Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The LORD is with me like a dread champion - Jeremiah the Prophet (20:11).
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Apostle Paul repeatedly used sarcasm in his letters to the churches, especially the sick churches. For examples see 1 Corinthians 4, 6, & 9.
John the Baptizer used sarcasm. See Matthew 3 & Luke 3.
Jesus used sarcasm. When speaking to the Pharisees, for example, the Lord would often ask them the biting question, Have you not read . . . ? It was His ironic criticism of the "most learned" of Israel not knowing basic Old Testament truth (Mt 12 & 19; Mk 12). He spoke the same way to Nicodemus, a Pharisee himself (Jn 3). I imagine there was sarcasm in Jesus' voice when he asked, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, "Show us the Father"? And the examples could continue. But let me summarize.
Sarcasm, like many devices, is good when used to make much of God and the Word of God. It is not good when used to make much of ourselves and our opinions. By sarcastic comments, people are insulted and shown to be less than they think. When the aim of this is to show someone, with love and sobriety, his ignorance of God, it may be useful. It's a form of correction. But when it is used to exalt self in the presence of others by showing their weaknesses next to our own strengths, it is unloving and selfish and sinful. Blessed is the person with the wisdom to discern the moments when sarcasm is helpful.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Remember those who lead you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:7f
Let the elders (pastors) who rule well be counted worthy of double honor (income), especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. for the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." 1 Timothy 5:17f
Sunday, August 15, 2010
It is not humble to be hesitant where God has been clear and plain.
Mark Dever, 9marks.org
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I carried the same Bible to class every day (Or on the days I went to class. I did do my share of skipping) and wrote in it the statements and questions I wanted to be sure to remember. Here are a few of the better words:
If you compare yourself to Christ, you'll be humble enough to be useful -- Dr Lanier in 4/02, SEBTS.
Our marriages are to be pictures of the way God is willing to treat us in Christ -- Dr Liederbach in 2/02, SEBTS.
Speaking to pastors, Act like a shepherd -- Dr Owens in 4/02, SEBTS
Meekness is born in constant misrepresentation, like a piece of stiff, tough, hard leather that has been worked over and now, though soft, remains tough as old boots. Meekness has been illustrated by speaking of the broken horse; while before it was wild and dangerous, is now tame and useful. What's left out of that illustration is the tear in the horse's eye, because it has been genuinely bruised -- Not sure of the source. But it sounds like Dr Lanier, SEBTS.
Ministry comes from giftedness, not from position -- Dr Hammett in 11/97, SEBTS.
It's always easier to go back than to fight the fight before you -- Dr Owens in 4/02, SEBTS.
Just because something is figurative doesn't mean it's any less real -- Dr Walker in 3/96, MABTS.
The following 2 are my favorites; so simple, yet so profoundly biblical.
Keep your heart warm to the Lord -- Dr Dunavant (one of the happiest people I've ever known) in 4/95, MABTS.
Be content to follow God -- Dr Bill Murray [my all-time favorite professor, who, by the way, was a full-time engineer with a PhD in Greek and only taught, to my knowledge, one year at MABTS (1994-95). It seems that the administration preferred more domesticated employees. I am so thankful to have known him. He was brilliant and humble. He prayed for us and with us. He wept with those who wept and rejoiced with those who rejoiced. He spoke the truth in love which meant he sometimes challenged the establishment. What a gift he was to me in those days. Praise God for His sweet providence. I hope Dr Murray is somewhere today teaching Greek and, as a by-product, sound theology].
