Friday, December 30, 2011

The Innkeeper by John Piper: Book Review

One of the books that my wife gave me for Christmas was The Innkeeper by John Piper.  It only took about 5 minutes to read this book, but I was was already deeply emotionally moved before I was half way through the book.

The inside front cover gives this description:

Only two weeks from His crucifixion, Jesus has stopped in Bethlehem. He has returned to visit someone important--the innkeeper who made a place for Mary and Joseph the night He was born. But His greater purpose in coming is to pay a debt. What did it cost to house the Son of God? 
Through this imaginative poem, John Piper shares a tale of what might have been. The story of an innkeeper whose life was forever altered by the arrival of the Son of God. 
Ponder the sacrifice that was made that night. Celebrate Christ's birth and the power of His resurrection. Rejoice in the life and light He brings to all. And encounter the hope His life gives you for today--and for eternity.
Just like the description, it tells a story of what might have been if Jesus had visited the innkeeper just before he was crucified.  It gives a different take on how we usually portray that innkeeper.  Normally we think of him as being unfeeling or unkind in allowing a baby to be born in a manger, but it didn't have to be that way.  It is quite possible, and maybe more believable that the innkeeper was showing a kindness in allowing the manger to be opened up to travelers.

The book that I have is dedicated to any who have lost a child.  As you read this, you can see why this is mentioned at the beginning.

There is also that great glorification of Jesus.  I love how Piper does this.  He doesn't come right out and say, "Jesus is great!"  Instead, he uses his words to draw you to that conclusion yourself.  You suddenly find yourself thinking, "Jesus is Great!" before you know that you are thinking it!  He pulls on your heartstrings to magnify our Lord.

The version that I have linked is different from the version that I have in front of me.  The version I have in front of me is illustrated by paintings from Glenn Harrington, whereas the version I have linked is illustrated by John Lawrence.

If you have a few extra bucks, this is a worthwhile purchase.  I believe that Amazon has a few of these that are used where you will basically pay for shipping.  Check it out.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Man's maker was made man...

And here is that quote from the end:
Man's maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars,
might nurse at His mother's breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Shepherd's Response

The shepherds responded to the Angel's pronouncement.  Does our response match the magnitude of the announcement?  Do we think of Christmas in a way that corresponds adequately to the message of Christmas?

Last Sunday I approached this topic, using the announcement of the Angels as my text.  Consider listening to this message as you consider your own thoughts and actions this Christmas.

Or you can click here to download this message.

Christmas in a Nutshell


Friday, December 23, 2011

Netflix Pick of the Week: Miracle on 34th Street

Being so close to Christmas, my Netflix Pick of the Week (which I haven't done in a few weeks) is Miracle on 34th Street.  Right now, Netflix has three versions of this movie to watch instantly.

The first one is, which might be my favorite, was released in 1947 and stars Maureen O'Hara and John Payne.  The guy who played Santa won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in this movie.  If you've never seen any of these movies, this would be a good place to start.  If you are already using Netflix, click here to watch it now.

The second one is the version that was released in 1955.  I've seen this one, but it doesn't stand in my mind as much.  Still a great movie.  Click here to watch it now on Netlix.

The final version that Netflix offers is the 1994 version.  This one stars Richard Attenborough as Santa.  It has the element of being more modern.  Sometimes, when  a movie has been remade this many times, it gets perfected.  I don't know if I would say that about this movie, but it is definitely quite enjoyable.  And, if your family doesn't have a taste for old movies, this one might break them in to this old story that is a great holiday special.  Click here to watch now on Netflix.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One does not simply walk into Mordor.

My family has embarked on a Lord of the Rings (extended edition) marathon.  We started watching yesterday afternoon.  Everyone fell asleep last night before the end of the last movie, so we are finishing this morning.

If you have never watched these movies, you may have to devote a day to it, but I think its worth it.  The only thing better is the books.

If you've watched the movie though, you might enjoy this little easter egg from Google.  Go to Google Maps and get walking directions from The Shire to Mordor.  You will get this helpful bit of caution:

Monday, December 19, 2011

First Day on Christmas Break

It's my first day on Christmas Break and I feel like a kid again.  I'm trying to plan out my day already: Hmm... Let's see... watch a movie?  Play a video game?  Both of those at the same time?  I could always play with Legos? Or maybe I could break out the Hotwheels?

Honestly though, I've had enough of these breaks now to learn a few lessons:

  1. Start the break off right by continuing to read the Bible.  (So often that seems to fall to the wayside along with the work schedule.)
  2. Plan the downtimes a little bit better.  Time flies by so fast when you are simply browsing the web or browsing tv viewing choices.  I don't think that I need to continually have productive things to do, but when there is downtime, I feels so much better when it isn't nothing time.
  3. Relax.  Being a full-time teacher and a full-time pastor can add to the stress level, more than I realize sometimes.  I need to let all of that flow off to the side and not worry about it.  It will be there, but it doesn't do any good to keep that stuff scrolling through my thoughts.  With that in mind though, it leads me to my next point.
  4. If there is some job to get done for school, get it done right away.  The longer I wait to grade a final or work on a project, the less motivated I become.
Well, that's where I am at.  Going to start on #1 right now.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Support your Local Blogger

I know that you've probably never thought to yourself, "Hmm.  How could I help support a blogger?"  But if you ever do, I would like to share with you one way that you can.

Many bloggers like to put links up on their blog.  You would be surprised at how many of those links will lead to a small dividend for the blogger.  For example, when I put up links to Amazon books, it has a reference code built into that link so that when you click it, it will show that it came from me.  If you make a purchase, even if it isn't the original item, it will lead to an even larger referral fee.

