Drinking Deeply

Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 8:58 PM

Book Review: 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life

5 Paths to the Love of your Life

by Lauren F. Winner, Douglas Wilson, Rick Holland, Alex Chediak (Editor), Jeramy Clark, Jerusha Clark, Jonathan Lindvall

1st off, the title is a bit of a misnomer. This isn't a book written for people of the world to find some mystical perfect fit. This is actually a book directed at Christians, attempting to give an overview of all the different answers to the marriage question:

How does one go about finding that mate?

Some believe that dating is the method (though this dating is cut against the grain of normal dating). Some believe that it's courtship (where the parents are heavily involved). Some go so far as to say that only betrothal is biblical (where they enter the relationship committed to marry). With Christians from all over touting one method over another, it's very hard to figure out what exactly is biblical and what is not.

This book doesn't answer that question, but what it does do, is it allowed main proponents from 5 different perspectives (countercultural dating, courtship, betrothal, purposeful dating, and ... general be a good Christian) to explain their reasoning and give biblical support for their own personal views.

All the authors agree on a few things though: God's Word is the supreme authority. A Christian should not marry (date) a non-Christian.

The different views are presented clearly and biblically (though some of the views, in my opinion, had much stronger arguments than others). Additionally, the editor has interspersed questions throughout the book to help get one thinking. Finally, the intro and the conclusion give an excellent overview, explaining agreements and differences. They were an excellent read on their own. An excellent job was also done regarding keeping a bias out of the topics at the end.

The only gripe I really have with the book is it's title and cover. I fear such a useful resource will be passed over too easily in a bookstore by those who will benefit the most from it because of the title and cover, which seem directed more at popular culture rather than Christians longing to submit themselves to God's Word.

Other than that, it was a pleasure to read and one that i would highly suggest to those who are wondering about dating and the future. It won't answer the question, but it will open one's eyes to different opinions.

My recommendation: Could do better (The solid chapters in this book are better presented in a whole book treatment elsewhere)

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at 11:59 AM

Fellowship in Christ at Stanford, redux

Main Entry: 1fel·low·ship
Pronunciation: 'fe-l&-"ship, -lO-
Function: noun
1 : COMPANIONSHIP, COMPANY
2 a : community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience b : the state of being a fellow or associate
3 : a company of equals or friends : ASSOCIATION
4 : the quality or state of being comradely
5 obsolete : MEMBERSHIP, PARTNERSHIP

Merriam Webster Online

Phil. 1:3-6
3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean for us to be a fellowship? What does it mean for FiCS to be a fellowship? Much of this is from two sermons by Kent Hughes (KH) at College Church in Wheaton (9/11/05 and 9/18/05) and a little bit from Vincent Cheung's (VC) commentary on Philippians.

The word translated "partnership" (koinonia) is sometimes translated "fellowship" or "communion." Contemporary Christians often use the word to denote the friendly social interactions between believers, but this meaning is never found in Paul's writings. (VC)

Fellowship is not an ice cream social, but it is a mutual commitment to the Gospel (v. 4). Not cookies and cake, but a partnership. To have cookies and cake together is just Christians fellowshipping, not a Christian fellowship. (KH)

The fellowship that the Philippians enjoy with Paul are manifested in their common bond with God and His Gospel. We have fellowship only because we can have fellowship with God! That is only found through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can sometimes have a mutual goal for something else, but we should strive to make that rooted in Christ, and not in something outside of Him. Our fellowship is an echo of the Triune fellowship - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Perfect communion, submission, sending, authority structure. (KH)

When we go from church to church looking for fellowship, we're looking for the wrong things. We don't need friends to belong, we need God to belong. Let us seek Christ, and not self! (KH)

This was what made Alaska so good in some regards. I had the blessing to live together, striving for one common goal: the Glory of God manifest to the children of Alaska. We lived together, prayed together, ate together. We didn't need to hang out that much (though those times were good as well), but it was our mutual longing for God and His glory. Now, I'll confess that I weakened that a great deal in my speaking up about the revival, but when we were united as a body of servants, it was great.

I'm not saying that fellowship isn't found in having fun, in movie nights, activities nights, and hangouts, but I'm saying that none of those signify fellowship. The mark of a fellowship is simply found in what we are a fellowship for/of: In this case, we are a Fellowship in Christ. Thus we can find fellowship at hangouts, but we only become a fellowship in Christ. This is what I believe so highly in the power and importance of preaching and meditating upon the Word. This preceeds everything. Prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism, everything flows from the Word. We can't pray unless we know who we can pray to (the Father), who we can pray through (the Son), who we can pray from (Spirit). We can't worship unless we worship the one God, the only God. We cannot have fellowship unless we are seeking after the same thing: Christ. We can't evangelize unless we know who we're evangelizing people to. We can't do anything unless we know God.

For those who object, there is one simple question: What is in a Christian that isn't in a Mormon ? They have worship, they have evangelism, they have prayer, they have everything we have, except for the one thing that matters: adherance to God's Word.

For us as Christians, let us seek to become partners of the Gospel, that we would be a fellowship that supports and encourages the preaching and sharing of the Gospel. This isn't about having better rock music, more casual dress, puppet shows, or anything of the like, but it's about spreading and sharing God's Word.

Fellowship doesn't come from us having "fun" and "hanging out." Fellowship can of course occur at those places, and they are great situations where we can live out our faith in love and service to God, but it's the faith that makes it a fellowship. It's upon that which the grounds of true fellowship is established. Let us share what we are learning, singing to one another with spiritual psalms and hymns, let us dwell together in worship of our beautiful Triune God. Movies and food are great, but let them be sparking points where we can share our lives and Christ's love, not just gathering points where we enjoy ourselves.

What if we don't thirst for God's Word? What if we don't care for sermons as much? A few thoughts and practical solutions:
1) Seek out the Word preached! If God's Word is being preached faithfully and biblically, we can make a choice to be there or not. We can't learn to love God's Word preached if we never give it a chance to convict us and transform us! God's Word is a means by which God applies His convicting Spirit into our lives. I'm not saying that we should always be listening to sermons and messages every moment of our lives, because then we would never get anything done, but make some sacrifices sometimes! Yeah, Sunday morning is so valuable, especially with regards to doing homework and getting some sleep, but God's Word say that it itself is infinitely valuable!

2) Take notes! One thing that has helped me a great deal to remember what messages were about has been to take notes on main points, key phrases, good verses, and the like. I honestly could not pick out a single sermon I heard prior to spring my frosh year of college, but after that, I have most, if not all of them down in a notebook, and if you ask me about a passage that was spoken on, I think I can give a decent repeat of what was said about it.

I had the blessing to speak before the youth group of my home church over the summer. After I spoke, a number of people said they liked the message, but when I asked them what specifically, all of them (with one exception) said the intro was the best, actually, it's all that they heard. A great deal of this was my fault, because I cared too much about keeping my audience entertained, and so thus my intro was probably far more extravagant than it needed to be. But the one person who actually commented on my message had a pen and notebook in his hand.

3) Get some rest before. Our ministers spend hours preparing a message for us. Let us spend an hour preparing for him. Take an extra hour of sleep the night before Sunday. Take a nap in the afternoon if we've had a long night previous but have a meeting tonight.

