Saturday, December 27, 2014

An Eternally Interrupted Life

It has become somewhat uncommon for me to blog. But when I do, it is common for me to cite something I've recently read. Here is another one of those, from a book I recommend to any interested in the history of God's Church in general, and/or Martin Luther in particular.

 "Because the curse is God's own wrath at sin, and because Christ is God himself, when Christ's cross is preached you become a party to a struggle between God and God--in Christ: 'Therefore the curse clashes with the blessing and wants to damn it and annihilate it. But it cannot. For the blessing is divine and eternal, and therefore the curse must yield to it. For if the blessing in Christ could be conquered, then God Himself would be conquered. . . . But this is impossible,' Luther concluded in his Galatians lectures.
   God's 'alien' will in the cross has been conquered by his 'proper' will 'for you.' God won by losing your game and starting up his own game of forgiving sinners by raising them from the dead--no hide-and-seek being desired or necessary. Once you are raised from the dead by Christ's promise, death can no longer be feared. It lies behind you instead of threatening your future at every turn. The law and its demand becomes a past event, not a present threat or future goal. 'Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?' Paul asked. If Christ is the final judge and he killed killing by being raised from the dead and forgiving his sinners, then what further judgment do you fear? The sting of death is removed because Christ unilaterally forgave and so interrupted your life permanently. Laying your sins on Jesus means they are over and have no more power to slip into your conscience to say, 'What have you done?' Instead, Christ alone sits there calling his sheep by name and freely giving them all they need. Paul confessed that in such a new circumstance nothing (not death, sin, or devil) can 'separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom. 8:38-39)." - From Luther for Armchair Theologians, pp 158-59.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Pain from God

"Satan is not the Lord of suffering. God is."
R.C. Sproul Jr, commenting on Job 1 & 2, and Isaiah 45:1-7, 
concerning common misunderstandings and false beliefs regarding
God's relationship to His people's hardships.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Merry Reformation Day

I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget Your law.
Ps 119:109

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


"Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning." 
Dallas Willard 

Strive to enter through the narrow door; 
for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
Lk 13:24 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Perfect Parent Is Unfair, and Generous

It is popular for parents to strive to be "fair" in relationship to how they distribute gifts to their children; "fair" meaning that each child receives an equal measure of the wealth distributed. This is the case whether we are talking about a weekly allowance for completion of chores, the distribution of Christmas gifts, the division of an inheritance, etc. And in my experience, it is common for parents to speak of this impartial practice with a measure of pride, as if such like disbursement is a great virtue and even proves their unbiased paternal love. I want to briefly argue that such practices are not just faulty, but ungodly. The Bible tells us so. And to further make His point, God granted me a living illustration recently, which of course is not authoritative like the Bible, but is helpful for me.

First of all, and most clearly, God, in this life and the next, does not give the same wealth of gifts to all of His children. He does not treat us all the same in this regard. (There are many Bible texts that teach this, and too, you can just look around.) Father God is not "fair," but grossly unfair, biased, and partial, but not because He loves one over the other, but because He is altogether wise. Some children simply should not have certain things, while other children should. And for the sake of brevity I am not going into all the reasons why this is so. Furthermore, I don't know all the reasons. But for this post suffice it to say that God in His complete and eternal love and wisdom does what is best for each of us. And in a very humanistic and un-Christian way of thinking, that's not fair.

Having said that, I will offer two reasons that some of God's children receive particular blessings while others do not. They are given in James 4:2-3 where the Bible tells us that there are Christians who go without for the simple reason that they have not asked God for what they desire, or they are asking, but with corrupt motives. In this context, the corruption has everything to do with selfishness. In this regard, prayer plays a vital role in how God treats us.

A few days back my son Joah received several gifts through the mail, gifts I had purchased for him. I was curious to see how my daughter Tess would react as we all sat on the living room floor and opened the boxes. I was happy to see that she was happy for him, and didn't display jealously or any other feelings of a sense of injustice. She didn't even ask why her brother was receiving the items. But if she had asked me, I would have answered that the gifts were being given to Joah because he had asked for them. It's that simple. I love my son. He wants a thing. As far as I can tell, the thing will be good for him. I have the ability to give it to him. So I grant his request. Not complicated. God Himself is like this (You should read Mt 7:7-11).