So, if you are going to purchase something through Amazon, visit a blogger first.  Find a link off of their blog and click through.


Click Here :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Black Squirrel

There is a squirrel living in my neighborhood that is jet black.  After talking to a few people, this isn't as weird as I originally thought it was, but this is the only black squirrel I've ever seen in my life.  Supposedly there are more of them living in other parts of the country, but I've never seen one in Danville before.

Anyway, I finally snapped a picture of it.  (Just to prove it to the Danville People.)

Click to Enlarge

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Theologian Discusses Harry Potter...

From Justin Taylor's Blog:
Jerram Barrs—Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture at Covenant Theological Seminary, and Resident Scholar of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute—talks about his love for the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Warning: contains spoilers!)
I think this is worth a few minutes of your day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing.

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be trust as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.
 B.B. Warfield [from]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Martin Luther on Education

"I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt...I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth."
Martin Luther

Friday, November 18, 2011

care for the salvation of others

"For never will man take diligent care for the salvation of others who neglects his own salvation."
John Calvin (as quoted by Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

if it be not God that you seek

From Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor :
Your study of physics and other sciences is not worth a rush, if it be not God that you seek after in them. To see and admire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in God, as exhibited in his works -- this is the true and only philosophy; the contrary is mere foolery, and is so called again and again by God himself. This is the sanctification of your studies, when they are devoted to God, and when he is the end, the object and the life of them all.
Though not as eloquently, I have thought this many times myself.  It has been my philosophical struggle while teaching in a public school.  Even in a "Christian" school, this can be a danger.  Consider the rest of what Richard Baxter has to say on this topic.
And, therefore, I shall presume to tell you, by the way, that it is a grand error, and of dangerous consequence in Christian academies, (pardon the censure from one so unfit to pass it, seeing the necessity of the case commandeth it,) that they study the creature before the Redeemer, and set themselves to physics, and metaphysics, and mathematics, before they set themselves to theology; whereas, no man that hath not the vitals of theology, is capable of going beyond a fool in philosophy.  
Theology must lay the foundation, and lead the way of all our studies. If God must be searched after, in our search of the creature, (and we must affect no separated knowledge of them) then tutors must read God to their pupils in all; and divinity must be the beginning, the middle, the end, the life, the all, of their studies.  
Our physics and metaphysics must be reduced to theology; and nature must be read as one of God's books, which is purposely written for the revelation of himself. The Holy Scripture is the easier book: when you have first learned from it God, and his will, as to the most necessary things, address yourselves to the study of his works, and read every creature as a Christian and a divine.  
If you see not yourselves, and all things, as living, and moving, and having being in God, you see nothing, whatever you think you see. If you perceive it not, in your study of the creatures, that God is all , and in all, and that 'of him, and through him, and to him, are all things,' you may think perhaps, that you 'know something; but you know nothing as you ought to know.' 
Think not so basely of your physics, and of the works of God, as that they are only preparatory studies for boys.
Do you think this way about theology?  Do you believe that it must lay the foundation of all that you believe?  Are all of our other studies worthless without this basic understanding of all that is?

Buried in these thoughts are the challenges that I face teaching at a public school.  What if I succeed in educating a child, but they have no concept of the origins of knowledge?  Should there ever be a secular education?

The deeper question is this... IS there such thing as a secular education?  Do we not teach something of theology when do not mention God?  Do we not teach His attributes when we present a world devoid of Him?  Do we not expound on His nature when we study a nature that is apart from Him?  Do we not tell His story when we teach history without His providential hand?

I know I've talked about this before, but as I read this portion of Richard Baxter's book yesterday, I was reminded once again of my ongoing philosophical dilemma.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Reformed Pastor

I just started my new book this last week.  It is called The Reformed Pastor and it is by Richard Baxter.  I purchased this book at a used book store while on a short vacation in Brown County.  It sat on my shelf with a few other "to be read" books, slowly making its way to the top of the heap.  So far I am really enjoying this book.  It is mentally stimulating and spiritually challenging.  I would offer a brief synopsis, but I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Baxter's own subtitling far more than anything that I could come up with.  Here is an image I found on the ever-informative Wikipedia.

click to enlarge
I love this first page.  Notice that is says,
Showing the nature of the Pastoral work; especially in Private Instruction and Catechizing. 
With an open Confession of our too open Sins. 
Prepared for a day of Humiliation kept at Worcester, December 4, 1655, by the Ministers of that County, who subscribed the Agreement for Catechizing and Personal Instruction, at their entrance upon that work.
I just love that these ministers had prepared a day of Humiliation to confess their sins!  I wonder how much the ministers of Danville (or your city) need to do this?!

You can read more about Richard Baxter here.  You can even read the whole book for free via Google Books, click here.

Wordpress is Horrible

My wife is helping a friend with her blog and her social media stuff.  The blogging platform that she is using is Worpress.  As you can tell from the title to this post, after spending a portion of my evening trying to figure it out, I now officially hate Worpress.  The interface is cluttered and, well, just ridiculous.  I guess I'm spoiled though.  The Blogger interface is so streamlined.  It is friendly to the mind and to the eyes.

What I can't figure out is why anyone would ever switch.  I just don't get it.

Here is a youtube video from Blogger, highlighting their new look.


Monday, November 7, 2011

God in Action - Book Review

I finished the book God in Action by Karl Barth about a week ago, but haven't had the time to devote to writing a proper book review.  I still don't have the time, but I would like to take a moment to post a quick review, one not quite worthy of the book.

