Tuesday, September 23, 2008

As I was prayerfully considering how to tie together several themes for some of the once-a-month studies we have in Georgetown, the Lord brought a text to mind:

Psalm 138:2 "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."

The last part of vs. 2 especially struck me: "for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."

I had considered this text before. It was first pointed out to me, though I know I must have read it several times before (amazing how dependent we are, and must be, on the Holy Spirit to even see and pay attention to the words of a text), by Foppe VanderZwaag. I would often get together with Foppe (Rev. VanderZwaag, Pastor of the Grand Rapids HRC) and his family and stay for coffee or just drop by for a visit. Among other things, we would talk about different texts or issues in theology we were working through (as you can imagine, I greatly miss those times with Foppe and his family). One of those times, he mentioned this text and asked me what I thought it could mean. I had no idea.

Recently, I believe the Lord has given me a little more insight and this text has come to dominate much of my thoughts of late.

First, we must note that the KJV's translation is correct: "for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." The NIV's translation, "for you have exalted above all things your name and your word" misses the meaning.

Second, when you see "thy word" it must be Christ (John 1:1-3, just naming one of many texts that could be provided). However, the questions "How does it refer to Christ?" and "What does it mean concerning Christ?" must be answered to make sure we are not just reading an idea back into the text.

So how does Psalm 138:2 refer to Christ?

After my own exegesis and reflection, I found my conclusion confirmed by Archibald Alexander in his Commentary on the Psalms (incidentally, for my seminarian and pastor friends, if you do not have Alexander on the Psalms GET IT and also pick up his reprinted sermons Theology on Fire Vol. 1& 2). Alexander notes, "Above all thy name i.e. all the previous manifestations of thy nature. Thy word, literally thy saying, that which thou hast said, but applied specifically to the divine promise." Henry Ainsworth in his Annotations on the Pentateuch and the Psalms (it also includes the Song of Songs) worded it even better, "THY WORD or, thy saying, thy promise in Christ concerning thy people, is greater than all other things whereby thou hast made thyself known." In summary, we know the Lord most and best through the revelation of Himself in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord.

So what does Psalm 138:2 mean concerning Christ?

1. It means Christ is the greatest revelation of Himself the Lord has given.

Colossians 1:15 "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature"

Hebrews 1:1-4 "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."

2. It means Christ is exalted above all.

Colossians 1:18, 19 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell."

I Corinthians 15:27, 28 "For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."

A last question that must be asked is "What does Psalm 138:2 mean for those trusting in Christ?"

1. All things will work together for our good because Christ must have His family.

Romans 8:28, 29 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

2. We have the gurantee of being with the Lord, like the Lord, and free from sin, because Christ must have His family.

Colossians 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

I Corinthians 15:48-54 "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

The Lord Jesus shows us who our great God is and in Christ's exaltaion we find comfort and our own exaltation. In God's revelation of Himself as the gracious redeemer by the work of His Son, we are redeemed and upheld.

Much more can be said of Christ, and the effects of His work, from this text. As I have considered it, the Lord has given me strength and blessing. It is always amazing to be reminded afresh of the marvelousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have found myself greatly challanged and inspired. I think I will be working through, praying through, searching out, and thinking in terms of Psalm 138:2 for a long time.

In our first consideration of Psalm 138:2 at Georgetown, we saw how the soverign exaltation of Christ should comfort us. In the next two studies in Georgetown over the next two months, we hope to see how Dispensationalsim is unBiblical and then that covenant theology is Biblical.

Please remember me, Martha and Julia, and the cause of Christ here in Tasmania (especially Launceston and Georgetown) in your prayers.

The Lord Jesus be with you all.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Visit with the Ashby Family: Touring the Botanical Gardens

Last week Thursday to Saturday, we spent a few days down in Hobart since our friends Ian and Jen Ashby invited us to stay with them. The photographic highlight of the trip was our tour of the Botanical Gardens.

