Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Powlison began by restating the potential problem: an overemphasis on the cravings of the heart (idols and lusts) rather than on identifying the sin and moving on to simple obedience. The danger is “getting caught into a vortex of self-introspection.” Instead, analysis should be the doorway to obedience, repentance, and joy.
“Self-analysis leads to paralysis.” The goal of biblical self-knowledge is to push us outside ourselves into prayer and action (love, forgive, etc). Contemporary counseling emphasizes the idea that our actions are determined by the way others have hurt us in the past. Endless introspection — or “idol hunts” — are just as dangerous as the secular “hurt hunts.”
We know that the heart is filled with a deep darkness. In the corporate world there is a glass ceiling. We look up and see there is more without the ability to reach it. In the human heart there is a glass floor. We can see a darkness that goes deep, but without Scripture there is no way of discovering the depths. Hebrews 4:12-13 is the true MRI of the heart. But nowhere in Scripture does this understanding of the heart lead to an endless self-analysis. So the problem is a danger towards “excessive introspection.” An idol hunt in the heart is not the end goal. I know, Powlison said humbly, that at my death there will remain sin that has not been completely removed. I will die as a sinner in need of further purification/glorification.
Scripture helps us to see evil in relationship to our rebellion towards God Himself. Every sin is related to a turning away from God and turning inward to ourselves. In our sinful nature we have a centripetal force (pulling us back into ourselves) rather than a centrifugal force (pushing us outside ourselves). Biblical self-knowledge points us outside of ourselves and away from the “excessive introspection.”
“An accurate description of my sin is the doorway to God’s revelation of who He is.” This was incredibly helpful. Every sin leads us to understand God. If I seek to control things and become overwhelmed or nervous this shows a lack in my understanding of God’s sovereignty. If I struggle with idolatry, it shows a failure to see God’s preciousness. Powlison demonstrated this in two primary texts.
1 Timothy 6:9-16 and Jeremiah 17:1-14
So how do we avoid this “excessive introspection?” Starting from a biblically informed self-knowledge, we take those sins, “drown them” in God’s glory, and then act. This paradigm is shown in 1 Timothy 6.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time — he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
Biblically informed knowledge leads us to acknowledge the idol of money (v. 10: “love of money”). This idolatry is drowned in the glory of God (cf. vv. 15-16 “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen”). This picture of God’s glory leads to action (vv. 11-12: “flee these things, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life”). The sinful temptation to “love money” is drowned by the glory of God! The affections set on money are now affections turned to the beauty of God’s majesty. Biblical self-knowledge leads us to drown our sins in the glory of God and this leads towards God-centered action. Be a man of God not a man of money.
The “love of money” here can be replaced with the love for any sinful lust. The love of entertainment, pleasures, excitement, food, good health, status, power, self-agenda, self-righteousness or a love of other’s affirmation, approval, love and worship.
Sin points us away from ourselves. As M’Cheyne reminds us, for every one look at our own sin, we ought to take 10 looks at the Cross!
In other words, let introspection lead into the depths of God. See Jeremiah 17:1-14. The heart is desperately wicked (v. 9), but specific sins are recognizable (vv. 1-6). Jeremiah rests in the majestic God for the change (vv. 7-8, 14). This is a picture of a faith that is not excessively introspective and one that leads to a joyous faith."
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father"? Or again,
"I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son"? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
"Let all God's angels worship him."
7 In speaking of the angels he says,
"He makes his angels winds,
his servants flames of fire."
8But about the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy."
10 He also says,
"In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end."
13 To which of the angels did God ever say,
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet"?
14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Happy Birthday, Dear Savior.
Friday, December 21, 2007
“Shhh. Quiet. It’s okay.
Put away your credit cards. Your kids don’t need another computer-digital-anything. You and I don’t need any more debt. Our debt is crushing us as it is.
We need a debt canceler. Be still—if only for a moment. It’s Christmas: our Debt Canceler has come.
Off in the distance dawns the light for all nations. The darkness is pierced and the Light will never, can never, be extinguished.
Stop your striving. Take a breath. Breathe deeply the life you’ve only dared to dream of. The life where you lie down and sleep in peace and awake with joy.
Lower your fist. Kiss your kid. Forgive your dad. Love your wife. The One Who has borne our sin is born!
