Opening Session of Family Discipleship Video Webinar Tonight

We invite you to join us tonight at 8:00pm EST at www.ncfic.org/sdwebinar for the free opening session of the Family Foundations in Sound Doctrine webinar. This free session will be available later for free download from Sermon Audio.

This live, interactive video broadcast series, running each Tuesday evening from February 8th through March 29th and October 4th through November 22nd, will cover every section of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

For those who sign up here for the free session, we will send you a link to a free download of Bill Brown reading the entirety of the Second London Baptist Confession.

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An Example of Devotion to the Local Church

Convenience often is the determining factor for church attendance and regularity is often governed by schedule, weather, whim and busyness. In sharp contrast, John G. Paton speaks of his father’s devotion to the local church. He walked four miles and missed only three times in 40 years.

“Our place of worship was the Reformed Presbyterian Church at Dumfries, a full four miles from our home. The tradition was that during forty years my father was only prevented three times from attending the worship of God. Once by snow so deep that he was baffled and had to return; once by ice on the road, so dangerous that he was forced to crawl back on his hands and knees; and once by a terrible outbreak of cholera. All travel between the town and the surrounding villages was publicly prohibited. The farmers and villagers, suspecting that no cholera would make my father stay at home on the Sabbath, sent a deputation to my mother on the Saturday evening, and urged her to restrain his devotions for once! Each of us, from very early days, considered it no penalty, but a great joy, to go with our father to the church; the four miles were a treat to our young spirits, and occasionally some of the wonders of city life rewarded our eager eyes. We had special Bible readings on the Lord’s Day evening, and the Shorter Catechism was gone through regularly.”

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Therefore Choose Life – Our Whole Church Reading Deuteronomy Out Loud Today

Our church is did something today that we have done many times over the years – read out loud the book we are going to study or have already studied. Today, our church gathered to read the book of Deuteronomy, the book we are now finishing – one more sermon left. It took about four hours to read all 34 chapters. We have preached through Deuteronomy over the last two years, with an exegetical study of Galatians inserted in the middle of the series. Today, we started at 9:00, had lunch together and finished by 2:00. This practice has proven to be a great encouragement to us. We did the same with Acts, Romans, Hebrews, Genesis…

In one way, we are doing what happened in Deuteronomy,

Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” Deuternomy 31:12

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Identifying Causes of Prayerlessness

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

John Piper

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How to Raise a New Generation of Couch Potato Patriarchs

 Here is another deposit in the Couch Potato Patriarchs log book, Why is it that I Always See My Mom Shoveling the Driveway?

Tim Challies remarkes about his neighborhood,

"In most cases the children are teenagers, in their twenties or even in their early thirties. In every case there is at least one boy thirteen or older who is able-bodied. Yet in almost every case, mom is the one who shovels the driveway."

Challies tells a story of confronting some rebellious selfish future couch potatoes.

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Are You a Couch Potato Patriarch?

There is a brand of patriarchs that do nothing but their own thing. Their wives are "keepers at home" but the patriarch lifts not a finger to help. Just completing this sentence pains me for my own failure. Our church’s confession of faith, the Baptist Confession of 1689 wages war with the couch potato patriarch saying, "Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife" (Sec. 25). While there is a God ordained division of labor in marriage, it is too easy to take it to the limit (as I well know from personal experience). Martin Luther sought to bring this to a screeching halt. He lobbed some very colorful words about husbands helping their wives with diapers and all manner of "insignificant, distasteful duties."

Now observe that clever harlot, our natural reason…takes alook at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and that, do this and that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What then does the Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says ‘O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock this little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is pleasing in thy sight.

Timothy F. Lull, editor, “A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989) (Recommended for primary source material. Comes with a CD), 412-417.

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Al Mohler on Our President’s Statement about Abortion

Dr. Albert Mohler has written concisely about the position our President communicated over last weekend, which Mohler rightly calls, “one of the most revealing — and tragic — statements made by any political figure in our times.” Mohler asks the question that many of us have so sorrowfully asked since President Obama made his public statement, “How can any President of the United States fail to address this unspeakable tragedy?” I am grateful that the church is not silent on this matter, but rather that there is a great outcry among us.

