must counter, else falsehoods become conventional wisdom. And what a strange world it is: For many antiwar critics, the president is faulted for the war, and he, not the former dictator of Iraq, inspires rage. The liberator rather than the oppressor provokes hatred. It is as if we have stepped through the political looking glass, into a world turned upside down and inside out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Helpful Articles

This morning I came across these two (well, really three!) helpful articles:

1. Dr Ligon Duncan linked this article about Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Peter Jensen and his courageous stand against homosexuality. Speaking at a conference in New Zealand, the Archbishop said,

"The biblical ideal of sexual relationships specifically excludes same-sex relationships. The biblical teaching makes this a matter of spiritual life and death. That is crystal clear from both the Old and New Testaments...I say with all solemnity to those who say the blessing of same-sex unions is okay, and who will ordain clergy living in same-sex unions: How can you do this when the souls of those involved are in peril?"

2. Dr Al Mohler posted a two part response to The Da Vinci Code book and movie. Mohler has a knack for getting to the heart of issues, and this review is no exception. The fact that the book is filled with erroneous claims is widely known; likewise, the movie has received scathing reviews from critics. This seems to beg the question, why are so many folk interested in the book and movie? In other words, why do people prefer a lie to the truth? Here is Mohler's penetrating answer:

"If the true storyline concerning Jesus Christ was that He was merely a mortal prophet who came to establish an earthly dynasty and to help us all celebrate the divine feminine and be a part of His circle of knowledge and enlightenment, then the fact is that we do not have to think about the fact that we are sinners. If that is what the life of Jesus is all about, then it is not about how we must be redeemed from our sin, but rather about how we can simply be enlightened and informed. The truth is, the human heart would much rather be told it is uninformed than that it is sinful."

Click here for part one and here for part two (from which the above quote is taken). To listen to the address given at Covenant Life Church from which these articles are taken, click here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Francis A. Schaeffer: A Word of Thanksgiving

Though I never met him, I owe a debt of gratitude to him. Let me explain. It was the beginning of my freshman year of college, and my father gave me a rather big, hardcover book. A bold move, since I was never known for my voracious reading! My sister was always the reader of the family. Nevertheless, it was a book I knew he read, re-read, and read again. A book he often talked about, discussed with others, and gave to at least one other individual (which led to this man’s conversion). The book was in fact a trilogy of books. The book was by an obscure man named Francis A. Schaeffer.

Reading The God Who was There, He is There and He is not Silent, and Escape from Reason, I experienced an intellectual awakening. Never before had I considered the implications of the Lordship of Christ over every area of life. Never before had I thought about the biblical foundations for history, philosophy, and culture. Never before had I really enjoyed reading! Under the tutelage of Schaeffer, I realized the importance of thinking and living Christianly before the watching world and giving honest answers to honest questions. In short, my love for theology began with reading these works.

I suppose I will never know the full impact of Schaeffer upon my life. His writing impacted me enough to make a trip to L’Abri in Switzerland the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college where I even had the privilege of serving Mrs Schaeffer tea! But as we remember his death 22 years ago (15 May 1984), I am reminded of how God used this somewhat peculiar prophet (in the true sense of the word!) to enlighten the eyes of my heart to behold the all-of-life practicality and truthfulness of God’s word – what Schaeffer often called ‘true truth.’

I never met Francis Schaeffer, but I am thankful to God for his life, for his ministry, and for his writings. In the words of the author to the Hebrews, ‘although dead, he still speaks.’

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Weekend Gone By

Angela and I had a delightful time at Buccleuch’s weekend away. Pitlochry is quaint and picturesque: a charming town accompanied with rolling hills, waterfalls, and wild flowers. We rode up on Friday evening with our senior minister, Alex Macdonald, and enjoyed learning more about his ministries in Glasgow, Aberdeen, and for the past 13 years in Edinburgh. On Saturday we joined some others on two scenic walks – one to the Pitlochry Dam and fish ladder and the other to Scotland’s smallest distillery. Oh, how these Scots love their whisky!