4) Read knowledgable authors. There is nothing that leads us to worship more than to contemplate the magnificance of God's glory and beauty of His Grace. Of course, this is a little difficult without prior knowledge, but as we read and learn more, we are granted deeper discernment and a better understanding to rightly divide between truth and falsehood. A good commentary should lead us to worship as much as a good devotional, sometimes even more.

So let us seek fellowship. Not the fellowship that we profess in hanging out and having fun (not that those are unnecessary), but the fellowship we find in contemplating the divine, longing for the eternal, and becoming partners of the Gospel.

Consider the fellowship of the ring. Frodo and his buddies didn't hang out all the time (though I'm sure they had their share of enjoyment along the way), but they were commited to one thing: the destruction of evil, as represented by the ring.

We're not here to hang out all the time. We're not here for me. We're not here for you. We're here for God. And that's all that matters.

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at 2:05 AM

Fellowship in Christ at Stanford

Hmmm

Had a long post on what it means to be a fellowship.

Mozilla crashed.

I guess it was God's Will.

I thought it was a decent post though.

Well then, I guess I'll leave you with a simple thought:

Compare contrast:

Fellowship in Christ at Stanford
Fellowship of the Ring

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005 at 7:40 PM

Something to think about

From Dictionary.com
2. entrust
7. To pledge or obligate one's own self

Hebrews 13)

7Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

1 Timothy 15:17)

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

1 Titus 1:5-6

5This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you-- 6if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

Eph. 5:25-27

25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.

2 Cor. 6 14-18)

14Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

"I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty."

*exhale* Still need a lot of prayer. For myself, for my church(es), for my fellowship, for my elders, for my pastors.

As it is written, the righteous will live by faith.

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Monday, September 26, 2005 at 10:50 PM

Learning about prayer

So I just learned this the past week (apparently this is normal knowledge, apparently I don't have normal knowledge =p). Thought I'd share it.

Prayer throughout Scripture is to the Father, though Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

We only have access to the Father though the one mediator (1 Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus). This also means that only true Christians has prayer that is pleasing to God. (Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked,but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 28:9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,even his prayer is an abomination.)

We pray as Jesus prayed, "Our Father..." (Matthew 6:9)

We pray only because the Spirit enables and teaches us how to pray. (Eph. 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.)

I had always operated under the assumption we could pray to anyone, Father, Son, or Spirit. Interesting

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Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 12:35 PM

Reading material

A few plugs for the stuff I've been reading:

Vincent Cheung is working through a series on how unreliable man truly is. And interestingly enough, he's finally put up a picture of himself... but it's impossible to determine features. Here's the first post: As a man thinks.

The A-Team Blog had an earlier post on the "L" limited atonement. Excellent read.

Tim Challies has a few posts. One on the Servetus problem and one on the infinite value of Scripture.

There is a good article in Relevant Magazine on a new type of hipster by Brett Mccracken. HT: Justin Taylor

I've also had the pleasure to be working through a few excellent books.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce A. Ware is an excellent treatment of a long forgotten truth to Christianity. It discusses the historical background (very interesting in itself) and the beautiful and grace filled roles of the three parts of the trinity. What they do, who they are, and ultimately, their relationships with one another.

Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell is also an excellent book on what it means to pray in Jesus' name. It definitely was an insightful read for me and it had an excellent treatment on the will of God.

I'd also like to give a blogspot to Frank Martens over at I See Daylight. He has had a lot of insightful posts and I've been blessed to be able to drop notes and be mutually encouraged by one another's faith. Check it out.

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Friday, September 23, 2005 at 12:31 PM

A prayer request

Hey guys,

I need some prayer. I'm at a very scary crossroads. Pray that God would grant me wisdom and discernment through His Word and through the people around me. Pray that I would seek not to glorify self, but to glorify God. Pray that I would seek God in all that I do. Pray that I would fear God over fearing man. Pray for my church (KCPC) and fellowship (FiCS). We, I, need help.

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Monday, September 19, 2005 at 9:52 PM

Book Review: Humility: True Greatness

Sovereign Grace Ministries had a "blogging for books" opportunity, and by God's grace I was able to get on board before it closed. I got a pdf file of the book Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney and was asked to do a review of it. Well, here it is:

This book was solid. It ran me through the problem with pride that all people suffer from and the Bible's teaching on humility to begin. Then the author detailed some ways to fight against pride and to cultivate humility.

For a person who struggles all the time with pride this was an incredible read. Bible-based, Gospel centered, truths that cut me to the heart, followed by God-centered steps to seeking to mortify pride and cultivate humility. Many of the suggestions are things that any Christian should be doing anyway (except for the playing golf part, I must confess that chapter seemed out of place). Learning about the doctrine of God. Learning about the doctrine of man. Learning about the doctrine of Sin. Looking for grace. Encouraging others. All things that I as a Christian should have been doing already, and I would like to claim that I've tried... but always, always, that pride is there. Convicting, but always Gospel centered, just the way the Bible is. Whamo!

Who should read this book? I would say everyone who struggles with pride. And if we claim we don't struggle with pride... ::grins:: haha =).

While the book hasn't been printed yet (late October is the date), I would strongly suggest any and all to read the book at one point or another.

Tim Challis has a preview of the same book here.
For an intro and a sample chapter: here.

Can I also use this time to make a plug for the book that holds the title of "Most influence per page other than the Bible"? C.J. Mahaney has also authored an amazing book on sanctification called: The Cross-Centered Life. I received it early as a Christian and didn't really understand what the big deal about it was until I went back and reread it last year. Wow.

