St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.


Throwback Thursday: Getting Ready for Sunday Before Sunday!


Recently, I put up a Facebook status saying, in essence, how helpful it would be for us to start getting ready for Sunday worship on Saturday evening—and cut down on the TV, Facebook, or other things that distract us from being alert and ready the next morning. I received a lot of interesting feedback.

Yet, it would be good for us to consider some practical ways to prepare ourselves for our times of corporate worship:

  1. Turn off the television on Saturday evenings! What is there on network television or cable that lifts up the mind to heavenly heights? I struggle with this, especially during football season because ABC usually has a great game on with kickoff at 8:00 p.m. EST. But I must.
  2. Turn off the computer. So much information, so many helpful (and unhelpful) websites, so many sites that help us network (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter ), means so many ways to distract. Psalm 119:15-16 is a helpful tonic.
  3. Lay out your clothes and church materials the night before. “What will I wear? What will the kids wear? How about this? No, this doesn’t fit anymore? Where are my/your/their shoes? Oh no, my shirt isn’t ironed!” As a father of four, there is no shortage of things that can deter you from making it to church on time. Take time the night before to lay your clothes and your small children’s clothes out the night before. You will be amazed at the amount of time this saves for Sunday morning (and how much of our attitude is helped by this).
  4. Take time to pray with your family about the service the next day. Our children (and ourselves, too) need to realize the mammoth importance of corporate worship before God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  5. Get up at a good hour. If you have to be at morning Bible study at, say, 9:45, and you are married or have children, getting up at 8:30 will not help. Getting up at 8:00 is better. It’s good to leave 30-45 minutes on average for each person in your house (women usually take longer than this, men usually take shorter, along with your children’s dress, the brushing of teeth, the meals, etc.). We have six at our house—so we get up at 6:30-6:45 out of necessity.
  6. Have some Christian music or some Scripture on. For me, Isaac Watts hymns, Sovereign Grace Music, or even Elvis Presley singing the hymns (yes, you read correctly) help focus the mind. Having the daily Scripture from the ESV site read to me is priceless as well.
  7. Take time that morning to read through the morning’s sermon Scripture. I post this in our monthly newsletter for this reason—so we may prepare our minds and hearts to receive that Word. Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of FBC-Grand Cayman, recommends that we spend time each day doing this (Acts 17:10-15—let’s be Bereans!).
  8. Enter into your morning Bible study expectantly ready to receive the Word. Same with morning worship. Allow nothing to distract you from your time of worship (Psalm 100). Even well-meaning fellowship before the service may distract from our focus and concentration as we ready ourselves to hear God’s revealed Word.

What are some other things that help you?

(Originally published May 2009 at a previous blog!)


What’s Up Wednesday: Phrases we most use around our office

It’s interesting how certain phrases develop in use over time. I’ve been pastor of my church for the last six years, and here are some phrases that we of used over that period of time as reminders of how we are to minister to others.

  1. It’ll be fine.” This is not a cop-out nor an excuse to avoid deep-thinking on a subject. This comes about when we are tempted to linger on minutiae and are concerned about what “someone” may think. We evaluate whether this will violate a moral or a biblical issue, take all the pros and cons into it and then say, “Ah! It’ll be fine!”
  2. Tough skin, tender heart.” Sometimes, people say things to us that are not nice! Some are demanding! Does this mean we are rude and demanding back? No! We still have a tender heart as we love our people as well as our enemies. We ask God for a tough skin in the midst of these problems, but a tender heart in ministering and loving them.
  3. Remember, most jokes are half true.” I enjoy humor, but when joking with someone, we must beware that there may be perceived truth in the joke. This saying is a deterrent for saying things that may be hurtful to others, regardless of intent.
  4. Anything you need from me?/How can I help?” Pastors, do all you can to help those around you. Help is a two-way street. Find ways to help others get projects done. It’s fulfilling the command to love one another (John 13:34-35).
  5. “Get ‘er done.” Our new administrative assistant Carla has brought this phrase to the office. It motivates all of us to get done what needs to be done.
  6. How can we fix this?” We don’t always get everything right. In fact, there isn’t A-day that goes by that a mistake isn’t made. So, we ask ourselves how we can fix this. Usually, an easy solution is right around the corner. However, we have on occasion stepped in something deep. Even so! No excuses and no delays.
  7. What can we learn from this?” With every mistake comes a lesson. While we all make mistakes, we shouldn’t repeat those mistakes. Asking what we can learn from our mistakes turns every moment into a teachable moment. It’s the epitome of foolishness to not mine out lessons from our mistakes.

