Douglas Bond hit it out of the park in Grace Works!

Reformed Musings

Bottom line up front: Take a little of your Christmas cash and buy this book, then read it cover to cover. The gospel is under attack on many fronts, even from those with advanced degrees who claim to be Reformed. Mr. Bond sets record straight in the modern battle over the gospel of grace.

I have to admit my skepticism when I first received a copy of Douglas Bond‘s Grace Works! (And Ways We Think It Doesn’t). In this day and age, we see the free use of euphemisms like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is anything but democratic or accountable to the people. The history of the Church records power and sovereignty of God in preserving Christ’s bride, but it also contains the record of heretics and their heresies that claimed to be true to the Scriptures whilst gutting the gospel of grace.

Douglas Bond’s…

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Two Talks in Vancouver

March 21, 2009, the Clark County Home Educators and First Class Homeschool Co-op West, had me come to Vancouver, Washington for a morning seminar on the importance of honoring worthy heroes and another talk on fathers & sons, challenges we face in a sex and sports saturated world.

I drew material for the first session on heroes from chapter 21 in STAND FAST In the Way of Truth and from chapter 9 in HOLD FAST In a Broken World. The next session I drew from material in chapter 11 of STAND FAST, “Self-Control and Sex,” based on Paul’s admonitions about avoiding sexual immorality in I Thessalonians 4:1-12. Then I signed books and talked with readers.

One father came up afterward and, while attempting to say something to me, broke down in tears. We stepped aside and found a corner to chat for a while. His father left the home when he was three years old. He never remembers having received a hug or any sign of affection from his dad. He said he so much wants to be a better father to his sons than his father was to him.

Tartan Day April 6, 2009

from Duncan’s War (chapter 2)

…Try as they might, the gloom lingered throughout the rest of the meal. Then Duncan heard it: the faint skirling of Ancient Grier’s pipes drifting down the brae and into the cottage.

“There now, Grier approaches fit to wake the dead from here to Dumfries,” said Duncan’s mother, clearing the table.

“He’ll tell us stories,” said Jenny hopefully.

Duncan‘s father’s eyes clouded slightly.

“Won’t he, Father?” Jenny persisted.

“After prayers,” said her father shortly.

Ancient Grier halted outside their croft, the piping now sounding loud and alarming. Duncan‘s heart beat faster. The wailing of pipes always made him wish he had a two-fisted broad sword in hand and a pack of English or Covenant breakers to throw himself at; he wasn’t overly particular which.

He and his sisters, Angus toddling behind, ran to the door and threw it open. A path of light fell on the old man, his face red and cheeks bulging as he blew air into the sheep stomach of his bagpipes. Lit up against the dusk, he marched in place as he played, until with a deflating screech, not unlike the sound of a goose at the chopping block, the tune came to an end.

“Peace be on this house!” said the old man as they welcomed him i

nto the cottage.

After brief conversation about spring planting, goat kids and lambs, they sat down around the table. Duncan‘s father said solemnly, “Let us worship God.” He then led the family in a prayer full of devotion and hope, his voice rising and falling with passion as he prayed. When he finished, he took the family Bible in his great hands and opened it slowly and carefully as if it were some rare and delicate treasure, easily broken if misused.

“Hear the Word of our Lord from the Proverbs of Solomon, the sixteenth chapter,” he said, reverence and firmness in his voice. “‘Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.'” Duncan‘s father paused, eyeing his son over the sacred pages…

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from STAND FAST In the Way of Truth (chapter 8)

…John Neilson of Corsock made his choice. After the Restoration in 1660, Neilson refused to bow to the adulterer King Charles II, the usurper of the “crown rights of the Redeemer in his Kirk.” For Neilson’s stand, the king’s dragoons forced him from his ancestral castle in Glenkens, Scotland. Destitute, with his wife and children, he “took to the heather.” Hunted by the scourge of the Covenanters, James Turner, captain of the king’s garrison in Dumfries, Neilson not only lost all his lands and wealth for his loyalty to Christ’s Crown and Covenant, his wife died of exposure in their flight. Finally taken at Rullion Green, Neilson was marched to the Grassmarket in Edinburgh on December 14, 1666. Before his voice was drowned out by the ominous drum roll, he spoke boldly before the king’s henchmen. “If I had many worlds I would lay them all down, as now I do my life for Christ and his cause.”