The most wonderful aspect of the weekend was the opportunity to interact with folk in a more informal setting than Sundays and Wednesdays. Truly, there are few things more edifying than the iron-sharpening-iron effect of Christian friends. On the lighter side, Angela even entertained the crowd on Saturday evening during a round of pictionary when she tried to get us to guess James Bond by cleverly drawing Fixodent!

In the midst of our all-to-busy lives, the location and hotel (which he had to ourselves!) proved an excellent venue for the church body to break from the hustle and bustle of the work week, gather together to revel in the glory of God’s beautiful creation, and enjoy the company of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, the weekend away is now the weekend gone by.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Weekend Away

Angela and I are leaving this evening for the annual Buccleuch Weekend Away. We will be in Pitlochry, the gateway to the Highlands. This is time when the congregation gets together for fellowship and worship. We are looking forward to becoming better acquainted with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We will post pictures next week. For info on Pitlochry, click here.

Da Vinci Code Mayhem

With all the hype regarding Dan Brown's New York York Times bestseller The Da Vinci Code and Ron Howard's upcoming film based on the novel, I want to highlight a few excellent resources which examine the fictional book from a Christian perspective. There is an over-saturation of material on the web, but here are some of the best.

1. Westminster Theological Seminary has sponsored a website entitled The Truth About Da Vinci. This is a tremendous one stop shop replete with articles, questions & answers, and other on-line resources. If you only go one site, this is it!

2. Andreas Kostenberger, Professor of New Testament at Southeastern Theological Seminary, has written a fine article entitled The Da Vinci Code: A Myth of Christian Origins. This is an outstanding brief, scholarly, yet readable overview of some of the fallacious claims made by this conspiracy theory.

3. Here is a helpful, short interview with the one, the only R. C. Sproul.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Get Back to Work!

Well, after a long process of applying, rejection, interviews, waiting and waiting and waiting....I have finally started my job! This past week was my first full week of work at my new job. I have been hired as a Clinical Assistant in the Radiology Department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. I am not licensed to be a radiographer here in the UK so hopefully this will be the next best thing for me to be able to at least stay in the Radiology environment.

I arrived at the hosptial on Monday morning dressed nicely, since I was not told that I was to wear a certain uniform. I thought that I would spend a good amount of the day filling out paper work. Little did I know that I would be handed a uniform (a men's one at that) and told to put it on and was sent to Ultrasound, my first assignment. So there I was, in a man's uniform with dress shoes on!! I was so embarrassed. I will rotate ever 2 weeks between Ultrasound, Accident and Emergency, Radiology, CT and MRI, and Orthopaedics. At least I will have variety, but that means I will not work with the same people from week to week.

I will work Mon-Fri, 9-5 until my training is over in the middle of July. After July my shifts may change and I will work every 4th weekend Friday night and Saturday night 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Not as bad as it could be! So we are thankful for that.

The hardest part of my job has been trying to understand the people I work with and the patients. This is proving to be quite difficult and exhausting. I am sure with time that this will get easier. The first week of any job is always stressful and exhausting.

Please pray:

1. That I would adjust quickly and smoothly to the differences in culture and communication.
2. That I would be content with where the LORD has me.
3. That we would continue to trust the LORD to meet all of our needs.
4. That I would be a faithful witness by the way I live my life.
5. That I would know how to encourage my sweet husband.

Thanks for all of your support and for staying in touch! We always look forward to hearing from home!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Our Wee Blog

Welcome to Wee Gifford Park – a place where we can share tidbits of our life in Edinburgh with family and friends. We hope this blog will be a means whereby we can keep in touch with you, even though we are on the other side of the Atlantic.

In order to get things going, we have already posted several blog entries. We will continue to update the site throughout each week. Please feel free to contribute to our blog by adding your comments. We would enjoy hearing from you.

In addition, be sure to check out Our Pics to see pictures from Edinburgh, Scotland, and beyond. If you're interested in something a little more bookish (and less personal), check out my other blog, The Coventicle, where I discuss aspects of my research with my fellow students at New College.

