Thursday, December 10, 2009

You better behave!

I couldn't resist the opportunity for a cheeky title...

Piper
has an excellent post on a very specific, and perplexing, question about parenting. I have wondered about it many times. The question he sets out to answer is "Why should parents require submissive behaviors of children when they may be unregenerate rebels at heart?".

Here are his three main points:
1) For children, external, unspiritual conformity to God’s commanded patterns of behavior is better than external, unspiritual non-conformity to those patterns of behavior.

2) Requiring obedience from children in conformity with God’s will confronts them with the meaning of sin in relation to God, the nature of their own depravity, and their need for inner transformation by the power of grace through the gospel of Christ.

3) The marks of devotion, civility, and manners (“please,” “thank you,” and good eye contact) are habits that, God willing, are filled later with grace and become more helpful ways of blessing others and expressing a humble heart.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Solomon's Advice in the Battle Against Sin

I had the privilege of taking a course this Fall on Old Testament II (Job through Malachi) with Dr. Jim Hamilton. My love for God’s Word has grown as a result, and I am deeply grateful for Dr. Hamilton’s erudition and passion for the truth.

One particularly helpful lecture he gave was on the book of Proverbs. I could point to many helpful things he discussed including the structure of chapters 1-9 or the proverbs about parenting.

But one compelling idea I want to point out comes from his discussion of Prov 7. In that chapter Solomon observes the foolish young man who is enticed by the seductive adulteress (note: this should be seen as paradigmatic; young women are certainly open to seduction). Solomon looks out his window and sees the young man “passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness” (7:8-9). The young man has set himself up for sin, and, indeed, sin is what follows.

Jim Hamilton explained, among other things, that we see in this chapter a framework for how we should think about sin and temptation to sin. I don’t have the exact words from the lecture, but here is how I summarized it:
1. Identify the things that tempt you, the ways you have fallen in to those sins before. The young man knew the woman would be waiting.
2. Back your way out of it, step by step. The young man took her street, passed near her house, and he did this in the cover of darkness.
3. Then, follow the sequence of actions that led you to fall into that sin. At some point the young man chose to go that direction at that time.
4. Now you have discovered the battle that will lose the war. If I give in on that front which I have identified, the battle will be lost. If, by God’s grace, I win on that front, the battle is won.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13). Hamilton’s thoughts here provide an excellent weapon in the daily fight to “put to death the deeds of the body.” The result is life.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trueman's "Nameless One"

I have been meaning to read this article by Carl Trueman for a few months. Now that the semester is over, I finally got around to it. I'm glad I did.

Trueman's thesis is, in my words, that truth is always true, and sometimes it is even popular. But even when truth is not popular, it is still true. Speaking of the current "Young, Restless, and Reformed" movement, he writes:
Finally, I worry that a movement built on megachurches, megaconferences, and megaleaders, does the church a disservice in one very important way that is often missed amid all the pizzazz and excitement: it creates the idea that church life is always going to be big, loud, and exhilarating and thus gives church members and ministerial candidates unrealistic expectations of the normal Christian life. In the real world, many, perhaps most, of us worship and work in churches of 100 people or less; life is not loud and exciting; big things do not happen every Sunday; budgets are incredibly tight and barely provide enough for a pastor's modest salary; each Lord's Day we go through the same routines of worship services, of hearing the gospel proclaimed, of taking the Lord's Supper, of teaching Sunday School; perhaps several times a year we do leaflet drops in the neighbourhood with very few results; at Christmas time we carol sing in the high street and hand out invitations to church and maybe two or three people actually come along as a result; but no matter -- we keep going, giving, and praying as we can; we try to be faithful in the little entrusted to us. It's boring, it's routine, and it's the same, year in, year out.
I find this instructive and clear, and, of course, you should really read the whole thing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Redeem the Commute