Don't misunderstand, I give gifts to my daughter as well. I love her too. More often than not I give  gifts for which my children have not asked, because it's in my heart to do so. But when I know they want a particular item or experience or opportunity, because they have expressed their desire by asking, I work to fulfill that request. Or, I say "no" to them, as God will sometimes do. But my disposition as a loving father is to say "yes" to my children. My bent is to bless them, not deny them.

May the Perfect Parent grant us the wisdom and discernment required to be generous, and unfair.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Mystery of Imitation - We Reproduce What We Are

"Be imitators of God, as beloved children."
Ep 5:1

There is an exceptionally powerful and mysterious link between knowing you are loved and becoming like the one loving you. This is most clearly seen in the parent - child relationship, and it has nothing to do with a shared DNA. It has to do with the way God has made the world, and the way He has wired the family for covenant. For our children's sake, let's not be ignorant of this beautiful reality. It is in the parent - child bond that children first learn, and these lessons are the foundation laid for how they will understand every other relationship they have in this life, including the one they have with God. Our children are students of us. God has made it so. May He grant us  the grace to teach and model well (Ep 6:4).

As I am writing this, my son Joah, who is 3, just came over to me and said, "Daddy, do you know I love you?" God is teaching me even in these very moments of contemplation. He is validating what is written here, I think. My dearly loved son loves me. And he desperately wants to be like me, because he is proud of me, for reasons I don't fully comprehend. I am reminded of a few ways he makes this known, as the pictures below will show.

Joah arranged the floss, his next to mine.

Joah arranged these too.

Joah wanted his grill next to my grill. . .

And his mower, and shoes, next to my mower and shoes.

Parents often wonder how it is, when their children disappoint them, that the children could behave in such a wrong way. The answer to that question is not always simple. But I think it normally has something to do with us, the parents. And perhaps it's often true that the failure is not in what we have done, but in what we haven't done. We haven't modeled and taught biblical godliness. Instead, we've modeled and taught morality, worldly success, and culturally acceptable behaviors. So we raise children that believe that God exists for them, and that He is most interested in their comfort and happiness instead of their character and holiness; He's a therapist then, and not a King. We raise legalists who relate to God by keeping rules as if those rules are arbitrary and not reflective of a Person who loves them.

It is certain that their mowers and grills are not the only things our children are lining up next to ours. Yes, their ways of thinking, believing, behaving, and relating are there also. Because day by day, we are reproducing what we are. May God help us.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jesus Did Not Come To Be Useful

I recently heard philosopher/theologian R.C. Sproul comment that of the major philosophies, the only American-born one is pragmatism. So I got to thinking about that, and how pragmatism dominates so many churches. Pragmatists are more concerned with "what works" than with "what's true." And when I say "what works", I mean "works" as the pragmatist defines it. They want to know if a thing is useful, not good. This is terribly short-sighted.

So for any pragmatist who may stumble across this blog, allow me for a moment to put aside my desire to debate and persuade and instead to simply proclaim that Jesus did not come to be useful. He came to save, and to reign, in and over you. It's Jesus that works.

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."
John 5:19-24

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Flavor of Meats and the Sweetness of Odors

"We cannot even avoid those matters which serve our pleasures rather than our needs. But that we may use them with a pure conscience, we should observe moderation, whether we mean the one, or the other. . .The flavor of meats, and the sweetness of odors, makes some people so stupid that they have no longer any appetite for spiritual things. . .We should zealously beware that anything the Lord gave us to enrich life become a stumbling block. . .For while all such things are given to us by divine kindness, and are meant to be for our benefit, they are at the same time like deposits entrusted to our care, and of these we shall have to give an account some day." -- Excerpts from John Calvin's "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life", Chapter 5.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Son of the Covenant

God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, 
you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
Ge 17:9

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Various and Severe Lessons of Misery

"In one word, the whole soul, wrapped up in carnal delights, seeks its happiness on this earth. To counteract this, the Lord by various and severe lessons of misery, teaches His children the vanity of the present life. . .But, if it is necessary for us to be taught by God, it certainly is also our duty to listen to Him when He speaks, and arouses us from our sluggishness, that we may turn our backs upon this world, and try to meditate with all our heart on the life to come. . .For the Lord ordained that those who are to be crowned in heaven, should first fight the good fight on earth, that they may not celebrate their triumph without actually having overcome the difficulties of warfare, and having gained the victory." -- Excerpts from John Calvin's "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life", Chapter 4. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Contending for the Oil of Conversation

Noah S. Sweat - Whiskey Speech

"My friends,

"I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

"If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.