This clear-sighted Scots laird was no fool. He gave what he could not keep to win what enriches for all eternity. Young man, be like this saintly man. Start by knowing your heart when it comes to money, and stop daydreaming about it…


Address and talks at Union University

Dr. Ray Van Neste, biblical scholar at Union University, invited me to participate in the Psalm Project at Union. Ray heads up the project, sponsored by the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, and funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation.

I flew out March 5, 2009, was delayed in Dallas, and didn’t arrive in Memphis until the early hours of the morning. By then my voice had started fading into oblivion, and I could hardly speak. After a few hours of sleep we headed off to the university where I was to speak in chapel at 10:00 am. They gave the sound tech guy the heads up that I would need some extra volume on the mic.

Richard Wells, Dean of the chapel, opened with a reading from one of my hymns, Creator God our Sovereign Lord. I was not expecting this. After reading from Psalm 34:1-3, Michael Penny led the students (there are 3,700 at the university; I have no idea how many were at chapel, but it was more faces than I have ever spoken to before!) in OLD HUNDREDTH, Ronald Boud accompanying on the organ.

I then delivered (or croaked) an address entitled, Biblical Poetry in a Post-Biblical, Post-Poetry World. The students were remarkably attentive, even restraining themselves from fidgiting when I went five minutes over my allotted time (Imagine me doing that!).

After chapel I enjoyed meeting a number of students, some with Duncan’s War, Mr. Pipes, and other books in hand for me to sign. After a lunch discussion with Michael Chute’s journalism feature writing students, and a podcasted interview, we had a more informal follow-up time to chapel with enthusiastic students and some faculty.

How the Psalms Shape our Songs, was the theme of that discussion. See list of other speakers and listen to the podcasts by going to Union University’s Psalm Project.

I attempted to make the point that the Psalms are timeless and universal praise, inspired models of poetic adoration, sung worship of God that transcends all boundaries, appropriate for “All people that on earth do dwell.” William Kethe’s 16th century versification of Psalm 100 was my featured Psalm, conceived in Calvin’s Geneva while Kethe was a refugee in the haven of the Reformation. I concluded with seven reasons why it is essential for Christian young people to return to the Psalms in every age:

1. What is it we do so poorly in our Christian lives? Most of us would admit that we pray all too infrequently and very badly at our best. This is true in large part because we are so unfamiliar with the content and eloquence of the Psalms. The Psalms are often prayers, inspired ones that ought to enrich, deepen, and inform our own praying. If you wish you prayed better, with more heart, with words worthy of God, learn the Psalms.

2. Secondly, you and I need the Psalms today because the Psalms keep in perfect tension the poles of joy and fear in our worship, as in Psalm 100: the first stanza calls us to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” then regulates and informs that joy in the second stanza with high, sobering truths about God’s power to create all things, and to make a people for himself. Joy and trembling are perfectly wedded in the Psalms.

3. In the third place, we need the Psalms today because they help free us from our slavery to the here and now, to the goofiness of personal taste. They can help keep us from the folly of the moment, the tyranny of the latest thing, the soul-killing bondage to the entertainment driven fads of the fleeting present. Thoughtful Christians will not dismiss Psalms as irrelevant for today, not to their taste, too difficult, too long, too complicated, or too old. When we give ear to these criticisms our sung worship, alas, will look and sound less and less like the Psalms.

4. Fourthly, we live in an egalitarian age, where high register things, especially words and language, are scorned. All the more reason you and I need the majesty of the Psalms to elevate our ability to enter God’s courts, a place you would never slouch or swagger into un-tucked. Worship is the highest-register activity a human being can engage in, and the content and tone of the Psalms ought always to regulate our attitude and posture in that worship.

