Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Job and Audio

My new job at is proving to be a great blessing. It is a stress free job, while my old job as Top Operator over a couple of HDS units, two Reformer units and a clean fuels unit was often very stressful and busy.
My new unit has few if any surprises and I was warned that I would become bored doing the same routine job everyday. I told them that after working as top operator for as many years as I have, I was ready for a little boredom. The good news is my new job is not boring. Sure it is the same routine everyday, but I am indoors and we are allowed radios with iPod docking stations here at the lab.
I'm currently only qualified for one job and I work in a building alone when I am on nights or working the weekend. Yesterday, I was able to listen to several hours of biographical lectures about the great French Reformer John Calvin, that my buddy MK downloaded from Reformed Theological Seminary's website. Today I've been listening to a course, also given at Reformed Seminary, on C.S. Lewis.
I can do my job, which is pretty routine, and listen to lectures or books. This is GREAT. I love my new job.
Coram Deo,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Examine More Fully the Scriptures

Regrettably, in the history of the church, there have been times when the study of Scripture was discouraged by the Church. With the Protestant Reformation came a great push and emphasis on the importance Bible reading and study. Thanks to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440, the Bible and other books became cheaper and much more accessible by the time Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany (i.e. 1517).

Greater distribution of the Bible and other books played a big part in bringing about the Protestant revolution that swept through much of 16th century Europe. And while Bible study was very important to the early Protestants, they were certainly not the first Christians to stress the importance of reading, studying and knowing the Word of God.

In 248 AD, about the same time Cyprian became Bishop of Carthage, he wrote a treatise for his “beloved son” Quirinus. Here is some of what Cyprian said about the importance of reading the Scriptures, “And these things may be of advantage to you meanwhile, as you read, for forming the first lineaments of your faith. More strength will be given you, and the intelligence of the heart will be effected more and more, as you examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books.”

Bishop Cyprian knew how important it was for believers to be immersed in the Word of God. He understood that knowledge of God’s Word gives "strength" and "intelligence of the heart" to the believers who “examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new.

While reading the letters and treatises of St. Cyprian one thing becomes very clear almost at once, it is clear that Cyprian had immersed himself in God’s word. His writings are full of quotes from the Scriptures.
Cyprian knew the Bible at a time when getting access to the Scriptures was difficult and passion of the Scriptures could cost you your life. Today, there are Bibles everywhere and we will not be arrested or executed for reading the Scriptures.

In our day, Bible study is encouraged in Protestant and Catholic churches alike. We all would do well to heed Cyprian’s advice to Quirinus and “examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books.

Coram Deo,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Unmoved Against all the Terrors

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, served Christ and His Church during a time of fearful persecution. It was common for Christians to be killed and maimed simply because they would worship no other God other than the triune God of the Bible.
In a treatise written to Demetrianus, Roman proconsul of Africa, Cyprian addressed the persecution that the Church was then having to enduring at the hands of Demetrianus. He wrote, “You deprive the innocent, the just, the dear to God, of their home; you spoil them of their estate, you load them with chains, you shut them up in prison, you punish them with the sword, with the wild beasts, with the flames. Nor, indeed, are you content with a brief endurance of our sufferings, and with a simple and swift exhaustion of pains. You set on foot tedious tortures, by tearing our bodies; you multiply numerous punishments, by lacerating our vitals; nor can your brutality and fierceness be content with ordinary tortures; your ingenious cruelty devises new sufferings.
The government could then seize your property just for being a Christian. They could arrest you and throw you into prison for being a Christian. They could torture you in the most blood thirsty and brutal way, just for being a Christian. They could kill you by sword, crucifixion, feed you to wild animals in the arena, or burn you alive – just for being a Christian.
Demetrianus, was the man in charge of doing all these things to the Christians in North Africa, still Cyprian could write and say to him, “…we pour forth our prayers, and, propitiating and appeasing God, we entreat constantly and urgently, day and night, for your peace and salvation.
In another treatise Cyprian wrote to his fellow believers, he wrote to encourage them in there suffering, he wrote to strengthen them, he wrote them to prepare them for torture and death at the hands of the state. He said, “The brave and steadfast mind, founded in religious meditations, endures; and the spirit abides unmoved against all the terrors of the devil and the threats of the world, when it is strengthened by the sure and solid faith of things to come. In persecutions, earth is shut up, but heaven is opened; Antichrist is threatening, but Christ is protecting; death is brought in, but immortality follows; the world is taken away from him that is slain, but paradise is set forth to him restored; the life of time is extinguished, but the life of eternity is realized. What a dignity it is, and what a security, to go gladly from hence, to depart gloriously in the midst of afflictions and tribulations; in a moment to close the eyes with which men and the world are looked upon, and at once to open them to look upon God and Christ!
Modern Christians can learn a lot from St. Cyprian and those in his diocese who suffered and died for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.
Coram Deo,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy reading the Church Fathers (I know it's kinda weird). About five years ago, I purchased a massive 38 volume set of books, which contains much of the Christian writings written during the first 500 years after Christ.