"If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

"This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Dad's Day Promise

"I will be to him a father, and he will be to 
me a son. When he commits iniquity, 
I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but My steadfast love will not depart from him. . ."
2 Sa 7:14-15a

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cross-Bearing is More Difficult than Self-Denial

"Cross-bearing is more difficult than self-denial. . .For all whom the Lord has chosen and received into the society of his saints, ought to prepare themselves for a life that is hard, difficult, laborious, and full of countless griefs. It is the will of their heavenly Father to try them in this manner that He may test them. . .For Saint Paul tells us that if we know the fellowship of His sufferings we shall also understand the power of His resurrection; and that while we are participating in His death, we are also being prepared for sharing His glorious resurrection. . .There are many reasons why we should live under a continual cross. First, whereas we are naturally prone to attribute everything to our human flesh, unless we have, as it were, object lessons of our stupidity, we easily form an exaggerated notion of our strength, and we take for granted that, whatever hardships may happen, we will remain invincible. . .This vanity He cannot better repress than by proving to us from experience not only our folly, but also our extreme frailty. Therefore He afflicts us with humiliation, or poverty, or loss of relatives, or disease, or other calamities. Then, because we are unable to bear them, we soon are buried under them. . .For it is no small profit to be robbed of our blind self-love so that we become fully aware of our weakness; to have such an understanding of our weakness that we distrust ourselves; to distrust ourselves to such an extent that we put all our trust in God; to depend with such boundless confidence on God that we rely entirely on His help so that we may victoriously persevere to the end; to continue in His grace that we may know that He is true and faithful in His promises; and to experience the certainty of His promises so that our hope may become firmer. . .If everything proceeded according to our wishes, we would not understand what it means to follow God." -- Excerpts from John Calvin's "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life", Chapter 3.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Habits of Discrimination

Michael Horton, writing on the need to know what we believe and why we believe it, says, "We're always willing to invest in anything that's valuable to us--sports, hobbies, family history, or technology. The more invested we are, the more we care for it and for the people who are a part of it. Since our first calling is citizenship in Christ, with his body, we should seek to develop habits of discriminating between what is beautiful and ugly, good and bad, true and false. Often we will find that things aren't totally one or the other, but even that is a wise and generous appraisal that comes from discriminating habits." - Taken from the article "Spring Cleaning", Modern Reformation magazine, Mar-Apr edition, 2013.

"But solid food is for the mature, for those 
who have their powers of discernment 
trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."
He 5:14

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Thrust of Christianity, the 4th

The thrust of Christianity is not feeling good about God, as though He were our boyfriend. The American church of recent decades has convinced many that if they feel out of sorts in regard to their relationship with God then something is terribly wrong. But what we feel has everything to do with our expectations. When faulty expectations are not met, we feel that something must be amiss, as though God has mistreated us, or is angry with us. This scenario is another reason why God's Word is so critical. It tells us how God relates to us and even feels about us. And it tells us how we ought to feel toward God. And, it puts the objective realities above how we feel about them. In other words, what God says trumps how we feel.

I am pro-feeling. I see that the Bible gives a significant place to emotions within the Christian experience. But it does not permit emotion to govern us or permit us to doubt God when our feelings are not what we prefer or expect. It seems to  me that our relationship with God in Christ has in some cases been reduced to a cinematic romance; so much so that if we don't feel God's presence we actually believe He isn't with us. But, He says He is (Ps 139; Mt 28, etc).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Thrust of Christianity, The 3rd

The thrust of Christianity is not pure goodness, as in category fixes. It seems to me we prefer a world where the good guys are all good and the bad guys are all bad; a world where the teams are fixed so that there are no good guys on the bad side and no bad guys on the good side. I think we want individual and team category clarity. That doesn't seem like a terrible desire, but it's not how God has made the world. I think of this in part because my family has recently been reading the Bible stories about Samson (Judges 13-16). Samson, a Judge of God's people, is repeatedly said to be led by the Spirit of the LORD. He also came to exist through a miraculous conception (his mother was barren). And he is said to be an instrument of God's judgment upon the Philistines, among other good things. Yet, Samson is often viewed by Christians as a mostly evil man, slaughtering innocents and chasing immoral women. This is strange in light of how Christians tend to think of King David. David is normally considered a good man . But David was a killer; a man of war (1 Ch 28). He was responsible for many more deaths than Samson. And, he had hundreds of women. Isn't it strange how we pick our heroes.

