2 Timothy 4:18

The Lord will res­cue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safe­ly to His heav­en­ly king­dom; to Him be the glo­ry for­ev­er and ever. Amen.

Frost said, “…but I have promis­es to keep; and miles to go before I sleep; and miles to go before I sleep.”

Miles and miles seem lit­tle dif­fi­cul­ty in light of the promise we know awaits.

The Grace & Truth Paradox — Randy Alcorn

The Grace & Truth Paradox
This mar­velous lit­tle book by Randy Alcorn fell into my metaphor­ic hands just at the right time when I and my room­mate were asked to start a small-group bible study and the top­ic asked for was “How to debate with love.”

Below are quotes that I found espe­cial­ly mean­ing­ful. (More to fol­low as I con­tin­ue my explo­ration.)

What Gives Us Away?

A friend sat down in a small Lon­don restau­rant and picked up a menu.

What will it be?” the wait­er asked.

Study­ing the puz­zling selec­tions, my friend said, “Uhh…”

The wait­er smiled. “Oh, a Yank. What part of the States are you from?”

He hadn’t said a word. But he’d already giv­en him­self away.

In the first cen­tu­ry, Christ’s fol­low­ers were also rec­og­nized imme­di­ate­ly. What gave them away?

It wasn’t their build­ings. They had none.

It wasn’t their pro­grams. They had none.

It wasn’t their polit­i­cal pow­er. They had none.

It wasn’t their slick pub­li­ca­tions, TV net­works, bumper­stick­ers, or celebri­ties. They had none. What was it?

With great pow­er the apos­tles con­tin­ued to tes­ti­fy to the res­ur­rec­tion of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. ~ Acts 4:33

They tes­ti­fied to the truth about Christ and lived by His grace. Truth was the food they ate and the mes­sage they spoke. Grace was the air they breathed and the life they lived.

The world around them had nev­er seen any­thing like it. It still hasn’t.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace & Truth Para­dox, Ch 1

“We should nev­er approach truth except in a spir­it of grace, or grace except in the spir­it of truth. Jesus wasn’t 50 per­cent grace, 50 per­cent truth, but 100 per­cent grace and 100 per­cent truth.

Truth-ori­ent­ed Chris­tians love study­ing Scrip­ture and the­ol­o­gy. But some­times they’re quick to judge and slow to for­give. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.

Grace-ori­ent­ed Chris­tians love for­give­ness and free­dom. But some­times they neglect Bible study and see moral stan­dards as “legal­ism.” They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.

Count­less mis­takes in mar­riage, par­ent­ing, min­istry, and oth­er rela­tion­ships are fail­ures to bal­ance grace and truth. Some­times we neglect both. Often we choose one over the oth­er.”

“A para­dox is an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion. Grace and truth aren’t real­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry. Jesus didn’t switch on truth and then turn it off so He could switch on grace. Both are per­ma­nent­ly switched on in Jesus. Both should be switched on in us.”

“Some church ser­vices are per­me­at­ed with Chris­t­ian clichés that mys­ti­fy unbe­liev­ers. Nobody’s drawn to what’s incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Grace com­pels us to put the cook­ies on the low­er shelf where the unini­ti­at­ed can reach them. Jesus warm­ly wel­comed the non­re­li­gious and spoke words they under­stood. So should we.

Oth­er church­es try to make sin­ners feel com­fort­able. How? They nev­er talk about sin. Nev­er offend any­one. They replace truth with tol­er­ance, low­er­ing the bar so every­one can jump over it and we can all feel good about our­selves.

But Jesus said, ’ ‘No ser­vant is greater than his mas­ter.’ If they per­se­cut­ed me, they will per­se­cute you also’ (John 15:20).

Something’s wrong if all unbe­liev­ers hate us.

Something’s wrong if all unbe­liev­ers like us.

If we accu­rate­ly demon­strate grace -and- truth, some will be drawn to us and oth­er will be offend­ed by us—just as they were by Jesus.

When we offend every­body, it’s because we’ve tak­en on the truth man­tle with­out the grace. When we offend nobody, it’s because we’ve watered down truth in the name of grace.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 2.

“Grace nev­er ignores the awful truth of our deprav­i­ty. In fact, it empha­sizes it. The worse we real­ize we are, the greater we real­ize God’s grace is.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 3.