Our King forever, our Prince of Peace, our Mighty God, has come to us, to live with us, identify with us, bear our sorrows, give us rest. So rest. Stop.
He hasn’t come to wage war on retailers. He hasn’t come to battle Santa Claus or debate whether or not the fir tree is a pagan symbol. He hasn’t come to argue with local governments over crèches and menorahs in the public square. The government, after all, is on HIS shoulders.
His law is love and His Gospel is peace. His yoke is easy, His burden light. He is Salve for tired eyes, a hand for the lonely to hold, a lap for the child at any age, a shoulder broad and strong on which to lean and to cry. So rest. Take your shoes off. Turn down the noise. Switch off the TV.
Pray. Commune with Him. Do you hear that? Do you see His smile?
Shh. Enjoy the silence. Cry if you need to. Laugh if you want to. Stretch out your hands. Touch the splintered cross He was nailed to. Accept the gift.
Forget about the sweater that doesn’t fit, the broken gadget that needs to be returned. Exchange your broken life for one that’s new in Him…your sin for Christ’s sinlessness…your unpeace for His peace…your sorrow and pain for His joy.
Be still now. So very, very still.
It’s Christmas and Christ has come to bring us into His quiet, to hush our fury, to still our rage and fear."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
excerpt to pique your interest:
"While Christmas reveals the Incarnation to the rest of us, it had already happened back then. Mary was the first to know; and her cousin Elizabeth's unborn baby John (the Baptist) was the first to bear witness."
Luke 1:26 "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I saw the article above at Crosswalk earlier today and thought it had some really, really useful info for parents, but also saw how I've been doing this already with my niece and nephew, and with some of my military students who attend college. It's been an interesting way of getting to know them better and sharing some of myself with them too. It's been kind of fun. We all get pretty nerdy together and usually have a good laugh at ourselves. For example, I joined the group "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet" which is funny because they remember when this happened too.
As I was getting ready to post this, I also came across this posting by Bill R. over at Provocative Church and really got a chuckle. I don't think I'm quite ready to join "pensionbook," but who knows??
Enjoy the articles!
Monday, December 17, 2007
He states that the contemporary definition "represents a serious departure from a more ageless definition" and "cannot be obtained by seeking it." Anyone who has ever sincerely sought and tried to "Be Happy" knows that it is true. You cannot "Find" happiness, per se.
Moreland promises a thoroughly biblical definition of happiness in part II, but
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, `If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-25)
He writes, "Jesus’ invitation to come to Him is invitation to new life in the Kingdom lived from the power of the indwelling Spirit and the resurrected power of Jesus himself. Properly understood, it is an invitation to a life of happiness obtained in a very specific sort of way."
Details to come in part II. I'll be keeping my eyes open.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Arthur C. Clarke, 1917
Romans 8:38 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels
nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
That was an exellent quote for me to reflect upon and to apply personally.
It also reminded me of Hillary's reply to a question during the debates today. When asked how her potential presidency would be different than some of her past political endeavors which were shrouded with secrecy, the senator from NY said that she would create a transparent administration by using a strong communications strategy. Spin is not exactly what I'd call real transparency or authenticity. Guess that's probably one of the reasons why I should stear clear of politics - I'm way too prone to these kind of pride issues.
I hope our guys win the NCAA Division 1-AA Championship. Our church ministers to this sports team with an embedded outreach ministry, and I know that a lot of these athletes are professing Christians. -- Plus, I'm an alum, so I'm a big fan too.... And to think, they finished the season in third place in their own conference. They've knocked off the #1 team to get here... Go University of Delaware, Joe Flacco, Omar Cuff, and all the guys! (and, BTW, I'm so glad I'm not trying to write a final paper or take final exams this week. My students totally have my sympathy, so if they come in with "Incompletes," I will smile and tell them to get me the grade within four weeks. My replacement will take care of them, I'm sure) Oh, yeah - Ishould focus. Go Hens!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Moreover, I saw in my dream that, as they went on, Faithful, as he chanced to look on one side, saw a man whose name is Talkative walking at a distance beside them; for in this place there was room enough for them all to walk. He was a tall man, and something better looking at a distance than near at hand. To this man Faithful said:
FAITHFUL. Friend, are you going to the heavenly country?