I have found it very edifying to listen to good stuff in the car. Sermons, audiobooks, Bible audio, and interviews with thoughtful Christians (see 9marks) are some examples. Christianaudio.com offers a free download each month, and this month is the landmark book, Desiring God, by pastor John Piper. Just enter NOV2009 in the promotion box at checkout, and redeem your commute for the glory of God!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Leadership Lessons from 50 Years of Experience

Great stuff from Chuck Swindoll at JT's blog. Here are 3 of his top ten leadership lessons learned:
1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.
2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed
3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.
Click here to read the rest.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Devastating Aftershocks of a Great Earthquake

Desiring God blog today linked to another blogger (Randy Alcorn), writing on the effects of an act of sexual immorality. I read through the list and found it quite sobering. I intend to make a list like this for myself.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One Handed

One handed typing. Holding newborn son. Helpful quote from file:
“The least sin is contrary to the law of God, the nature of God, the being of God, and the glory of God; and therefore it is often punished severely by God; and do not we see daily the vengeance of the Almighty falling upon the bodies, names, states, families, and souls of men, for those sins that are but little ones in their eyes?” p. 38
From Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Calvin on Conviction of Sin

From John Calvin's commentary on 1st Timothy:
[The] Spirit of God does not accuse or reproach us, in order to triumph over us, when we we are covered with shame, but, when we have been cast down, immediately he raises us up (p70)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Worthy Gospel

This gospel for a man with a sword at his throat is the gospel for me. This would suit me if I were dying, and it is all that I need while I am living. I look away from self, and sin, and all idea of personal merit, and I trust the Lord Jesus as the Savior whom God has given. I believe in Him, I rest on Him, I accept Him to be my all in all. Lord, I am saved, and I shall be saved to all eternity, for I believe in Jesus. Blessed be Thy name for this. May I daily prove by my life that I am saved from selfishness, and worldliness, and every form of evil.
From Charles Spurgeon's Morning by Morning. The man just had a way with words!

This website
lets you see each day's entry. Here's a link to a nice book version.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Matt Chandler

I'm just learning about Matt Chandler. I think I really like him. Check out this quote where he's talking about things that rob our joy in Christ, like sports:
If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ. I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him. . . .
1. Clever. 2. Profound

HT: JT

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sweet? Sweet to trust in Jesus?

This hymn came to my mind this morning during my quiet time. At first I was irritated because the word "sweet" is too ‘saccharine’ to my ears (pardon the pun!). It doesn't resonate with me.

But I realized this is because "sweet" is like so many other words that have changed their meaning over time. So I turned to the dictionary for some help. Merriam-Webster offers several options, but these two synonyms for "sweet" instantly stood out to me: gratifying and dear.

So even though it is not always happy-go-lucky to "trust in Jesus" (for some Christians it is never this way), it is gratifying because nothing else in the universe can satisfy; and it is dear because Christians have been tied to Jesus as family "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (1 Jn 3.1). I pray these words encourage today you to cling tenaciously to the truth of Jesus Christ slain for sinners.

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surely stuff like that doesn't happen anymore...

The White Horse Inn Blog posts this story (with permission) from Elam ministries about 2 persecuted Christian women in Iran. It's moving and powerful. Here is the kind of thing they are enduring while in prison for their faith:
Both women are back in Evin prison tonight. During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches. She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given.
I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Memorize Scripture? Say goodbye to some excuses...

Check out the Crossway Blog where they introduce the Verse Card Maker. Honestly, I haven't even looked at it yet, and I'm still very excited. Here is the description:
[The] website takes a list of references and automatically fetches the texts, formatting them into business card sized cards for easy printing.
In my mind this is a major hurdle that has been bounded in the memorization of Scripture. Excuses beware!

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Packer part 2

Where does prayer come from? [Who thought it up?] Why do I often not pray at all, but I always feel that I should?

