Mid-America announces new appointment


Compton_Family_cThe Board of Trustees of Mid-America Reformed Seminary recently announced the appointment of Rev. Andrew Compton as Assistant Professor of Theology to teach Old Testament courses, beginning June 1, 2016.

Dr. Cornelis P. Venema, President of Mid-America, says, “Andrew was judged to have the combination of pastoral experience and academic excellence in Old Testament studies that we hoped for to fill this position.”

Rev. Compton has served as associate pastor at Christ Reformed Church (URCNA) in Anaheim, CA, for the last few years and is a 2007 graduate of Westminster Seminary California. He has an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles.

At Mid-America, Rev. Compton will work with Rev. Mark Vander Hart, Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies.

“I am very much looking forward to working with Rev. Compton as he adjusts to the Seminary work environment,” Rev. Vander Hart says. “He is articulate in his positions, and he appears to be very well-read, not just in matters pertaining to the Old Testament, but to other areas of dogmatic and pastoral theology.”

In addition to his teaching duties, Rev. Compton may take on some administrative responsibilities and will serve as a faculty counselor, encouraging students to cultivate godly conduct and pastoral attitudes.

In recent years, he has worked toward a degree in pastoral care and counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Although he has given up that pursuit in order to resume his study for a Ph.D. in the Old Testament, it remains an area of interest that he hopes to incorporate into teaching as well as counseling aspects of his work.

“I have been richly blessed to spend so many hours with my congregation in counsel and discipleship,” he explains, “so it is a topic dear to my heart and one I hope I can carry on to the seminarians, even in my OT instruction.”

Andrew and Pamela Compton have three young daughters and anticipate another child in December. Before next June, they plan to move from Lakewood, CA, to St. John, IN. He describes himself as “humbled by this appointment and excited to support the mission” of Mid-America.

He hopes to guide students in becoming careful and literary readers of Old Testament texts, while they gain awareness of how those books are connected with each other and used in the New Testament. He wants to help students utilize scholarly insights but effectively challenge the “naturalistic and anti-revelatory assumptions” of many critical conclusions, dismissing those that do not accord with the Bible.

His prayer is that his labors will benefit Christ’s church through any personal preaching, speaking, and writing opportunities, but primarily in the training of future pastors, “who will bring what they have learned from God’s Word in seminary to God’s people over the course of their ministries.”

Rev. Compton enjoys cycling, playing trumpet, and listening to classical music.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 9 & 10 of the January 13, 2016, issue of Christian Renewal. Rev. Compton has since taken up his new position.


Chino conference explores money matters

group-cFew topics generate more feeling than money, but it seems few churches offer regular direction on biblical stewardship.

On March 20-21, 2015, First United Reformed Church of Chino addressed this important subject in its annual Growing Reformed Churches Conference under the theme, “Financial Freedom: Liberated From the Love of Money.”

Chino’s Youth Pastor, Rev. Quentin Falkena, explains the theme choice: “Every year we strive to pick topics that bear on the Christian life. Some years they are more theological in nature, other years they deal with more practical issues. [This year] we picked a topic that always stirs interest: money. The title was a collaborative effort, tying together terms from the financial realm, the graphic from the brochure, where the words ‘liberty’ and ‘In God We Trust’ are visible on the dime, and Hebrews 13:5-6.”

In the ESV, that text says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ ”

Featured speakers were Dr. W. Robert Godfrey (Professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary California), Rev. Mark Vander Hart (Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary), Dr. J. V. Fesko (Professor of Systematic Theology and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California), and Rev. Chris Gordon (Preaching Pastor at Escondido URC).

Pastor Quentin says, “The speakers were pastors and theologians, rather than financial experts, so the content was largely biblical and spiritual in nature. Each speaker also has a different field or specialty, which helped round out the material. Dr. Godfrey shed some light on this topic from an historical perspective. Rev. Vander Hart explained a lot of the Old Testament materials and drew out some implications for the church today. Dr. Fesko addressed the biblical connection between idolatry and greed, and spoke to the matter of sanctification in the midst of consumerism. Rev. Gordon, coming specifically from a pastoral perspective, spoke to the heart issue of giving in light of how much we’ve been given in Christ.”