TALKATIVE. I am going to that very place.
FAITHFUL. That is well; then I hope we may have your good company.
TALKATIVE. With a very good will, will I be your companion.
FAITHFUL. Come on, then, and let us spend our time in talking of things that are profitable.
TALKATIVE. To talk of things that are good is very acceptable to me and I am glad that I have met with those that are so inclined. Indeed, there are but few who care thus to spend their time, but rather speak of things that are of no profit.
FAITHFUL. That is indeed a pity, for what things are so profitable to talk about as the things of the God of heaven?
TALKATIVE. I like you wonderfully well, for your saying is full of the truth; and I will add, What is so pleasant, and what so profitable, as to talk of the things of god? What things so pleasant? that is, if a man has any delight in things that are wonderful. For instance, if a man delights to talk of the history or the mystery of things, or if a man loves to talk of miracles, wonders, or signs, where shall he find things written so delightfully, as in the Holy Scripture?
FAITHFUL. That’s true; but to be profited by such things in our talk should be our aim.
TALKATIVE. That is what I said; for to talk of such things is most profitable; for, by so doing, a man may get knowledge of many things; as of the folly of earthly things, and the benefit of things above. Besides, by this a man may learn what it is to turn from sin, to believe, to pray, to suffer, or the like; by this also a man may learn what are the great promises and comforts of the gospel, to his own enjoyment. Further by this a man may learn to answer false opinions, to prove the truth, and also to teach the ignorant.
FAITHFUL. All this is true; and glad am I to hear these things from you.
TALKATIVE. Alas! the want of this is why so few know their need of faith and grace in their hearts in order to have eternal life.
FAITHFUL. But to know these things is God’s gift. No one can know them by talking about them.
TALKATIVE. All that I know very well, for a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven; I could give you a hundred Scripture passages to prove this.
FAITHFUL. “Well then,” said Faithful, “What is the one thing that we shall talk about at this time?“
TALKATIVE. What you will. I will talk of things heavenly or things earthly; things in life or things in the gospel; things sacred or things worldly; things past or things to come; things foreign or things at home; things necessary or things accidental, provided that all be done to our profit.
Now Faithful began to wonder; and, stepping to Christian (for he walked all this while by himself) he said to him softly, “What a brave companion have we got! Surely this man will make a very excellent pilgrim.”
CHRISTIAN. At this Christian modestly smiled, and said, “This man with whom you are so taken will deceive with his tongue, twenty who know him not.”
FAITHFUL. Do you know him, then?
CHRISTIAN. Know him? Yes, better than he knows himself.
FAITHFUL. Pray what is he?
CHRISTIAN. His name is Talkative; he lives in our town. I wonder that you do not know him.
FAITHFUL. Whose son is he? and where does he dwell?
CHRISTIAN. He is the son of Say-well. He lives in Prating Row, and is known to all that are acquainted with him by the name of Talkative of Prating Row; and in spite of this fine tongue, he is a sorry fellow.
FAITHFUL. Well, he seems a very good man. I have been deceived by him.
CHRISTIAN. Deceived! you may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, “They say, and do not”; but the kingdom of god is not in word, but in power.
His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor. There is there neither prayer nor sign of turning from sin. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him. It can hardly have a good word in all that end of the town where he dwells, because of him. For my part, I am of opinion that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to stumble and fall, and will be, if god prevent not, the ruin of many more.
FAITHFUL. Well, I see that saying and doing are two different things, and hereafter I shall watch for the difference between them.
CHRISTIAN. They are two things, indeed, and are as unlike as are the soul and the body. This, Talkative is not aware of but thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and thus he deceives his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed; talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart of life. And let us assure ourselves that, at the judgment, men shall be judged according to their fruits.
FAITHFUL DISPUTES TALKATIVE
FAITHFUL. Well, I was not so fond of his company at first, but I am sick of it now. What shall we do to be rid of him?
CHRISTIAN. Why, go to him, and enter into some serious conversation about the power of religion and ask him plainly (when he has approved of it, for that he will) whether he sets it up in his heart and home.
FAITHFUL. Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, “Come, what cheer? How is it now?”
TALKATIVE. Thank you, well: I thought we should have had a great deal of talk by this time.