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Article at White Horse Inn – “This is Not Your Neighbors ‘Youth Group’”

The White Horse Inn has an article, “This is Not Your Neighbor’s ‘Youth Group” which contributes to the discussion about the way the Bible establishes the methodology for the discipleship of youth, which is the subject of my book, A Weed in the Church. The author explains the article this way, “The only ‘youth program’ your kids need: some thoughts on family worship and catechesis.”

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Endorsements For A Weed in the Church

We have received a number of endorsements for A Weed in the Church. Here are some excerpts from longer versions:

"…I am extraordinarily grateful that he has gone to the trouble to write this book and articulate the position. May God grant that many will listen to it before our families are totally lost and with them the churches also." 

Dr. Paige Patterson
President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"…The experiment of age segregation in the churches has run its course, and the findings are clear. It’s time to pull the plug and go back to the old paths… Scott Brown’s book is a clarion call for just that—and it has arrived at a crucial time.

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.
Church historian, theologian, founder and national spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

Scott Brown offers a thoughtful and gracious challenge to the prevailing model of systematic age-segregation in church… This provocative book will challenge you to ask whether you are doing God’s work in God’s way.”

Dr. Joel R. Beeke
President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

"…A Weed in the Church is something of a ‘Wittenberg Door’ for the evangelical community. It calls us to examine our present practices in light of the Scriptures and to make the necessary changes to bring the church and the family in conformity to them. May God give us the wisdom and courage to do so.

Paul Washer
Director, Heart Cry Missionary Society

This book has far-reaching implications for Christianity, worldwide… Scott Brown explains how the traditions of men make the laws of God of none effect in the discipleship of our children.

Kevin Swanson
Pastor of Reformation Church and President of Generations with Vision

“A Weed in the Church is honest, thoughtful and biblical. In the best Reformation tradition it considers our own traditions in the light of God’s Word. And then, directs us to obedience to the Word. I commend it highly.”

RC Sproul, Jr.
Founder of Highlands Ministries, and a teaching fellow at Ligonier Ministries

For the full endorsements, click here.

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Family Foundations Webinar Starts Feb. 1

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Join us February 1st for our free opening session of the Tuesday Evening Family Foundations in Sound Doctrine live video webinar.

This live, interactive video broadcast series, running each Tuesday evening from February 1st through March 22nd and October 4th through November 22nd, will cover every section of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

You can sign up for the whole webinar series or just one of the two halves here.

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Men Who Sin by Neglecting Prayer and the Ministry of the Word

God’s plan for His people has always included the raising up of men who would dedicate themselves to do two simple, but powerful things – “prayer and the ministry of the Word.” This was clearly stated by the elders in Acts 6:4, who said, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” This is part of a consistent pattern in scripture where godly culture includes men dedicated to these things. In fact, it is sinful for some men to neglect it. The prophet Samuel stated it this way, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” 1 Samuel 12:23

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The Results of Neglect of Family Worship

And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of Religion in our day, which we cannot but touch upon, and earnestly urge a redress of; and that is the neglect of the worship of God in Families, by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance, and instability of many; with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their Parents and Masters; who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young? but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them so to catechize, and instruct them, that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of Prayer, and other duties of Religion in their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, have inured them first to a neglect, and then contempt of all Piety and Religion? we know this will not excuse the blindness, or wickedness of any; but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have thus been the occasion thereof; they indeed dye in their sins; but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go on without warning, yea led them into the paths of destruction? and will not the diligence of Christians with respect to the discharge of these duties, in ages past, rise up in judgment against, and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now?

We shall conclude with our earnest prayer, that the God of all grace, will pour out those measures of his holy Spirit upon us, that the profession of truth may be accompanied with the sound belief, and diligent practice of it by us; that his name may in all things be glorified, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Introduction to the 1677/89 Confession

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What’s in the Name Iona?