Frankly, I like Samson, and David, and Jonah, for that matter. I see faith in these men. No matter what phase of history, or the present, we look into, we will find that our heroes, and our family and friends, are mixed in their characters. And often it is their good qualities, unchained, that become their bad qualities.

All of this points us to Jesus Christ, the purely good One, as God defines goodness.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Thrust of Christianity, The 2nd

The thrust of Christianity is not peace, even inner peace, which some, perhaps many, have gone so far as to make the measure of whether or not a person is actually right with God. Christian living is fraught with turmoils within and troubles without. We wrestle, we strive, we fight, we battle, we struggle, we mourn, and we die, in this world. The Apostle Paul (perhaps the most Christ-like person of all history) gives this testimony: "We are afflicted in every way. . .we are perplexed. . .we are persecuted. . .we are struck down. . .we are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake. . . (Excerpts from 2 Co 4:7-12).

Now, because of Jesus, there is good news, gospel news: "We are not crushed. . .not despairing. . .not forsaken. . .not destroyed. . .the life of Jesus is being manifested in our mortal flesh. . ." But the good news does not erase the hardships. It makes them fruitful, and sanctifying.

When I read the gospel narratives, I wonder which is most normal. Did Jesus relieve stress, or did He cause it?

Once converted to Christianity, for the first time a person is walking against his own sinfulness, against the world's influence, and against the devil himself. This tri-fold assault makes for quite a strain (See Jn 16, for example).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Thrust of Christianity

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. . ." 
Ro 1:16

The thrust of Christianity is not moral transformation, or a better quality of life, or relationship improvements, or temporal success of any kind. The thrust of Christianity is salvation from the wrath of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ comes from outside ourselves, and asks of us no work or improvement. It is the redeeming energy of God. It does the work; and it makes the improvements.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Upright Person is Sound of Heart

"An upright saint is like an apple with rotten specks, but a hypocrite is like the apple with a rotten core. The sincere Christian has a speck of passion here, there one of worldliness, and there one of pride. But cut him up and anatomize him, and he is sound at heart; there Christ and Christianity live and reign. A hypocrite is like an apple that is smooth and lovely on the outside, but rotten within. His words may be exact, his duties devout, and his life blameless; but look within, and his heart is the sty of sin, the den of Satan." -- From Richard Steele's (1629-1692) article, "The Nature of an Upright Man".

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Moving, with Mara; or, Faith is Not the Absence of Sadness

My family is moving today, again. Marian and I attempted recently to count our moves. We came up with eleven of them, plus the one today; twelve moves in 19 years. I have prayed many times that God would settle us; that He would give us a place and a season of the rest that comes with being planted somewhere. He has refused. So today, if you want to speak to me, you may call me Mara (Ru 1:20).

The truth is I can't see what God is doing. His hands are invisible hands. And His ways are past finding out (Ro 11:33-36). As the Scriptures tell repeatedly, God's providences are regularly hard ones, at least for some of His children. And those God-wrought hardships bring real loss, causing real pain, causing real sadness. And I've had my fill of the ignorant Christian proclaiming his/her  backward view on faith's relationship to such things. Faith, dear people, is not the absence of sadness (See Job, for example, or many of David's Psalms; or Lk 22, or 2 Co 1 & 4; or He 11; Etc, etc, etc).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Am I a Christian?

For help answering the above question, I recommend a visit here. Then pray, and read 1 John repeatedly. Then pray. Repeat. And remember, the work of giving assurance is the work of God the Holy Spirit (See Ro 8, for example). So while God's people may be able to serve as guides on our path to assurance, they cannot provide the assurance itself, and shouldn't be expected to.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday

Had Jesus not risen from the dead, the church would not gather. The whole thing would be undone, and the faith of every believer from Adam onward would be useless. So while we especially remember Christ's resurrection on this day, we ought to remember it each Lord's Day. Actually, we should remember it every morning, when we open our eyes from sleep, which is an illustration of death. Each night we go unconscious, then we awake and arise. God has woven the death and resurrection reality into every twenty-four hours of our experience. The Bible often uses "sleep" to speak of death, and "waking" to speak of life. There's a reason for that.

Jesus got up from the grave to justify His people, and to ascend to His Father's side, the place from which He mediates the new covenant in His blood. He got up from the grave to send us His Holy Spirit, who baptizes us into the Church, sanctifies us, and seals us for the day of final redemption. He got up from the grave to keep promises made to us, promises of His presence and of His return, and of everlasting life.