God in Action is one of Karl Barth's early theological works.  It is a compilation of a set of lectures.  I have read that this book is a great way to get an understanding of Karl Barth's theology.  I found that its primary focus was on the authority of scripture and the reality of the Church.  He would define and reiterate the necessity of understanding the doctrines related to these topics.  As he discussed each, there was an emphasis on a logical flow of thought, this is what drew me in.

God in Action made me think.  I've had a couple of posts quoting this book already.  You can read those posts here and here.  There were several other occasions where I felt that a particular statement had earned blog-quote status, but they didn't make it there because of a lack of time.  I was drawn to his statements because of that analytical approach.  It permeated every page.

I was a little disappointed at his lack of scripture use.  In his defense, it wasn't meant to be a scriptural exposition, but a verbal discourse on the topics.  Nevertheless, I always appreciate an appropriate amount of proof-texts in relation to a theological work.  I guess I've been spoiled by Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.

I would still recommend God in Action to any of you.  It was challenging at parts, but well worth the read.  It is currently less than $3 through Amazon.  Click the link above to go to the purchase page.

Monday, October 17, 2011


"Of all the sciences which stir the head and heart, theology is the fairest. It is closest to human reality and gives us the clearest view of the truth after which all science quests."
Karl Barth (God in Action)

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I occasionally read a little devotional called Days of Praise.  It is put out by the Institute for Creation Research and I think most of them are written by Henry M. Morris, a well-known creationist and Biblical scholar.

Last week I read one about joking and jesting that really caught my attention.  I believe that he shares a valid point: a point that left me thinking over the next couple of days and a point that shouldn't simply be shrugged off.  I especially found the second paragraph to be helpful, it is something that I have wondered about before, but I will let you be the judge.

It is the devotional dated October 11th, 2011.  It is titled Not Convenient.  Here is that devotional in its' entirety:

"Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks." (Ephesians 5:4) 
It seems surprising that "foolish talking" and "jesting" would be condemned as things that should "not be once named among you" (v. 3). Yet here it is, and commentators usually assume that the foolish talking and jesting so condemned really only apply to filthy talking and filthy jesting. After all, the popularity of many Christian speakers today seems to be measured by the amount of jokes and witticisms they inject into their messages. 
This is a sensitive subject, and each Christian should conscientiously decide for himself what God is saying here, through Paul. In any case, it seems significant that the only reference in the Bible to "jesting" is a warning against it. It is also significant that one can never find this element in the sermons of Christ or the letters of Paul or anywhere in the Bible. The Bible writers seem to have believed that sin and salvation were such sober, serious issues that there was nothing there to joke about. We read several times of Jesus weeping, but never of Him laughing. The Scriptures often refer to "rejoicing," but never to "having fun." 
Furthermore, Jesus warned that "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36), and Paul exhorted us to "let your speech be always with grace" (Colossians 4:6). Our text says that foolish talking and jesting are "not convenient" for a Christian. Other things "not convenient" include the list of 23 sins in Romans 1:28-31, beginning with unrighteousness" and ending with "unmerciful." 
Whether or not we can justify certain "convenient" times for jesting, there is one thing we can know is always convenient--that is, "giving of thanks." HMM
What do you think?  Is it possible that our American emphasis on having a good sense of humor and knowing how to have fun has shifted into something that we actually believe is a priority?  Have we allowed our culture to alter the truth that the Bible teaches.  It is easy to see that in other cultures, but when you live and breathe within a certain culture, it only follows that identifying your own biases may not be that easy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Today's Sermon Study Materials

  1. ESV Study Bible
  2. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
  3. Adam Clarke's Commentary
  4. Matthew Henry's Commentary
  5. The Communicator's Bible Commentary
  6. The Layman's Bible Commentary
  7. William Barclay's Daily Bible Commentary
  8. The New International Bible Commentary
  9. (several other commentaries plus the original greek words with definitions)
  10. Big Mac value meal
  11. Pandora playing Intrumental Folk Radio in the background

Let's Pray About It

Here is an interesting post from Jay Adams:

Probably said thousands of times a week by Christians around the world when facing a problem or question without a present answer. Is it the right response? 
It’s not wrong to pray about a matter, of course.  But prayer is often used as a substitute for the hard work of studying God’s Word to discover the facts needed. Prayer doesn’t automatically “work” in solving problems. Christians need to learn this fact. 
Moreover, when God has already answered a question or given directions, why should we want to shortcut the process of discovering what that answer is by simply praying about it? Should we expect God to tell us individually the answer we seek, when He has already done so in His Word? 
But there is something “mystically” special to some people about prayer. They think of prayer as more spiritual than Bible study! There’s the heart of the matter. Is it superior? Both are from God each has its place, but prayer is no substitute for hard study to find out truth. 
Indeed, here is one to think about: Why would our words (prayer) be considered superior, more spiritual, etc., to God’s Word (in Scripture)? Isn’t what He says far more important than what you have to utter?
 (via the Institute for Nouthetic Studies)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Minister of the Word of God