My recommendation: Own it

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at 7:53 PM

Vision Summer School Thoughts (7) - Fellowship

All the posts in this series are done. Read them here

~~~

Well, that was the revival.

That was a bit negative, so I've decided to post on something positive. Really positive.

I had the pleasure of visiting College Church in Wheaton the last two weeks. The senior pastor, Kent Hughes, just started a series on Philippians. Last week, he touched on what it meant that Paul called the Philippians "partners (literally, fellowship) of the Gospel." In short they were in fellowship because they were totally committed to the Gospel. Fellowship was where friends share a common goal.

Alaska was where I felt fellowship. I know, I know. I'm part of a Christian fellowship at college, and yes, I do feel fellowship there at times as well, but Alaska was... different. I think it was the day in and day out thing. I had the blessing to pray daily with brothers and sisters, to eat, to laugh and hang out, to support and encourage, to love and be loved, all for God's glory. We all were seeking simply to glorify God and to share His love with our kids, with one another. It leaked into everything we did.

Wow.

Though I must confess, my position on the revivial did dampen this a little bit, because I do feel like we parted ways a little bit there, but we still affirmed one another as brothers and sisters, we still served one another, we still loved one another, we still prayed for one another.

I wish I had more of that. I wish our fellowship didn't have to be cut short (and it was cut short, pretty much right as the month ended, though we stayed two more days). I hoped it would last past that, past when we returned, but yeah, with most of the people there it has more or less stopped.

Fellowship was hard. There were times of suffering, anger, disagreement, boredom, tiredness (a lot of tiredness). But one thing kept us going. One thing kept us together. Late nights, desperate prayers. We wanted, we had to share God.

One thing I wish though, was that we got into a few good discussions, but honestly not enough. We didn't have a Bible study, which I thought was really unfortunate. We had the morning devotionals, but eventually sleep became more valuable than that (no excuse I know), but I wish, desperately wish I could have learned more about my brothers and sisters that I was waging war against Satan with. I knew what I thought. I knew a little bit what Rob, Wesley, and Andrew thought, but everyone else... just . Awells.

Phil. 1:3-6

3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005 at 3:26 PM

Alpha and Omega

Today I finished reading through the Bible from cover to cover.

whew. Some thoughts:

1) The Old Testament is facinating. Some of my favorites: Judges, Job, 1 Kings, 1 Samuel, Esther, Ruth, Lamentations, Jeremiah, Hosea. The list could go on. Even going through the law was really cool, just looking at all that God demanded in perfection.

2) There are a lot of really cool parallels throughout Scripture. Ruth's "cover me with your blanket" is reminiscent of another passage (I believe Jeremiah?) where the Lord says that he will cover His people with the corner of his blanket.

3) Getting a big picture of God and His relationship with His people being a covenant is mindblowing: I will be their God, and they will be my people.

4) There are a lot of really confusing passages. I started highlighting them green. I think my Bible is green now.

5) The end times are scary! But awesome at the same time. Christ is victorious!

6) I need to read more of the prophets. I honestly have a lot of trouble with them just because it's so packed in there.

7) I have a list of godly women of the Bible that I sort of started/stopped: Rehab/Esther/Samson's mother/Mary (Mother of Jesus)/Hannah (Mother of John)/Mary Maglidane/Abigal (Wife of Nabal) I don't know why I have this list, but I think its because people thought I was a female hater because of my "girls are evil guys are stupid" phrase. I don't know how this list is supposed to combat that. Haha.

8) There really aren't too many godly men in the Bible, most (cept for Jesus) of the men in the Bible have some major failing. What idiots =)

Here's a nice post by a sister.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005 at 11:00 PM

Some really crazy verses

So I was blessed this week to be able to spend a lot of time just studying the Word (something I should be seeking every day!) and a few verses really blew my mind. I really don't know what to make of them and how to interpret them, but I figured I might as well share them with you:

1 Corinthians 11:7

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

What in the world sets a man different from a woman? What's the glory of God that a man has but a woman does not? Weird!

James 1:9-11

9Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass[a] he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Weird! Why should a rich person boast then? it sounds like they're boasting in the fact that God is going to judge them!

1 Peter 4:18-20

18For Christ also suffered[b] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which[c] he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because[d] they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

Wait, so Christ was put to death in the flesh and was made alive in the spirit... and then he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison because they didn't obey in times of Noah!? What does this mean?

1 Timothy 2:14-15


14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

At first it seems like it's talking about Eve being saved through childbearing, but then it's "if they" which seems to refer to women. Women will be saved through childbearing? weird!

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Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 10:13 AM

Thoughts about Calvinism

So a brother brought up a few concerns about this post in an email to me.

I relooked over it one more time and reading over it really gave me a gross taste in my mouth. I should have worded a lot of things more carefully, avoided setting up straw men, and not made as many sweeping characterizations. (though in essence I still agree with pretty much all of what I said, it should have been said in a much clearer and careful way).

It does come across more as an "apologetic" (this is why I'm right and you're wrong) rather than what I intended it to be.

Maybe I'll revise and repost it one day.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 10:57 PM

Rebuked again

::sigh::

Guilty as charged

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 10:10 PM

Vision Summer School Thoughts (6) - Revival (4)

All the posts in this series are done. Read them here

~~~

Ok, so thus far I've painted a pretty glim picture of what I saw. What actually happened?

So I ended up opting out, spoke with the person in charge, he took it fairly well. Over the course of the next two weeks I spoke with a few other people. Some of them were more receptive to my thoughts, some were not. A few of my friends agreed with me, they decided to stay and try to help out anyways.

The night finally came. What I remember:

Some worship songs to start us off, then one of the people in charge went up there and gave the intro to the theme of the night "all in." To demonstrate this theme, she played some video clips have some people doing stunts or something. The first one was of a guy who went off a jump on a snowboard and did some trick. "ooo cool! Now that's going all in!" Then she went and showed one of a guy riding a bike and falling over "ahahah! That is not!" I was like "what? What does any of this have to do with our theme? Why are we showing these? Apparently the clips came from a "church" website, meant to copy off the classic MTV show Jackass. Wow, talk about becoming like the world!

So they go up and do a "salvation" skit. No words, just a picture of God creating the world and man, man turning from God to sins of greed, alcoholism, lust, all to music. During this skit one of the girls (in order to instil lust) did a "sketchy dance move." The audience cheered. This was really a struggle for me. I felt like the audience was in it merely to be entertained, like the message seemed biblical enough (though I wish there was speaking, so those that were unfamiliar with it would have heard it), but the sketchy dance, the "ooo check out the timing with the music" and everything really made me feel wonder what the audience was getting.

Another skit that they performed was that of the Paul skit. Another one without words, this time living the life of Paul, basically looking at what he did (getting whipped, thrown out, stoned the like). I had major issues with this skit because the gospel was not part of it. We can just as easily include some non-Christian who did a lot of "good things" because the message would have been the same "if you do good, you'll be rewarded" NO! ::sigh::

The children did a body worship thing. I don't know what to think about that. ::shrug::

The teachers did a body worship thing. "If we are the body" ::shrug:: ok I guess, though i still feel like the audience was out there to be entertained, and all that was done was entertain them.
Interspersed through these were a few testimonies. One of them was pretty solid, going through salvation by faith alone and his own personal experiences coming to a realization of that. The other two were about going "all in" and "making a committment" similiar criticisms apply as above.

Near the end, the youth director went up there and talked about the importance of having a relationship with God. I was very thankful for that, just that someone was up there and tried to share the Word of God. He ended with an altar call of sorts: "If you want to make a committment to Christ and need someone to pray for you, please come up" I don't think anyone went up (though from what I hear, two people approached him afterwards).

They ended with some more worship.

In reflection, it went about as bad as I expected. I felt like it was mere entertainment for the masses. The video clips were incredibly offensive. The skits were less so, but they still worried me. The body worship... I don't know. Children? What am I supposed to say? It depends on if their hearts are in the right place I guess. It ended on the "making a commitment." ::sigh::

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at 5:05 PM

Rethinking appreciation

So my last post about on how 'Awesome' is that? brought in a lot of thoughts regarding if we should appreciate non-Christian art and the like. A few thoughts on the matter:

1) It seems like throughout the Bible God has used the actions of those that hated his people for His glory, even to bless those that God loved. Jacob and Esau's reconciliation comes to mind, as does Esther and King Ahazuarous. From these examples and the fact that God eventually uses all things for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28, Romans 9) I've concluded that it should be ok to enjoy God's blessings, even though they may come from a sinful nature that wasn't pleasing to God. I see no reason (as long as it's taken in the right thought) that we cannot properly appreciate non-Christian music/art/dance the like.