All of these wonders, and quite a few more, are tied up with the resurrection of Jesus. And frankly, it is the reason I have any hope at all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Legitimate Use of All the Lord's Favors

"Scripture urges and warns us that whatever favors we may have obtained from the Lord we have received them as a trust on condition that they should be applied to the common benefit of the church. The legitimate use of all the Lord's favors is liberally and kindly to share them with others. . . Indeed, a Christian ought to be disposed and prepared to keep in mind that he has to reckon with God every moment of his life." -- Excerpts from John Calvin's "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life", Chapter 2

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Einsteinian Philosophy

"Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value."

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Because She's My Baby Bird

When Tess was just a few months from the womb, she began to make sounds that greatly resembled those made by baby birds. They were her happy sounds. So I affectionately began calling her my Baby Bird, and have continued to call her that for the past six years. Last week I asked her to write her name for me. Then I took that signature, paired it with a little bird, and had that design forever pressed into my flesh. This is my tat for Tess, because she's my Baby Bird.

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. . ."
Is 49:16

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Good Purpose of Hard Words

"The grace of God teaches us to comfort the afflicted 
and afflict the comfortable."
Douglas Wilson, from his blog post here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our Labor Is Not Lost

"Since God has revealed himself as a Father, we would be guilty of the basest ingratitude if we
did not behave as his children. . .But our religion will be unprofitable if it does not change our hearts, pervade our manners, and transform us into new creatures. . .The Lord first of all wants sincerity in his service, simplicity of heart without guile and falsehood. . .The one condition for spiritual progress is that we remain sincere and humble. . .Let us not cease to do our utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord. . .Though we fall short, our labor is not lost if this day surpasses the preceding one." -- Excerpts from John Calvin's "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life", Chapter 1

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get Wisdom - Post 31

Proverbs - Chapter 31

1 - It is a man who speaks the wisdom of this chapter; a man well-taught by his mother (v1).
2 - The man's mother has warned him of the destructive influence of women and wine (v2-7).
3 - And she has taught him the significance of justice and righteousness (v5, 8-9).
4 - Verses 10-31 show the mother's choice of her son's wife. Instead of giving his strength to women (v3), he is taught to give himself to one godly wife (v10).
5 - The good woman's goodness and excellence is rooted in her fear of the LORD (v30). Such fear makes her fruitful (v31). This is quite significant. Jesus repeatedly condemned fruitlessness. He did not speak well of those who failed to produce. He says it's a symptom of unbelief (See Mt 13, for example).
6 - Finally, an excellent wife is precious (v10) and praiseworthy (v28-29). She has regard for the quality of her mind (v26) and body (v17). And she is disciplined (v15, 19, 27), and therefore productive (v31).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Great Candidate for Particular Redemption

One of my pastors recently suggested this test of sinfulness: For one week, do not boast about yourself, do not defend yourself, and do not speak evil of others. After a week of failure, I sent my pastor a text briefly relating my experience. He replied that my guilt made me a great candidate for particular redemption.

I commend the experiment.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless - James 1:26

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love Gives, and Grace Rounds Up - Part 2

Since I last posted I've had many more thoughts on giving. But I did not write any of them down. So I've forgotten most of them. But one that I have not forgotten that has helped me is a thought on how we measure our giving. It could be argued, perhaps from the Bible, that the tithe is all God requires of us when it comes to giving money. I would not argue that because of texts like Mark 12:41-44 which shows us at least one way Jesus measures giving. He measures it not by how much we give, but by how much we have left over after we give. So affirming a strict tithe (10%), in light of Jesus' measurement, seems to me to be short-sighted.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love Gives and Grace Rounds Up

Through a recent community group gathering (weekly evening coming together of a few Christians from the larger congregation of our church), I was forced again to consider Jesus' parable called "The Good Samaritan" (Lk 10:25-37). The parable teaches us what it means to love others. Discussion of this led to our group considering what love does. This has stayed on my mind now for 10 days. Perhaps if I write something this force will lessen. I want to attempt to do this using bullet points. So, off the top of my head:

