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Showing posts from 2011

worshiped by angels

There is a prominence of angelic ministry at two places in Jesus' life: at his birth, and at his death and resurrection.   At Christmas we are reminded that there is a spiritual realm, and the existence of angelic beings who are very much interested in what's going on here.   The angels love the Son of Man, who is the Word made flesh. "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory," (1 Timothy 3:16) "And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him. '"  (Hebrews 1:6) "...things into which angels long to look ."  (1 Peter 1:12) So should we -- like these mighty beings -- see Jesus, look intently at all he has done, and worship him!

more on marriage

Recently published:  The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God , by Tim Keller, with his wife Kathy. I'm looking forward to reading this.  I listened to part of the sermon series this was based upon, but I plan to  put this book in the queue soon.  Here are some popular Kindle highlights, and a quote at the end that Trevin Wax posted.  Great insights to think about... Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. Marriage used to be a public institution for the common good, and now it is a private arrangement for the satisfaction of the  individuals. Marriage used to be about us, but now it is about me.   According to the Bible, God devised marriage to reflect his saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create  stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes  into an enduring whole-life

nehemiah walk-through

We finished teaching our adult elective on Sunday, "Rebuilding Jerusalem: Leadership and Community in Nehemiah."   Did a walk-through and discussion to highlight key lessons and applications by chapter, as follows: 1.   Prayer :   important from first to last.   We need to ask, as we live and/or lead in community, have I prayed about each decision?  Do I see the big picture of God's work of redemption in history?  Do I feel his concerns on my heart?  Do I really believe in God's providential guidance? Am I living in dependence upon him? 2.   Planning :  results in informed and timely action.   Am I adequately informed before I take action, or even before I speak of intended action?  Am I thoughtful, and do I know the task that lies before us?  Have I taken the trouble to get first-hand knowledge of the situation?  Am I bringing others into this information -- and my intentions -- at the right time? 3.   Labor :   the work is divided, and everyone has a

my 7 favorite marriage quotes (today)

"Marriage isn't supposed to make you happy - it's supposed to make you married."  (Frank Pittman) "You don't marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as a result of being married to you."   (Richard Needham) "No two human beings are made for each other. Every human being is made for God. Marriages are not made in heaven. There are no prefabricated marriages. They are made right here on earth, day by day, by the sacrifices both persons are called upon to make. And marriages are not made by what comes naturally. That is important, of course, but marriages are made by what does not come naturally and that is self-sacrifice. You will soon learn that it costs to be a lover, that the language of love is sacrifice. And you will have many opportunities to speak this language."  (From wedding homily by Father Rodney Kissinger) "When there is love in

how we googled 2011

justified as a gift

"[we] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith." (Romans 3:24-25 ESV) "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'"  (Romans 8:15 ESV) "When our salvation depends upon our righteous behavior, our righteousness will be driven by a desire to elevate ourselves in the eyes of God. This is not love for God, it’s self-protection. ...  The gospel turns religion upside down. The gospel assures us of God’s acceptance, given to us as a gift earned by Christ’s worthiness, not ours. In response to that gift, we are moved to obey. Love for Him grows in response to His love for us.”   (J. D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary )

jonathan edwards on kindle

Adam Parker at has posted Kindle-compatible (.prc) files of some of the Yale editions of the works of Jonathan Edwards, available as free downloads.  Tables of contents are included.      Download these to your computer and then transfer them via USB to your Kindle.  All of Edwards works are available online, as well, at the Yale website .   If you are new to Edwards I would recommend two works to start: The Religious Affections , which is an essay on the signs which accompany a true saving experience (a work of God in the heart).  And Charity and Its Fruits , which is a series of sermons on love from 1 Corinthians 13. Download from here .  

