Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I just want you to listen...

I have been trying to think of some commentary to add to this clip, but I just don't think I can do better than the video's description from YouTube:
"Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen." Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what.
I will say that I am almost positive that I have had this exact conversation, except without the nail.


HT: 22 Words

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

windows into the reality of God

Yesterday I read through the entire Gospel According to John.  I did this, and will hopefully do this several more times, as preparation for our upcoming study on this Gospel.  I also started blogging my way, verse by verse, through this book.  I am up to John 1:12 as of this morning.  To cap it off, I started reading some commentaries on John, to get a better feel for the book.  It has been very interesting and enlightening, after only a few days, but it has also had a negative effect on me: I am starting to feel overwhelmed by this task. I am starting to realize that this Gospel account, even though the simplest of people can read it and find encouragement and insight, it is also very, very deep.

It's uniqueness was my first clue.  Now, I have known for quite a long time that John was different than the other three gospel accounts, but I didn't realize how unique it actually was.
It omits so many things that [the other gospel accounts] include.  The Fourth Gospel has no account of the Birth of Jesus, of His Baptism, of His Temptations; it tells us nothing of the Last Supper, nothing of Gethsemane, and nothing of the Ascension.  It has no word of the healing of any people possessed by devils and evil spirits. And, perhaps most surprising of all, it has no parables...
William Barclay, The Daily Bible Study Series, The Gospel of John (Volume I)
Some of those differences I was aware of, but more than one of them was a surprise to me.

These unique aspects, along with many other tidbits that John includes, that the other Three Gospels do not, are not meant to be interesting points of trivia, so you can win that next game of Bible Trivial Pursuit.  No, this is important to the whole understanding of this book.  Why did John not include these other items, what was his goal, what was he trying to get across.  Why was John so selective in the stories that he did include?

William Barclay, learning from Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 230), shares what he believes is the key insight into understanding this Scripture.
The feeding of the five thousand is followed by the long discourse on the Bread of Life (chapter 6); the healing of the blind man springs from the saying that Jesus in the Light of the World (chapter 9); the raising of Lazarus leads up to the saying that Jesus is the resurrection and the life (chapter 11).  To John the miracles were not simply single events in time; they were illustrations, examples, insights into that which God is always doing and what Jesus always is; they are windows into the reality of God. ...
He goes on to say,
John did not see the events of Jesus' life simply as events in time; he saw them as windows looking into eternity, and he pressed towards the spiritual meaning of the events and the words of Jesus' life in a way that the other three gospels did not attempt.
William Barclay
I am seeing these glimpses through the windows already in my own reading of John, and it is making my head spin.  I wish I had more time to study this book before I start preaching it, but I believe that God is leading me to this Gospel account for just these reasons.  With several new people at our church, I believe that what they need to see and learn most of all is who this Jesus actually is.  I suppose I will just have to use the extra time that God has given me.

If you are the praying sort, I would appreciate your prayers, that I might speak boldly the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:19-20)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Free eBooks by R.C Sproul

Right now the ebook versions of the Crucial Questions series by R.C. Sproul is free. The announcement on the Ligonier Ministries website reads:
To further help Christians know what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it, from today the eBook editions of R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series will be free forever.
So, there is no rush to go grab these. (Although I went immediately and grabbed all of them.) They have epub format available, but they also have links to the Kindle version and the iTunes version.

Check it out now and go get some questions answered.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Logic + Math + Wibbly Wobbly Infinite Stuff

William Lane Craig speaking on why actual infinities cannot exist, meaning that there is a beginning to the universe.

I love this stuff.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Faith and Works

After the last sermon I preached, someone that visited our church thought I was preaching a works-based salvation. Now, honestly, I don't believe in a works-based salvation.  But, after I thought about it, I have been accused of that before.  I'm telling you though, I believe that salvation comes by God's grace alone, and it is worked through God-gifted faith. (Eph. 2:8-9) I am not upset at all about the question, I am a school teacher... I love being questioned!  But I do want to mention this because there seems to be some confusion among many Christians that I know when it comes to the relationship between faith and works.