With love,

John & Angela

An Update Letter

We can hardly believe we have been in Edinburgh for nearly 8 months. So much has happened since our arrival. Below is an edited copy of a recent update letter I wrote on 17 April 2006.
We arrived on 4 September 2005 and were welcomed with a marvellous fireworks exhibit set to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony at the Edinburgh Castle. Actually, it was for the last night of the International Festival, but we like to think it was for the first night the Tweeddales were in Scotland! Levity aside, our time here has been a tremendous occasion for us to experience the richness of living in another culture, grow in our marriage as we learn to adjust to our new home, enjoy the blessings of the global community of the body of Christ as we worship in the Free Church of Scotland, continue to prepare and train for the ministry of the gospel, and daily trust in God’s provision for our lives.

We live in a small, humble fully-furnished city centre flat for which we could not be more grateful. Affordable housing can be hard to come by in Edinburgh. In God’s gracious providence, we were able to procure living arrangements via a couple from Edinburgh who came to study at RTS. The flat is owned by the father of our friend, and an elder at Buccleuch & Greyfriars Free Church where we worship. We constantly marvel at the connections between Jackson, MS and Edinburgh! As an aside, we do have a guest room, so please come and visit!

Buccleuch is only two blocks from our flat and is an oasis for our souls. The preaching is solidly evangelistic and expositional, the singing is robust and fervent (we have greatly profited from a cappella psalm singing, although we do miss hymns!), and the fellowship is encouraging and edifying. The congregation is pro-active in reaching out to folks within the fold and extending mercy to the needy outwith the church. One of the most remarkable qualities of Free Church worship is the communion season. Before communion on the Lord’s Day (which is observed quarterly), preaching services are held on Friday and Saturday evening in preparation for taking the Lord’s Supper. We were blessed to have Iain D. Campbell from Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis for our first communion season. The sense of preparation, occasion, and anticipation that accompanied the weekend was a ministry to our hearts as we remembered the finished work of Christ on our behalf.

My studies are going well. Studying the puritans has proven not only academically stimulating but spiritually heart-warming. My topic is focused on John Owen’s Christological interpretation of the Old Testament as developed in his exposition of Hebrews. At either the end of May or the first of June, I will sit my first year review board. A committee from the University will examine my work to determine the viability of my topic and my status in the program. Upon passing this board, I will enter into the main core of my research. Hopefully, if I can keep up the pace, I will complete my thesis by the summer of 2008.

Angela has adjusted to life in Scotland with grace. She has worked hard to make our wee flat a welcoming home. In February she was offered a job as a clinical assistant in the radiology department at the Royal Infirmary. This was a tremendous answer to prayer, as landing a job proved much more difficult than we anticipated. However, though nearly two months has passed since her offer, she has yet to start her job! The post is new, so there is no precedent. Our guess is that the hospital is still ironing out the details of the position. We have been somewhat discouraged by the process; nevertheless, we trust in God’s timing. Hopefully, she will start within the next week!

Financially, we are unsure how the next two years will unfold. I have applied for several scholarships but have been unsuccessful. Competition is steep and the puritans do not seem to be a priority for funding. I have one more application that I hope to hear about by the end of the month. In addition, I intend to tutor in theology next year which will help defray some of the coast of tuition. We like to think of this as part of the learn-not-upon-your-own-understanding factor of our Edinburgh experience. We are learning the valuable lesson that our security does not depend on the stability of our savings account but on the One who gives us our daily bread.

I have had some opportunity to preach and continue to get offers. So far, I have preached four times with another two at the end of the month. In February, I wrote a book review of Joey Pipa’s study guide to the Westminster Confession for reformation21. I will also be writing an article on John Owen for reformation21 in June or July. Additionally, Reformed Academic Press has just released an updated version of The Essential Commentaries for a Preachers Library that I co-authored with Derek Thomas. I also contribute to a web-blog entitled The Conventicle which can be accessed at theconventicle.blogspot.com. It is a place where post-graduate students at New College with an interest in the puritans can discuss their work.