Pray for me as I attempt to be a true Minister of the Word of God...
It is self-evident that it is to be highly desired that a pastor (or as we should more truly say: a minister of the Word of God) should be a moral character and a religious personality; a man of good taste and training; a quick thinker and yet one who is full of due respect for the laws of sound human reason. He should be a man well-grounded in life's meaning and yet sincere in his understanding regarding the joy and sorrow of his environment, both near and far. He should be sincere in prayer, a disciplined worker, a perfectly natural, and yet a uniquely spiritually-minded man, a good parent, citizen, and patriot -- but one with wide horizons. He should be a man whose whole heart is steeped in his own times, that is, one who is sensitive to, and experiences the needs and hopes of, the times as his very own, and takes a stand regarding them, so that he can think and speak with his contemporaries as one of them. He must be capable and ready to love every human being, and be, therefore, capable and resolved to fear no man. He must be and remain free to make a decision and to hold to his choice as he pledges and gives himself without reservation in the battle for the good. 
He must have the courage to make a lone stand, but he must also possess such humility that he can take his place as a simple private among many others in the regiment of work and struggle. He must be prepared to wait patiently in quietness, as well as be prepared for the intensest activity. He must be a man of peace, as well a man of struggle, if struggle it must be. He must, by an inner necessity, be able to express equally well the fiercest seriousness, the deepest unction, as well as the most candid humor. He must be at home in the Bible and his dogmatics. He must possess an understanding of the political issues, the movies, and sport, that is, at least, to the extent of having a sympathetic understanding for them. HE must be equal to good society, and yet be a peculiarly uncitizen-like creature. His heart must be with the proletariat and just for that reason he must have none of the proletarian sentiments and prejudices. He must know the atheist and the pietist better than they know themselves. He must be a psychologist, trained either by scientific education or natural bent, and yet, on the contrary, he must not be psychological at all, but know how to comfort sympathetically and fervently, or reprimand in a simple and direct way. 
As a pastor and watchman and teacher and preacher to sick souls, he must be well acquainted with, and bring loving care to, the immediate problems within their four walls. But he must know and understand no less the larger movement of events transpiring out in the Church and the world within the framework of which the fate of the congregation is enacted. He must speak to men, but in such a way that something more is said to them than what they might just as well say to themselves. He must know how to think, speak, and act as a priest and as a prophet and as a pastor. 

~Karl Barth, from God in Action

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reunion of the Cast of the Princess Bride

Photographed Sept. 20th, 2011 in LosAngeles.  

click to enlarge
[HT: 22 Words]

You Must Be Full

You will not be able to extemporize good thinking unless you have been in the habit of thinking and feeding your mind with abundant and nourishing food. Work hard at every available moment. Store your minds very richly, and then, like merchants with crowded warehouses, you will have goods ready for your customers, and having arranged your good things upon the shelves of your mind, you will be able to hand them down at any time without the laborious process of going to market, sorting, folding, and preparing. . . .  Take it as a rule without exception, that to be able to overflow spontaneously you must be full.
~Charles Spurgeon

[HT: Justin Taylor]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blue Like Jazz - Book Review

Last week I finished the book Blue Like Jazz- Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller.  It was really enjoyable to read.  Donald Miller is a good writer, and he kept my attention throughout.  It was personal and real.  He was able to share some deep feelings and thoughts on various aspects of the Christian message, and it was interspersed with just the right amounts of humor to help you relax as you read the book, but at the same time not miss the points that he was trying to make.

But I may have been tainted when I read this book.  When I picked it up from the Local Library book sale I also picked up books like God in Action by Karl Barth and a commentary series by William Barclay.  I was also skimming through some books that I already had, like The Institutes on the Christian Religion by John Calvin and The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink.  To be in the process of filling your mind with deep theological works like these and then pick up a book called Blue Like Jazz can be such a shift in gears that it makes your brain stall out.  Don't get me wrong, his writing was good and he had some deep thoughts, but the key difference is that, on the one hand we are exploring the deep thoughts about Donald Miller and on the other hand we are exploring those deep thoughts about God.  Donald Miller seems like a nice guy, but I find thoughts about God to be captivating.

I also had the repeated experience of reading something that Donald Miller would write and think to myself, "Wow.  That is so right."  But then it would be followed by an immediate, "Whoa.  That is so wrong."  That is where he hovered throughout the entire book, somewhere between those really good critiques of some of American Christianity but then having so many really incorrect conclusions to these critiques.  It was almost as if he abandoned scripture as his primary source of truth and instead relied on his own insights.

What really gets me is how many people that I've heard over time singing the praises of this book.  If you are one of those people, I would ask you why?  What was it about this book that you found to be so enlightening.  I find nothing to be as enlightening as the Bible, the one book that is living and powerful.  If you are reading other things, but they do not point you to a greater love of scripture and the God of scripture, then I would wonder at that book.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The McGurck Effect

What you hear is not always what is actually being said. Watch this short clip on The McGurck Effect.


 [HT: Justin Taylor]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I am pretty sure this has happened to my sister...

(from here)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reading Theology

I just re-started a book by Karl Barth.  I picked it up at a library sale (I think) and started it right away.  I was sidetracked by The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink, so I put it down for awhile.  Since I am done with that now, it is time to pick it back up again. It is called God in Action: Theological Addresses .

I have to say, I am really enjoying these theological works.  I've been trying to read some other books and even some fictional stories, but I just can't get into them.  Reading theology, especially accurate and well-written theology, can be very uplifting.  It is about God.  It is about who He is.  It is about what He is like and what He does.  They remind me that He is a rock... He is my rock.

If you have never taken the time to read any theology, I would like to recommend a place to start, so that you are not overwhelmed.  The book is Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (RE: Lit) by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Bershears.  It is a really good book on doctrine that follows the story line of the Bible.  It was really easy to read, but at the same time it was chock-full of information.  There were footnotes in the hundreds.

Feeling discouraged at the state of the world today?  Get away from your TV and jump into a good solid book.

(Don't forget.  If you buy something through Amazon, use one of my links.  I will get a small portion for advertising.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Sovereignty of God - Book Review

The Sovereignty of God
by A.W. Pink.

You may have noticed that I have included a few quotes from this book lately.  I've really enjoyed it, but I might be a little biased because of the "fluff" that I've been reading along side this book.  I only have a couple of pages left in this book, so I thought I would go ahead and type out a short book review.  (Reviews of the "fluff" will come later.)