Some of you may look at the dates of the quotes and wonder how long I was in seminary. I was actually in only 3 years going full-time each semester (An MDiv requires 98 credit hours). But I transferred from MABTS to SEBTS halfway through because I like change. Then I dropped out of SEBTS several weeks into my final semester with only 14 credit hours remaining, mostly because I was angry. Never mind about what. Then, by God's kindness and providence, went back 4 years later to finish, which required an 18 credit hour semester. The challenge wasn't the course load (my final year in college I did 18 then 21 to get out in 4 years), but the second semester Hebrew class. I had taken first semester Hebrew 4 years earlier and had not made the effort to retain what I had learned. By the time it was all over I was so eager to be done that I didn't even show up to graduate. I played two rounds of golf instead and drank several of my favorite brew. I do not regret that decision.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
For whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren -- The Apostle Paul, Romans 8:29
We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia; that we were burdened beyond measure, above our strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. . . The Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth -- Jesus, Matthew 28:18
This day's been crazy but everything's happened on schedule -- Caedmon's Call, Table for Two
The sum of which is that God has foreknown (foreloved) all of His own before He created them. This is the foundation for Paul's famous words at the end of Romans 8 that speak of the indestructible love of Christ from which the Christian cannot be separated. The proof of God's ongoing saving love for His people is that He has always been loving them as they are. In other words, when God was loving us before creation, He was not doing so ignorant of who we are and what we are like -- sinful. He knew us perfectly then and loved us perfectly nevertheless. This redeeming love, by grace, is forever the possession of the foreknown.
So when Paul says that he was troubled, burdened, despairing and dying as one of the foreloved, he means for us to take heart because God brings such trials upon us to teach us to trust Him and to strip us of our trust in ourselves.
And because all authority belongs to our Lord whose saving love for us is a constant, we may rest in His limiting of the pressure, since by it He means not to destroy us but purge us. In other words, our pain is planned. It is not random or haphazard. It is designed and sent as a tool in our sanctification. So Caedmon's is right - From our perspective this day may seem crazy. But everything is occurring on schedule - His schedule. Bless His holy name.
Monday, August 9, 2010
- Stay where he is (1 Tim 1:3)
- Protect the church from false teaching (1 Tim 1:3-4, 6:6; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:25; Tit 1:9-13, 2:15)
- Keep the faith & a good conscience (1 Tim 1:19, 4:16, 6:12-14)
- Pray (1 Tim 2:1-2, 8)
- Lead men and women to embrace their God-given roles (1 Tim 2:9-12; Tit 2:1-6)
- Enforce pastor/elder & deacon/deaconness positions, qualifications & rewards (1 Tim 3:1-16, 5:17-22; Tit 1:1, 5-9)
- By laboring in, striving toward, taking pains with, being absorbed in, & paying close attention to, keep and teach sound doctrine (1 Tim 4:1-16, 5:1-7; Tit 2:1, 7-8)
- Avoid foolish controversies & lead others to do the same (1 Tim 4:7; 2 Tim 2:14, 23; Tit 3:9)
- Discipline himself for the purpose of godliness & be an example of it (1 Tim 4:7, 12, 6:11; 2 Tim 2:19, 22, 3:14-15; Tit 2:7-8)
- Give attention to the public reading, teaching & preaching of God’s Word (1 Tim 4:13, 16;
- Exercise his spiritual gifts (1 Tim 4:14)
- Relate properly to all within the congregation (1 Tim 5:1-16; Tit 2:6)
- Perform church discipline (1 Tim 5:19-22; Tit 1:9-13, 3:10)
- Keep an eye on his health (1 Tim 5:23, 4:8)
- Teach his people to submit to their authorities (1 Tim 6:1-2; Tit 2:9-10, 3:1-2).
- Instruct the rich on the danger of trusting their wealth & on its good use (1 Tim 6:17- 19)
- Not be ashamed of Jesus, but embrace suffering to follow Him (2 Tim 1:8, 2:3, 3:1, 4:5)
- Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:1)
- Teach the teachers who will then teach others (2 Tim 2:2)
- Think about what Scripture texts mean (2 Tim 2:7)
- Remember Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:8)
- Be sober in all things, do the work of an evangelist & fulfill his ministry (2 Tim 4:5)
- Seek God for a tamed tongue (2 Tim 2:16; Tit 2:7-8, 3:8)
- Keep an eye out for trouble-makers (2 Tim 4:14-15)
- Be diligent to meet pressing needs (1 Tim 6:18-19; Tit 3:13-14)
- Help other pastors in a timely manner (2 Tim 4:9-13, 20; Tit 3:12)
- Establish order in the church (Tit 1:5)
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Wherefore, if we desire to follow God with constancy, it behoves us carefully to meditate on all the inconveniences, all the difficulties, all the dangers which await us; that not only a hasty zeal may produce fading flowers, but that from a deep and well-fixed root of piety, we may bring forth fruit in our whole life.
