Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raised with Christ

How the Resurrection Changes Everything by Adrian Warnock.
Video interview and review at Justin Taylor's blog: Here

I'm adding it to my cue and looking forward to reading it soon!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Single and lonely?

Single and Lonely: Finding the intimacy you desire by Jayne Clark, CCEF

The conclusion is powerful, but I also enjoyed this excerpt and wanted to share it here:

"Yes, it’s wonderful that a husband and wife become one flesh; but it’s even more wonderful that Christians comprise the body of Christ, so connected with each other that if one part suffers, we all suffer. If one part is honored, we are all honored. It’s incredible for a husband and wife to come together, to be fruitful and multiply; but it’s even more incredible that Christ grows and multiplies his kingdom by sending flawed people like us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). It must have been fantastic for Adam and Eve to be naked yet unashamed with each other; but it’s even more fantastic that Jesus has washed away our sin, and we now stand clothed in his righteousness! We don’t need to hide behind fig leaves when our sin is exposed. Now we can confess our sins to one another."

Read the entire article here

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way

Now available for free online from Crossway books, "The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way" by Francis Schaeffer.

Ray Ortlund at Christ is Deeper Still offers this quote:
“As I see it, the Christian life must be comprised of three concentric circles, each of which must be kept in its proper place. In the outer circle must be the correct theological position, true biblical orthodoxy and the purity of the visible church. This is first, but if that is all there is, it is just one more seedbed for spiritual pride.

In the second circle must be good intellectual training and comprehension of our own generation. But having only this leads to intellectualism and again provides a seedbed for pride.

In the inner circle must be the humble heart — the love of God, the devotional attitude toward God. There must be the daily practice of the reality of the God whom we know is there. . . .

When each of these three circles is established in its proper place, there will be tongues of fire and the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, at the end of my life, when I look back over my work since I have been a Christian, I will see that I have not wasted my life. The Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, “The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way,” in No Little People (Downers Grove, 1974), page 74, italics his.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Quote of the day

"I consider myself a pretty good judge of people...
that's how come I don't like none of them." -- Rosanne Barr.

That one has stuck with me for years. Lord help me to not be judgmental, and as you know, I need more than help in this category! (Divine intervention is more like it.) Yikes.

Our Antidote to Nihilism

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another."

As a fairly recent college grad, one of the most particular and perplexing philosophies I encountered, that ran through nearly all of my humanities class was, among the variety of theories eminating from postmodernism, the philosophical doctrine of nihilism.

I remember the first time a lecturer introduced us to the existential nihilist school of thought, in my Biblical and Classical Literature course, and my reaction was a jaw-dropping utterance to the effect of "you can't be serious." And yet about half the class sat there wide-eyed and nodding in full agreement.

Another even more memorable time was in my World Religions class, the day that we started our study of the themes in the Old Testament. My philosophy professor, who was an incredibly gifted teacher, with a very charasmatic personality, and who challenged us in our thinking practically every moment we were in class, proceeded to enlighten us about the ancient Hebrew beliefs on resurrection. He explained that the concept of resurrection was essentially unheard of by the Jewish people until the exile, when the prophets invented it to comfort the people in exile. I, a baby believer, had no evidence to prove otherwise, but was immediately uncomfortable with his theory. Then he went on to introduce us to the text, the book of Job, which had been our homework assignment the night before.

In his introduction to Job, he began by stating that it is quite likely that Job is the oldest book in the Bible. This is a statement that those in liberal academia take great pains to always present, as if it somehow lessens the authority of the Pentateuch. But over and over in his intro to Job, he just couldn't seem to stop mentioning that Job was most likely to be the oldest book in the Bible. AND THEN, he amazingly diverged to his original thesis of the resurrection idea being a much newer invention blah, blah, blah, and had the audacity to challenge his class to provide proof otherwise in our text --- and in a translation that "he approved of."

Okay, anyone who knows me, knows that I am not one to back down on a challenge, no matter how inexperienced I may be on a subject. And in this case, I was way, way, way over my head. But I didn't care, because that whole resurrection/nihilist thing that he kept talking about was seriously rubbing me the wrong way. So I said a 5 second prayer for God to give me wisdom, then I started skimming the book of Job. Right away -- immediately, the Holy Spirit led me to Chapter 19 of Job and specificaly the verses 25 and 26. I immediately raised my hand, in what seemed to be only a split second after the professor issued his challenge. I then read the passage. He asked what version of the Bible I had. It was a New King James. He asked if anyone had a different version. So we proceeded to read the passage in Job five times in five different translations, all with the exact same meaning.

It was a powerful exchange after which he was a bit speechless. Sometimes I wonder if he was actually setting us up and that secretly he was a Christian, because this sort of thing happened fairly regularly in his class. He would assert all manner of false doctrine and then issue challenges to his students to prove him wrong. Or maybe that is just how powerful the Word of God really is and that we should not be shy about it.

However, my real point is that, while we know that there are some among the Emerging set who are also falling to the trap of postmodern nihilism, they are not the only Christians who are susceptible. I think that we who are more mature and have more experience with these things should be diligent in answering the Emergents with the Truth of God's Word, and not allow them to pose such questions as things that we can't really prove to be Absolute Truth.