What does my newborn granddaughter, Iona, have to do with the power of the Gospel and the perpetuity of the Church?

Three years ago I traveled with my son David to the island of Iona. It just so happened that we were traveling with his wife to be. He didn’t know it then, but he hoped. Now he has named his firstborn daughter, Iona Wisdom Brown.

 

 

Why the name Iona?

Iona is a dreamy, beautiful island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. On the ferry going across the sound from the Island of Mull to Iona I could only think one thought. It was Jesus word, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”’ (Matthew 16:18). These comforting words make it plain that God will never leave himself without a witness in the world and He will be a keeper and shepherd of His people. Even if the kingdoms of this world rise up against the church, it will never be snuffed out. The light of the gospel will shine until He comes again. This means that there will always be a people who love God. There will always be a place of worship. Iona means that to me.

Christianity first came to Scotland in 563 through Columba on the island of Iona. This tiny island, only one and a half miles wide and three miles long became a mission station that sent missionaries all over the world. When Columba arrived Iona was controlled by Druids. He was 40 years old and had already planted 100 churches in Ireland. He first evangelized the Picts and then he trained pastors and established churches all over Scotland and beyond. Amazingly, there are 48 kings buried there in one of the oldest continuously used graveyards in the world. And even more striking, the same writings (petroglyphs) found on Iona can be found on rocks from West Virginia to Arizona. These writings were most likely placed there by missionaries to the American Indians. Most people believe that America was discovered in 1492, but the evidences are plain that Columba’s missionaries were in America long before Columbus.

It was through the work of Columba on Iona and the faithful churches that were planted, that the spark of the gospel was kept alive in Scotland while the Roman church was attempting to extinguish it. The story of Iona teaches us the importance of preserving the gospel wherever God takes us.

What happened on Iona was a marvel. The legendary Book of Kels, which today is in Trinity College in Dublin, was based on biblical categories and was probably written there in 690 AD. And, at the battle of Bannockburn, over 500 years later, the Scots had the remains of Columba with them.

Here are some points that illustrate the importance of Iona

First, it is a living picture of the power of the simple gospel of Christ and the apostles.

Second, it proclaims the message of God’s sovereign hand in preserving His church.

Third, it shows a vibrant missionary church. It was on Iona where the true church was preserved locally and promoted worldwide. It was through the biblical pastoral care established by Columba and the aggressive evangelism that his disciples practiced that made Iona one of the most important sites in Christian history.

Fourth, it illustrates the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. Columba believed in what we call the regulative principle of worship. He believed that we were only authorized to worship in the way God has commanded and we are not free to make things up on our own. This is why he established elders on Iona. Columba was never a bishop but always a presbyter who consulted with his brothers in all matters. He viewed himself as under the authority of the other believers there. Adamnan, a biographer (and ninth generation elder from Columba), tells of a situation where a presbyter from Ireland came, and Columba had him lead the Lord’s Supper. This situation reflects the biblical view of church government they maintained.

Here are some of the evidences of their faithfulness to Scripture:

They sang hymns. The earliest hymn book of the Scottish church was written by Columba.

They celebrated the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.
There was no extreme unction recorded.

They did not receive the supremacy of the pope.

They did not implement tonsure.

They were not ritualistic and sacramental.

The abbots were actually biblically defined and qualified elders.

There is no record of prayer to the virgin Mary or any worship of Mary.

In the middle of the 7th century the Pope came to Christianize the Celts on Iona. There was a showdown on many issues including “tonsure,” the day of worship and the other practices the Roman church was insisting on. Some of the Celts were slaughtered, and others hid in the Highlands of Scotland. These were the Culdees. It was these believers in the Highlands who kept the spark of the gospel alive. When the reformation came, these believers were already walking in the simple faith of the apostles. It was these who were used of God to fan the flames of the reformation.