We are not indeed all indiscriminately commanded to desert our country; this point, I grant, is special in the case of Abram; but generally, it is God's will that all should be in subjection to his word, and should seek the law, for the regulation of their life, at his mouth, lest they should be carried away by their own will, or by the maxims of men. Therefore by the example of Abram, entire self-renunciation is enjoined, that we may live and die to God alone.
By the way, the entire Calvin Commentary Set (22 volumes covering most of the Scriptures) is now being sold for only $100 at christianbook.com. In some cases, a single volume is worth that. Here's an idea, if you don't want the set, buy it for your pastor. It can only help him, and by use, your church. Or, buy yourself a set and your pastor a set. Go generous.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
In 2005 I took a group to the Nashville Passion Conference. While there I heard my favorite preacher John Piper speak briefly of his dislike for the smaller cats. He does like the larger ones - lions especially. Yet he has no good affection for the kind that make good pets. He said he does not expect to see them in heaven, due in part to their arrogance. So following the conference I sent him the note below. I doubt it ever made it to his desk.
I am a bit perplexed by men who do enjoy one kind of God's creatures but not others. I tend to think these men are insecure, in need of a dog to obey their every command, greet them at the door, and lick their faces so that these men feel better about themselves. Dogs are one of the more easily controlled beasts. That, I am sure, appeals to many men.
By the way, my cats do what I tell them. They come when they are called. They also show allegiance and affection, and are always glad when I come through the door. In addition, I have seen one of mine stand on our front steps to stare down three large dogs that wanted on our porch. My cat never flinched - but the dogs did. Cats, along with squirrels and monkeys, are also among earth's greatest athletes, which I admire. To appreciate cats well, you need to know how to relate them. They, like dogs, are pack animals. They thrive when the ranks are well established. And I'm the alpha pack member. They seem pretty happy about that, as my wife and daughter are when I live up to my God-given roles regarding them. This kind of biblical nourishing headship produces good affects upon them, and even upon the beasts for whom God is concerned (Ge 1:26-26; Ex 20:8-11; Pr 12:10; Je 12:1-4; Jon 4:11).
Hello Dr. Piper – I simply must say that your statement on cats at the recent Passion 05 conference was not accurate. I realize it was said in a good spirit of light-heartedness and that is how I received it. However, I have been thinking about it a little. Every reason you gave for disliking cats is a reason I prefer cats.
Cats are not arrogant. They simply don’t need you. Dogs (I have a big one – Deacon), for example, need you to show affection to them, and feed them. That might be why you can step on them and they simply say “thank you”. But cats are not so needy. If you determine not to pet your cat today he will be just fine. And if you determine not to feed him today, he’ll just go outside, tear the head off of a bird, and eat its entrails.
However, if you do determine to feed your cat today, he will still go outside and tear the head off of a bird. But he will not eat the entrails. He’ll take the carcass in his mouth, bring it inside the house and lay it at your feet. This is exactly what happened with my cat and my wife while I was away in
So maybe there will be little cats in heaven with the big lions. Maybe they point us to God by reminding us that He doesn’t need us either, but would certainly kill to make us happy.
See you at the Bethlehem Conference,
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Adoption is a way to worship this God by accepting the fatherless into our families. And it is redemptive. Who but God in Jesus Christ could take two tragically broken situations - a parentless child and, in many cases, a childless couple, and bring from them the beauty and glory of adoption?
Adoption is not an end in itself. It is a means by which we make much of the ways of God, from whom His children have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba Father!" (Ro 8:15)
To any in the adoption process reading this: Adoption is not your life. God is. Having been through the process I realize you can easily come to feel as though all hope for completion and happiness are riding on this process. It is not. God forbid we make an idol of parenthood. Remember, God is out to sanctify us by purging us of our idols so that we may image Him in His world. (2 Co 3:18) No other thing I have ever experienced, with the possible exception of marriage, has been more used by Father to grind to powder my golden calves, mix them with repentance, and pour them down my throat (Ex 32:20). This is a great mercy.
My daughter was an orphan. My cat was a stray. Both remind me daily of God's grace.