2) That said, there are things that we should explicitly reject and not appreciate, namely those that promote idolatous thoughts like false temples, false idols, music and dances meant to worship a false God (or deny a true God). Those songs that are meant to worship evolution, liberalism, post-modernism, pluralism, and a whole slew of isms... I am unsure if we can just "appreciate the beat" without letting the lyrics sink into us. I personally would stay away from them, though I feel it is something that different consciences may be able to say different things.
3) Finally, it isn't the buildings, or the physical idols that Christians must oppose, it is the thoughts and patterns of this world. We tear down idols because they promote idolotous thoughts. We tear down false temples because of the same. If we just try to enact laws to enforce Christian values upon the world, we accomplish nothing, for Paul is clear that law only leads to sin. Rather, we must preach the gospel boldly and in doing so, tear down the idols in the minds of the world.

2 Cor. 10:3-5

3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.



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Monday, September 12, 2005 at 6:11 PM

Reading Material

http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=theocentric522&tab=weblogs&uid=300644007

KCPC's former youth director on revivals. Yes, former. There's been a shakeup and I am not happy with what has been happening, but to God be the glory.

Steve Camp has an excellent post on living as a Christian and giving evidence of our election. Repentance is the word.

He also has an excellent post on the importance of the Law in the Gospel.

And another excellent one on church discipline. Would it be that our churches would pursue this in a God glorifying manner!

Vincent Cheung quoting Edwards on the fact that, even after we've been converted, we are to make sure our faith by continually seeking God.

Doug Patton gave us his notes on the imputed righteousness of Christ. Spot on stuff.

Some excellent quotes by some wise old men.

I just finished reading John MacArthur's Ashamed of the Gospel. Excellent book filled with sound exegesis and clear writing. It's so convicting because I find myself as a market driven consumer sometimes. "This isn't good enough" "worship could be better." Additionally, when I was invited to speak to the youth I wanted to make sure that my message was relevant, applicable, that the junior high kids would be interested...

Little did I know that the question of relevance is irrelevant.

Desiring God is teaming up with Monergism.com to give away a free CD filled with Piper's sermons. All you have to do is pay SH... and you can get as many books as you want for the same SH! I used this as an occasion to splurge and get a lot of books =)

John Piper has an excellent discussion on Hurricane Katrina and Intelligent Design

The Four Spiritual Flaws - I agree with the fleshed out version, though the summary is horribly unbiblical and suffers from the same problem the original four spiritual laws did, verses out of context and incomplete. ex. God hates you and has a horrible plan for you (this is only true for the unrepentant, God loves His elect)

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Sunday, September 11, 2005 at 11:35 AM

Come, let us sing praises to our King.

One thing that I've been thinking about has been our praise songs. This isn't a bulk condemnation of praise songs, but a plea that we look critically at what we are saying and what that means. I will offer up two songs that have crossed my path recently and how easily they can be misinterpreted to mean things completely contradictory to the spirit of God.

I don't know the title or the author, but the last few lines of the song goes "You saved my soul you paid the price, you saved my soul, now have my life."

That should be fine right? It's obviously a song written to Jesus thanking him for saving our life and paying the price of death.

What about the second line? "You saved my soul, now have my life." Truly offering up one's life to Christ is an act of thankfulness, is it not? But what is it subtly saying as well? Doesn't a simple reading of it imply a very scary thing?

I didn't have to give God my life, but now that he saved my soul, he earned it.

This is absolutely false. God demands our life from our conception. He deserves all worship, all praise, all honor. Whatever we do, Christian or non, we are to live for His glory. All have fallen short here, it is only those that God has applied the Spirit's regenerative powers to that will be saved from that. God deserves our all, nay, he demands our all. We cannot give Him in thankfulness what He has already demanded it of us, and in fact because we couldn't pay, paid the price and lived the life for us.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure that the authors of this song did not intend for that meaning to be there. Surely they meant it in another meaning. In fact, there are many verses in Scripture that back up a different interpretation:

2 Corinthians 5 is one possibility.

14
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Romans 6 is another

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Christ died for all so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them. This is why Christ died. God demanded our all, and when we couldn't pay, because of his kindness and mercy, offered up His Son.

But notice the tone of these two points. In 2 Corinthians it's not as obvious, but in Romans 6 it is very clear that the tone is that of a rebuke. We as Christians, should not continue to live in sin because the life has already been paid. Yes, be thankful for the mercies and grace of God. Sing Him praises.

Another song that's crossed my path that I've been thinking about is "If we are the body" by Casting Crowns.

One of the lyrics in the refrain goes "Jesus paid much to great a price for us to pick and choose who to come."

In one sense this is absolutely true. God commands us to preach the gospel to all men. It was the Pharisees that tried to make the door too narrow, tried to restrict access to God. For that they were well rebuked. Today as Christians we must know and acknowledge that we are just as bad as the next person and because of God's grace He saved us, and He can apply that grace to anyone. Like the Jews at the Jerusalem Council, we are not to place a burden too heavy for others to lift which we cannot lift ourselves.

But in another sense, it doesn't paint the whole picture. What does Paul write to the Corinthian church? 1 Corinthians 5 reads:

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges[b] those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

We as God's chosen people, part of the bride of Christ, are to play our role in the sanctification of His church. We are called to purge the evil person from among us. When was the last time your church formally disciplined a member for living an unrepentant lifestyle? The divorce rates in Christianity are exactly the same as those of the secular world. People are divorcing for any number of reasons, almost all of them non-Biblical. Ought not a church speak out against such actions, seeking reconciliation, and excommunicate the offender if he or she remain unrepentant? We are to judge one another against the highest test, God Himself. We are to seek for that perfection, because our Heavenly Father is perfect.

I'm not saying (nor is Paul saying) that we are to be perfect. No one can do that, that's why we need the cross. But what Paul is saying is that we are to keep the body clean. If there are people who are not demonstrating a living repentance, then we need church discipline. We all need to be loving disciplined and rebuked for our sins so that we might have the godly grief that leads to repentance. But as long as people continue to decry church discipline, decry judgment, claiming the banner of unity at all costs, then all we have is a fractured group of people. Some care more, some care less, some don't care at all and show it. We don't have that living fellowship of believers breaking bread and living in a holy fear of God.

In a sense the song is actually good, because it serves as a slight rebuke against those who are unwelcome and too judgmental. But in all honesty, that's not what we need today. What we need is biblical preaching that isn't afraid to point to the passages on death, hell, and sin. What we need is the church to take it's role at the center of society, executing loving rebukes and building a holy fellowship of believers. We don't need more songs that are about loving one another. That definition of love has been taken over by the secular world. We don't want acceptance. We don't want unity at all costs. It's time to reclaim it and love as Christ loved, rebuking, serving, dying for one another.

So returning to my original point. The songs we sing, we want to make sure that they are glorifying to God, which means that they invoke thoughts that are glorifying to God. There is much we sing that has great worth, that are based off of the Scriptures, and that promote a true theology (of course, anything can be misinterpreted). Seek after those, test all things against Scripture. This is our command, and our joy.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005 at 10:28 PM

Logic and Faith (2)

This leads us to a necessary point: Scripture is still above human reason. Nor is reason above Scripture. If we place reason above Scripture then we can do something like, "contradicts in Scripture, therefore Scripture is wrong. Rather it should be, " seems to contradict in Scripture, therefore my interpretation of one, or both of those statements is wrong."