What phrases do you use around the office?


Theology Tuesday: Always S.C.A.N. Your Bible–Four Ways to See Your Bible Rightly

It’s important for us to see the Bible rightly. If we approach The Bible wrongly, then we will also get God’s message to us wrong. Below are 4 basic ways for us to see The Bible correctly.

Sufficiency of Scripture (John 17:17; 1 Peter 1:22-25; Psalm 119:1). Wayne Grudem said, “Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and obeying him perfectly.”

Clarity of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 1 Corinthians 2:14). While there are parts of Scripture that are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16), the Bible in general is clear in its message.

Authority of Scripture (Psalm 19:7-10; Matthew 5:17-18; John 10:35; John 17:17). Also from Grudem: “All the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”

Necessity of Scripture (Psalm 119:15-16). If you want to know who God is, what He has done, and what He aims to do in and through us, you need to read the Scriptures.

Time does not allow us to go into detail, but keep your eye open next Tuesday as we talk about the sufficiency of Scripture.


Music Monday: Mozart’s Requiem from my Alumni Choir

Back in April of 2017, our alumni choir at Palm Beach Atlantic University sang Mozart’s Requiem. It had been over twenty years since I’ve sung this. What a joy!


Friday Funny: Homeschooling


Throwback Thursday: “That’s the way we’ve always done it!” The logical fallacy of the appeal to tradition

“That’s the way we’ve always done it!” This is the logical fallacy of the appeal to tradition (Latin: argumentum ad antiquitatem). In family, business, and even church circles, you see this phrase used ad nauseum when it comes to setting a direction or even considering changing course. I have already posted some on this subject, stating that this is a lazy and unproductive way to lead an institution because it requires no thought. I’ll go a step further: it’s lazy because it exclusively borrows the thinking of someone else without question—especially if it’s brought about the desired results.

Both sides of the religion argument employ this:

A: I believe in God.

B: Why?

A: People have believed in the existence of God for thousands of years. A belief like that would last that long if it was wrong, right? [Source]

I know there are legitimate reasons to believe in the existence of God, mind you. But this appeal to tradition is a flimsy argument when much better arguments could be made (this is for a later time).

In church circles, this can happen:

A: Mom, why do we have a service on Sunday nights?

B: Because that’s the way our church has always gone about things: Sunday morning service, and a Sunday night service—and don’t forget about Sunday School.

The Pharisees were warned about traditions that were elevated too highly.

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing ofcups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according tothe tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them,“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and,‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Holding to the tradition of the elders”—that was the criteria rather than the pure, simple Word of God! We hold to our traditions so closely at time that we treat them as if they came down from the mountain as God’s holy commands.

Let’s be aware of this fallacy. It can stifle an organization more quickly than one can imagine.


What’s Up Wednesday: Grow from our Worship, Grow in our Worship


Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Palm Beach, FL

The fundamental activity in our discipleship is to gather together with our brothers and sisters in corporate worship.  In Hebrews 10:23-25, we read:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Based on our worship of Jesus and the confession of our hope as found in Jesus and His Word, we stir up one another but we cannot stir up one another if we are not together with each other. Thus, the Spirit commands us to meet together, but some neglect this most basic of discipling activities.  As we gather together, we encourage one another, no matter where we are in our Christian walk, and we do so with urgency “as you see the Day drawing near.”  

We cannot grow in our worship of Jesus and in our maturity in Jesus if we fail to gather together in corporate worship.  What is included in our times of worship?