This book is clearly about the sovereignty of God.  From God's sovereignty in creation, administration, and the natural world, to His sovereignty in salvation.  The book seemed to start a little slow, but that was mostly because it was dealing with topics that most people wouldn't question.  When you deal with sovereignty in creation, that's simple.  Sovereignty in administration (the workings of the world), that doesn't press any buttons.  As the book progressed, it picked up steam as it inched closer and closer towards that inevitable conclusion... God is sovereign in salvation.

I picked up this book with many of those understandings and teachings already, but as I progressed through this book it built in me a love for the topic.  Pink discussed the sovereignty of God the way someone might describe a beautiful painting or the way a husband might describe the beauty of his wife.

Whether you are into old theology books or not, I highly recommend this book.

The Kindle Edition is available for only $0.99!  Click through now to get it: The Sovereignty of God  Use these links that I've provided so that I get credit!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Your Thoughts of God are Too Human

I have been reading (and loving) the book, The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink.  I have a few more quotes coming from him in the next few days.  Then I hope to do a book review.

For now, I actually found a quote from him on another blog that I felt needed to be shared.
(via Blogging Theologically)

In one of his letters to Erasmus, Luther said, “Your thoughts of God are too human.” Probably that renowned scholar resented such a rebuke, the more so, since it proceeded from a miner’s son; nevertheless, it was thoroughly deserved. We too, though having no standing among the religious leaders of this degenerate age, prefer the same charge against the majority of the preachers of our day, and against those who, instead of searching the Scriptures for themselves, lazily accept the teaching of others. The most dishonoring and degrading conceptions of the rule and reign of the Almighty are now held almost everywhere. To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown. 
Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psa 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather that actuated by principle. They suppose that His omnipotence is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.” They lower the all-efficacious atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere “remedy,” which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to; and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an “offer” of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please. 
The “god” of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The “god” who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible Conferences is the figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form “gods” out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a “god” out of their own carnal mind. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A “god” whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits naught but contempt.
How big is your view of God?

Bertrand Russel's Ten Commandments

Though I had heard of Bertrand Russel, I had never heard of these before.  (I found them over at the 22 words blog.)  Though I clearly do not agree with everything that he says here, I definitely found much of this to be thought stimulating and actually quite agreeable.  So, I share them with you to see what you think.

In his own words,
The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it is from your family, endeavour to overcome it with argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do, the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that is happiness.
My key disagreement is related to a difference of authority and certainty.  Though I agree with his idea of not feeling absolutely certain, I do believe that certainty can and should increase throughout your life.  In conjunction with that, not only do I believe that authority exists, I believe in the reality of absolute authority.

Anyway, chew on this and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 23, 2011

sweet force

"Why was I made to hear is voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
'Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin."
~Isaac Watts 

Quoted in The Sovereignty of God by A.W.Pink

Monday, September 12, 2011

the superficial work of many evangelists

I've been reading A.W. Pink's book, The Sovereignty of God during my bus trips to work and back home.  I Read this bit on the bus this morning:
The superficial work of many of the professional evangelists of the last fifty years is largely responsible for the erroneous view now current upon the bondage of the natural man, encouraged by the laziness of those in the pew in their failure to "prove all things" (I Thess. 5:21). The average evangelical pulpit conveys the impression that it lies wholly in the power of the sinner whether or not he shall be saved. It is said that "God has done His part, now man must do his."  Alas, what can a lifeless man do, and man by nature is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1)!  If the truth were really believed, there would be more dependence upon the Holy Spirit to come in with His miracle-working power, and less confidence in our attempts to "win men for Christ."
As much as I agree with every word that Pink is saying, I still find myself relying on my preaching and my persuasive abilities for people to repent.  I need to repent.  It isn't that I shouldn't seek to be persuasive, it is that I shouldn't rely on that.  Listen to the rest that Pink has to say:
When addressing the unsaved, preachers often draw an analogy between God's sending of the Gospel to the sinner, and a sick man in bed, with healing medicine on a table by his side: all he needs to do is to reach forth his hand and take it. But in order for this illustration to be in any wise true to the picture which Scripture gives us of the fallen and depraved sinner, the sick man in bed must be described as one who is blind (Eph. 4:18) so that he cannot see the medicine, his hand paralyzed (Rom. 5:6) so that he is unable to reach forth for it, and his heart not only devoid of all confidence in the medicine but filled with hatred against the physician himself (John 15:18).  
O what superficial views of man's desperate plight are now entertained! Christ came here not to help those who are willing to help themselves, but to do for His people what they were incapable of doing for themselves: "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house" (Isa. 42:7).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tomato Time

I have A.D.D.

We could argue about the realities of this "disorder" but that wouldn't get us anywhere.  I could tell you about the behavioral studies that have been done.  I could redirect you to the medical reports that go in conjunction with the diagnosing of this particular problem.  I could even point you to the somewhat new diagnostic methods that even include brain scans that will clearly point to this issue.  You, of course, may be able to offer rebuttals to any of these evidences that I could present to you, but as my final piece of evidence I could present to you anyone who actually knows me.  They would be happy to vouch for me... I have issues with attention.

I remind many people of the quintessential dog with the squirrel.  I have stopped typing this blog at least 8 times already because of things like noises out the window, the cat walking through the room, there are books on my shelves with words, etc.  My students all know this about me.  I just spent 30 sec. thinking about how my students have distracted me in the past and how I could be distracted in the future.

I have had this all my life.  My earliest memories of school involve spending hours looking out the window at school and having my teacher literally grab my head and turn it back around to the front of the room.  But thanks to my "old school" parents, medication was never an option.