So Faithful put many questions to Talkative to draw him out and was soon convinced that he was a man who only talked – and had no deep faith in his heart that led him to act. At last Faithful said to him:
FAITHFUL. Have you felt your own sins, and have you turned from them? And do your life and conduct show it the same? Or is your religion in word and in tongue, and not in deed and truth?
TALKATIVE. Then Talkative at first began to blush; but, recovering himself, replied: this kind of discourse I did not expect; nor am I disposed to give an answer to such questions, because I do not feel bound to do so. Will you tell me why you ask such a question?
FAITHFUL. Because I saw you were quite free to talk, and I feared that you had only notions about things. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard of you that you are a man whose religion lies in talk, and that your life gives your mouth-profession the lie.
TALKATIVE. Since you are ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly, I must conclude you are some peevish or cross man, not fit to be talked with; and so adieu.
CHRISTIAN. Then came up Christian, and said to Faithful, “I told you how it would happen; your words and his heart could not agree. He had rather leave your company than reform his life.”
“How Talkative at first lifts up his plumes!
How bravely doth he speak! How he presumes
To drive down all before him! But so soon
As Faithful talks of heart-work, like the moon
That’s past the full, into the wane he goes;
And so will all but he who heart-work knows.”
Monday, December 10, 2007
CHRISTIAN: Why, sir, this burden on my back is more terrible to me than are all these things which you have mentioned: nay, methinks I care not what I meet with in the way, if so be I can also meet with deliverance from my burden...
Now was Christian somewhat at a stand; but presently he concluded, If this be true which this gentleman hath said, my wisest course is to take his advice: and with that he thus farther spake.
When Christians unto carnal men give ear,
Out of their way they go and pay for it dear.
For master worldly wisemen can but show
a saint the way to bondage and to woe.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
The Blind Boys of Alabama's Go Tell It On the Mountain.
City on a Hill: It's Christmas Time One of the things I love about this album is that these are really, really talented and uniquely gifted Christian artists who are not copycats of the secular pop genre. The project has selected contemporary artists who are above all worshipful, and who have also immensely contributed to music - Christian and pop. My top picks on the album: Sarah Groves' Child of Love, Terry Scott Taylor's Holy Emmanuel, Jars of Clay's Bethlehem Town, Third Day's Manger Throne, Out of Eden's Do you hear what I hear? and Sixpence None the Richer's Silent Night.
Os Guinness: "Pride is the first and worst sin, so grace is most amazing ...when it wins the Pharisee soul rather than the profiligate Mary Magdalene, when it wins the proud person made prouder still by calling rather than the sinner feeling unworthy to be addressed." Dorothy Sayers: "The devilish strategy of Pride is that it attacks us, not atour weakest points, but in our stronger. It is preeminently the sin of the noble mind."
Consider the Burial Ceremony of the Habsburg emperors:
Voice within the Abbott asks, "Who are you, who knocks?"
"I am Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary," the herald replied.
Voice within the Abbott said again, "I don't know you. Tell me again who you are?"
The Herald replied, "I am Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Dalmatia. Grand Duke of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia, Duke of Styria and Corinthia..."
"We still don't know you. Who are you?" the sepulchral voice reiterates.
Whereupon the herald kneelt down and said:
"I am Franz Josef, a poor sinner humbly begging for God's mercy."
Romans 12:3 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
Thursday, December 6, 2007
"In many respects, work is the engine of civilization. Without work, societies would not perpetuate. Furthermore, if as Schaeffer argues, the rise and decline of civilization is intimately intertwined with the strength and weakness of the Christian worldview, then the labor of everyday citizens, which contributes to the quality of human flourishing, should be given serious attention. If indeed theological ideas have practical consequences it becomes us to inquire, “How should we then work?”
In response to this important question, I can think of at least four main approaches to work that should frame our theologically informed response. First, Christian work should be excellent work. Second, Christian work should be ethical work. Third, Christian work is a platform for evangelism. And fourth, Christian work should be done in reflection upon its essence, how it may or may not reflect the nature and character of God."
Friday, November 30, 2007
"What currently tears many Christians apart: a 'spiritual' life that has little to do with their families, their work, and their cultural
"The family, the workplace, the local church, the culture, and the public square are where He has called us."