On the other hand, in terms of our -- I guess I should say MY -- practical theology, is it not tempting to turn to a sort of nihilism at times when life gets really, really messy? As the author of today's Slice at RZIM puts it, we all at times encounter "the bothered, sometimes pained, state of mind that occurs when new evidence conflicts with a current belief or outlook." She calls this "cognative dissonance."

But rather than turn to unbelief for answers (as postmoderns do), we are called to believe in God's Word, to trust His promises, and to hope in the Absolute Truth of Resurrection: "the promise that broken lives will rise again to see God!"

Amen! (and check out today's Slice)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New from CEP: Ideas for Creating a Discipleship Plan

New Pamphlet out from the PCA's Christian Education and Publications: Does Your Church Have a Discipleship Plan?
There were quite a few on the list that I haven't read yet and think I'd like to. The plan divides the discipleship progression into five categories:

A. Searching: (unsaved individuals) Being nurtured/Very interested in spiritual things.
B. Believing: (saved) For new Christians. Immature, needs mentoring.
C. Growing: For those actively growing personally. Beginning to get involved in ministry.
D. Becoming: Spiritually maturing. Needs to be trained to disciple new believers.
E. Serving: Spiritually mature. Train to disciple others.
F. Leading: Spiritually mature. Should be trained to lead and disciple the church.

Click for the pamphlet with links to the recommended resources

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"I" "Will Build" "My" "Church"

From today's Desiring God devotional:
I Will Build My Church by John Piper

Two awesome takeaways:
On “My”
“I will build my church.” God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). And not only us, but millions more scattered throughout the earth (John 11:52). And he has many people in this city (Acts 18:10). He bought them by his own blood (Acts 20:28). And he will make them a kingdom and priests to his God. And they shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9). They will be his church. They are not their own. They are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). They are his. He will gather them. And build his church.

On "Church"
Mark this well: Jesus does not promise that he will build his school, or that he will build his co-op, or build his medical clinic, or build his university, or build his social service agency—as good as those are. He promises with absolute authority: I will build my church.

What a wise and powerful reminder!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Natural Law and Two Kingdoms

Interview at Office Hours (Westminster Seminary California) with David VanDruden by R. Scott Clark on the use and relevance of natural law. Discussion also researches the reformed tradition on natural law alongside the two kingdom theory.

Link to MP3

Interesting juxtaposition to our Sunday School class on Total Truth.

Chief end of man vs. means to an end

Some might say that things like Bible study, worshiping, preaching, administering the sacraments, prayer, evangelism, etc., are merely means to an end. However, that seems to me to be an unbiblical and pragmatic-focused approach.

When we are commanded to do these things, and when God has given us specific directions for these things, it is wrong for us to place conditions upon that obedience (ie, if I tithe over and above what is required, then I should get rich. Or if I properly evangelize 100 people, then 50 should be saved.)
Placing our eyes on the outcome of our obedience supercedes God's sovereignty, the power of the Holy Spirit working, and the Lord's rule over all of life.

Secondly, since the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then all that we do should be done to the glory of God. In the early 90's I remember telling one of my supervisors that my job was a means to an end, not an end in itself. What I was communicating is that I could take it or leave it, that my job was not a priority. I believe this is also unbiblical. We should do our work and serve our employers as if we were specifically doing that labor for the Lord himself. In fact, the reformed faith has a long tradition of placing a high regard on vocation (the Protestant work ethic).

Therefore, everything that we are doing is an end and not merely a means to an end -- the end being the glory of God. Thus, by obeying a specific command of God for His Church, we are not performing "a means to an end," but rather we are manifesting the end in itself -- the Glory of God in and through the Church.

Called by name

"Only when Jesus called me by name was I able to see that him as the God-man. Only then was I able to see him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Only then did I really and truly know him. And only then were my eyes opened so I could see and my ears unstopped so I could hear and my heart renewed so I could believe. Like Mary, he called me by name."

Pragmatism measured by practical consequences

John MacArthur writes about the parallel between today's pragmatism in the church, comparing it to what was happening in CH Spurgeon's day. While Spurgeon stood alone in opposing the movement, others derided him for "digging in his heels" against the latest winds of change. History and time proved that Spurgeon was the wiser.

Here are a few quotes from "Ashamed of the Gospel:"
"Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. It is closely akin to utilitarianism, the belief that usefulness is the standard of what is good. To a pragmatist/utilitarian, if a technique or course of action has the desired effect, it is good. If it doesn’t seem to work, it must be wrong." John MacArthur, "Ashamed of the Gospel," Chapter 2.

"He (Paul) never adopted the spirit of his age… He never conformed himself—and more importantly he never tried to conform the God he declared—to the tastes and expectations of his audience. He was content—as we must be—to allow the power of the gospel to speak for itself." John MacArthur, "Ashamed of the Gospel," Chapter 7.

And in Chapter 9: "I Will Build My Church," MacArthur discusses how it is God who does the building of the church, not our efforts, innovations, and church schemes. When the church observes the sacraments (preaching, the Lords supper) and the ordinances of the means of grace -- prayer, collective study and reading of the Word, and teaching of sound doctrine -- and evangelizism/ sharing the Gospel with the lost, then God will grow His church in His way.