I haven't regretted that at all.  I have learned to cope with this little challenge in my life.  On a broader scale, I believe that A.D.D. displays itself, not only in those little distractions, but also in a general lack of focus in one's life.  I spent 10 years getting my 4 year college degree, mostly because of big-picture life distractions.  But that's another story.

Ok.  End the intro to this blog post.

Now I want to tell you about the Pomodoro Technique.  To save time and energy, I will direct you to their website to read the details of the technique, but I will give you a brief description.  From their site:
"The Pomodoro Technique® is a way to get the most out of time management. Turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it."
Basically, it is a method that involves breaking down your time into increments.  This is something that I have done for years, but not always successfully.  The Pomodoro Technique breaks it down into a more systematic method that I am finding to be quite useful.

Please check out the Pomodoro Technique website.  They offer their book for free as a downloadable pdf.  There are also some cheatsheets and other forms that are useful in integrating this technique into your life.

I also found a nice little Chrome Web App that works well with the technique.  The web app is also available as a web page.  []

I don't want you to misunderstand me though.  I am not one who will tell you that a technique is everything. More than that I have learned that God has a purpose in our weaknesses.  More than a technique, having A.D.D. has taught me about Grace.  Many of my sinful struggles have been a result of the fact that I am so easily distracted and pulled away.  I am not a strong person, but God's grace is sufficient.  I wanted strength of will and more focus, what God has given me is grace.  I believe that this is so I might say with Paul,
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
II Corinthians 12:9
If you have a child with A.D.D. (or if you have A.D.D.) and have any questions about how I have learned to cope by leaning on into God's grace and using methods like the Pomodoro Technique and other self-made remedies, please feel free to contact me.  There is a contact page at the top of this blog.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If I may be so bold...

I am always surprised at the forwardness of some of the preachers from days gone by.  Here is an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s 1867 sermon “A Song at the Well-head” (Found on the Gospel Coalition):

You are retired for your private devotions; you have opened the Bible, and you begin to read. 
Now, do not be satisfied with merely reading through a chapter. Some people thoughtlessly read through two or three chapters—stupid people for doing such a thing! 
It is always better to read a little and digest it, than it is to read much and then think you have done a good thing by merely reading the letter of the word. 
For you might as well read the alphabet backwards and forwards, as read a chapter of Scripture, unless you meditate upon it, and seek to comprehend its meaning. 
Merely to read words is nothing: the letter kills. 
The business of the believer with his Bible open is to pray, “Lord, give me the meaning and spirit of your word, while it lies open before me; apply your word with power to my soul, threatening or promise, doctrine or precept, whatever it may be; lead me into the soul and marrow of your word.” 
Also, it is not the form of prayer, but the spirit of prayer that shall truly benefit your souls.
That prayer has not benefited you, which is not the prayer of the soul. 
You have need to say, “Lord, give me the spirit of prayer; now help me to feel my need deeply, to perceive your promises clearly, and to exercise faith upon them.” 
In your private devotions, strive after vital godliness, real soul-work, the life-giving operation of the Spirit of God in your hearts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

depressed cat

The Twenty Two Words blog just posted a picture of a shy cat.  In responses, I had to post my pictures of my depressed and slightly annoyed hairless cat.  (Who is pregnant now, so we will be expecting some little furry wrinkly kittens soon.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Netflix Pick of the Week: Life After People

My Netflix pick of the week is going to be the History Channel series titled, Life After People.

My two boys and myself seriously enjoy watching shows like this.  We don't watch the NBA or the NFL, no... no... That's not for us.  We like the documentaries.  And this is a series that we find to be absolutely fascinating.  Here is the Netflix description:
What would happen to Earth if people simply vanished one day? Using special effects and relying on the speculation of experts in fields as diverse as geology and engineering, this series imagines a fascinating post-human future. Iconic landmarks, at the mercy of the elements, collapse and decay, erasing the last traces of human existence. Meanwhile, new predators prowl the ruins of once-mighty civilizations, dominating the abandoned world.
The show doesn't seek to explain what happened to all of the people, it simply wants to answer the question, "...what would happen to our stuff?"  It always surprises me how quickly our things would decay and rot and fall to nothing.  It reminds me of this passage:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy..."(Matthew 6:19 ESV)

Click here to watch Life After People on Netflix.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Other Wise than God has Eternally Purposed

A. W. Pink, from his book, The Sovereignty of God, at the end of his chapter on the Sovereignty of God in Administration, states this profound paragraph:
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.  His government is exercised over inanimate matter, over brute beasts, over the children of men, over angels good and evil, and over Satan himself.  No revolving of a world, no shining of a star, no storm, no movement of a creature, no actions of men, no errands of angels, no deeds of the Devil -- nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass other wise than God has eternally purposed.  Here is a foundation for faith.  Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory. 
Possibly as a moment of worship, he goes on to quote Isaac Watts:
Ten thousand ages ere the skies
Were into motion brought;
All the long years and worlds to come,
Stood present to His thought:
There's not a sparrow or a worm,
But's found in His decrees,
He raises monarchs to their throne
And sinks them as He please.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Simple Minds?

While working in the computer lab with my "Gear Up" for math class, another class came into the media center to take some personality quizzes. The site they were using was Several of them were taking the "Famous Leader" quiz. They were all having fun with it after one of the girls in the room was labeled as Sadaam Hussein. Needless to say, I had to take the quiz. Here are my results:

Then I had to take the "Which classic movie are you?" quiz. Here are those results...