I think one answer that J. I. Packer might give is this:
“It is not too much to say that God made us to pray, that prayer is (not the easiest, but) the most natural activity in which we ever engage, and that prayer is the measure of us all in God’s sight.” (Emphasis added)
Prayer is at least communicating with God. And any genuine communication is two way. Thus when we long to pray we are seeking to fulfill that innate desire to receive and respond to revelation. The great catastrophe of the human fall into sin (see Genesis 3) is that it was a failure to "take God at his word." What he had promised to Adam and Eve was revelation: of truth, of beauty, of Himself. When we pray we say, "Lord, show me who you are and why that matters in my life right now." God's revelation to us in 2009 is through his Son and through his Word. So we must let the Bible hold our prayers by the hand, guiding us along, taking us to where we need to go, i.e., to the Triune God himself.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Debt as Investment: Is it Wise?

Check out this fascinating post at The Personal MBA about debt. I think his perspective is helpful, particularly the following concept:
The easiest way to stay out of debt is to avoid taking it on in the first place. Here’s a useful rule of thumb that’ll keep you out of trouble: if it’s not going to help you make more money within the next 3 months, don’t take on debt to buy it. That goes for everything from household goods to movie tickets.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Know God, Hate Sin

“Let us, then, revive the use and intendment of this consideration: Will not a due apprehension of this inconceivable greatness of God, and that infinite distance wherein we stand from him, fill the soul with a holy and awful fear of him, so as to keep it in a frame unsuited to the thriving or flourishing of any lust whatever?” (Emphasis added).

-John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers

In other words, as we increase in our knowledge of God (primarily through our knowledge of Jesus Christ and all that he has done), we will decrease in our desire to let all kinds of sin run rampant in our lives: fear, hatred, anger, impatience, and on and on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Walk Through "Praying the Lord's Prayer" by J. I. Packer

I recently finished "Praying the Lord's Prayer" and thought it would be useful to walk through some of the more helpful quotes from the book over the next few days. My aim is simply to spark some new thoughts on prayer: the whys, whats, and hows. I will pose a question (either my own or one directly from Packer's book), and present the quotes as answers to these questions, perhaps with some of my own reflection. I'll start with a doozie.

Why is prayer sometimes the hardest thing in the world for a Christian to do?

Here's one possible answer:
People feel a problem about prayer because of the muddle they are in about God. If you are uncertain whether God exists, or whether he is personal, or good, or in control of things, or concerned about ordinary folk like you and me, you are bound to conclude that praying is pretty pointless, not to say trivial, and then you won’t do it" (p13).

The knowledge of who God is and what he is like is right at the heart of prayer. Only a proper perspective, one shaped by the truth of Scripture, will compel us to commune with God in prayer. The Psalms are a great place to start to have your knowledge of God shaped into the right mold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why is it so hard to get things done?

The moving in process has taken much longer than I ever thought it would. But we're getting there...and then we've got a baby coming within a couple of weeks! God is good and patient and kind to us.

Matt Perman posted this a few weeks ago. It gets at the heart of what makes being good stewards of our time so difficult. It's David Allen's brief summary of what drives his Getting Things Done system:
I’ve given numerous “drive-by” radio and TV interviews, the type that give you about fifty-three seconds…. They’ve forced me to distill my message to the bare essentials. A typical question is, “David, what’s the one thing we do that gets in the way of being productive?” Here’s my answer:

“It’s not one thing but five things all wrapped together: People keep stuff in their head. They don’t decide what they need to do about stuff they know they need to do something about. They don’t organize action reminders and support materials in functional categories. They don’t maintain and review a complete and objective inventory of their commitments. Then they waste energy and burn out, allowing their busyness to be driven by what’s latest and loudest, hoping it’s the right thing to do but never feeling the relief that it is.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

Moving into a house has been quite a process. I've been catching up with many facets of my life for the last week or so since the move. I wanted to post something to get back in the routine. So here's a quick something:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory. (1 TIm 3:16b)

Salvation has come!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Homeowner

Well...we bought a house. Pretty cool. We haven't moved in yet so it doesn't quite feel that cool. Lots of work remains. I seem to be thinking about new kinds of things like:

What do I do about all that water that collects in the driveway?
Should I get an electric, or gas-powered edger?
Did I buy the right grade of sandpaper?