Of the Church Fathers, St. Cyprian is one of my favourites. Cyprian was born about the year 208 AD, into a wealthy pagan family in what is today Tunisia, in North Africa. He was a well educated, successful, prosperous Roman Citizen before his conversion to the Christian Faith.

Cyprian became a Christian at a time when the Christian faith was still illegal in the Roman Empire. He came to Christ when sporadic and intense persecutions were still a normal occurrence and part of Roman policy. Cyprian came to Christ when it could cost you your life, and he was willing to pay that high a price for the salvation that is available in Christ alone.

Cyprian became Bishop of Carthage around 248 AD and served the church and Christ in that position for a decade. In 256 AD a new round of Roman persecutions began. In August 257 Cyprian was called to appear before the Roman proconsul. At his hearing he refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and gave testimony to his faith in Jesus his Saviour. For his actions and testimony he was banished from Carthage for a time, he eventually returned but remained under house arrest. In 258 a new edict came from the Emperor demanding that Christian clergymen be executed.

On September 14, 258 Cyprian again appeared before the proconsul and was sentenced to death. When his sentence was pronounced his only reply was, “Thanks be to God.” The execution was carried out that same day before a large crowd. When he arrived at the place of execution, Cyprian removed his robe and knelt down to pray, after his prayer he tied his blindfold into place and was beheaded by a Roman sword.

Cyprian is one of our greater brothers who came before us in the faith. He wrote a great deal and we still possess many of his letters and treatises. I’ve read most of what we still have from St. Cyprian and recommend his writings to everyone.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thoughts about a Quote

"For it is written that the just lives by faith. If you are just, and live by faith, if you truly believe in Christ, why, since you are about to be with Christ, and are secure of the Lord’s promise, do you not embrace the assurance that you are called to Christ, and rejoice that you are freed from the devil?"

The other morning, while out on my front porch drinking coffee and reading, I ran across the quote above. I immediately called my friend Mike S., also known as MK, and read the passage to him. I then asked, "Who do you think that is?" Mike hesitated for a moment and said, "It sounds like Luther." That is exactly what I thought when I read it, and that is why I called Mike, to see if he thought the same thing.

The quote precedes Martin Luther by more than twelve hundred years. It was written by St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, somewhere around 250 AD, in a treatise he wrote during a plague that was then raging through North Africa. The treatise is written to comfort believers who were dying or had friends and relatives die from the infection.

Cyprian is my favourite of the Church Fathers that lived prior to the first great council of the whole Church, the Council of Nicea, which was in 325 AD. Cyprian had a pastor's heart. In this treatise also said, "The fear and faith of God ought to make you prepared for everything, although it should be the loss of private estate, although the constant and cruel harassment of your limbs by agonizing disorders, although the deadly and mournful wrench from wife, from children, from departing dear ones; Let not these things be offenses to you, but battles: nor let them weaken nor break the Christian’s faith, but rather show forth his strength in the struggle, since all the injury inflicted by present troubles is to be despised in the assurance of future blessings."

Today, most Christians (Catholic and Protestant) have never heard of, much less, read Cyprian or the other Fathers of the Christian Church. It is our loss, There is much that we can learn from Cyprian and many of the Fathers.
Coram Deo,