"When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does. The way he gives us our daily bread is through the vocation of farmers, millers, and bakers. We might add truck drivers, factory workers, bankers, warehouse workers, and the lady at the checkout counter. Virtually every step of our whole economic system contributes to that piece of toast you had for breakfast."
"Recovering vocation can transfigure all of life, suffusing every relationship and every task put before us with the glory of God."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
My Beet Garden: June 2007
Everyone loves my Dad's pickled beets.
Dwight Schrute: You know you can always refinance your mortgage. We [he and
his cousin] had a 15-year on our beet farm and paid it off early.
Michael Scott: Yeah, well, you know what? Nobody cares about your stupid beet
farm. Beets are the worst.
Dwight Schrute: People love beets.
Michael Scott: Nobody likes beets, Dwight! Why don't you grow something that
everybody does like? You should grow candy! I'd love a piece of candy right
now... not a beet.
Alrightly then. SINCE my Dad's pickled beets are essentially like "Beet Candy," I think I know why everyone who has ever tried them - loves them. If you ever want a free jar of "Beet Candy" - or Artie's Famous Pickled Beets - just let me know!
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Doxology 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
John Calvin's Exposition of verses 23-24:
"23. Hating even the garment. This passage, which otherwise would appear obscure, will have no difficulty in it, when the metaphor is rightly explained. He would have the faithful not only to beware of contact with vices, but that no contagion might reach them, he reminds them that everything that borders on vices and is near to them ought to be avoided: as, when we speak of lasciviousness, we say that all excitements to lusts ought to be removed. The passage will also become clearer, when the whole sentence is filled up, that is, that we should hate not only the flesh, but also the garment, which, by a contact with it, is infected. He, then, does not allow evil be cherished by indulgence, so that he bids all preparations and all accessories, as they say, to be cut off."
"24. Now unto him that is able to keep you. He closes the Epistle with praise to God; by which he shews that our exhortations and labors can do nothing except through the power of God accompanying them. (Some copies have "them" instead of "you." If we receive this reading, the sense will be, "It is, indeed, your duty to endeavor to save them; but it is God alone who can do this.") However, the other reading is what I prefer; in which there is an allusion to the preceding verse; for after having exhorted the faithful to save what was perishing, that they might understand that all their efforts would be vain except God worked with them, he testifies that they could not be otherwise saved than through the power of God. In the latter clause there is indeed a different verb, fula>xai , which means to guard; so the allusion is to a remoter clause, when he said, Keep yourselves."
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I read this article on two different blogs this morning, and found its meaning to be especially impactful for me. Adopted by my earthly family at a very young age, I could relate to a number of the "rude questions" that Dr. Moore mentions in his article. Praise God for his awesome witness to others thru his experience of adoption and the wonderful teaching and encouragement that this article provided in terms of helping to see how our adoption as "Sons" of the living and most high God is so immensely practical, relevant and sanctifying. What an incredible blend of Love and Theology the topic of adoption is! I just need to stop writing, because I certainly would not want to take away anymore than I already have from this amazing article. Enjoy!
Monday, November 26, 2007
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Last week while I was reading one of my favorite blog authors, I noticed a very gracious and charitable post there in response to a very serious matter and about a person who I would've have likened more to a ravenous wolf than a brother in Christ. And I almost commented with just such a reaction. I would have submitted such a comment, but for the fact that I've been convicted lately over my pride and sin in blogging. So I waited.
Seeing the sin in someone else is way, way easier to detect than it is in my own heart.
Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight
I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way
Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in
Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way
I know You've washed me white, turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night
I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals
I'm not holding on to You, but You're holding on to me
You're holding on to me
Jesus, You know just how far the east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
(Just how far the east is from the west, just how far)
One scarred hand to the other
(Lord, Just how far the east is from the west, just how far)
From one scarred hand to the other
by Casting Crowns
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The autumn leaves that gloriously adorn our trees will soon abandon the tall, proud, towering stalks in my backyard. As the statuesque and permenantly wooden stems sway to and fro in wintery winds, all of creation eagerly awaits the coming snowfall that will cover such vulnerable limbs. And again we will stand in awe of God's grace displayed throughout all of his creation.
Heb 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."