There is much more we can praise God for, but that must await another update letter. Do pray for us and for Scotland. The gospel that once thundered from the pulpits of this land is constantly under attack. Pray that Angela and I will not only be able to prepare for the work God has for us in the future but also reach out with the gospel to the people we encounter in the present.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Book: Essential Commentaries for a Preacher's Library

Without wanting to sound self-serving, I am pleased to announce the release of The Essential Commentaries for a Preacher's Library, revised edition, by Derek W. H. Thomas and John W. Tweeddale. In addition to recommended commentaries, we have also provided a select list of essential reference tools and systematic theology texts. Here is a summary of the book:

Our aim in compiling this booklet is to provide you with a concise and up-to-date annotated bibliography of essential commentaries on each book of the Bible. Special attention is given to exegetical and expositional commentaries that may prove particularly helpful for sermon preparation. We hope our recommendations will serve as a reference tool for any individual who is a teacher and/or student of God's Word, but especially pastors, elders, seminary and college students, Sunday school teachers, and serious Bible students.

The booklet is a revision and expansion of The Essential Commentaries for a Preacher's Library by Derek Thomas which was published in 1996 by Reformed Academic Press (RAP). Since its publication a host of new commentaries have emerged and are emerging - seemingly daily! So, like the first edition, this update is by no means an exhaustive list but an 'essential' list. Though the basic format has remained, several additions have been included.

We hope this reference aid will assist you in your study as you prepare to teach and preach God's Word. Ultimately, we want not just your love for commentaries to grow but your love for the Scriptures.

For order information, click here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


One of my favorite Christian leaders and preachers is Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This past week, he wrote an excellent three part series on the role of a pastor as a theologian.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Dr Livingstone I Presume"

One of Scotland's most famous figures was missionary pioneer David Livingstone. On this day in church history in 1874 the body of Livingston was buried at Westminster Abbey in London, although he died one year earlier in Africa on 1 May 1873. The story is told that he was found dead kneeling by his cot praying for Africa. Dr Livingstone was a relentless explorer who had an undaunting passion for Christ. Many remember him for his coast-to-coast travel throughout the rugged terrain of Africa. Over the coarse of his explorations, he impressively added over one million square miles to the map of Africa - in a day without GPS tracking systems!

For a good, brief overview of his life, check out this article from the Scotsman. For a more missiological take of his life, check out this biographical sermon preached my Jim Baird (former minister of First Presbyterian, Jackson, MS) entitled A Man for All Seasons.

An Orange & Blue Easter

There were no pastel colors in the Tweeddale flat this weekend. We had an orange and blue Easter. My father recorded and sent to us the NCAA Final Four game with the Florida Gators and the George Mason Patriots and the Championship game with the Gators and legendary UCLA.

We watched both games. The Gators were awesome to say the least. The championship game was one of the most perfectly executed basketball games I have every seen. Angela and I were amazed at how well this ban of sophomores played together. They were selfless. Hot-shots take note; team work does pay!

Noah is exceptional. He defies categorization. Brewer hustles on both ends of the court. He is an all-around ball player. Hoford has the strength in the paint and Green the ball handling skills at the point. And then there is Humphrey. The guy can't buy a free throw but can't miss a three! I'm glad to see that it looks like the team is staying together with the exception of Adrian Moss (he gets my 6th man award!). Although, I'm still holding my breath. If the NBA lottery does not get the better of them, the Gators could be strong contenders to take next year's title. The first back-to-back champs since Duke in '91 and '92. I don't think it's a stretch.

I think Billy Donnovan will be the determining factor if Noah and company remain in the NCAA. I could not be more impressed with this guy. The consummate coach and gentleman. If I was a basketball phenom, I would want to play for him. Along with Urban Myer (the Florida football coach), he is the kind of coach any mom or dad would want their kid to play for. He is a legend in the making.

Thanks so much for making the DVDs. We made some popcorn, pulled up our (purple) coaches, cheered for the Gators, and had a great time. What an Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mark Dever: Nothing But the Blood

The doctrine of the atonement has been under attack of late. Mark Dever gives a great historic and biblical overview of the atonement in this article in Christianity Today.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More on Science and Prayer

Here is another helpful article by Mark Coppenger of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on the recent 'scientific' report on prayer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

73-57: Rompin' Stompin' Gators!