“God has writ­ten His truth on human hearts (Romans 2:15). Shame and twinges of con­science come from rec­og­niz­ing that truth has been vio­lat­ed. When peo­ple hear truth spo­ken gra­cious­ly, many are drawn to it because of the moral vac­u­um they feel. Hearts long for truth—even hearts that reject it.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4.

This next one is very sim­i­lar to Ray Comfort’s anal­o­gy in his talk Hell’s Best Kept Secret in which he talks of Jesus being offered not as sal­va­tion from the trans­gres­sions of the law, but as “Life Enhance­ment”. Peo­ple are enticed to ‘try on Christ’ with promis­es that their dif­fi­cul­ties in life will be resolved (using a para­chute as metaphor for Christ), but with­out any true under­stand­ing of the jump out of the air­plane that is to come. They put it on. It is uncom­fort­able and bulky and gives no ben­e­fit and so they tear it off, are angry at the para­chute (and the stew­ardess who gave it to them), and resolves nev­er to be fooled by that non­sense again. This as opposed to the one who is told at the out­set that there will be a jump to come and the only thing that will save them is wear­ing the para­chute. Then when the dif­fi­cul­ties of life befall him, say for instance, a new stew­ardess who trips and spills boil­ing hot cof­fee on him, he doesn’t cast off the para­chute and say “You stu­pid para­chute!” No, holds it all the tighter, and may ever Look For­ward to the jump to come.

If a teacher is guilty of preach­ing life enhance­ment instead of the truth, then there is noth­ing at all redemp­tive in his min­istry. Indeed, it is less than redemp­tive. It is damn­ing.

The oppo­site is near­ly as bad. That is, preach­ing truth in absence of all grace. Ray Com­fort clar­i­fies, “I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled con­verts.”

The world’s low stan­dards, its dis­re­gard for truth, are not grace. The illu­so­ry free­dom, how­ev­er, -feels- like grace to some­one who’s been pound­ed by grace­less truth—beaten over the head with a piece of the guardrail. In fact, peo­ple who grow up in joy­less reli­gion learn that there’s no hope of liv­ing up to such daunt­ing stan­dards. “Why even try? It’s -impos­si­ble!-.”

But prop­er­ly under­stood, bib­li­cal truths are guardrails that pro­tect us from plung­ing off the cliff. A smart trav­el­er doesn’t curse the guardrails. He doesn’t whine, “That guardrail dent­ed my fend­er!” He looks over the cliff, and sees demol­ished autos below, and is -grate­ful- for guardrails.

The guardrails of truth are there not to pun­ish, but to pro­tect us.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4.

God­ly liv­ing cen­ters not on what we avoid, but on whom we embrace. Any­time we talk more about dos and don’ts than about Jesus, something’s wrong.

—Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4

When did Religion become a ‘bad’ word?

I’m hear­ing the word reli­gion being used as though it’s a bad thing and it’s start­ed both­er­ing me great­ly. I under­stand why peo­ple have turned it into a neg­a­tive word, but I think it’s very impor­tant that we fight the urge to go along with talk­ing about reli­gion as though it’s some­thing bad… or even some­thing good… because “reli­gion” is not inher­ent­ly bad or good, and any good­ness or bad­ness is added by what I myself make it.

No mat­ter how we might strive to empha­size the dif­fer­ence between our ortho­praxy and the ortho­praxy of some­one else… i.e., stress­ing that our Chris­tian­i­ty is about “rela­tion­ship” while dis­tanc­ing your­self from, say, the strict litur­gi­cal prac­tice of one denom­i­na­tion or church or oth­er, we are still com­mit­ting reli­gion and always will be.

It’s ok to self-iden­ti­fy as a Chris­t­ian of a par­tic­u­lar mindset/practice, but I’m think­ing we’re doing every­one and the Eng­lish lan­guage a great dis­ser­vice if we aid in the demo­niza­tion of a func­tion­al decent word that is free from the bur­den of the addi­tion­al bag­gage peo­ple are try­ing to incor­rect­ly (fool­ish­ly) hang on it.

Here­in I find irony… I myself have been doing this and doing it for years. My pro­file set­tings on Face­book have read: “Reli­gious Views: Chris­t­ian — Rela­tion­ship not Reli­gion” since I cre­at­ed my account lo these many eons past. That changes today.