These are weird things to think about.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Randy Alcorn on Prayer

Randy Alcorn has helpful thoughts and quotes on prayer over at his blog. I really like this one from John Bunyan:

"He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day."


I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. I also highly recommend his book called The Treasure Principle. I've yet to read the fuller version called Money, Wealth, and Possessions, though it is on my list!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Toddlers (and Everyone!) need Relationships, not Things

Relationships, not things, are what bring satisfaction in life. This is true even for toddlers. This is the basic argument of Jay Younts over at the Shepherd's Press blog. They publish helpful books such as Shepherding a Child's Heart. I've not read others from this publisher, but I have little doubt about their usefulness. Especially Instructing a Child's Heart. I'm sure it is excellent

So how then do you help the toddler to see that relationships matter more than things, especially when your ultimate aim is bring them into the primary relationship they were created for: a relationship totally dependent on their God and Maker?

Even though the spiritual condition of your toddler is uncertain, you can bring the certainty and stability of your own relationship with Christ to your toddler. This is an important application of Deuteronomy 6:7 that is often missed. God wants you to talk about him with all of your children, even-- and perhaps especially--with your toddlers. Toddlers are in great need of relational comfort and stability.


What does this look like?

But, the calm, confident voice and touch of a mother with her child [referring to Psalm 131:1-2] brings comfort and stability to his worries and concerns. Ultimately, things are not important to toddlers. What is important is the care and comfort that flows from parents who are satisfied with God and have the courage to speak to their children about God's care.


Parents of toddlers: seek to be satisfied with God in Christ, and speak to your children about God's care, which is infinitely better than yours!

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Be Productive, but don't be Discouraged!

I feel like I've been trying to get my act together with productivity for years. Well, by the grace of God, the last 6 months have seen some great progress in this area of my life.

Matt Perman's blog has been a tremendous asset in this regard, and I credit him with really sparking my interest. His original vision-casting posts from when he launched the blog are quite helpful: see here and here. Not to mention his great method for the best use of email. (It's long, but well worth your time!).

Recently he provided this encouraging quote from Time Management from the Inside Out:
The worst thing to do is berate yourself for not getting everything done, for periodically procrastinating, and for slowing down from time to time. The time and energy you spend feeling guilty create a downward spiral of nonproductivity. Even the most productive people occasionally have off days. The thing that makes them good time managers is that they realize these things are a part of life, forgive themselves, make the necessary adjustments to their schedules, and move on.

All the while we ought to do this to the glory of God (see 1 Cor. 10:31).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Suffering, Failures, and Grace

I came across two bits of information today that curiously relate to one another. I enjoy listening to NPR on occasion as I drive to and from work. Today I heard just a snippet from the show Fresh Air with Terry Gross where she relayed that she would be replaying an old interview later in the broadcast. This interview was with a renowned gay-rights activist who had committed suicide just last Friday. I didn’t hear the interview, rather I heard, and quickly put in my memory, the host’s interpretation of that suicide. She said of his death that “he took his own life, unwilling to be further debilitated by his failing health.” This was staggering to me. This interpretation is unacceptable. A person must not be said to be in the right when he takes his own life because of his presumed suffering. Human life is just too precious. I cannot imagine how frightening the prospects of his suffering must have been, but this should never be legitimate grounds for taking life.