- Love gives (Cf Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 3:16-18).
- Love gives generously, providing the kind of help that makes significant difference.
- Grace rounds up, I think. So when you give of yourself and/or your money, do the same. Err on the side of abundance.
- One reason the Bible tells us to work is so that we have something to give away (Ep 4:28). The Christian who believes he/she works too hard for their money to just give it away is foolish, and uninformed, and selfish.
- Giving fights greed.
- Give off the top of all your income (not just earned income - Pr 3:9).
- God loves giving, and rewarding givers (Pr 3:10).
- Jesus shows us that the selfish, to justify themselves, point to what they consider their good works. On the other hand, the happy giver, rewarded by God, doesn't distinguish between his giving and his living. The service is so intermingled with his existence and comes so naturally that when reminded of his excellent and helpful deeds, the generous person seems not to remember them (Mt 25:31-46).
- We all know folks who need our help. We should help them, and we should enjoy helping them. And when our sinful selfish minds fill with the demand that we look for a list of qualifiers before providing loving service, remember that the chief qualifier is the need itself.
- When someone approaches you as you wait for the gasoline pump to stop, and he asks you for spare change, don't worry about what he will buy with the money you give him. If in your uptightness (often confused with holiness) you're concerned that he will buy beer with the money, then I say give him enough money to ensure that he can get good beer. Don't send him away with only enough cash for Coors Light. Supply the Samuel Adams instead (Cf Jn 2:1-12).
- Giving money, I think, is the easy service. I find much more demanding the time, energy, re-arrangements, conversations, etc required for loving my neighbors.
- The Christians shown to us in 2 Co 8-9 could not afford to give. Yet, they gave. The text says they were eager to help and begged the Apostle Paul to take part in the good work of relieving their needy  brothers and sisters in another part of the world. Their commended example also shows us that our giving should not be limited to our own families and congregations [Cf He 13:3, and remember that Jesus blesses His people who give to "strangers" (Cf Mt 25:31-46)].
- In the Sermon on the Mount alone, Jesus says we should give to those who ask, and those who want to borrow from us, and to the poor. "Freely you received, freely give" (Mt 10:8).
- According to 2 Co 8-9, God's gracious giving to us motivates us to graciously give to others. If you are driven this way and therefore have strong desires to help big and many, but can't, then I suggest doing for one what you would like to do for all.
- The Bible orders our giving. It gives us categories. It tells us that a righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children's children (Pr 13:22 - saving, investing); and it speaks favorably of sacrificial giving to the point of having nothing left (Mk 12:41-44). It speaks of taking care of our families (1 Ti 5:8), and of strangers (as noted above). Etc. But don't fret over such demands. We're not told to do any of this as though there is no God (See 2 Co 9:8-15, for example).

Saturday, February 8, 2014


As I sit in my chair attempting to concentrate on a thing, it's quite difficult not to regularly give a glance toward my children playing wildly and loudly in the living room. So I must ask myself, "Was the room made for my children, or were my children made for the room?" (Cf Mk 2).

I think the right answer to this question has enormous potential for the calming of my soul.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trinitarian Redemption

Concerning how the Trinity and salvation are related:

"Seeing how closely these two go together depends on seeing both Trinity and gospel as clearly as possible in a large enough perspective to discern their overall forms. When the outlines of both are clear, we should experience the shock of recognition: Trinity and gospel have the same shape! This is because the good news of salvation is ultimately that God opens his Trinitarian life to us. Every other blessing is either a preparation for that or a result of it, but the thing itself is God's graciously taking us into the fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be our salvation." -- Fred Sanders, 21st Century

"The Father's love gave Christ to them, Christ's love gave Himself for them, and the Holy Ghost's love reveals and applies to them the salvation of God. . .We are taught in Scripture that our security flows from three great facts. The Father has loved us with an everlasting love--a love that never changes; Christ, who died for our sins, is now at God's right hand in resurrection glory and ever lives to make intercession for us, pleading His work finished and accepted; and God the Holy Ghost dwelleth in us." -- Marcus Rainsford, 19th Century

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Get Wisdom - Post 30

Proverbs -- Chapter 30 

Some observations:

1. Know God, and know yourself, and know your place. It seems to me this is an umbrella theme over this chapter. And it should be said that knowing God well produces knowledge of one's self. We learn who and what we are not. Also, pay attention. Agur considered himself ignorant and foolish (v2-3), yet he writes with insight and wisdom on the realities and mysteries of life in this world.
2. As a sub-point to #1, submit to how God has made the world and to His ways in it. There is a divine origin and rhythm to it all, and we can learn something of God from observing this and walking with it, not against it.
3. Notice the many sins involving the tongue against which we are warned, and counseled to overcome (v8-9, 10, 11, 15, 32-33).
4. Wonder (v18-19. Cf v2-5).
5. Get wisdom (v24-28. Cf v3).