Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mercy of God

This week I will be preaching at Edgewood Baptist Church. I have been going through the Sermon on the Mount and I am currently studying Matthew 5:7, the next in the line of Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, which states, "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."

In my studies I always find that I am afforded opportunities during the week to experience, in some way, exactly what I will be teaching. This week has not been any different. I had an opportunity this week to show mercy, but I flopped. Miserably. I am so thankful for a merciful God. I always pray that God will help to understand what I will be talking about, and then He gives me these real-life experiences to do some real learning.

I am saying all of that because I want to share a mercy quote with you. This one is from A.W. Tozer in his book "The Knowledge of the Holy":

"When through the blood of the everlasting covenant we children of the shadows reach at last our home in the light, we shall have a thousand strings to our harps, but the sweetest may well be the one tuned to sound forth most perfectly the mercy of God. "For what right will we have to be there? Did we not by our sins take part in that unholy rebellion which rashly sought to dethrone the glorious King of creation? And did we not in times past walk according to the course of this world, according to the evil prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience? And did we not all at once live in the lusts of our flesh? And were we not by nature the children of wrath, even as others? But we who were one time enemies and alienated in our minds through wicked works shall then see God face to face and His name shall be on our foreheads. We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion; we who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven. And all through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us.

"Mercy is an attribute of God, an infinite and inexhaustible energy within the divine nature which disposes God to be actively compassionate... If we could remember that the divine mercy is not a temporary mood but an attribute of God's eternal being, we would no longer fear that it will someday cease to be. Mercy never began to be, but from eternity was; so it will never cease to be. It will never be more since it is itself infinite; and it will never be less because the infinite cannot suffer diminution. Nothing that has occurred or will occur in heaven or earth or hell can change the tender mercies of our God. Forever His mercy stands, a boundless, overwhelming, immensity of divine pity and compassion."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting Back

I am probably not as good as most teachers when it comes to "getting back into the teaching spirit." I do love to teach... just in-general... I love teaching things. I don't love some of the aspects of being a teacher: Paper work, motivating students, dealing with parents, dealing with discipline in the classroom, grading, more grading, confronting students on poor grades, etc. I don't hate these things, I just don't love them. In fact, I down-right dread some of them.

For example, I would love to be able to start the year by saying, "If you want to learn, or if you know that you need to learn this and have become resigned to doing it... then stay here. If you don't want to learn and are going to fight it every step of the way, I wish you weren't here. I would love it if you would change your mind, but if you won't, then I wish you would go." Of course, I can't do this, but I wish I could.

I admire those teachers that really get into it and passionately look for ways to motivate their students and find creative new ways to present the materials, but philosophically I don't believe that the biggest problems in education are the means or the methods, I believe that the biggest problems lie with the students. Not that the teacher or how the teacher teaches doesn't play a role, but there are students that will learn despite the teacher and there are students that will not learn in spite of the what that teacher does.

Does any of this make sense?

How does this play out? Well, I believe that one of the best things that you can do for a student is give clear instruction, have clear expectations, determine clear consequences, and clearly follow through. If they want to pass, whether it be for good reasons or bad, they will do what they need to do.

Does this work? I say yes! On one condition... Everything must be tempered with compassion. If you do these things with compassion, they fit and work in that everyday classroom situation. Then you don't get angry at the disruptive student, you simply say, "Well, you just earned yourself a detention... would you like another, or would you like to sit down and be quiet?"

This is a rash sort of post, but I just had a couple of things bouncing around in my head as I am trying to get back into the right frame of mind and I thought I would spew them out onto this blog.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Family Vacations and book reading.

I am currently on my family vacation.

Every year my wife's side of the family takes a little vacation. They always get some sort of cabin or vacation home... something big enough for all of us... and we get together for a few days.

I usually spend the spare moments of this vacation catching up on my reading.

I just finished the book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. It was a really good book. The first few chapters were the best chapters that I have ever read on the sovereignty of God. At least they were the best that I can remember reading. Maybe I will write an official "review" of this book in a few days.

Since I finished that book, I started reading The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. (Why is it that so many of my favorite authors go by their initials and their last name? C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, J.C. Ryle, A.W. Pink, J.I. Packer, R.A. Torrey, etc. Hey, I should start doing that!) I just read the first chapter and thought that it was pretty good. He makes a point right at the beginning of the book that I thought was really relevant:
Almost all doctrinal error is, really, Truth perverted, Truth wrongly divided, Truth disproportionately held and taught. The fairest face on earth, with the most comely features, would soon become ugly and unsightly, if one member continued growing while the others remained undeveloped. Beauty is, primarily, a matter of proportion. This it is with the Word of God: its beauty and blessedness are best perceived when its manifold wisdom is exhibited in its true proportions. Here is where so many have failed in the past.

Those words struck a sure chord in my mind. I believe that the issues that I have run into, both with other people and within my own mind, have been issues of disproportion. Specifically when tackling the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. I think that is why I love to read books from both perspectives. I love to be convicted and driven on by those books which lay out my responsibility to obey God's commands, but I also love the reassurance that comes from reading about the sovereignty of God.

I have been thinking about starting a book group (for lack of a better title) that is devoted to reading through the great books of the faith... Books that have been around for a while... That have stood the test of time... That have authors who only use their first and middle initial and then tack on their last name. Those kind of books. I might start it with my church or my family and see where it goes from there. I would especially like to get some men involved, men who want to think deep and tackle tough thoughts...

Anyway, back to the vacation and away from deep thoughts for a moment... For a little leisure reading I just finished reading Peter and the Starcatchers. I know, this sounds a little juvenile, but it was a really good book. I guess that there are a few more in the series, so I am looking forward to picking those up from the library. My mom got me started with these books and now that I am finished with the first one, I can understand why. I think that these might be a good series to read with my boys.

Well, I need to get up from the computer and enjoy a little family time. More later.

M.C. Harmless