Then, in the 15th and 16th centuries, thousands of the Scotch Irish went to the southern part of America where they saved the south from the incursions of Unitarianism that destroyed the church in the North in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Today, the religion on the island is a strange blend of “spirituality,” religious jargon, and environmental activism. It is a secular religion of social justice, opposing nukes and focusing on environmental and constitutional concerns. In their literature, they state that they have a priority for the exploration of human sexuality and the promotion of interfaith dialogues, sharing traditions, having a concern for young people, healing, the promotion of the UN and one world government.

Here are four lessons for us today from Iona:

First, trust in the power of the Word of God. The preservation of the true church is only possible when she embraces the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Second, don’t despise the day of small things. Iona was an incredibly small island that was hard to reach in a very unpopulated area off the coast of a small country with a very small population. Yet, it was here that the gospel was planted and preserved. The importance of preserving the gospel in your home and in your local church and in your town is the most important work we can do in this life.

Third, be a missionary church and send out laborers to the uttermost parts of the earth. How important it is to establish our churches as discipleship centers where elders are sent out to remote lands to establish more churches.

Fourth, acknowledge the long range plan of God and be encouraged by the way God works across many generations.

It was here in Iona that the seeds of the American Revolution were sown. The Christian faith on Iona held the thinking that made America possible. Joe Morecraft explained it this way,

“This is the most important place on earth, for you can trace the reformation and the founding of America to the followers of Columba. Their history belongs to us. Our roots as American Christians can be traced to this community in Iona.”

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Let Me Introduce you to Iona Wisdom Brown

My son David and daughter in law, Monica have just received their first child – a baby girl – Iona Wisdom Brown. She was born today at 12:53, weighing 7lb 7oz. A beautiful little girl. I too had my firstborn a baby girl, Kelly who was, and still is such a blessing. I am so happy for them. David and Monica both were on the island of Iona three years ago, and I will never forget seeing them walk along the shoreline wondering and hoping it would come to this.

 

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How John Piper Memorizes Scripture

Here is a post from the blog of Timmy Brister.

John Piper is someone whom God has used to inspire this generation in a number of ways, one of which has been memorizing Scripture–long passages of Scripture. So how does he do it? In an audio interview, here is how John Piper answers that question:

(transcript)

First of all, by praying for discipline and setting aside time.

I set aside a block of time in the morning (an hour or so) to be with God alone, reading my Bible, praying for my family, praying for the church, and praying for my soul. And I can generally finish my four chapters or so of Bible reading in about 20 minutes, depending on how long I pause and contemplate. And my prayers may extend for 20 or 30 minutes. So I’ve got 5 or 10 minutes in that hour.

If you decide to memorize Scripture for 5 or 10 minutes a day, you can memorize a lot of Scripture! I mean, it’s incredible! And I put circles around the paragraphs or the verses, and I put a little “M” beside them if I worked on them so I can come back and review.

I got my help here from a little booklet about how to memorize long passages of Scripture. And basically he says to take your first verse, read it ten times, and then close your eyes or shut your Bible and say it ten times. And that’s the end for that day. (I think if you do that you can memorize almost any verse in the Bible: ten times read, ten times said, and then you’ve got it.)

Then you come back the next day. You open your Bible up, and you say that verse again 5 or 10 times. If it’s easy, just 5 times. And then you do the same thing with the next verse. And then you do them both together. And then you shut your Bible and you leave. Then you come back.

So basically, the answer is: repetition and review. Repetition and review.

Here’s one other little tip that I use. If I pick a verse or a couple of verses or a paragraph, I’ll put it on a piece of paper and I’ll carry it here in my shirt pocket. And at little times during the day, I’ll pull it out and read it for my soul. For my soul! I don’t memorize verses that don’t help my soul.

I’m not into mechanical memorizing. I’m into fighting the fight of faith. I want to memorize Scripture so that I can defeat the devil at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, that’s why! It’s so that I can minister to a saint in the hospital at 10 o’clock at night if I’ve forgotten my Bible. This is for our soul. So I carry it around and I review it. Review is so crucial.

So I would just encourage people to set aside 5 or 10 minutes, and then repeat, repeat, repeat. Read the verse 10 times, say it 10 times, close your Bible, and then review it during the day from a piece of paper.

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