My reli­gion is Chris­tian­i­ty, and by that I mean what was meant the two times the word appeared in scrip­ture, “One who is fol­low­ing Christ.” I’m going to strive to fight the com­pul­sion to hang more bag­gage on my answer.

Disappearance of Theology from the Church

David F. Wells

“The dis­ap­pear­ance of the­ol­o­gy from the life of the Church, and the orches­tra­tion of that dis­ap­pear­ance by some of its lead­ers, is hard to miss today, but odd­ly enough, not easy to prove. It is hard to miss in the evan­gel­i­cal world–in the vac­u­ous wor­ship that is so preva­lent, for exam­ple, in the shift form God to the self as the cen­tral focus of faith, in the psy­chol­o­gized preach­ing that fol­lows this shift, in the ero­sion of its con­vic­tion, in its stri­dent prag­ma­tism, in its inabil­i­ty to think inci­sive­ly about the cul­ture, in its rev­el­ing in the irra­tional.”
― David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or, What­ev­er Hap­pened to Evan­gel­i­cal The­ol­o­gy

Lower the Law and you dim the light

Charles Spurgeon
“Low­er the Law and you dim the light by which man per­ceives his guilt. This is a very seri­ous loss to the sin­ner rather than a gain, for it lessens the like­li­hood of his con­vic­tion and con­ver­sion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest aux­il­iary [most pow­er­ful weapon] when you have tak­en away the school­mas­ter that is to bring men to Christ. They will nev­er accept grace until they trem­ble before a just and holy Law. There­fore the Law serves most nec­es­sary and blessed pur­pose and must not be moved from its place.”
— Charles Had­don Spur­geon

Six years in… and trusting God

LovelyRainaSix years and a bit ago, my beloved, beau­ti­ful, sweet, and pre­cious Raina Janel left.

Six years ago I read an arti­cle writ­ten by a cou­ple, who, against all rea­son and over­com­ing insur­mount­able bar­ri­ers, had their mar­riage mirac­u­lous­ly restored from scat­tered ash­es after six years.

Six years seemed impos­si­ble, but even so, it always was a fixed quan­ti­ty in my mind.

« Six years »

5750790729_e7723ee282_xlargeAs it loomed ever clos­er, I real­ized that I had uncon­scious­ly begun to view six years as a cut-off… a lim­it on God’s sov­er­eign pow­er to enact any mir­a­cle He might desire to per­form. A count­down clock ticked ever near­er towards that day when all hope would be gone.

This I real­ized a year and a half ago.… four and a half years into my great and all-encom­pass­ing sor­row… and I real­ized I had been a fool.

TogetherWeddingGod is not lim­it­ed by the cal­en­dar. He may, by His own rules be lim­it­ed only by the death of one or the oth­er of us, but I don’t know His rules and so it would be fool­ish to expect that even death is any bar­ri­er or hob­ble.

I press onward, with no hope in the restora­tion of our mar­riage but infi­nite­ly increased hope and trust in Him. What a tes­ti­mo­ny He may give us. Six pal­try years… pshaw. Child­splay! Imag­ine the tes­ti­mo­ny to His Awe­some­ness of a mar­riage restored after 20 or 30 years; if only a cou­ple places their hope and their hearts in Him, and if not us, I pray oth­ers.

God is Great! He patient­ly and grace­ful­ly con­tin­ues to work on me… my heart, my all. I hope I’m an improved man for 6 years; more hum­ble, less cer­tain that I’ve got any­thing fig­ured out, less full of false pride, and a more lov­ing heart. I remain an abom­inably slow and stub­born, but still ded­i­cat­ed stu­dent.

This para­graph sounds con­tra­dic­to­ry. I real­ly have absolute­ly no hope in this any more and a over a year and a half ago I put all things Raina away in a box on a shelf, both metaphor­i­cal­ly and lit­er­al­ly, and for the most part, there she has stayed for the sake of my san­i­ty and so that my mind was clear to focus upward instead of back­ward. I speak of the gift of a tes­ti­mo­ny not in the sense that I har­bor hope for one, but in the sense that I know that noth­ing is beyond Him and so I don’t rule it out. For all I know, He has either noth­ing, or some­thing dif­fer­ent in store for me. What­ev­er it is, or isn’t, I trust in Him that it will be best.