Friday, November 23, 2007
This week, we're on Chapter Two. Here is his summary:
"The thesis of the second chapter is this: “Believers ought to make the mortification of indwelling sin their daily work.” The question we must ask ourselves and the exhortation of the author is this:
Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.The rest of the chapter is given or to reasons that we must be at the business of killing sin. It follows this outline:
Indwelling sin always abides; therefore it must always be mortifiedI haven't finished Chapter Two yet, so don't have too many thoughts yet. So far this study has already got me back on my heels - looking at the truth about the battle/struggle against sin that is going on below the surface all the time, even though it is totally natural for me to not even see it. Guess that's why Owen says, "Be Killing Sin Or It Will Be Killing You." And of course Owen doesn't leave us looking at our sin too long, because his writing is also infused with the holiness and mercy of God too.
Indwelling sin not only abides, but is still acting
Indwelling sin is not only active, but will produce soul-destroying sins if not mortified Indwelling sin is to be opposed by the Spirit and the new nature
The results of neglecting the mortification of indwelling sin
It is our duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God and grow in grace every day."
I've got a lot of reading to do this weekend, in between visiting relatives, watching the history-making U of D vs. Del. State game, and trying to get my Christmas tree up. Praise God for so many enjoyable and hopefully edifying activities!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26, ESV
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
At The New York Times "New Stem Cell Method Could Ease Ethical Concerns" >>>
At Wired: "Stem Cell Breakthrough Is Like 'Turning Lead Into Gold'">>>
Some seven weeks after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Time Magazine printed an article by Nancy Gibbs entitled: "We Gather Together." Gibbs ponders the paradoxical nature of Thanksgiving that particular year. She wrote: "This is the kind of holiday we need right now, an intrinsically complicated one that comes at the end of a bitter harvest and yet finds something sweet to celebrate. Everyone is a pilgrim now, stripped down to bare essentials and a single carry-on bag to sustain us in a strange new world. So no wonder people are making a special effort to get home this year, set the table, unfold the napkins, make the time for a messy conversation with the people who know us best. This is where we find out how we are really doing on the character test: Have the events of autumn left us humbled, or hardened? Bitter at all we feel we have lost, or grateful for all that we once took for granted?"
Mature Christian character is grateful to the Lord during the tough times.
Today in prayer, give thanks to the Lord for all that He has allowed in your life.
"A life in thankfulness releases the glory of God." - Bengt Sundberg
"I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name ofthe LORD." - Psalm 116:17
"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD." - Jonah 2:9
By Peter Kennedy, Subscribe to Devotional E-Mail
(My daily devotionals include this one, RZIM, and Table Talk by Ligonier. I've been receiving Mr. Kennedy's devotionals since 1996)
Modern Reformation - December 2007
Using God By Kim Riddlebarger *****
Can We Give God Glory? By Michael S. Horton *****
"To the Glory of God and the Restoration of the Heart" : Worship and Theology in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Sidebar) By Patricia Anders
Our Calling and God's Glory By Gene Edward Veith *****
The Family, the Society, and the Church (Sidebar) By Gene Edward Veith *****
To God Alone Be Glory Forever By John Piper
Books that Still Matter: "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (Book Review) By Brandon G. Withrow
"Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends" edited by Kevin Vanhoozer, et. al. (Book Review) By Mark Traphagen
"Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature" by Ronald Paulson (Book Review) By Rick Ritchie
Point of Contact: "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Book Review) By Diana Frazier
Total Truth: Liberating Chrisitianity From Its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey Front Flap description:
Is God A Public Figure?
Does Chrisitianity have a legitimate role to play in the realm of politics, business, law, and education?
Or Are The
When they relegate religion to the strictly private realm of faith and feelings?
In "Total Truth," Nancy Pearcey offers razor-sharp analysis of the split between public and private, fact and feelings. She reveals the strategies of the secularist gatekeepers who use this division to banish biblical principles from the cultural mainstrean, stripping Chrisitianity of its power to challenge and redeem the whole of
How can we overcome this divide? Unify our fragmented lives? Recover authentic spirituality? With compelling examples from the struggles of real people, Pearcey shows how to liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity. She walk readers through practical, hands-on steps for developing a full-orbed Christian worldview. Finally, she makes a passionate case that Chrisitianity is not just religious truth but truth about total reality. It is total truth.
"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise" (Prov 6:5).