5. Fifthly, Psalms give us theological discernment. The Psalms help us measure what is worthy and what is not. They help us reject vacuous praise, praise verbalized but without objective theological reasons informing those words. You and I need to return to the inspired sung worship of the ancients because it adorns doctrinal truth and helps us see the loveliness of that truth. Psalm poetry is the God-ordained means of keeping every generation enthralled with the surpassing splendor of biblical truth.

6. In the sixth place, recovering Psalm singing in our worship and life will raise the bar for all new worship poetry in every age. Seek God in the Psalms and then measure everything else by what you find there. Stop asking of what you listen to, what you sing, what you write, if it sounds like the latest thing. Rather ask: is it Psalm-like? An honest answer will enable you to rise above the inappropriate and tread on the high places of the earth.

7. Finally, Psalmody and classic hymnody serve to unite you and me with the vast throng of dazzled worshipers throughout the ages. The Psalms are God-given sung praise that transcends all barriers, ones of race, gender, ethnicity, geography, and most-importantly, Psalms free us from that, oh so, postmodern, all-preoccupying, all-excusing barrier: personal taste. Psalm poetry is for all time, the ultimate multicultural poetry, poetry for “All people that on earth do dwell.”

NEW Audio book read by Douglas Bond.
Now Available with study guide Home

“Bishop Ryle is pre-eminently scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong and virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is often described as ‘devotional’. Ryle’s books are a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Every thoughtful young man must read J. C. Ryle. For those who don’t have the time or would rather listen, Douglas Bond presents this new audio book. As a young man, Ryle was a first-class athlete, rowing on the crew and playing cricket at Oxford, and a diligent student, graduating top of his class. After hearing Ephesians 2 read in church, Ryle was converted to Christ and thereafter earnestly pursued an uncompromising life of faith and ministry. Throughout his long life, Ryle became a leader in the evangelical movement, proclaiming faithfully the biblical and reformed gospel of grace. During his preaching and pastoral ministry, Ryle became a lover of the Puritans and, like his heroes, wrote prolifically.

“True repentance is never too late,” wrote nineteenth-century pastor J. C. Ryle, “but late repentance is seldom true.” Throughout this little gem of a book, Ryle overflows with perceptive, biblical observations like this one. An important leader of the evangelical Anglican movement, Bishop Ryle became an earnest and eloquent voice for biblical orthodoxy in an age of rationalism and defection. He is pithy, urgent, prophetic, and hard-hitting–just the things for today’s young men. I’ve read Thoughts for Young Men more than once with each of my three oldest sons, and as a supplement to our family worship several times. In significant ways, venerable Ryle has shaped my forthcoming Father & Son series. A bonus feature of the audio recording will be classical guitar arrangements of hymns featured in the Mr. Pipes series, played by former heavy-metal lead guitarist, Rich Young. My prayer is that this audio book will help turn commute time into earnest and inspiring instruction for fathers and sons. Go to Bedford House Books for information about my Fathers & Sons Series, STAND FAST and HOLD FAST.

“Ah! Young men, young men, do not pawn your souls, do not sell your souls, do not exchange away your souls, do not trifle and fool away your precious souls; they are jewels, more worth than a thousand worlds, yea, than heaven and earth. If they are safe, all is safe; but if they are lost, all is lost.”
Young Men Exhorted to Come to Christ
Thomas Brooks

“Ah! Young men, young men, do not play the courtier with your precious souls. The courtier doth all things late; he rises late, dines late, sups late, goes to bed late, repents late. What monsters are they that make not provision for their own souls! This will be bitterness in the end.”
Young Men Exhorted to Come to Christ
Thomas Brooks

JC Ryle, THOUGHTS FOR YOUNG MEN, audio book read by Douglas Bond

JC Ryle, Introduction, Thoughts for Young Men, read by Douglas Bond

JC Ryle audio book, chapter one

JC Ryle, chapter two

JC Ryle, chapter three

JC Ryle, chapter four

JC Ryle, chapter five, conclusion