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."