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Bull

The Bull
by Matt Harmless
He stands within his stall of wood,
That long term resident the bull.
Around he's been since barn has stood,
With docile splendor at its full.
Be not deceived at quiet stance,
Impression made at the first glance,
For underneath the tranquil stare,
This behemoth doth really glare.
So when the wooden fence is lowr'd
You'll find real quick you have been gored.

(Yes.  It has a secondary meaning.  I am not actually writing about a bull.)


I preached on giving yesterday.  It wasn't as difficult a topic to discuss as I originally thought.  I have heard pastors before talk about the difficulties of giving.  What I actually learned was that this topic is very natural to the very essence of who we are as Christians.  The sermon ended up being a tad bit on the long side, but I will attribute that to the fullness of this topic.  Frankly, I barely scratched the surface of what needed to be discussed.

Anyway, if you are interested in hearing these thoughts on a Biblical perspective of giving, you can listen right here:

You can also download them by right-clicking here and choosing to save the mp3 file.

As a little disclaimer, I felt very much, as I was preparing this message, that my logical flow of thought was a little off.  To some, this may not be an issue, but for some reason, I always feel like I need a precise logical flow.  When it doesn't come together logically, I always feel a little off when I am preaching.  For me, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the difference between the tangible presence of God's Spirit while studying and the presence of a logical flow of thought.  Though I am sure this is not the case for everyone, it is true for me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Netflix Pick of the Week: The Pluto Files

As we are gearing up to go back to school, I thought it might be appropriate to post an educational movie this week.  Therefore, my choice is the NOVA produced movie, The Pluto Files.  Here is the Netflix description:
In this installment of "Nova," Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium) dishes out surprising facts about Pluto, the notorious "ex-planet" that so many people still seem to love. Discovered in 1930, Pluto was demoted to a mere member of the Kuiper belt in 2006. But passionate opinions -- and emotions -- remain about its place in our universe.
I watched this movie with my boys a couple of months ago.  As it states in the description, the host of this series is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  I found this particular topic to be interesting because of his personal connection with the "demotion" of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet.  This series does a great job of making the  material both interesting and educational.  (As a teacher, I know that isn't always easy to do.)

A word of warning, since this topic deals with cosmic objects, it also jumps into cosmic origins. Since this program is secular in nature, their default position is to determine the origins in a universe devoid of God.  Personally, I have never shied away from opportunities like this.  It gives me the availability to teach my children some of the inconsistencies of the naturalistic theories of origins.  What always amazes me is their ability to perceive those problems on their own.

Anyway, if you are already a Netflix subscriber, then I would like to recommend this movie.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Netflix Pick of the Week: 2001: A Space Odyssey

My Netflix Pick of the Week is another classic.  I want to recommend this movie, not because I particularly enjoy this movie or because I think this is such a great movie, but simply because it is a classic.  Here is the Netflix description:
Stanley Kubrick's quiet masterpiece probes the mysteries of space and human destiny. While investigating the appearance of mysterious monoliths throughout the universe, astronauts David (Keir Dullea) and Frank (Gary Lockwood) battle their ship's intelligent computer, HAL-9000. This epic sci-fi drama based on Arthur C. Clarke's story "The Sentinel" was nominated for four Academy Awards and won for its stunning special effects.
The movie is rated G, so the whole family can watch it.  One warning though, the "bad stuff" in the movie is all of the evolutionary references.  If you watch it with your kids, it gives the option of opening up some dialogue on the topic.

If you are already a Netflix subsrciber, click here to watch the movie or to add it to your instant queue.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's the difference?

I'm going to borrow someone else's words for a moment...
“Dad, what does it mean to be a man and not a woman?” or a daughter’s question, “Mom, what does it mean to be woman and not a man?” If you can only answer that question in terms of biology or in terms of pop-culture traits, this book is worth reading in full.
Most of the Christians that I know would answer these questions, as the quote states, " terms of biology or in terms of pop-culture traits..."  I might even say that for most Christians that I know personally, to answer these questions by going to the Bible, may not even enter their minds.

This is why I am going to share this resource with you.

The book that the quote is referring to is a book by John Piper titled, What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible.  You can get the book on Amazon for a fairly inexpensive price, but you can also download a pdf version for free.  I downloaded it, then uploaded to Google Docs for later reading.

Click here to go to

Click here to download the free pdf version.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Sketch

I used to draw all of the time.  Doodles, sketches, and even a couple of art classes.  Even as a young adult, I drew several pictures for my wife. Recently my youngest has been doing a lot of drawing, and doing very good at it.  Plus he loves it.  So I bought him a sketch book and some pencils over Christmas break.

 Watching him draw had stirred up some old passions in me as well, so I decided to purchase a second sketchbook and a second pack of pencils.  That was over Christmas break.

Yesterday I picked it up and decided to draw my oldest son as he played some video games on the laptop.  I call it...

He Wasn't With Us Yesterday

And the photo I took after I was done sketching...

I forgot his bracelets, he moved his leg, I didn't draw the lamp correctly, I skipped the TV and the cup on the coffee table, ...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I am a dead man already.

“I do not need to plead my own cause … I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden with Christ. It is your lives that in danger, you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction."

- Kefa Sempangi, facing 5 would be assassins in Idi Amin’s Uganda

[via Kingdom People]

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Considerable Speck (Microscopic)

by Robert Frost

A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink,
When something strange about it made me think.
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt --
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn't want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept. 
I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise.
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.
I really enjoyed this bit of Robert Frost.  I really feel a lot of the stuff he writes, but I definitely enjoyed this one.  Especially the last two lines of this poem.

