Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)
Sunday, January 30, 2011
In less than 100 words, tell me why you believe being committed to attending church has value.
The winning essay will receive publication on this blog, as well as one of my handmade custom pens!
The winning entry will be announced on March 1st. You have till February 28th to get your answer in.
Send your entries to Perseveringpastor@gmail.com
Friday, January 21, 2011
The other day I stated on my Facebook page, “Do we ever really think and ponder, or do we just critique”. I hope this is something to think about.
As a matter of fact, I have been reading John Piper’s book Think. I also have been reading the banter on Tim Challies’ blog regarding Dietrich Bonhoeffer as represented in Eric Metaxas book Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
The Piper book promotes the need for people to be thinkers, and to meditate on the Glories of God through deep thinking. He does a great job of illustrating how the anti-intellectual mindset has crippled Christianity. (My opinion) The Challies blog shows a great deal of dialog with a few getting the point very well, but others critiquing minor points ad nauseum. Simply, the point is we need to be challenged to think.
I once heard it said that the reason President Richard Nixon fell into the crimes and means his life is marked with is that he surrounded himself with like minded men. He failed to have someone who would challenge his path or mindset. This ultimately led to a group mentality of “we can’t go wrong”. This ought to serve a lesson; that we must be guarded against whom our influences are. As it is said, “if you roll with the dogs you are going to get fleas”. Some influences should not be regarded. I have briefly spoken on this factor in this same blog under the heading of Discretion.
Now, let us assume that with discretion in place we think. We must think. We are called to be logical creatures. If I may paraphrase Piper a bit, by the very use of the word “Therefore” in the scriptures God implies that we are to be rational, logical, and educated thinkers. We must think to arrive at solid Gospel centered conclusions. And when we think we learn. Thinking promotes changes in the heart that are crucial. Remember, we are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. When you think you take possession of the ideas at hand. When you simply critique, you parrot others parroting opinions.
Had I written a response to the value of reading Bonhoeffer, or Metaxas’ book it would be that Bonhoeffer challenges our thinking. Yes I may not agree with his Christology or textual criticism. But I also may not agree with John Piper, Charles Finney, or others on some issues. Therefore, as responsible Christians who accept the command and duty to study to show ourselves approved, and ready to give every man an answer for our faith: we need to be able to defend why we disagree with others. This requires education. It requires us to think and be challenged.
Some have railed against intellectualism. And yet they promote Sunday school, which is a means of education. The ambiguous “They” also state that Jesus simply worked with uneducated men. I then ask, what was He doing with them; but educating them. Also, I do not believe that Luke, the Apostle Paul, nor Matthew the tax collector would be considered uneducated. Yes the Pharisees saw the twelve as such, but that may simply be a general statement.
Simply, we must think. Thinking is growth. It is defense against that which requires discretion. Thinking is the occupation of joy with achieving a greater knowledge of God.
Now I also mentioned America’s favorite pastime, critiquing. Sports fans consider this the ultimate expression of allegiance to their team. Writers and journalist tend to do this more than report the facts. It could also be stated that most people make decisions based more upon critique rather than deep thinking of values, causes, and effects. I am no different. But I will caveat that my thinking in this manner is changing as being someone with Celiac disease who must read every ingredient label. We are accustomed to critiquing. Critiquing is easy. It builds up the pride one has in their job, team, and accomplishments of the self. Yes, critique is easy, thinking is hard.
Critiquing in this sense is applying a preset value system against an opportunity, presentation, or whatever is groping for our attention. We too often fail to challenge our value system in a Biblical manner. Thus day after day we, remaining the same person as last year, keep making the same basic decisions.
But along with Piper I want to challenge us all. We are called to be disciples, life long students of God. Even our children need to be theologians. In the Schema we are to teach in every possible manner of life the ways and knowledge of God. This will require thinking. For as others think and propose ideas we need to be ready to meet the challenge. We need an apologetic for life, even if only for ourselves.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
As we continue investigating J C Ryle’s critique of evangelism and easy believism, we will often consider this to be written recently. The truth is that the 1880’s saw such pleading for numbers and liberalism that we are reaping the results still. Church growth experts are not new. They have long taught “If you want numbers you must appeal to the masses”. The full council of God is for the few who find it.
Bishop Ryle states…
. (1) Let "all the counsel of God be taught" in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths. (2) Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both.
Pet doctrines abound. One particular preacher teaches with great consistency on the end times. His entire ministry is built upon speculation and fascination. Others tend to grip the Love of God and fail to characterize it in light of wrath and sin. These are pure disservice to the discipleship of the body. Still another church is representing a man made God so well that the difficult texts are thrown out, because “it doesn’t fit our opinion of who God is to us”.
This is the point, by not teaching the whole counsel of God we tend to make God in our own image. We can thus have a God that looks just like the world and the world’s ways and values are therefore acceptable.
Preaching and discipleship from the bible is to bring sinners to knowledge of God. To have a true knowledge we need each aspect to support each aspect. To continue with Rev. Ryle, we must be taught to repent. Repentance should always include a reminder of the holiness of God, the separation we then have, and the result being wrath. If any doctrine is going to be overlooked, in my opinion it is wrath. But it is the wrath of God for which Christ died. When we share with persons that they need to be saved I hope they challenge us to ask “Saved from what?”
There is no appreciation for the Savior unless we see the whole council of God and especially our being saved from Hell. Then the supporting doctrines give a grand picture of God. He is not bent on wrath and merely appeased by “our decision”. But He is a great God who has a plan. Who works in sovereignty, who chooses on His on volition out of His love to save. Let us again see people being led to this God. He must be represented as who He is, not as man chooses to make Him.
We have forgotten how to repent. Too often faith has been turned into a religion of works. One of these works is the discomfort felt by being guilty. We think if we are guilty and say we are sorry it is enough. We attribute our uneasiness due to guilt as punishment enough. It is precisely this line of reasoning that shows we either do not know God or worldliness has crept in where the whole council of God should be taught. But as John the Baptist taught, “Repent and then do works in accordance with repentance”. This only comes by a change of heart. Outward actions do not carry any weight unless the heart be changed. Men change actions, but God evidences Himself in change of the heart.
To change and not revert back to the old self we need the doctrines of our Lord, from the whole council of scripture to be in a process of sanctification.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
My first impressions of this book were initiated by the cover. Often you can not judge a book by its wrapper, however this one is an exception. The joy that is radiated from the imagery of the cover and the pages within draws you into thanksgiving. I am thankful God has made these people.
Sitting down with my nine year old daughter and eleven year old son we read the pages together. Each photo not only tells you a story but incites wonder and amazement as to what will become of the hero on that page. We looked at the emotions of each face and read the accompanying scriptures. Here is the greater value of the book. It produces not only reflection for the parents heart, it lifts up my children to appreciate the value of every life God has created, even with its differences.
The author Krista Horning has gone through more suffering than most could ever endure. But it has its reward. Krista seems to have an ability to light a passion for God. With over sixty surgeries upon her frame she proclaims with a victor's experience that God is a loving God despite life's circumstances.
Scripture speaks for itself. Here with the photographs scripture is also speaking to the wonder of God through what others often consider the unfortunate. Each scene is given greater depth by the Word of God.
In summary, the kids inside this treasure box are real. The next time you see another "disabled" adult or child, recall what this book communicates. They have great value and worth. Reading this book to my children has created a compassion at a level I never considered. Reading it alone has urged me on to prayer, for these kids, their families, and to know their Lord. Those God has created with what we often call disabilities are more often His means of grace.
This book can be found at http://www.desiringgod.org/Store/Books/890_Just_the_Way_I_Am/