Hats off to Billy Donovan, Joakim Noah, and the Florida Gators. Last night, the Gators dominated legendary UCLA to win their first NCAA championship (10 years after Spurrier led Florida to their first football title). As a boy, I can remember cheering on the Gators in March but always having to say, 'wait 'til next year.' Now, the waiting is over. Florida is on top.

In a bracket-defying month, the Gators demonstrated why March is the most glorious month for sports lovers. While nobody picked the Gators to win, Florida fans can proudly celebrate this victory. There is no question who the best team is this year. Not Duke. Not Kansas. Not Connecticut. Not UCLA. But Florida. How 'bout those Gators!

It's times like these that I miss home. College basketball is not a priority here. So I've had to settle on reading the headlines. However, my dad is sending me a DVD of the game. I can hardly wait. Nevertheless, a victory is a victory. And though this Gator fan could not watch the game, he is still proud of his team. Go Gators!

The Science of Prayer?

Last week I came across a disappointing article on the subject of prayer and healing in the New York Times entitled, "Long Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer." As will come as no surprise, the study concluded that prayer does not heal. But what can we expect from generic prayers to a generic god?

Al Mohler gives some helpful guidelines for "what to make of 'scientific' studies on prayer." He states, "First, I do not believe that Christians should look for any validation of prayer (or any other Christian doctrine or discipline, for that matter) from the world of science or empirical research. Second, I do not believe that Christians should accept a generic definition or conception of prayer in the first place. Those earlier studies made reference to prayer without stipulating to whom the prayer is addressed. Third, Christians do not believe that prayer heals, but that God heals. Prayer is often involved in the healing that God grants, but it is not the prayer that heals."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Scottish Kirk

By way of a Buccleuch & Greyfriars anecdote, I was looking in the church directory today and was struck by the high percentage of surnames beginning with the letter 'M.' I came to the immediate conclusion - in a rather reluctant Foxworthian fashion - that you know you attend a Scottish church if there are 17 Macdonalds, 3 MacGillivarys, 13 Mackays, 5 Mackenzies, 6 Macleans, 30 Macleods, 6 Macphails, 9 Machpersons, 3 Macraes , 3 Macreas, and 6 Murrays!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Buccleuch & Greyfriars Free Church of Scotland

Buccleuch & Greyfriars is were we worship and is located just two blocks north from our flat. The congregation is a result of a union of two Free Churches in 1897: Free Greyfriars and Free Buccleuch. We are honoured to be a part of a church with such a rich history of gospel faithfulness. One of my favourite stories about this church dates back to 1900 - a infamous year in Free Church history. To make a long story short, a liberal majority in the Free Church united with the United Presbyterian Church to form the United Free Church of Scotland. At that time, Edinburgh was the home of no less than 43 Free Church congregations. And of all those churches, only Buccleuch & Greyfriars remained in the Free Church; the rest abdigated and joined the newly formed denomination. Since, B & G has continued to serve as a faithful witness to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been warmly received into this congregation. The preaching is straightforward, biblical, and evangelistic; the singing is strong and fervent (we are enjoying unaccompanied exclusive psalm singing; there is nothing like singing God's word - but we do miss a good organ and hymns!); the praying is saturated with Scripture; and the fellowship is warm and welcoming. We are blessed to be a part of this local body.

For more info, check out their website.

New College: Old and New

Below are two pictures of New College: one old, one new. New College, where I study, houses the School of Divinity which is part of the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh. Did you get all that?!

A Wee History

New College was built by the esteemed Edinburgh architect William Playfair (who also built the Doric style National Gallery of Scotland seen below New College in the ‘old’ picture). The foundational stone was laid by the celebrated reformer Thomas Chalmers (the first principal) on 3 June 1846 and classes began in November 1850. New College was originally the denominational ‘seminary’ of the Free Church of Scotland. By way of an anecdote, one student recorded in the 1850’s that he paid between £4 and £5 for tuition – how things have changed!

As a result of a series of controversies, in January 1935 New College joined the University of Edinburgh’s Faculty of Divinity – which dates back to the founding of the university in 1583. Today, New College boasts one of the largest theological libraries and attracts students from all over the world.