Yet, at the same time, we cannot state that Scripture teaches contradictions, for if two statements are contradictions at one point, why not another two statements? Who is to say that the contradiction is between those two statements and not at the point of justification by faith alone? Of course, we as humans will never completely understand God's Word, and so because of our sin, we will most likely run into a lot of statements that seem like contradictions. But know that these contradictions are only in your head, and you as a God loving Christian are called to be one in mind with God. Thus we are to work out these contradictions so that they are not contradictions anymore. As long as they're still contradictions, we cannot affirm both of them, because to do so would be to affirm a nothing. If I believe A contradicts B, I cannot say that I believe both A and B. Sometimes I believe A, sometimes I believe B, but I cannot believe both at the same time. To say that I do would be intellectually dishonest.

A good example of an "apparent" contradiction is the idea of God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Many (almost all) people will affirm that God is sovereign. They will also state that to them, God's sovereignty over all means that man does not have free will. They also state that Scripture also teaches that humans are responsible for their actions. These two ideas are incompatible in their minds. This means that their understanding of the two terms is wrong, because otherwise if a logical contradiction could exist in Scripture, then why not at the point of justification by faith alone? Why can't people be justified by faith alone and by faith and works? Why can't Jesus be the only way, and Mohammed be another way? To accept contradictions like this within our worldview is just being irrational.

Instead, the solution to the "apparent contradiction" here is to throw out the idea that human responsibility requires "free will." Apart from the impossibility to define the term free will, the whole idea of free will is rejected by God's sovereignty. We are held responsible because God chooses to hold us responsible. We are held responsible because God is judge.

Take an example. I could hold my little brother, who is 18, responsible for his spilling the glass of milk on the table. I could punish him by making him clean it up. Maybe he was surprised by me walking in, or maybe something caused him to slip a little bit. But the argument "I didn't have free will" is no reason for me to not hold him responsible. He did it. That's that. I hold him responsible because I was given the authority (by my parents) to keep order in the house, because it would be just for him to clean it up, so on and so forth.

Of course, the analogy breaks down. My brother can appeal to a higher authority (mom). My brother can refuse his punishment. He can claim that I was injust. None of these apply to God. With God, who is the ultimate authority and just by nature, we cannot appeal to a higher authority, nor can we claim that God is being injust (as the man in Romans 9 tries to do). God is also omnipotent, so we cannot avoid our punishment. He is omniscient, so we cannot hide what we did. We will be judged because God has decreed that we will be judged. No ifs, ands, buts, or ors.

Thus when we cast away this foreign notion of free will, we are left with two statements that are not contradictory in the least. God is sovereign over everything. God holds humans responsible.

That was a long digression, but returning to the point. When we see what we think are contradictions in Scripture, they are not contradictions in Scripture. They are contradictions in us. When we see contradictions we are to work them out and take them captive for Christ, so that we may be of one mind with God. If to God they are not contradictions, does it not follow that to us they are not to be contradictions? To say that God has left us with contradictions is to insult God and dishonor His name. Rather, we are left with contradictions because of our sinful natures. Remember though, that because sin can never be wiped away on this side of glory, we cannot hope to extinguish all the mysteries of Scripture. We cannot hope to have a complete understanding, but at the same time we are to strive for it, with fear and trembling. Life depends upon Scripture, we cannot hope to go into life with a blunted sword.

So let us call upon God the Father and ask for faith. Ask for a clarity of mind to grasp how wide, deep, and long, His love is. Let us confess that "we believe, help us with our disbelief" for we desperately need to be men and women that glorify God. Let us seek Him with all our minds, knowing all the while and confessing all the while that in order for us to do so He must seek us first. Let us see the bold truths of Scripture and faithfully proclaim them from the highest of rooftops and the peaks of mountains. Let us ask Him for wisdom and logic, for discernment and application of the precious truths that are contained with Scripture. Let us pray with the Psalmist as he prays "
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."

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at 9:36 PM

Logic and Faith (1)

Something that has crossed my path a great deal recently has been the fact that many people (Christians and non-Christians) alike, believe that somehow faith is beyond logic, or faith is extralogical, or faith and logic have no overlap at all. Where logic exists faith does not.

Now, this is completely and absolutely wrong. Logic is instrumental to faith. We cannot stand for right theology and a right God if this doesn't also mean rejecting wrong theology and worship of a wrong God. To do so would be tandamount to idolotry.

Now, this is a concept I don't think I posted about before, but it is something that I've been thinking about, and thus far, see nothing wrong with it. So here goes:

I believe (right now, but still open to teaching) that faith is not some supernatural leap of logic, but rather faith is the clarity of mind granted by God to use our logic. Faith is the ability to see that "the mountains declare the glory of the Lord" the ability to see that "God is sovereign." Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is being certain of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see (NIV). How else can we be certain of anything except for a deductive reasoning from true premises? Science cannot, and never will, give us certainty. Our own experience cannot, and never will, give us certainty. Someone else cannot, and never will, give us certainty. But the infallible Word of God. That's certain. The logical implications of the infallible Word of God? Those are certain. When Jesus says He is the way, the truth the life, and no one can come to the Father except through Him, then it is certain that Buddah cannot get one to the Father, Scientology cannot get one to the Father.

What else is a man of great faith but one who believes Scripture? Was not Job commended for holding fast to his faith, his certainty that God is sovereign? Was it not Abraham who offered up his son in faith, with a sure knowledge that God is so powerful that He can raise up Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11)? Men and women of great faith were men and women who believed the Word of God.

If you have faith like a mustard seed - aka, you acknowledge that God is sovereign over everything, then why can't a mountain be thrown in the lake?

As a side note, Vincent Cheung has an excellent treatment on why he doesn't say "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist."

We cannot have faith without logic. We cannot have Christianity without logic. Christianity is the only logical thing out there. Every other worldview collapses into speculation and skepticism, or outright contradictions. Whether one is Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist or whatever, the only thing that is sure in this world is Scripture.

(to be continued)

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Thursday, September 08, 2005 at 11:29 PM

Vision Summer School Thoughts (5) - Revival (3)