We spread out our gear in a sunny spot and had a picnic. Andrew and Hannah Ashby are happy to lie and sit down respectively.
Julia got along well with another baby her age, even if Andrew is actually twice her age (9 months).
Just a little bit more growing and I'll catch up!
It's good to be out after spending most of the winter indoors.
Jen Ashby models a watermelon-colored sunhat while keeping a watchful eye on her children.
Simeon, meanwhile, keeps a CLOSE eye on Julia lest she pull any tricks. Cheery in yellow, Ian enjoys a half day off of work so he can go on this outing with us all. He's either helping Andrew see something or preparing to launch him into space.
Yep, I see that camera. Unfortunately, that means no more smiling and lots of watchful surveillance of the silver mechanism with that sneaky flash.
Hannah is either dancing, describing the height of something, or just caught in an odd gesture.
Terry and Julia trek through the fern house. It was dripping wet in there.
Sorry this one's fuzzy... maybe it was in foliage mode (I was switching back and forth a lot).
That's better! Julia is either shrieking, yawning, or attempting to get another taste of the carrier strap. Yum!
Aw... dere's a smile from da cutie-wootie!
Happy seeing the world from under the shelter of Daddy's beard.
Here's the Oak Tree section where some of the deciduous trees in the park remind us of good ol' North America.
From the park, there were several views of the city and the River Derwent below. Unfortunately, this is not one that highlights the river.
Ducks and such on the pond. It's a peaceful, pretty spot.
The handsome bush preacher and his little daughter
Flowers galore in a well-tended greenhouse
White orchids!
A fountain
Julia totally neglected to nap in the face of so much beauty.
The gum trees are varied in form and fantastic growth patterns. This one has a great horizontal branch like a withered pointing arm.
A lovely photo of the Ashby family... except that Andrew is hidden away in his pram... oops.
The Ashby clan marching in orderly fashion through the Cactus House with the chief at the rear to keep order. :D
Julia sucks her thumb with the rest of her finger splayed out - it's too cute.
The three of us in front of a fountain celebrating the French explorers who discovered and described certain parts of the southern coast of Van Diemen's Land.
Julia has given up on the hand by now, as well as the carrier strap - she's chomping down on the carrier itself. Thankfully, she's still toothless or the top of that thing would be in shreds.
Back at the Ashby's, we re-hydrate and chat.
Terry, tireless, entertains the young'uns with a timeless tale of terror about a little girl and three bears. Except that there are no bears in Tasmania... so there's no real threat.
On our way out of town, we stopped by at the Smith's. They were amazed at Julia's progressing growth and we snapped a few lovely photos of Julia and Mary.
Julia knows that one looks at a camera, but has not yet purposely smiled for one. It's only people that you smile at, of course. How silly to smile at a box! Everyone knows that. :)
We had a lovely weekend up there, and actually persuaded Iain Smith to try out a Mexican restaurant... except that it was closed at lunchtime. However, we went to the next-best thing down the street - a Portuguese restaurant named Nando's where they serve wonderful spicy chicken (and not-so-spicy dishes for the chicken-hearted). Overall our time down there was most enjoyable. Thanks for your hospitality, Ian and Jen!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Few of the Most Recent Photos

First encounter with M&M's

She had a great time pushing them around and picking them up.
Thankfully she never tried to eat them- at least not yet.

Tummy time smiles with Ali Alligator

Little One is not roiling over yet, but she lifts up her upper body with her back and stomach.

Julia inspects the paper work.

Julia tastes the paper work.

Paper work approved on both counts!

Ali Alligator is good.

But hand is better!

The outside of the Montifiore Manse at the end of winter.

Out for a walk with mommy and Little One.

Just before Martha took this picture she called us "The Little Screamer and the Big Preacher!"

"Me? A Screamer?"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Only the Lord

We have had many wonderful and surprising experiences in Tasmania, but one of the most has been getting to know Robin and Richard Stedman.

Robin and Richard are originally from the mainland but moved to the Tasmanian town of Sheffield to retire. Sheffield is beautiful Tasmanian town West of Launceston, is the shadow of Mt. Roland (1,234 meters high), and is known as the town of murals. Many of the buildings on and just off the main street have murals painted on their sides. Their is even a little park where they have some murals free standing. Due to the murials Sheffield is often visited by tourists.

How did Robin find out about the Southern Presbyterian Church in Launceston? Through the Heritage Reformed Church denominational periodical
The Banner of Soverign Grace Truth. How did she find out about The Banner of Soverign Grace Truth? Through the Reformation Heritage Books bookstore. How did she find them? Through the internet.

Robin had been looking for some good Christian books and found some at Reformation Heritage Books
and ordered them. The folks at Reformation Heritage included with her order a copy of the Banner and she really enjoyed it. Robin then ordered a subscription. As she was reading one of the issues of the Banner she read an article written by John Coles, the clerk of the SPC Presbytery, that spoke about a man moving from Grand Rapids Michigan to take up the ministry in Launceston Tasmania. She was very surprised. She began checking our blog, sent an email, and came and visited us at the Montifiore Manse. Richard, her husband, has been making the long drive to Launceston every Sabbath morning since so Robin can worship with us. Robin and Richard have become a regular part of our lives and church family, for which we are very grateful.

Only the Lord can send a man from Grand Rapids to Tasmania and then inform a Tasmanian of that man's arrival through a periodical obtained from Grand Rapids.

Robin with Julia

Julia was right at home with the Stedmans in Sheffield.

The three of us

Another one of the three of us, but in their backyard. Mt. Roland is in the background but under cloud cover.

Our Cinco de Maio taking a ciesta !

Richard and Julia, they were very cute together.

Mt. Rowland under cloud cover

Robin and Richard, very cute together too!

One of the murals depicting the Christian history of the town

A park with diffrent murals free standing

Some examples of the murals on the buildings

Romans 11:33 "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"