The other bit I came across is this, from 2 Corinthians 12: “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” A great blessing of discipleship is knowing that our Lord provides in every season. Every weakness, every failure, every hardship, every bit of suffering is an arena for God’s grace to be displayed. If you're reading this and you're not someone who claims to be Christ's disciple, I wonder, how do you face your sufferings? How do you face your weaknesses? Christ Jesus gladly offers his grace if you would only come to him, forsaking all else but him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Desires versus Our Good

“Many things may be cross to our desires that are not cross to our good,” wrote Thomas Brooks. This is very difficult to remember! As Christians we know God has our good always at hand (Rom 8.28). We then have all kinds of desires each day as we live our lives. The problem comes when our deep desire to align with God’s desires crosses with our own desires. Many events in life may contradict our own desires, but God always has our good in mind! This is comforting.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Every Day - a song from Sovereign Grace Music

I won't put all the words here, but the chorus is tremendous.

Thank you for the trials
For the fire, for the pain
Thank you for the strength
Knowing You have ordained
Every day

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something

I need to post something. I've had too many days of posting nothing, so I need to post something. And here it is: "It is not good that the man should be alone" Gen. 2:18.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Musical Opinions

Here is a link to some great thoughts on music from someone I deeply respect, Bob Kauflin. I'm convicted by this because I always take a bit of pride in calling myself a music snob...and I don't that should be considered a virtue.

Point #10 is probably the most poignant for me:

10. Being opinionated about music can affect our ability to worship God corporately.

How many times have you heard the first few bars of a worship song on Sunday and thought, “Oh no…I can’t stand this song.” Or maybe you’re talking with a group of friends at lunch on Sunday, and you’re letting them know which songs you really didn’t like. In either case, we’re giving more value to our musical preferences than God’s command to sing his praise and to love him with all our hearts. Do we really want to let our musical opinions keep us from worshiping the God who gave us music in the first place?


Busted! It's like Bob followed me home from church last Sunday! By the way, I've not read the whole thing, but Bob's book Worship Matters encapsulates a great deal of biblical wisdom related to worship. I've been following Bob and his material for about 7 years now, and I'm grateful to God for him as he has influenced my thinking on music and worship very deeply.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chapter 6 of When I Don't Desire God

I'm back at blogging. March was exceptionally hectic getting some tasks accomplished at work. But enough biography for now.

In chapter 6 of Piper's When I Don't Desire God, he gives a compelling, one-sentence definition of sin. He writes,

"God is infinitely valuable, and we have offended him infinitely by valuing other things more" (p 72).

This is why sin is so tricky. It's not just about "doing bad things." That is part of it. But sin also includes "doing good things for bad reasons," not to mention desiring, pursuing, and valuing the wrong things. Sin is, fundamentally, "valuing other things more" than we value God.

Depression, despair, and grumbling are complex, but they all at least embrace a distortion of valuing the right things. The greatness of God seen in the gospel once again draws us towards valuing the right things: the Holy God mercifully sacrifices his only Son for unworthy sinners in order to make them right with Him, thereby opening the eyes of their heart to value Him as they ought.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Approach to JW's

My sister Becca just mentioned that some Jehovah's Witnesses had come by her house recently. Conversations with cult members are difficult because they have a lot of training in being really persuasive. I don't have much help to offer in this area, but I thought I would post some notes from a class lecture from Dr. Timothy Beougher's Personal Evangelism class, with some of my own thoughts. The specific notes are on how to approach Non-Trinitarians, specifically JW's.

"Concept statement – if the Bible teaches there is only one God, and the Bible calls three persons God, then I must, in faith, accept that God is Triune even if I don’t fully understand it."

Based on that statement, you walk the person through the following verses, one at a time: Deut 6.4, Is 43.10-11, Is 44.6, Rev 1.8, Rev 22.13, 16, Rev 1.17-18, Heb 1.1, 2, 8, Acts 5.3-4

Your point all along is very simple, and in line with the above concept statement: You are showing them that the same things that are said about the One true God of the Old Testament are clearly said about Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament. Pretty amazing, and good for the soul to reflect on such truths.