All the posts in this series are done. Read them here

~~~

The final thing point where I had issues with was much strongly emphasized by one of my friends that also had disagreements, but I agreed with him.

The point was basically: Did the skits and body worship glorify God?

His point was that when acting in a skit in a religious context, he as a person, never found himself able to glorify God. It was all about pleasing man, seeking to be perfect so that others would applaud and cheer and laugh, and not to present a picture for God. The same (for him) could be said for body worship. It was also especially prominent when he was in the audience. A skit or body worship never inspired him to worship God, but rather drew him into admiring man. "Look at that clever joke, that funny punchline, the casualness, the truthfulness of the acting." For this reason (along with the ones I presented) he was not a big fan of the skits and body worship, so he decided to only be part of the praise team where he didn't have to deal with it.

Now, I was unclear that something like him not being able to worship God while acting in a skit was sufficient grounds to present, after all, our actions should always glorify God, thus if he felt it didn't for him, in good conscience he should withdraw, but for others they might be able to (as long as they bore with him as a weaker brother (Romans 14) ).

But I felt the point that was made about the audience was solid. Of course, we cannot ensure that the entire audience is adequately spiritually prepared for the skit so that they do not glorify man, but glorify God, but there is a call to discernment. If a skit would not be glorifying to God to the vast majority of the audience, why are they putting it on? Additionally, why are they advertising it, this only serves to continue to bring people who are looking to glorify man, does it not? Same criticisms apply to the body worship.

Were any efforts made to prepare the audience? Not that I know of. Were any efforts made to prepare the participants? Not that I know of. Talking to a teacher from last year, she confessed that it did feel like a show they were putting up for others. This worries me.

Now, I am not condemning all skits, all body worship, all public displays, but I am putting our motives under the magnifying glass. What are the motives that we are underscoring here? Everyone would say "to glorify God." What are we looking the audience to respond here? How do we expect the audience to respond?

One of the people who also disagreed with the night itself but ended up participating in the skit became the key figure in one of the skits and expressed great concern over where the skits were going. He mentioned that there was "almost crude joking" and was wondering if these things were appropriate. I suspect he had a hard time sleeping that night, because he knew the answers before he asked me about them . But thanks be to God that the skit was changed at the last second to exclude all verbal communication, making the question about the jokes irrelevant. I think having "Christian" skits makes this question very relevant. What is the purpose of joking in a Christian skit?

I feared that the skits, though they may be made with right intentions at heart (I had major theological issues with one of them though, but I've already addressed that), would not bring the audience to places of worship. Though this concern was brought up, it was largely ignored in our discussion, not because we didn't want to talk about it, but because we were all tired and felt like it ran out of time.

I guess to summarize, another series of questions were asked about how the skits and body worship enabled the audience to worship God. Were the actions planned to perfection for man or for God? Would the audience understand the distinction? Would the plot, the jokes, the story glorify man in the audience's eyes or God?

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at 11:15 AM

Fear God and keep His commandments

In one of the comments to my previous post on the word "awesome," it was said:

" Although I am impressed with your insight, I sometimes worry you read too far into things. How much do you fear God?

Be afraid less, he is merciful. Focus less on the "rules" of Christianity and on the time they were written for and try to adapt them reasonably to today."

Allie- I'm sorry to say that I think you are wrong, dead wrong.

Nowhere in Scripture does it ever say that we are to not fear God. It says we are not to fear man, not to fear our circumstances, to trust in God in all things, but it never says we are not to fear God. A quick search on Biblegateway of "fear God" shows us that fearing God is always put in a very positive light.

Abraham is commended for his actions in offering up Isaac.
Genesis 22:12
He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
Joseph swears by his fear of God:
Genesis 42:18
On the third day Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God:
Moses installs judges who fear God:
Exodus 18:21
Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.
God will protect the Psalmist from his oppressors because he fears God and they do not:
Psalm 55:19
God will give ear and humble them,he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.
For those who fear God it will go well with them:
Ecclesiastes 8:12
Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.
What is the whole duty of man?
Ecclesiastes 12:13
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
This verse leads me to a discussion of your second point which was " Focus less on the "rules" of Christianity and on the time they were written for and try to adapt them reasonably to today."

I believe you are wrong here as well. The Ecc. verse sufficiently proves my point, but I'd just like to point out one thing:

Once we say that we can 'adapt' rules "reasonably" to today as something separate from Scripture, we are no longer standing upon Scripture as our rule and authority. Once we stray away from Scripture, our highest authority is ourselves, and then it becomes 'whatever I want to do, I do." If that phrase doesn't sound familiar, it comes from Romans 7, with Paul lamenting his sinful nature. To distance ourselves away from God's commands is to distance ourselves away from God's Word is to distance ourselves from God.

How can you love someone whom you do not listen to? We are all fallen human beings. We all sin, we all fall short. We all are unable to perfectly obey God in all that we do. That is why we desperately need Christ. Once we start excusing ourselves and saying "oh this is ok, that is ok even though God says it isn't" then we have denied our need for Christ, denied our need for salvation, and we have cast off from the only one who can save us.

Allie, I beg of you, seek out God of the Scriptures. See that He is Holy, Awesome, Glorious, Worthy of All Worship. Fear Him, Fear Him deeply, for it is His hand that created us, sustains us, and He could justly withdraw that from us this very instant for the sins we have all committed. We have not given Him the worship He deserves. We have blasmhemed His name to others. We have lived a life that denies Him. We deserve judgment, death, and wrath. We must wait upon His will. He is under no obligation to save us. He is under no obligation to send His Son.

If you find yourself at the brink of despair, realizing that all you've done is but dung in His eyes, then you may know that it is God working in your heart. Cry out to Christ then and acknowledge Him as the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life and beg for mercy. God will hear the prayers of those He has redeemed and answer.
Revelation 14:7
And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."

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at 1:23 AM

How "awesome" is that?

So a friend of mine mentioned last night that the word "awesome" was synonymous with the phrase "awe-inspiring." This set my mind on a course I'm not entirely happy it ran (because it really convicted me and forced me into positions I didn't like to be in), but because I think it's interesting I want to share it with my readers.

So "awesome" means "awe-inspiring." But what really is "awe-inspiring"? I commonly use that term when I'm really excited, but excitement doesn't translate into awe. In fact, "awesome" is a fairly common biblical term, used to ascribe God glory. Yes, it is truly God that does inspire awe.

But where does that leave me? Am I allowed to use the word "awesome" in casual speak? My current thought right now is absolutely not. To call something "awe-inspiring" when it is not, is to ascribe glory to something/someone that does not deserve it, for it is to God alone be (all) glory. One of my friends pointed out that it might be ok to use the term "awesome" when something does inspire awe in us (all the while recognizing that it is wrongly that we are inspired to awe), because then it is merely using a term to describe our sin, and not sinning itself.

Either way though, how many things actually inspire awe in us? Not too many I would say.

On a side note, I thought to myself: would the Sears Tower be awesome? Well, what about the Tower of Babel? As a Christian, I don't think I can say that the Tower of Babel can be awesome, simply because it is a mark of great depravity, man trying to make himself God. Similarly, non-Christian religious shrines/artifacts and the like should only inspire shame and sadness (much like Paul in Athens when he saw the many idols).

Well, what about the Sears Tower now. Was it built to the glory of God (and thus I can praise God for His hand in creating this object) or was it a sinful human construction striving to reach God in it's own way? Why do we build big buildings anyways? When they bombed the twin towers, talk immediately began on how it would be replaced, to demonstrate that America was not down. It's all about saving face with that!

What do my readers think? Can we "appreciate" non-Christian art/works? Right now I'm leaning towards no, mostly because every aspect of a non-Christian is bent against God because they are enemies of God, so even their works, which may look or seem nice to us, is still an act of rebellion against God. A verse just popped into my head that seems to settle this question:

without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. - Hebrews 11:6

Thus if God is displeased, who are we to say that it is right to be pleased at something God is displeased with?

Once again, this is kind of a scary road to walk, because it reveals a great deal of sinfulness in my own heart and makes me wonder just where this transformation stops (even though I know it stops only at glory).

One point I feel it is necessary to say though: Our standing before God is not dependent upon what words we say, what we've done, but it is dependent (thankfully!) upon Christ and Christ alone.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005 at 2:21 PM

God is pretty cool

So the coolest thing happened while I was at work yesterday. I work at a farmstand and this particular day not too many people were coming so I stood around for chunks of time. Usually I bring something to read, but that day I thought it was going to be busy, so I didn't bother (I would have brought JI Packer's Knowing God, an excellent book for those who are interested).

So I decided to just pray while standing. Alaska, my fellow teachers, my home church, my church in Cali, the south... and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, as I thought more and more about it, I started looking more inside, more at how much we were broken. The resounding theme for most of the prayer requests was church politics, and how much they suck. Well, it was kind of rough.

But, by God's grace, He led someone to visit the farmstand a few minutes later. Apparently she had seen me reading Back to Basics (last summer) and remembered me and asked me how I was doing, what I was reading, what I thought about it. She mentioned that she prayed for me (WOW!) even though she had only met me once. So we discussed a little bit about what I was reading now (and my only issue with JI Packer's book) and she was like "wow, it sounds like you really like the intellectual side of Christianity, well if you really like sound exegesis and biblical preaching, you're welcome to come check out our church, the pastor is a friend if Packer's"

I nearly cried with joy. She said sound exegesis in a sentence! This was something that I really really was looking for. Something that I felt that I really needed. So I got the name of the church and I told her I'd check it out on Sunday.

That really made my day, it brought to mind the passage in Kings where God tells Isaiah that He has preserved a remnant. Not that I was feeling alone (the various God-centered blogs are quite a blessing), but just sometimes I felt like I was quite alone in my viewpoints on the intellectual aspect of Christianity, especially in my day to day discussion. People always seem to emphasize the "emotion" over the knowledge. I even got into a discussion with one person when I made the claim that it was from Scripture that we know how to pray. But that's a whole other topic.

So praise be to God. He is sovereign. He will redeem. He will restore. He will preserve. He will persevere. Life is about Him, not about what obstacles I perceive to be in front of me, but the glory that has yet to be revealed in me by Him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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at 2:11 PM

Vision Summer School Thoughts (4) - Revival (2)

All the posts in this series are done. Read them here