Are you having a secret sordid affair… with money?

Hiding MoneyThink about it. In recent years it’s become very front-of-mind to have account­abil­i­ty in the area of our lives gen­er­al­ly described as sex­u­al integri­ty. We encour­age men and women alike to find like-mind­ed folks to sup­port them as they try to align this area of their life with God’s stan­dard. We invite these trust­ed peo­ple to have unfet­tered access (if we’re being hon­est) into our lives to make cer­tain that we can­not keep sex­u­al sin hid­den… sin such as porn, affairs, sex out­side of mar­riage, vis­its to strip clubs, pros­ti­tutes, cha­t­rooms, hookup apps, dat­ing sites, etc., even men­tal­ly lust­ing after those who are not our spouse.

That kind of account­abil­i­ty seems almost insane to one who has not gone through the expe­ri­ence of a self-moti­vat­ed “dying to self” and decid­ing that we desire God more than we love our sin and pride, or alter­na­tive­ly, of being caught out by a loved one or leader and giv­en a choice between being account­able or fac­ing con­se­quences we can­not bear to face.

Yet, even to those of us who are striv­ing for account­abil­i­ty in this area, many of us would balk far more strong­ly if some­one were to sug­gest that we asked our­selves if we need­ed to be Finan­cial­ly Account­able. We’d be will­ing to let oth­ers in to our sanc­tum sanc­to­rum of deep­est inner secrets of our sex­u­al thought-lives, com­put­er usage, and dat­ing activ­i­ties, but the very idea of let­ting anoth­er like-mind­ed broth­er or sis­ter see what choic­es we have been mak­ing with our mon­ey would be almost crip­pling­ly unthink­able. We’d take up arms and fight; Yes,fight to the point of destroy­ing friend­ship and fel­low­ship if any­one were to dare sug­gest that we might be hid­ing a dirty-lit­tle-finan­cial-secret; a lit­tle expen­di­ture here, a ‘just for emer­gen­cies’ maxed-out cred­it card there…

Why? I don’t know why for each per­son, but there is one rea­son I think would be fair­ly com­mon, that rea­son being that it’s not just that we don’t want oth­ers judg­ing our finan­cial hon­esty, but that finan­cial hon­esty would shine a reveal­ing light on a whole host of things in our lives that we are dis­hon­est about, things that we are ashamed of and want kept secret.

In some ways it might be even hard­er for those of us who have sought account­abil­i­ty in the area of sex­u­al integri­ty because we have, in our hearts, incor­rect­ly begun to feel that we’re real­ly upstand­ing folks. We’ve exposed the dirt­i­est, dark­est, most shame­ful, most hid­den parts of our­selves and let the light of hon­esty shine into the dark­est cor­ners and most hid­den nich­es. We might think our­selves jus­ti­fied in keep­ing this oth­er area of our life in shad­ow behind locked doors. We might be loathe to admit, even to our­selves that we might find our­selves far and away more great­ly ashamed of our lit­tle finan­cial dal­liances than ever we were about an occa­sion­al look at a skin mag, view­ing an imag­i­na­tion-inspir­ing Hol­ly­wood movie, hang­ing out on dat­ing sites where the con­ver­sa­tion can become… stim­u­lat­ing, a Google image search with Safe-Search fea­tures dis­abled, or that lin­ger­ing look we take each time we pass the desk of the sec­re­tary at work who is com­plete­ly unaware of just what we can see when stand­ing while she’s sit­ting.

The bible tells us that even our best is as filthy rags, I would think most espe­cial­ly if our best is help­ing us give our­selves a pass some­where else. Isa­iah 64:5–8 NASB

5 You meet him who rejoic­es in doing right­eous­ness,
  Who remem­bers You in Your ways.
  Behold, You were angry, for we sinned,
  We con­tin­ued in them a long time;
  And shall we be saved?

6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
  And all our right­eous deeds are like a filthy gar­ment;
  And all of us with­er like a leaf,
  And our iniq­ui­ties, like the wind, take us away.

7 There is no one who calls on Your name,
  Who arous­es him­self to take hold of You;
  For You have hid­den Your face from us
  And have deliv­ered us into the pow­er of our iniq­ui­ties.