Another example of this happened a few weeks ago.  There was a prominent Pastor in the area that did some teaching on the topic of eternal security. He taught that you cannot lose your salvation, so to speak, but that you can walk away from the faith. Now, I don't want to put words in the mouth of this Pastor, and I believe him to be a godly man, who loves Jesus, but I would disagree with him.  At the same time, I would also disagree with many of the baptists in my town who believe in an eternal security that has no evidence except a person's declaration of belief.

Normally I would say that I fall somewhere between those two camps of thought, the eternal security camp and the no eternal security camp... In this case I won't say that I am between them, instead I am more off to one side, and I would classify both of those camps as basically the same error.

They have a weak view of God's salvation.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Best Mom!

my mom is better
than yours. gentle, sweet and kind,
and prettier too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Need of Jesus

Lord Jesus,
I am blind, be thou my light,
   ignorant, be thou my wisdom,
   self-willed, be thou my mind.
Open my ear to grasp quickly thy Spirit's voice,
   and delightfully run after his beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
   make it alive to evil's slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to thy wounds,
   and there cease to tremble at all alarms.
Be my good shepherd to lead me into the green pastures of thy Word,
   and cause me to lie down beside the rivers of its comforts.
Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales
   may ruffle the calm surface of my soul.
Thy cross was upraised to be my refuge,
Thy blood streamed forth to wash me clean,
Thy death occurred to give me a surety,
Thy name is my property to save me,
By thee all heaven is poured into my heart,
   but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love.
I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,
   but thy cross has brought me near,
                 has softened my heart,
                 has made me thy Father's child,
                 has admitted me to thy family,
                 has made me joint-heir with thyself.
O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,
   that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,
   that I may reflect the image of heaven's first-born.
May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,
    and feel the power of thy Spirit in my heart,
    for unless he move mightily in me
    no inward fire will be kindled.

Need of Jesus,
from Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
pg 102.

Being an Introverted Pastor/Teacher

Sometimes when I read a blog or an article, it strikes a real chord in my heart.  The other day my wife pointed me to this post on the Desiring God blog that did just that.  I think it struck a chord in her heart on my behalf as well.  I believe that was because it put to words what I experience in my own life.

The blog was about a discussion with John Piper reflecting his 33 years in ministry.  The sentences that caught my attention were:
“It’s amazing how many introverts go into ministry,” Pastor John said of himself and others. But it’s true. For many pastors, hanging out with people is physically draining. “A lot of people would say that’s a bad thing; you should repent of that and turn around and either do something else, or start loving to hang out with people.” 
Or, he said, introverted pastors can use their strengths to intentionally love people. Extroverted pastors and introverted pastors, if they’re born again, both love people, but there remains a tension for the introverted pastor who defines love exclusively in terms of activities in the presence of people.
He went on to discuss how he learned to be who God had created him to be in ministry. It was encouraging to hear.  Mostly because I love the people of my church, genuinely love them, but I have always found personal interactions to be challenging.  Not because I don't want to interact, but I just don't feel good at it. Plus, I love just being at home with a book.

Piper goes on to say,
Plead with God to make your in-disposition to be with people a blessing to people. In other words, I would say after 33 years, my default after preaching is to go home and pray and read, not to hang out for three hours over a meal. That’s my disposition. I do hang out for an hour and pray with people, and I’m glad I do, and it is rewarding to do it.... If you're wired that way, instead of constantly praying God would make you another kind of person, pray that he would make you really useful for people. I think he’s done that for me.... 
I believe what people have benefited from me most is what I have seen in the Bible. I don’t think I have blessed Bethlehem much by being a good organizer or a good model of personal evangelism. I can list a lot of ways they have not benefited from me. But, if I don’t despair, if I say there’s been some good done, I know where it came from — it came from me taking notes over my Bible and wrestling to see how Hebrews 10:10 and 10:14 come together, that was this morning; seeing something I’ve never seen before in the text, and walking into a staff meeting and telling them; walking into a hospital room and telling her; walking into the pulpit and telling them what I saw. And then going home to see some more. 
Take what you see, and then if you’re a writer, you write it. If you’re a preacher, you preach it. If you’re a hanger-outer, tell the hanger-outters-with what you saw this morning.
You can read the entire article by clicking here, that will also take you to a link where you can watch/listen to the entire discussion that happened at Redeemer Bible Church.

Friday, May 10, 2013