UPDATE: I cut and pasted all those verses into the ESV Bible website to pull them all up at once. Here's the link.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

One More Quote from Chapter 3

Why fight? Why fight for joy?

The fight for joy is “a way of saying that we are weak and desperately need the mercy of God” (39).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chapter 3 of When I Don't Desire God...

...is about the nature of that call to fight for joy. Piper takes a few pages to elaborate on why we must fight, quoting the Apostle Paul, "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (Philippians 1). Far better! Paul says knowing the presence of Christ is better than living! Piper concludes,

"Surely, then, this is worth fighting for. It may feel strange at first, but when we see what is at stake, no battle will seem more important. Loving Christ involves delight in his Person. Without this love no one goes to heaven. Therefore there is no more important struggle in the universe than the struggle to see and savor Christ above all things--the struggle for joy" (Page 35)
.Did I mention you can read this book for free at the Desiring God website? Click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fight for Joy?

I'm excited about a book I just started called When I Don't Desire God, by John Piper. He has written many books based around the idea of what he has called "Christian Hedonism," which is succinctly defined by him in the phrase "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." This book seems like it is singing that same tune, but with a twist. He wants to answer the question people have asked him so often: "What do I do when I don't desire God?" His answer is,in short, that it is a battle. It's a fight for joy in Christ:

The fight for joy in Christ is not a fight to soften the cushion of Western comforts. It is a fight to live a self-sacrificing love...The key to endurance in the cause of self-sacrificing love is not heroic willpower, but deep, unshakable confidence that the joy we have tasted in fellowship with Christ will not disappoint us in death (pp 20-21, emphasis mine).


It's going to be an important book for me right now. I'm very excited about reading it. Please pray that God would use it to bring honor to his great Name through me.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

John Frame on a Hard Phrase in Scripture

I always love it when someone helps me understand something a little bit better. Especially when it's something in the Bible.

John Frame is someone who has done this for me several times before. You know those difficult phrases in the OT when it says “God relented” or “God changed his mind” or even “God repented” (see particularly in 1 Samuel 15)? There is no easy, quick answer to the apparent difficulty with God changing his mind. In other words, doesn't someone change their mind when they don't really know what's going on? Isn't God omniscient (i.e., since he knows everything why would he change his mind?)? This quote from Frame is instructive:
How then should we understand God’s “relenting?” For one thing, God states as a general policy in Jer. 18:5-10 that if he announces judgment and people repent, he will relent; similarly if he pronounces blessing and people do evil. In other words, relenting is part of God’s unchanging plan, not a change forced on him by his ignorance.*
Simple, clear, and helpful.

Frame and Vern Poythress have a joint website with their materials linked here. There seems to be a large variety of resources from the two of them there.

Related Books:
John Frame The Doctrine of God
John Frame The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God

*From his article "Does the Bible Affirm Open Theism?," emphasis mine.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Some questions to start the week

Why do I forget everything I read in Scripture?
Why do I have a hard time remembering the last time I was greatly changed by what I read in the Bible?
Why am I not more affected by God's Word?

If you constantly ask yourself these questions:
  1. You are not the only Christian who thinks this
  2. You are not a second-rate Christian
  3. You are not the problem
  4. Your method is the problem

This is where biblical meditation comes in. Dr. Donald Whitney defines it like this: "Biblical meditation is deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture, or upon life from a scriptural perspective, for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer" (Lecture notes, 2/22/09, Personal Spiritual Disciplines Class). More to come...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Guitarist Andy McKee

My good friend Kevin McKay pointed me to this musician about a year ago. Andy McKee is really innovative, and his music is excellent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddn4MGaS3N4&feature=rec-HM-fresh+div

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

At the Root of All that is There...

Psalm 33:4 and following tell of the creation of all things by means of the spoken words of God. As I reflected on these words this morning I was struck by the thought that nothing we see exists independently of God’s act of speaking. Around every corner lurks something that is there because of God’s Word, whether dependently or independently. For if it is something man-made it can only be there because “God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion'” (Gen. 1:26a). Our creativity is God’s creativity in shadow and whisper.