~~~

One of the other issues I had with the "revival" was it's worldly aspect. In short, one of the main reasons that this was being promoted was because it was felt that the kids were sick of the message, sick of preaching, and this would wake them up. Thus they would have skits, body worship, and short testimonies in order to help convey the core message (which I already had issues with here).

This felt like selling out. It felt like selling out to the Gospel, it felt like selling out to Scripture, it felt like selling out to the pastors. In short, I felt like the idea behind the whole thing (never said, but always implied) was that "preaching God's Word isn't sufficient to attract people, we need to wrap it up into something they'd be interested in." Of course, no one would say something like that outwardly, but it's marks were evident in all the discussions I had with people. They would ask me questions like "You really think that the kids would be interested in preaching?" or say things like "Different people learn differntly, some learn better through visual than through sermons."

1) Yes absolutely I believe that people would be interested in sound Biblical preaching. After all, it is what the Prophets did, it's what Jesus did, it's what the Apostles did. No where in the Bible do we have "Oh lets put on a slideshow and a skit."

But some of you may say to me: Jesus spoke in parables, and didn't Paul quote Greek philosophers?

1) Jesus spoke in parables yes, but why did he do so? Mark 4 says:

10And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12so that

"they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven."
Get this, Jesus spoke in parables so that those that God had blinded would not hear!

2) Paul quoted Greek philosophers, yes, but he quoted them only to condemn and convict the listeners. Acts 17, Paul's speech in Athens is of prime example. He basically says "Hey, your philosophers knew some of it, God is revealed in nature, but you don't listen to Him, you worship idols!"

Either way, neither of these were examples of places where sound Biblical preaching needed to be wrapped up in something else in order to make the points "relevant" or "applicable"
Instead, throughout the Bible we have Paul exhorting Timothy to "preach the Word, in season and out." (2 Timothy 4) People will gather around them people who give them what their itching ears want to hear.

2) To the charge that different people learn differently, I disagree. If you give someone who has had no previous encounter with Christianity a picture of Jesus on the Cross what can they get from it? We don't know who that person is, we dont' know why he's up there, we don't know what that means for us. All of this requires someone to explain it. That is a picture of Jesus Christ, God in flesh, placed upon the cross for the punishment that sinners justly deserved because they have sinned against the Almighty God, through the cross those who believe have their sins paid for and the relationship restored with God... and so on.

But now after explaining it, we no longer need the picture! This example can be used with anything. "I learn by doing" How do we know if we're doing right or wrong? If it works or doesn't work? Only if someone explains to us which way is the right and the wrong ways, which results are desirable and not. But now we don't need to do it to learn, we merely need to listen!

No, we do not all learn differently. God has graced different people with different depths of knowledge and different abilities to rightly apply knowledge, but the source of our knowledge is the same: preaching.

Having addressed those issues, I return to my original point: I felt like the revival was selling out. Over and over it was touted as "come and check out our skits" "come and check out our songs" "come and check out ..." NONE of it was about God, the Gospel, Christ. It was completely man-centered. Come and you'll be entertained. Oh and by the way, we will share some testimonies too.

It felt like a bait and switch. It felt like people no longer were willing to say with Paul "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of life to all who believe." No, people were ashamed of the Gospel. They were ashamed that it wasn't bringing enough people into the church, not realizing the the Gospel is also meant to drive people away, John 6 and 2 Cor. 2: 15-17. This was what irks me the greatest, what offended me the most, and ultimately why I pulled out.

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Monday, September 05, 2005 at 9:33 AM

Romans 9

While I was at Alaska, one of the messages on Sunday was on Romans 9. I was impressed that a pastor would be willing to take such a controversial passage (especially in a non-denominational church). Unfortunately he wasn't entirely clear on it, mainly because he tried to hang onto "free will." Because of this ambiguity, one of my friends mentioned to me that he was really confused. I offered to help him out and typed up this for him. I guess I'll share it since I also want to link to two excellent treatments of predestination that have just been blogged about.

A running commentary on Romans 9 by yours truly. No where near the scholarship and research the other two have done, but I figured to share it anyways.

Vincent' Cheung answers the objection "predestination makes us robots": More than a Potter

Guest blogger Alan Kurschner on aomin.org answers thie issue of "God predestined a plan, but not people" in 3 parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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at 1:19 AM

Guilty as charged

Hat Tip: Jollyblogger.

Grace Grinding by Steve McKnight

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Friday, September 02, 2005 at 11:43 PM

Jesus Wept

Another part in my "rethinking memory verses" thoughts. Be warned, this is a little long, mostly because it includes huge chunks of a chapter from John, which tend towards the long side.

So another thing that I came across in my studies which kind of (much less so than the previous) blew my mind was “Jesus wept.” This is one of the passages I like most, some because it’s easy to memorize (and touted as the shortest verse in the Bible, but both the NIV and the ESV have comparable ones, brownie points if you find other two word verses), and the second reason because of my common interpretation of that verse, which basically amounted to “Jesus feels for you bro.” This gave me a great deal of comfort, but while I was reading over that passage again, another interpretation came to mind that I think fits the text and the Bible as a whole a little bit better.

Now, the text John 11:

1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

One thing I’ll highlight here is that it says in verse 4, “But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’”

5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 8The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 11After saying these things, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him." 12The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

Here are another couple points I would like to highlight.

