Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tomorrow Is None of My Business

Here's my quote for the day:
"Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now." Keep a Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Love Soccer

My son loves soccer. And what my son loves I love--except for apple sauce. I don't really even like apple sauce. But soccer? I can get into this game. When I was growing up in Western Nebraska, soccer wasn't even an option. Now I love the game. That's why I'm excited about the possibility of having the FIFA World Cup hosted in the USA--because Eli is excited about it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Forgotten God

Here are some quotes from Francis Chan’s The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, David C. Cook, 2009:

“God created feelings. Sure, like anything else, they can be misused and abused. But the intent and purpose of feelings came from God. Since he created emotions, why is it difficult to believe that he himself has emotions? The Spirit is grieved when there is a breach in relationship, whether it be relationship with God or relationship with other people. When we are disunified, unloving, hateful, jealous, gossipy, etc., that is when we grieve the Spirit of God. And since he is the creator of emotions, I believe that the Spirit grieves more deeply than we can even understand … I pray for the day when believers care more about the Spirit’s grief than their own. In fact, I pray that some of you readers would be broken over the grief you’ve placed on the Holy Spirit. So broken that you actually put down this book and work to resolve any conflicts you have with other believers. ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’ (Romans 12:8).” (72, 76)

Here are some of things according to Chan that should be present in your life if the Spirit dwells within you:

1. The Spirit helps us speak in precarious situations.

2. The Counselor teaches and reminds us of what we need to know.

3. The Spirit enables us to witness to others.

4. The Spirit empowers us to put to death the mis-deeds of the body.

5. The Spirit gives us an adoption to be God’s children.

6. The Spirit convicts us of sin.

7. The Spirit brings us life and freedom.

8. By the Spirit we abound in hope.

9. We are given a manifestation for the common good in community.

10. We exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Please Preach Christ

There is a lot of chatter (on line and off) about Christ-centered preaching. This can only be a good thing I think. I would hope that all Christian preachers could agree that we should follow the apostle Paul (who was following Christ) when he aimed at preaching "Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). We should heed the warning of Jesus who reprimanded those who were diligent students of the Bible but failed to see how they bear witness to him (John 5:39). Jesus also showed his disciples that in order to interpret Scripture rightly you must see how it all pertains to him (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47). A lot of the discussion centers around how you actually go about doing this. (The guys who continue to debate whether or not this is necessary need the metaphorical bash to the head or kick in the pants.) There is no question that the how to's are hard. In fact, apart from the Spirit of God they are impossible. We need to start (and proceed) by recognizing that. There are plenty of helpful, reliable, gospel-preaching explainers. Here are a few:
Christ-centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell
Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy
Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy
Preaching Christ from the Old Testament by Sidney Greidanus
Preaching Christ in All of Scripture by Edmund Clowney
Heralds of the King by Dennis E. Johnson

This last work contains examples of Christ-centered sermons. Of course, in order to preach Christ-centered sermons you have to hear them being preached by such men as Tim Keller, "Skip" Ryan, and Iain Duguid, Phillip Jensen, Sinclair Ferguson and Eric Alexander. Reading Ryle, Edwards, Spurgeon, Bunyan, Lloyd-Jones, Whitefield and the like is also invaluable. By whatever means, please preach Christ.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Only Sinners Need Apply

One of the common objections to Christianity is that Christians are a bunch of lousy hypocrites, people who call out other people for being sinners, but who still sin themselves. R. C. Sproul has a great answer for this objection in Reasons to Believe:
What happens is that people observe church members sinning. They reason within themselves, “That person professes to be a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to sin. That person is sinning; therefore, he is a hypocrite.” The unspoken assumption is that a Christian is one who claims he does not sin. It reality just the opposite is the case. For a Christian to be a Christian, he must first be a sinner. Being a sinner is a prerequisite for being a church member. The Christian church is one of the few organizations in the world that requires a public acknowledgment of sin as a condition for membership. In one sense the church has fewer hypocrites than any institution because by definition the church is a haven for sinners. If the church claimed to be an organization of perfect people then her claim would be hypocritical. But no such claim is made by the church. There is no slander in the charge that the church is full of sinners. Such a statement would only compliment the church for fulfilling her divinely appointed task.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Please Preach

Last night I confessed a fetish to my church. OK, so there were only 15 there at the time, but it was a surly confession nonetheless. I have a book fetish. I can't seem to get enough of them. I sometimes buy a half dozen books in a months time--sometimes more. The book of books tells us that "of the making of books there is no end" (Ecc. 12:12) and I think I need to read--well not all of them, but my "need to read" stack is piling higher and higher. One of the caring souls in our congregation reminded me that we have a library, so I need not purchase so many books. Another countered that you're not supposed to mark up library books (which of course I do a lot of). I must confess that neither one of these helpful comments helped much.

With that being said, I am reading a great book by Philip Jensen called "The Archer and the Arrow." It's about preaching the very words of God, aimed mostly at preachers. But he gives a very clear definition to preaching:
Sermons and preaching are not synonymous … Biblical preaching is about communicating God’s thoughts and not our own. And so we preach biblically whenever and wherever we declare the word of God to each other. In fact, sometimes there may even be more preaching happening over morning tea than from the pulpit, if dozens of conversations revolve around sharing God’s word of encouragement and rebuke with one another. Sermons, in other words, are a subset of a larger activity – the activity of proclaiming God’s word to one another, and from one generation to the next. Preaching is an activity that all are called on to perform.

So please preach God's Book and help me stop buying any more than I need.