At the root of all that is there lies the voice of God.

Is what we see in chaos? Is it in ruin? This is where the Fall enters in. These sadnesses are the greasy fingerprints of humans on God’s clean, white linens. It only makes us yearn all the more for “a new earth” (Rev. 21:1).

Related Helpful Books:
The God Who is There
Knowing God

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Burfday

Yes, today is my birthday. I am 27 years young, and just as beautiful as the day I was born (read that last statement very carefully). I thought it would be interesting to see what Wikipedia has to say about this day in history, and I've included a few of the more interesting bits below, with appropriate titles:

  1. Pointless - I share the exact birthday with Japanese singer Ami Suzuki (1982)
  2. Historically Significant - The British Parliament declares Massachusetts to be in rebellion (1775)
  3. Fun - The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964 [does anyone know where their name came from??])
  4. Sobering - English Reformer Bishop John Hooper becomes a martyr for the faith (1555)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blog on hold

I was about to write a post about evangelism. But then Eliot laughed at something, and I thought, "Why blog when I could play with Eliot?"

I couldn't think of one, single, solitary good reason.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Simple Thought for Monday Morning

"Love people and use things--don't love things and use people," says Art DeMoss.

I love deep, lengthy, powerful quotations. But sometimes I also like short, meaningful ones like this one.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Leadership and Appearance

I'm reading a book on a leadership for a class, and, I must admit, I'm not too excited about it. I find much of leadership material to be self-centered and prideful, rather than the kind of selfless leadership that Christ calls us to (see Mark 10:35-35). So I tend to roll my eyes when I read something like the following on "Appearance":

To important people around you, your appearance makes a definite statementvabout who you are and what you think about yourself...I suggest to men that, if they have only a little money to spend on appearance, they concentrate on their hairstyle, tie, belt, and shoes. ( from Leading With Confidence by Bobb Biehl)

My first thought is that this is a ridiculous waste of time. Spending time on appearance is vain. But as I thought about this a bit more I realized that, much as I would not like to admit it, I do spend time on my appearance. I cannot fool myself into thinking that I ignore appearances in myself or others. So the question is: why should something like this quote be considered legit, if at all? Should Christian leaders spend more than 10 seconds thought on appearance when it is humility that the Lord honors (James 4:10)?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Google Reader

Do you use Google Reader? All 3 of you who read my blog should check it out if you haven't already. Here's why:
  1. It's very user-friendly: The instructional video is clear and simple, and, like most things Google does, Reader is thorough enough that you don't have wish something or another were easier.
  2. It's the best way to keep up with blogs you like to read, including those of friends and family you would like to keep up with.
  3. The blogs I keep up with are helping me to blog better, which means I'm learning to write better, which means, hopefully, I will be able to communicate important things better.

Check it out!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Something Funny for Friday

You just gotta see this.

What a week!

What an intense week it's been.

Maybe you heard that Louisville received a snow/ice/sleet/snow/ice storm for a couple days. It was wild. Trees were bent over with the ice, many of them snapping like twigs (pun intended). In order to make sure my Starbucks was open for our hotel guests I had to stay in the hotel for 2 nights, waking at 5 to start the coffee. Classes were cancelled, my associates were stuck in their driveways, some losing their power due to trees falling on power lines, and it's been pretty darn cold.

But here's the good news: the Narnia movies will continue.

Have a great weekend.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our fragile lives. Our Faithful God.

Life is very, very fragile. In the book of James, chapter 4, we read,

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring."