"Maybe the first step to wisdom is to recognize that the church itself, even with all of our flaws and foibles and fallibilities, reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10), a wisdom so awesome that our Maker designed an entire universe embedded with likenesses of it?"
All of these resources and a few others that I'll add as I go are extremely helpful within the context of my current dilemma which consists of ----urgh!!!! What do you want from me God???? These are answers to prayer and I hope you might enjoy reading them too.
Friday, November 16, 2007
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17
"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Ephesians 5:20
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:18
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"We cannot allow ourselves to confuse the single-battle victories of sanctification with the ultimate cessation of conflict when Christ returns. Sin and righteousness, the flesh and the Spirit are at war. There is no peace, only battles won and battles lost. Peace has been purchased. It is guaranteed. It will come. But until then, the war of wars never ceases. the delusions of victory, and the feeling of peace that follows, set us up for the shock and disappointment of midlife regret. We sadly have to admit that we are still being bombed by an enemy -- sin -- that we believed we had long since defeated. (pg. 117).
and on pg. 133, subhead - Standing in a Pile of Your Own Leaves
"You're now in the autumn of your life, and you're quite aware that the leaves are off the trees. You're standing in a pile of the leaves of your marriage, your parenting, your extended family, your friendships, your work, and your ministry. These leaves of the past have grown wrinkled and dry, and you know you cannot put them back on the tree. It's tempting to sit down in the pile and examine leaf after leaf and wish you were holding a new bud from a new sapling, but you aren't. The harvest has come in, and it is what it is. Yet in all of this there is hope because your Lord is the Lord of new seasons. With the new season comes the freedom to plant new and better seeds. With the new season comes the expectation of a new harvest of new fruit.
Stand up and walk away from your pile of yesterday's leaves. Take the seeds of a new way into your hands, press them into the soil of your life, and thank God that you will live to see a better harvest."
Monday, November 12, 2007
When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? ~G.K. Chesterton
The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~John E. Southard
Thou hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, - a grateful heart; Not
thankful when it pleaseth me, As if Thy blessings had spare days, But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.~George Herbert
Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Sunday, November 11, 2007
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
come before him with joyful songs.
It is he who made us, and we are his ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever;
he gave a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and maidens,
old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the LORD.
Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Thursday, November 8, 2007
God's Word: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolishhearts were darkened." - Romans 1:21
One of the daily devotionals that I read is focusing on the theme of Thanksgiving for the month of November. There have already been some really good ones and I think I'm going to start doing "the thanksgiving theme" here for this month too.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Democrat (which I'm defintitely not), I would vote for Joe Biden.
If I were a...
Republican, I think I would vote for Mike Huckabee.
So, now you know why I don't do politics. Oh, I will vote. But in the last election, I did not vote for the major parties' candidates. I voted for someone running in a small independent party (the Constitution Party). So, you might say I'm one of those people who throws away their vote. Nope, not so. I think throwing away your vote is giving it to someone who you know won't stand for what you stand for. And I think that's what most Republicans are going to do this time. People vote for who they think will win (which amounts to really throwing away a vote, right? especially in the primaries). Just an observation.
I'm using as a handout for our Women's Bible Study on the Book of Esther tonight. This has been an excellent guide over the past couple of years which I keep referring to.
Ten summarizing principles for interpreting Old Testament narratives that should also help you avoid certain pitfalls as you read. (from How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, pg.106)
1. An Old Testament narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.
2. An Old Testament narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught propositionally elsewhere.
3. Narratives record what happened – not necessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time. Therefore, not every narrative has an individual identifiable moral application.
4. What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us. Frequently, it is just the opposite.
5. Most of the characters in Old Testament narratives are far from perfect – as are their actions as well.
6. We are not always told at the end of a narrative whether what happened was good or bad. We are expected to be able to judge this on the basis of what God has taught us directly and categorically elsewhere in Scripture.
7. All narratives are selective and incomplete. Not all the relevant details are always
given (cf. John 21:25). What does appear in the narrative is everything that the
inspired author thought important for us to know.
8. Narratives are not written to answer all our theological questions. The have particular, specific, limited purposes and deal with certain issues, leaving others to be dealt with elsewhere in other ways.
9. Narratives may teach either explicitly (by clearly stating something) or implicitly (by implying something without actually stating it.)