  • The preaching of the Word: ARBC is committed to expositional preaching, where the meaning of the text becomes the meaning of the sermon.  The points of the sermon are found in the text of Scripture. And as we journey through every verse of Scripture, we will make sure to cover all that God reveals in His Word. Our aim is to unleash the lion of the Word, knowing that God will accomplish all He seeks it to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11-12). 
  • The ordinances: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two activities that Christ ordained (thus the word ‘ordinance’) as a picture of the gospel. Baptism serves as a witness of a willingness to fully identify with Christ; the Lord’s Supper serves as a remembrance of Christ’s substitutionary atonement by way of the bread (representing his flesh) and the cup (representing the spilling of His blood).
  • Singing: using all types of styles to reinforce what we believe but also to encourage those around us.  We need both “Holy, holy, holy!” as an example of singing praises to God, as well as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” as an example of singing to encourage and evangelize those around us. We need the ancient “Doxology” (i.e., Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”) as well as the modern “In Christ Alone” and “Soul on Fire.” 
  • Giving: When Jesus said, “As you give….” (Matthew 6:2) and when Paul said, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7), this told us that part of our worship of Jesus is giving back a portion of what He gave to us.  Why? As a tax write-off? As a way to show approval of how things are going? No, but to give to fund ministry so others can know Jesus!
  • Praying:  When Jesus said, “When you pray” (Matthew 6:5), it’s understood that prayer would be a part of our personal as well as our corporate life. We must beware not to “heap up empty phrases like the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7), but to pray as a way for us to connect with the throne room of God! 
  • Sending: Our congregation is not dismissed, but sent into their sphere of influence, sent into their Monday through Saturday; into groups and plants; into relationships with friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors. 

As Tony Unzinger of Summit Church in Durham, NC, told our Colorado Baptists, we must not come to church as an audience, but as an army ready for equipping and deployment.


Theology Tuesday: The Non-Negotiables of Genesis 1 and 2, Regardless of Your Position on the Age of the Earth


If you want to get a conversation started, bring up Genesis 1 and 2 and make some sort of stance regarding whether the earth is young or old, whether God made the earth in six days or millions of years, etc. Some of the most productive and difficult conversations I’ve had over the years deal with how to look at Genesis 1 and 2.

For transparency’s sake: I’m a young earth creationist. Six-dayer, with literal 24-hour days. I’m a young earth creationist for one major reason: I believe based on my understanding of Scripture that death did not occur prior to Adam’s sin that cursed the earth (Genesis 3:1-20; Romans 5:12-21; 8:18-25). Plus, every time the word ‘yom’ (day) is connected with a number in the OT, it’s a 24-hour period. I have other reasons, but that’s for another time. I have very close friends that disagree and I love them and still call them brother and sister. In fact, my tribe gets smaller with each passing year.

Friends and foes debate these issues rigidly. Both sides’ view have ripple effects and consequences, both good and troublesome. Is this a first tier issue? No, I do not believe so. It’s important to me, but those who are old earth who believe in Christ’s saving work on the cross and His resurrection are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.

J.I. Packer in his book 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know outlined the non-negotiables in visiting Genesis 1 and 2.

We cannot dwell here on the relation between the biblical creation story (Gen. 1:1–2:4a, with Gen. 2:4b-25 supplementing Gen. 1:26-30 in the manner of a long footnote or appendix) and contemporary scientific thinking about origins. Suffice it to say that

(i) the narrative is a celebrating of the fact of creation and of the Creator’s wisdom, power and goodness, rather than an observational monitoring of stages in the creative process;

(ii) the story focuses not on the cosmic system as a system, but on the Creator apart from whose will and Word it would not at this moment exist;

(iii) the narrative method is imaginative, pictorial, poetic and doxological (glory-giving, in the style of worship) rather than clinically descriptive and coldly prosaic in the deadpan scientific manner;

(iv) the Earth-centredness of the presentation reflects not scientific naïvety about the solar system and outer space, but theological interest in man’s uniqueness and responsibility under God on this planet;

(v) the evident aim of the story is to show its readers their own place and calling in God’s world, and the abiding significance of the Sabbath as a memorial of creation, rather than to satisfy curiosity about the details of what happened long ago.

Within these perspectives various ways of understanding the six days of creation and relating the creative process to the shifting hypotheses of science are open. None is more than an educated guess; verification is not possible. All hypotheses that take note of the five points above should be judged legitimate, but none should ever expect to have the field to itself, and its sponsors will need to put it forward with modesty and tolerance towards other views.

What do you think? Are there more non-negotiables? Do you believe Genesis 1 is a possible verification? How tolerant are you to other views that disagree with your conclusions?