8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
  We are the clay, and You our pot­ter;
  And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Some final thoughts:

Has some­thing very help­ful to the Chris­t­ian walk per­haps been mis­used and caused great harm for some in this area? How many of us Chris­tians would be inclined to wave our Finan­cial Peace Uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­a­tion cer­tifi­cates (metaphor­i­cal­ly speak­ing) to quell any ques­tions oth­ers who care about us might have for us. We’d nev­er wave our actu­al bud­get. I know I’ve waved my cer­tifi­cate a time or two when uncom­fort­able scruti­ny has fall­en upon me. Heav­en for­bid that we wave our “I Tithed” stick­er around like we’ve just left the vot­ing polls to rebuff inquiry into this area, because, “If I’ve tithed, I must have my finan­cial house and heart in order.” I’ve been amused at the social meme late­ly of com­plete­ly replac­ing rhetoric with the antithe­sis of rhetoric; the “Because Sci­ence!” or “Because Racist!” argu­ment [air quotes], how­ev­er, it’s not so amus­ing when I real­ize that I might have myself used the “Because FPU!” or “Because Tithe!” argu­ments to stomp on hon­est inquiry.

I think in a lot of ways, our hearts and pri­or­i­ties may far more clear­ly be reflect­ed in our bank state­ments than our CovenantEyes or X3Watch account­abil­i­ty reports.

I guess this area for some of us may be one more exam­ple of Col. Jim­mie Coy’s ABoBs (A Bowl of Beans one is will­ing to pur­chase in exchange for their eter­nal spir­i­tu­al birthright).

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book Novem­ber 1, 2014, as a fol­low-up to thoughts post­ed Octo­ber 17, 2014 and repub­lished here as An Invi­ta­tion to Self-Reflec­tion

An Invitation to Self-Reflection

Dark Corner
Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book Octo­ber 17, 2014.
Late­ly I’ve been pon­der­ing some ques­tions I would ask myself and invite oth­ers to ask them of them­selves.
If I would answer ‘yes’ to the fol­low­ing ques­tion, “Am I in a rela­tion­ship with oth­er believ­ers that involves some form of account­abil­i­ty?”, then these fol­low-up ques­tions to myself would fol­low:
  1. In all the aspects of my life in which I am osten­si­bly trans­par­ent, is there any activ­i­ty or aspect which I have com­part­men­tal­ized away and either con­scious­ly or uncon­scious­ly in order to make cer­tain that it nev­er gets exposed, dis­cussed or explored, by not bring­ing it up or by steer­ing the con­ver­sa­tion in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion when some­one else brings it up? Might I even go so far as to con­fess oth­er areas of weak­ness both to show a sin­cere desire for account­abil­i­ty and to direct atten­tion away from my secret activ­i­ty? Do I have a dark hid­den cor­ner?
  2. If the answer to #1 was yes, why do I do it? Am I:
    1. Ashamed or embar­rassed?
    2. Fair­ly cer­tain that I know what their response would be and that they might ques­tion whether it was wise, or God­ly, or some­how at odds with the kind of rela­tion­ship with God that I want and pro­fess to want to have?
    3. Com­plete­ly cer­tain that I know what their response would be because it’s come up before and per­haps I even agreed at the time (Do I not now?) that it was unwise or unGod­ly or some­how at odds with who I claim to (want to) be in God?
  3. Final­ly, if the answer to #2 matched any of the pos­si­ble rea­sons, or even rea­sons that weren’t sug­gest­ed, how impor­tant real­ly, is that activ­i­ty or aspect, and do I real­ly want to keep pos­ses­sion of that activ­i­ty or aspect?
I say final­ly, but it leads me to pon­der some­thing Col. Jim­mie Coy asked us about at the Val­ley View Com­mu­ni­ty Church 2014 Men’s Retreat; Does that ‘thing’ qual­i­fy as an ABOB, A Bowl of Beans, a bowl of lentil stew which I desire so very strong­ly that I am will­ing to trade away my entire birthright, as did Esau, in exchange for gain­ing or keep­ing. Fur­ther, when I’ve reached the bot­tom dregs of that bowl, will I still agree with the log­ic and rea­son­ing that led to my deci­sion? Will I find last­ing sat­is­fac­tion that replaces the val­ue of my birthright, or will I find last­ing remorse over that which I for­sook?
From Jim­mie Coy: ABOB, A Bowl Of Beans…is any­thing that will sep­a­rate you from your Spir­i­tu­al eter­nal birthright. ABOB calls to each of us but ulti­mate­ly it is what sep­a­rates us from our great­est trea­sure. As Desmond Doss would say, ‘If we miss heav­en, we have missed every­thing.’ IC, jdc”