The Poetry of Robert Frost
All eleven of his books-complete.
By Robert Frost
Edited by Edward Connery Lathem

Friday, July 22, 2011

Netflix Pick of the Week: Dragons or Dinosaurs

click to go to Netflix
I visited the Creation Museum for the first time yesterday, so my Netflix Pick of the Week is going to reflect the topics that are trending in twitter stream of my mind.  The pick this week is Dragons or Dinosaurs.  Here is the Netflix description:
Mythological representations of dragons appear in cultures worldwide, often resembling dinosaur species identified through their fossilized remains. Could this mean dragon legends are rooted in reality? This documentary seeks to find out. Interviews with researchers indicate that the existence of dinosaurs might actually help support the biblical story of creation and explain other mysteries of our cosmic origins.
I added this movie to my instant queue several months ago.  It sounded interesting, but I was never in the mood to watch this movie when I sat down to make my nightly viewing choices.  I eventually watched it during one of my bouts with illness over the winter months.  I was stuck in bed with only the Roku to entertain me, so I decided to go ahead and give this documentary a shot.  I'm going to tell you right now... I did not regret that choice.

This documentary was very well done.  It includes plenty of interviews, historical facts, and other relevant information that is demonstrated in a believable fashion. It seems that the dragon myth, which covers the globe in a countless number of different cultures is actually quite important.  Important enough to draw the attention of different evolutionary and atheistic proponents, who have attempted to give an answer for these origins of these myths.

I highly recommend this documentary.  Give it a shot.  If you watch it, add your thoughts here.

I just wanna be a sheep.

I just wanna be a sheep... 
baa... baa...
I just wanna be a sheep... 
baa... baa...
Pray the Lord my soul to keep...
I just wanna be a sheep.

(Image via 22 Words)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Rainbow Connection

This was wonderful.

(via 22 Words)

Of course, I'll always be partial to this rendition....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What makes good preaching? (part 2)

I started a post earlier this week and published it two days ago about, "What makes good preaching?"  If you go to part 1, you can read a little more about where this came from and why I am blogging it.  To pick up where I left off, I want to quote the passage of scripture again, and then go on to point #3.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
(2 Timothy 4:2 ESV)
3) I am going to hone in on those three words, "reprove, rebuke, and exhort" to continue answering the question, "What makes good preaching?"  The word reprove can mean to convict, refute, or convince.  There may be a bit of a legal-feel to this verb; a little like what you might see when a lawyer gives his closing statements.  One might put it this way: Good preaching is convincing.  This doesn't mean that I have to dramatize the proceedings or to simply talk in a convincing fashion.  It also doesn't mean that I have to suck a lot of wind while I'm preaching... The way many TV evangelists tackle the problem: "The Bible says... ah... In John chapter 3... ah... verse 16... ah..."

It means that I am going to appeal to a higher authority.  It means that I will use good reason and logic to draw out of the scriptures meanings and applications for our lives.  It means that I don't build my arguments on preferences or on how things used to be 50 years ago.  If I am going to talk about parenting, for example, the crux of my speech won't be, "... when I was a boy, things didn't used to be that way... We weren't allowed to talk to our parents that way..."  instead I will rely on scripture, "...'children, obey your parents in Lord, for this is right, honor your father and your mother...'"  It isn't that good preaching doesn't contain stories, Jesus used story telling in His teaching and preaching, but he used those stories to illustrate what the scriptures teach.

4) The next word in this passage is rebuke.  To rebuke someone is to lay a charge at their feet.  You might say, Good preaching is personal.  It can get in your face.  It hits home.

As far as I know, nobody in my congregation is struggling with drug addiction.  To my knowledge, there aren't any practicing homosexuals that are regularly attending my church.  It would not make any sense for me to spend the majority of my time preaching about sins that, to my knowledge, nobody within earshot is struggling with.  I need to make it personal.  In wisdom, I need to attempt to talk about and discuss struggles that I and my congregation may be having.  I need to challenge their (and my) sins.

Sadly, many churches do not do this.  A majority of the preaching is focused on the sins of others, leading many in the congregation to develop a sense of superiority ... called pride.  Many preachers end up sounding like the pharisee that Jesus described, who, having seen a sinful tax collector, exclaimed in utter arrogance, "Thank you, Lord, that I am not a sinner like this man!"  I must not preach this way.  Though it seems like it has a show of holiness, there is nothing good about this sort of preaching.

I must preach the gospel!  We are all sinners, and our only hope is the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  That cannot be forgotten, and all good preaching will ultimately preach Christ.

5) Finally, in this blog post, what does it mean to "exhort?"  A couple of Sundays ago I dealt with the word "encourage" during a service.  This is the same greek word that is being used here in this passage.  It is not a word that simply means that we say loads of positive things and build up your self-image.  It is a word that literally means to call to one's side.  To really encourage someone, you don't just tell them what they need to do and give them a pep-talk, instead you pull them up under your arm and say, "You We can do it."  It's a community word!

So, for lack of a better word, one might simply put it this way, Good preaching is encouraging.  Like I said though, it isn't that good preaching says loads of flowery, feel-good statements.  It is a call to action.  That's actually better, Good preaching is a call to action.  Unless you are ignoring the preaching or are simply not paying attention, you should walk away with something to do, something that the church is going to do, the community of believers together.  "Yes.  We will go home and work on our anger!"  "Alright!  Let's all go and be more Biblical in our parenting!" "Together now men, lets pray this week!"

There is more to this passage, so hopefully I will get to it in a part 3, but for now, take these three words together.  Good preaching will lay out a reasonable, believable, defense of the truth.  It will be done in such a way that you may walk away realizing an area where you need to change.  Then it will call together the members and the leadership of the church to face those personal challenges, because we are all in this together.