About 100 people attended the conference, one of whom was Rev. Andrew Compton (Associate Pastor at Christ URC in Anaheim, CA). He said other members of his church who attended either work in the finance industry or are involved in financial stewardship programs.

“They voiced on Sunday that they would have liked to hear more black-and-white ‘do-this-don’t-do-that’ advice from Scripture, but all appreciated the fact that God’s word doesn’t always speak directly to many of the same financial questions we have these days. They all recognized that the best tactic was to spell out the theology of money and giving and draw some more modest advisory conclusions.”

He added, “Most of us want an answer specifying that God desires at least 10%, but not necessarily more than 18% of our gross (or net) income, not including what we earned from investments and not including what we received via tax refund the previous year and yet making provision for yada yada yada…. Of course, I am getting silly here, but my point is that our questions about giving are usually too pragmatic and wrongly prioritized whereas they need to be better rooted in a broader understanding of God’s mercy in Christ and of proper gratitude. Too often we draw this connection too quickly and sound as though we are just ordering people to give more and guilting them for not being grateful enough to God for his mercy. But the speakers didn’t hurry us along this path. Instead, they led us on the journey and unfolded the glories of God’s grace, patiently helping us to see the relationship between our giving and God’s grace to miserable sinners. This enabled everyone to be in a better position to then even ask the question: how much do I give each week to my local church?”

Many attendees related how much they appreciated the speakers and their practical presentations, which were Christ-centered rather than money-centered. Several mentioned how they valued the opportunity for fellowship with other Reformed believers in southern California.

This year’s conference was the 17th hosted by First URC of Chino. Pastor Quention emphasizes that the church secretary, Mrs. Joan Dundon, deserves credit for the design of printed materials and many other church members voluntarily assisted with registration, the sound system, in the kitchen, and in many other areas. Gary Anderson chaired the committee and developed the list for a book table.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 12 & 13 of the April 29, 2015, issue of Christian Renewal.

Dwelling with a deadline

God often weaves my life’s tapestry with interlocking threads.

One of my favorite songs in the psalter is Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses, which I’ve reflected on over the years here and here and here. I also wrote a meditation on it that appears in my devotional A Month of Sundays. But in recent weeks, personal circumstances have caused my husband and me to refer frequently to its petition: “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” (verse 15a).

God seemed to embroider my tapestry with a golden thread last Sunday evening, when guest pastor Rev. Mark Vander Hart (a longtime family friend) preached on Psalm 90. You can listen to his sermon, A Necessary Prayer to Establish Us, via a link on this sermon page (5-3-15 PM).

Only three days later, the May 6 morning reflection in the Morning and Evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon was based on 1 John 4:14 and reinforced the concept of God as our dwelling place. Spurgeon asked, “Do you want a house for your soul?” He made the point that this dwelling comes “without price,” even though we would like “to pay a respectable rent” and “do something” to win Christ and have the house. We can pay nothing but the “ground-rent of loving and serving him forever,” dwelling in Jesus and feasting on his love.

When this world shall have melted like a dream, our house shall live, and stand more imperishable than marble, more solid than granite, self-existent as God, for it is God himself–“We dwell in him.”

When Rev. Vander Hart spoke about God as our dwelling place, he referred to Ephesians 1:3-10 and emphasized about how God chose us from the foundation of the world and how we’ve been with him a long, long time.

Rev. Vander Hart’s references to deadlines especially resonated with me. As a writer, I live with constant deadlines. Each day I face outside and self-imposed deadlines. But Sunday’s sermon reminded me of my ultimate deadline: death.

Rather than being morbid, that reminder is motivating. We don’t see how God weaves every thread into the tapestry of our lives. But the Utlimate Weaver creates each of his children into a beautiful masterpiece.

He provides six days each week to work for him, and he gives each of us our own personal and inevitable deadline. He has determined our exact number of days (Psalm 139:16). Let’s make the most of them!