Do we keep that fact in mind regularly, that we don't even know what tomorrow will bring? Are we so bold (i.e. prideful) that we forget that the future is out of our control? James adds to this statement,

"yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'

And the Lord who wills what happens each day has promised his children "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5). Let us take comfort in the gracious promise of the Living God.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The High Cost of a High View of a Woman's Choice

This blog is my place to express how I view the Christian life. That is a large task because, obviously, 'life' involves quite a few things! One thing I would like to occasionally express is my view of politics through a Christian worldview. In other words, as I seek to obey the God who has revealed himself in the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the written Scriptures he has graciously given--which is how I would begin a definition of a Christian worldview--I have to be willing to sometimes say and believe things that aren't very popular.

President Barack Obama is very popular. Many view him as a kind of King Midas who turns everything he touches into gold. This is probably because he is an exceptionally inspiring person! And, truth be told, I like him as a person. But for his views on many things, I radically and passionately disagree with him. Once such view is that I think he is absolutely dead wrong on his views related to abortion and a woman's choice. For example, Justin Taylor has recently posted on one of President Obama's early acts as our country's executive. You can read about here.

The summarizing statement provided by Francis Beckwith at the end of that post is sobering:

"Apparently, the only way our daughters can be successful is if they are permitted to kill our grandchildren. So, without surgery so that women can be like men, women are unequal to men. Thus, according to Obama, women are congenitally inferior unless they can have abortions. I don't even think the worst chauvinists in the world have implied anything so outrageous."

I humbly submit my complete agreement to these bold comments.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meditation...Christian, not Zen

This morning I had a great time alone with the Lord. I come away from it deeply aware of the greatness of God, and the smallness of me. I don't think this just happened by chance, though. I think what made my time so good today is the Christian discipline of meditation.

As the title of this post suggests, I don't mean the mind-emptying type of meditation avocated by Zen Buddhism and other Eastern worldviews. Christian meditation is about filling your mind with something. That something is the words of Scripture, and the words of Scripture are the very words of God. So to fill your mind with the words of God is, in effect, to think God's thoughts after him.

To read some good stuff about Christian meditation check out the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney. Or you can go to Dr. Whitney's website by clicking here. I think there are a number of helpful resources there.

To leave you with something to think about, one Christian from the past has said something to this effect:

"The missing link between Scripture-reading and prayer is biblical meditation."

Do you sometimes wonder what to do when you've read the Word, but don't know what to do next? I think this quote is right. Meditation is...The Missing Link!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On This Inauguration Day

Below are some excellent questions posed hypothetically to the President by Pastor John Piper. He originally presented them as application in a sermon preached to his congregation before the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. They are still quite relevant:

  1. Are you willing to explain why a baby's right not to be killed is less important than a woman's right not to be pregnant?
  2. Or are you willing to explain why most cities have laws forbidding cruelty to animals, but you oppose laws forbidding cruelty to human fetuses? Are they not at least living animals?
  3. Or are you willing to explain why government is unwilling to take away the so-called right to abortion on demand even though it harms the unborn child; yet government is increasingly willing to take away the right to smoke, precisely because it harms innocent non-smokers, killing 3,000 non-smokers a year from cancer and as many as 40,000 non-smokers a year from other diseases?
  4. And if you say that everything hangs on whether the fetus is a human child, are you willing to go before national television in the oval office and defend your support for the "Freedom of Choice Act" by holding in your hand a 21 week old fetus and explaining why this little one does not have the fundamental, moral, and constitutional right to life? Are you willing to say to parents in this church who lost a child at that age and held him in their hands, this being in your hands is not and was not a child with any rights of its own under God or under law?

Read the whole thing.

HT: DG Blog

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bedtime for Eliot = Sanctification for Daddy

Putting Eliot to bed is always a challenge. He doesn't like having his diaper changed. He doesn't like being put into his pajamas. He doesn't like going to bed.

It has definitely taken me many, many months, but I don't get nearly as angry or impatient as I used to. This can only be the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. I take great comfort in knowing that the Lord is not through with me. He is making me more like Jesus every day as I trust him to work in me.