Verses 5-6 are particularly awesome. Two reasons: 1) because it demonstrates another place where the ESV sticks to the text better than the NIV, for the NIV says, “5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” This makes it sound like in spite of Jesus’ love for Martha and Mary, he stays, but the ESV says because of His love, he stays. 2) Jesus clearly has an ultimate plan in store. His omniscience is evident in the fact that He knew exactly what He was doing here. On a side note, this passage in itself seems enough to disprove Open Theism, which states that God doesn’t foresee human choices, thus must grow and adjust with the circumstances.

Verse 11-15 echo what Jesus said back up in verse 4. He is doing this for their sake.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."

Verses 21-27 are a great demonstration of Martha’s faith in Christ. She has almost a complete affirmation of who Christ is. She believes that Christ is omnipotent (v. 21), a mediator with God (v. 22), the key to resurrection on the last day (v. 24), the Son of God, who is coming into the world (v. 27). Though one thing she lacks, and this is what I caught on, and this is why I feel that another interpretation for why Christ weeps is possible. She does not affirm that Jesus can raise Lazarus from the dead right then. She instead believes that Jesus will raise Lazarus on the last day. While she does say that “Even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” But this seems to be more just an affirmation that “oh, he died, but that doesn’t shake my belief in you as the Son of God.”

Jesus Wept

28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"

Now we get to the center of the passage. In verse 32, we also see Mary’s affirmation of Christ’s power, much like Martha. Now, Mary doesn’t seem to go into the drawn out affirmation that Martha does on whom Christ is and what that means, but we can’t really draw much from that. What we do see is that Jesus sees her weeping, sees the Jews who had come with her also weeping; he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. This leads to my memory verse 11:35 “Jesus wept.” Now the Jews take our traditional interpretation “Jesus wept because he loved him. Jesus feels for Martha and Mary and the Jews who are weeping.” But I propose that is isn’t necessarily with them that he is weeping for (though I’ll get into the details at the end).

Instead, my idea is that Jesus is weeping for their doubt. Though both Martha and Mary have affirmed that they believe him powerful enough to heal Lazarus had he been there when he was alive (in fact, his healing powers were all over the book of John), and Martha had affirmed his power over life and death in the future, no one affirmed his power over life and death today. Rather they thought that all was lost and so wept. I see (and I’m not 100% on this yet, of the commentaries I’ve checked I think I’m alone, so its very likely that I’m wrong) Jesus weeping over their doubt and lack of trust.

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Verse 38 seems to point back to verse 37. If it had said, “Then Jesus came to the tomb and was deeply moved again,” I think I’d go with the traditional interpretation, because then it would be obvious that he was moved with the rest of the people over the “death” of the man he loved (v. 3). But because it isn’t structured like that, it feels like it points back to verse 37, which is another expression of doubt at Christ. Jesus then rebukes that doubt in Martha (v. 40) and proceeds to demonstrate that He has power over life and death even today.

Thus Jesus fulfills all that He has planned out ahead which he foretold in verse 4 and raises Lazarus from the dead so that those around him might believe that God sent him. I also see a great deal of symbolism in the fact that Jesus makes a point to say “unbind him, and let him go.” It seems like Lazarus’ waking from the dead clearly echo’s our rise from the dead (Eph. 2) and the unbinding physically echo’s our unbinding to sin spiritually (Romans 6)

To sum up I’ll lay out what I would see as the arguments for the traditional interpretation and mine.

1) Traditional interpretation has Jesus weeping in a show of compassion. This would still be consistent with Scripture, for Paul does say, “weep with those who weep.” And we also have all the Psalms that say “those who sow in tears will reap with joy” as well as Eccl. “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.” The strongest argument for this interpretation would be the fact that Jesus seems to be responding to Mary and the Jew’s grieving. We also have the Jews pointing out “see how he loved him” which Jesus leaves unaddressed.

2) I believe the fact that Jesus is weeping instead of signifying Christ weeping with those who weep (though I will agree that one can make a decent case for that), is Christ weeping over the doubts of the people. Both Martha and Mary affirm Christ’s power to heal. Martha affirms Christ’s power over the dead, but when Jesus says that Lazarus will rise again (as he foreshadowed in v. 4-6), Martha doesn’t believe that Jesus will raise him up right then, but she believes that he’ll raise him up on the last day. It also seems to me that Jesus is moved once again by the doubt that the Jews show in v. 37, and finally he rebukes Martha’s doubt in v. 40. All of these together seem to lend a decent amount of weight to the possibility that Jesus isn’t weeping with those that are weeping, but rather for those that are weeping, because they weep in doubt of what He had already promised them.

Once again, I in no way want to be dogmatic about this, this was just something that crossed my mind as I was reading that passage and I thought I wanted to share. I’d love to hear my reader’s opinions and thoughts about it as well. I do suspect that there’s a large possibility that I am wrong, simply because the 3 commentaries I checked all take the first interpretation.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005 at 11:39 AM

Rethinking my memory verses

So one of my memory verses has been Galatians 5:22-23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I was just reading that chapter today and realized that my interpretation (which I guess I got from my Christian friends, so, our interpretation) of that verse has been pretty wrong.

For some reason I always thought that this verse pointed to what a believer should feel in being part of the body of Christ. He would feel the fruits of the Spirit. He would feel love, joy, peace... and so on so forth.

But then reading the whole chapter something jumps out at me. I see that the fruit of the Spirit is contrasted with the works of the flesh. The passage right before reads:
17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The parallelism is quite obvious. Paul is simply saying to bear fruit in keeping with the Spirit, and not with the flesh. Being a Christian doesn't mean you will feel at peace, but it means you should bear the fruit of peace. Being a Christian doesn't mean you will feel love, but it means you should demonstrate love. Mind blowing!

Of course, all of this must be taken in context (lest we return to the law) of the fact that it is only in Christ that we are able to do these things.
24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Man, this makes me want to go back and relook my memory verses.

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at 1:35 AM

Defining: Testimony

An email I just sent off:

I was reading through John 5 and came through 30-47 where Jesus talks about John testifying to Jesus and he talks about how Scripture testifies to himself as well and it got me thinking about our picture of what the word "testimony" means. I especially thought of what you said in one of your previous emails to me regarding the revival:
I am not getting a clear sense of whether or not the gospel will be shared in the revival, but if there are testimonies of God's salvation, I do not see how the gospel could be left out from any believer's testimony. Don't forget that Paul spoke of his testimony, whether about his initial meeting with Christ on the road to Damascus or about his imprisonment, to strengthen and encourage his believers at churches. Do not forget that Satan is prophesied to be finally defeated in Revelation by the testimonies of the saints.
And I thought to myself, "it seems like the biblical definition of the word 'testimony' isn't entirely the same as the one that we commonly have in our heads." It seems to me that a biblical definition of the word testimony is more something used to prove something. I am reminded of the "on the testimony of two or more witnesses a fact will be established" like in Old Testament Law. I definitely see that in Paul's "testimony" as well, where he talks about Christ's appearance to himself not to inspire others to believe in Him, but to confirm that he is an Apostle of Christ.

A quick search on Biblegateway seems to be consistent with that definition.

Our typical definition of testimony is something that's spoken to share what God has done in our lives, usually used to encourage and edify the body of believers. I wonder where that came about!

Makes me wonder if we should rework our vocabulary and use a different word instead of testimony for when people share what God has been doing in their life. (And it also makes me rethink how Satan is actually defeated in Revelation as well!)

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