10. In the final analysis, God is the hero of all biblical narratives.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
A Quest for More
tran.scen.dence: the state of being beyond and
outside of the ordinary range of human experience
The Bottom Line: You were created to be part of something big.
Have you ever wanted to invest yourself in something worthwhile? Have you ever wondered why your life seems to lack meaning or purpose? Have you ever been disappointed when a position, achievement, possession, or relationship failed to fulfill you? Have you ever dreamed that somehow, some way you would be part of something truly great? If so, this book is for you. This book is about having a life that counts for something. It is about living to make a difference. Read the first chapter >>>
"His grace cuts a hole in your self-built prison and invites you to step into something so huge, so significant that only one word in the Bible can adequately capture it. That word is glory."
(H.T. to Green Baggins)
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Proverbs 27:5
“What is the friend, who will be a real blessing to my soul? Is it one, that will humour my fancies, and flatter my vanity? Is it enough, that he loves my person, and would spend his time and energies in my service? This comes far short of my requirement... The friend for my case is one, who will watch over me with open rebuke; but a reprover, when needful; not a flatterer. The genuineness of friendship without this mark is more than doubtful; its usefulness utterly paralyzed. That secret love, that dares not risk a faithful wound, and spares rebuke, rather than inflict pain, judged by God’s standard, is hatred. (Lev. 19:17) Far better the wound should be probed than covered. Rebuke, kindly, considerately, and prayerfully administered, cements friendship, rather than loosens its. The contrary instances only prove, that the union had never been based upon substantial principle.” Charles Bridges
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1
As usual, I have turned to the Psalms, which almost always seems to be the best antidote for sleeplessness.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Dr. David Calhoun, Covenant Seminary, Psalm 121 Download MP3 Audio (less than 20 minutes)
According to John Piper's arcticle entitled "Co-Ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice," my coming out against women in combat roles could be considered an act of career suicide. So be it. Let's speak up! (H.T. to Between Two Worlds)
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Key Scripture passage: 1 John 5:1-5. Supporting scriptures: Romans 8:28-35, 1 John 5:13, Deut. 6:5, John 16:33, and 1 John 2:15-17. (You might have to push yourself to get thru the sports references at the beginning if you're not into sports, but it's worth it. I know I got quite a bit out of it and thought someone else might like to hear it.)
Key idea that I caught:
Intimacy with Christ thru the Word of God and prayer are His means of grace causing us to know Him and trust Him more and more, so that we are able to live victoriously. There are no substitutes for His means of grace - the Word of God, prayer and the sacraments. Nothing and no one can substitute.
And there is so much more, so listen and watch and tell me what you think.
"There are times when we all long for glory, that Maranatha moment when Christ will wipe away our tears and take away our pain. Every Christian has felt the soreness of our fallen condition. We know that our only hope is in Christ, and that our only comfort in life and death is, as the Heidelberg Catechism explains, 'that we have been bought by the blood of a Savior Who knows our pain and suffering, and cares for us in it.'”
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
who was new to our small hometown.
From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting
newcomer and soon invited him to live with our
family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was
around from then on.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my
family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.
My parents were complementary instructors: Mom
taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to
obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He
would keep us spellbound for hours on end with
adventures, mysteries and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics,
history or science, he always knew the answers about
the past, understood the present and even seemed
able to predict the future! He took my family to
the first major league ball game. He made me laugh,
and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped
talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest
of us were shushing each other to listen to what he
had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for
peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed
for the stranger to leave.)
Dad ruled our household with certain moral
convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated
to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not
allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or
any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got
away with four-letter words that burned my ears and
made my dad squirm and my mother blush.
My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol.
But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a
regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars
manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely
(much too freely!) about sex. His comments were
sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and
I now know that my early concepts about
relationships were influenced strongly by the
stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of
my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER
asked to leave. He monopolized our dinner time
conversations, walks or tossing the ball around
after dinner was a thing of the past, the stranger
held more interest for us than the outdoors. Books
were no longer purchased or read, we found the
stranger more fascinating than reading.
More than fifty years have passed since the
stranger moved in with our family. He has blended
right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was
at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents'
den today, you would still find him sitting over in
his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him
talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name...
We just call him, "TV."
A few years ago his wife moved in too!....We call her "Computer."