Divine punishments are also mercies and particular good is worked out of particular evil

SurprisedByJoy1“If the North­er­ness seemed then a big­ger thing than my reli­gion, that may part­ly have been because my atti­tude toward it con­tained ele­ments which my reli­gion ought to have con­tained and did not. It was not itself a new reli­gion for it con­tained no trace of belief and imposed no duties. Yet unless I am great­ly mis­tak­en, there was in it some­thing very like ado­ra­tion; some kind of quite dis­in­ter­est­ed self-aban­don­ment to an object which secure­ly claimed this by sim­ply being the object it was. We are taught in the Prayer Book to ‘give thanks to God for His great glo­ry’ as if we owed Him more thanks for being what He nec­es­sar­i­ly is than for any par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fit he con­fers upon us; and so indeed we do, and to know God is to know this, but I had been far from any such expe­ri­ence. I came far near­er to feel­ing this about the Norse gods whom I dis­be­lieved in than I had ever done about the true God while I believed. Some­times I can almost think that I was sent back to the false gods, there to acquire some capac­i­ty for wor­ship against the day when the true God should recall me to Him­self. Not that I might not have learned this soon­er and more safe­ly in ways I shall now nev­er know with­out apos­ta­sy, but that divine pun­ish­ments are also mer­cies and par­tic­u­lar good is worked out of par­tic­u­lar evil and the penal blind­ness made san­i­tive. ” ~ C. S. Lewis, Sur­prised by Joy

Relational Relationship

Matthew HenryEve was not tak­en out of Adam’s head to top him, nei­ther out of his feet to be tram­pled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be pro­tect­ed by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.” — Matthew Hen­ry

Sto­ries tell of a 17 year old Abra­ham Lin­coln singing a poet­i­cised (Cre­at­ed by him­self?) ver­sion of this put to music for a sister’s wed­ding.

…the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second.

OswaldChambersThere are cer­tain things we must not pray about – moods, for instance. Moods nev­er go by pray­ing, moods go by kick­ing. A mood near­ly always has its seat in the phys­i­cal con­di­tion, not in the moral. It is a con­tin­u­al effort not to lis­ten to the moods which arise from a phys­i­cal con­di­tion, nev­er sub­mit to them for a sec­ond. We have to take our­selves by the scruff of the neck and shake our­selves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won’t. The Chris­t­ian life is one of incar­nate spir­i­tu­al pluck.”

— Oswald Cham­bers (24 July 1874 – 15 Novem­ber 1917)

My Utmost for His High­est

Whence comes my lack of peace and obstacles over which I stumble?

Psa 119:165 Those who love Your law have great peace, And noth­ing caus­es them to stum­ble. (NAS­B­Str)

So much in this world seems so dif­fi­cult to man­age, in terms of just liv­ing day to day. How much of that dif­fi­cul­ty do I cre­ate myself because I’m reach­ing for some­thing oth­er than what God gives and com­mands. Fun­ny how I can tie my own shoelaces togeth­er w/o notic­ing our remem­ber­ing and then cry foul when I lat­er come crash­ing down.

I could use me some affliction, I think.

I could use me some afflic­tion, I think.

Psalm 119:65–71 Teth.
You have dealt well with Your ser­vant, O Lord, accord­ing to Your word. Teach me good dis­cern­ment and knowl­edge, For I believe in Your com­mand­ments. Before I was afflict­ed I went astray, But now I keep Your word. You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes. The arro­gant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your pre­cepts. Their heart is cov­ered with fat, But I delight in Your law. It is good for me that I was afflict­ed, That I may learn Your statutes. (NAS­B­Str)

Deliberate Atheism?

Aldous Huxley 1894-1963

I had motive for not want­i­ng the world to have a mean­ing; con­se­quent­ly I assumed that it had none, and was able with­out any dif­fi­cul­ty to find sat­is­fy­ing rea­sons for this assump­tion. The philoso­pher who finds no mean­ing in the world is not con­cerned exclu­sive­ly with a prob­lem in pure meta­physics, he is also con­cerned to prove that there is no valid rea­son why he per­son­al­ly should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize polit­i­cal pow­er and gov­ern in the way that they find most advan­ta­geous to them­selves … For myself, the phi­los­o­phy of mean­ing­less­ness was essen­tial­ly an instru­ment of lib­er­a­tion, sex­u­al and polit­i­cal.”

— Aldous Hux­ley 1894–1963

[ Locat­ed this con­tent here. My thanks. ]

This quote was one of many by not­ed athe­ists (who were quite forth­right in all but stat­ing that a large causal fac­tor in their athe­ism is a desire to not have the moral­i­ty of a deity imposed upon their lifestyles) in an arti­cle I recent­ly ran across.

Mixed Pro-Life Messages Abortion & Miscarriage

Only when an arti­cle hits me this hard do I real­ly feel the sac­ri­fice of giv­ing up Face­book for Lent. There’s a frus­tra­tion in not being able to share with oth­ers some­thing that so deeply chokes my heart. It’s then that I remem­ber that I have a blog and can, at the very least, not lose the resource entire­ly.

And yet after we lost Olivia, it didn’t take long for me to real­ize that in this Chris­t­ian micro­cosm of ours, some­how an abort­ed baby had so much more to offer the world than a mis­car­ried one.

Both babies may have died at the same ges­ta­tion – one by choice, the oth­er by chance. But the val­ue attached to each child com­plete­ly depend­ed on how that child died. Here are some of the mixed mes­sages I received — some­times just hint­ed at, oth­er times outright:An abort­ed baby deserves to be griev­ed. A mis­car­ried one deserves to be got­ten over. And quick­ly. An abort­ed baby could have been the next Ein­stein or Bach or Moth­er There­sa. A mis­car­ried baby was prob­a­bly dam­aged goods.

An abort­ed baby was killed against God’s design. A mis­car­ried baby ful­filled God’s plans.

An abort­ed baby was a real per­son, and should have the rights as such. A mis­car­ried baby was not a real child – nam­ing them real­ly is kin­da weird. Speak­ing of weird … count­ing them in the line-up of your chil­dren? THAT’S weird!

An abort­ed baby should always be missed in this world. God had cre­at­ed them for a pur­pose, no mat­ter what health issues they may have had. A mis­car­ried baby was meant for heav­en — and we moms should just be so thank­ful we have a baby in heav­en, and should not grieve the loss of their place on earth. After all, they nev­er TRULY had a place on earth, did they?


A beau­ti­ful, valu­able, mis­car­ried baby.

An abort­ed baby is a tragedy. A mis­car­ried baby is slight bump on the road of life.

An abort­ed baby could nev­er be replaced. A mis­car­ried baby can always be replaced – “Oh, don’t wor­ry, hon – your time will come again. You’ll have more. Just relax and trust God. You’ll see.”

An abort­ed baby’s mom should know exact­ly what she’s miss­ing out on if she has liv­ing chil­dren. A mis­car­ried baby’s mom should not grieve that loss, but instead, should just be thank­ful for the lives of her liv­ing chil­dren.

http://liveactionnews.org/why-miscarriage-matters-when-youre-pro-life/

The new rebel…

GKChestertonThe new rebel is a Skep­tic, and will not entire­ly trust any­thing. He has no loy­al­ty; there­fore he can nev­er be real­ly a rev­o­lu­tion­ist. And the fact that he doubts every­thing real­ly gets in his way when he wants to denounce any­thing. For all denun­ci­a­tion implies a moral doc­trine of some kind; and the mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ist doubts not only the insti­tu­tion he denounces, but the doc­trine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book com­plain­ing that impe­r­i­al impres­sion insults the puri­ty of women, and then he writes anoth­er book (about the sex prob­lem) in which he insults it him­self. He curs­es the Sul­tan because Chris­t­ian girls lose their vir­gin­i­ty, and then curs­es Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politi­cian, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philoso­pher that all life is a waste of time. A Russ­ian pes­simist will denounce a police man for killing a peas­ant, and then prove by the high­est philo­soph­i­cal prin­ci­ples that the peas­ant ought to have killed him­self. A man denounces mar­riage as a lie, and then denounces aris­to­crat­ic prof­li­gates for treat­ing it as a lie. He calls the flag a bauble, and then blames the oppres­sors of Poland or Ire­land because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to the polit­i­cal meet­ing, where he com­plains that sav­ages are treat­ed as if they were beast; then he takes his hat and umbrel­la and goes on to a sci­en­tif­ic meet­ing, where he proves they prac­ti­cal­ly are beast. In short, the mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ist, being an infi­nite skep­tic, is always engaged in under­min­ing his own mines. In his book on pol­i­tics he attacks men for tram­pling on moral­i­ty; in his book on ethics he attacks moral­i­ty for tram­pling on men. There­fore, the mod­ern man in revolt has become prac­ti­cal­ly use­less for all pur­pos­es of revolt. By rebelling against every­thing he has lost his right to rebel against any­thing.” — G.K. Chester­ton: Ortho­doxy, III. “The Sui­cide of Thought.”

Quot­ed recent­ly by Ravi Zacharias. Found at GKC­Dai­ly

The Gospel is More than Sufficient

Charles SpurgeonA great many learned men are defend­ing the gospel; no doubt it is a very prop­er and right thing to do, yet I always notice that, when there are most books of that kind, it is because the gospel itself is not being preached. Sup­pose a num­ber of per­sons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in the cage, and here come all the sol­diers of the army to fight for him. Well, I should sug­gest to them, if they would not object, and feel that it was hum­bling to them, that they should kind­ly stand back, and open the door, and let the lion out!

I believe that would be the best way of defend­ing him, for he would take care of him­self; and the best “apol­o­gy” for the gospel is to let the gospel out.

— Charles Had­don Spur­geon

Or to put it anoth­er way:

Peo­ple aren’t con­fused by the gospel
They’re con­fused by us
Jesus is the only way to God
But we are not the only way to Jesus

This world doesn’t need my tie, my hood­ie
My denom­i­na­tion or my trans­la­tion of the Bible
They just need Jesus
We can be pas­sion­ate about what we believe

But we can’t strap our­selves to the gospel
‘Cause we’re slow­ing it down
Jesus is going to save the world
But maybe the best thing we can do
Is just get out of the way

— Cast­ing Crowns, What this World Needs

Vis­it many good books, but live in the Bible.”
― C.H. Spur­geon

When ‘God fails’ to meet our expectations

I hear two themes jux­ta­posed. In bib­li­cal the­ol­o­gy it is a theme of peo­ple who love and fear God ask­ing, “How can I bet­ter serve God?” In the Evan­gel­i­cal church, as prod­uct of our soft-sell evan­ge­lism, it is a theme of peo­ple who love them­selves ask­ing, “Why isn’t God serv­ing me accord­ing to my expec­ta­tions?”

In qui­et time, I read of peo­ple in want joy­ful­ly prais­ing God for His pro­vi­sion and bless­ing. When I leave the house, I encounter peo­ple (myself includ­ed), who want for noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant but are mis­er­able and crit­i­cal of God.

We sing wor­ship and praise songs to and about an awe­some sov­er­eign God, who, must exist only until the final chord fades.

We have no need of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Har­ris to turn us into athe­ists. We in the Unit­ed States are doing just fine delud­ing peo­ple into dis­il­lu­sion of belief in God on our own using noth­ing more than the Evan­gel­i­cal the­ol­o­gy of enti­tle­ment and our false intrin­sic belief that God has some­how endorsed our god­less pur­suit of “The Amer­i­can Dream.”

To my mind, this con­sti­tutes a dou­ble-neg­a­tive. The delu­sion is becom­ing dis­il­lu­sioned of some­thing that was nev­er illu­sion. We don’t need the faulty log­ic of the neo-athe­ists. We do per­fect­ly well on our own.

Why doesn’t it imme­di­ate­ly strike us as the pin­na­cle of hubris and fool­ish­ness when we even begin to think in terms of “God fails”?

Greek Ponderings

Lec­ture Videos 2015/2016
Par­a­digm Index Cards These are for­mat­ted to print with 14″ mar­gins on 3“x5” index cards which should per­mit most print­ers to print them w/o scal­ing.*
* In the print dia­log, select auto-ori­en­ta­tion and full-size/no-scal­ing, and be cer­tain to select man­u­al-feed or enve­lope-feed­er for your paper-source.


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Lec­ture Videos 2014/2015
Oth­er

Lec­ture Videos — 2013/2014