unto us is born

Fragile finger sent to heal us  Tender brow prepared for thorn Tiny heart whose blood will save us  Unto us is born Unto us is born So wrap our injured flesh around You Breathe our air and walk our sod Rob our sin and make us holy Perfect Son of God Perfect Son of God Welcome to our world (Chris Rice, "Welcome To Our World")

what grace is ours

athanasius paraphrased

Excerpts from chapter 2, On   The Incarnation of the Word , by Athanasius... "It was by surrendering to death the body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He f orthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent... "Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with incorruption  in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a  single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all.  "You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is  honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and  dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enem

fred and nehemiah on rebuilding

Here's Fred Smith with some lessons from Nehemiah on rebuilding walls (or, recovering from a loss).   The best way to overcome the confusion that comes with loss is to organize it.  A plan dispels confusion.  When Nehemiah got the vision for rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem, he realized the people had lived depressed for 80 years, moping because the wall was down.  How long did it take to rebuild?  52 days! We have fallen walls in our own life that need restoring.  The longer we grieve, the harder it is to begin the restoration process.  Start rebuilding before you make a heavy psychological investment in the loss. Here are four points for rebuilding: 1. Stay constructively busy .  Too many people think they need to head for the islands for a vacation when experiencing loss.  A good friend, Dr. Howard Rome, formerly head of the World Psychiatric Society, once said to me when discussing a severe loss “Fred, stay busy.”  He knew that if I kept moving my training and habits

the true God-man

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God."   (Luke 1:35 ESV) "The glory of the incarnation is that it presents to our adoring gaze not a humanized God or a deified man, but a true God-man  --  one who is all that God is and at the same time all that man is: one on whose almighty arm we can rest, and to whose human  sympathy we can appeal."  (Benjamin B. Warfield)

gospel trail (ministry of tourism style)

Israel's ministry of tourism recently inaugurated a "gospel trail" to "follow in the footsteps of Jesus."  Though I don't really think us walking in the literal, physical footsteps of Jesus is quite what he was interested in, nevertheless, this is a great idea.  Seeing the scenery and locations of the events recorded in the Gospels in invaluable.   Gleaned from the JPost article: The route of the Gospel Trail follows the path which Jesus walked at age 30 after he left Nazareth.  The trail, which runs for 63 kilometers, starts at Mount Precipice just outside Nazareth and continues eastwards down to Capernaum, taking in a number of important sites, including the Mount of Beatitudes, Magdala (Migdal today) the home of Mary Magadelene; Tabgha, the site of the Feeding of the Five Thousand; and Capernaum, where Jesus established his ministry.  Those traveling the trail will be able to do so by car, bicycle and, more traditionally, on foot – despite the curre

Dr. Thomas Schreiner - Living Like Jesus is the Only Way - ETS 2011

A good word (17 minutes) from Tom Schreiner to ETS scholars (and all aspiring scholars, and students). If "Jesus is the only way", how does this affect my relationship with others especially in academia... Dr. Thomas Schreiner - Living Like Jesus is the Only Way - ETS 2011 Dr. Schreiner is the author of a superlative commentary on Romans, and is professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

this is how he comes

Ann Voskamp writes:  "And this Gospel? It doesn’t come wrapped in twinkling lights and satin bows; it comes straight into our pitchest black. The Gospel of Christ, it’s a messy, bloody thing and this is how God was born, bloody and bruised, and that’s how God chose to die, bloody and beaten. And our God, He knows the comings and goings of our bloody battles, and this is exactly where He meets us. The Gospel is good news in the eye of the worst news. "Advent is believing this, and this is how Christ comes:   “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him…” (Isaiah 11:1-2) From her post, "One small seed."

new release: theology of edwards

Gerry's new book is out, and already at the top of my wish list. (I like the cover art, as well... they've put some color in JE's cheeks.)  Will have to save a few $ before it goes in the shopping cart.  (I think Oxford's publishing philosophy is "we publish no book under $80.") The Theology of Jonathan Edwards , by Michael J. McClymond, and Gerald R. McDermott. (Oxford University Press, 2011) By the way, co-author Michael McClymond, historical theologian at St. Louis University, will be in Roanoke, February 10 (Friday) at 7:30 pm at Antrim Chapel, speaking on, "Jonathan Edwards and the Future of Global Christianity."  (Sponsored by the Blakley Fund for Evangelical Studies.  The public is invited; no tickets are required.)


"...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  (2 Cor 5:17 ESV)  This truth refers not just to my individual story of conversion to Christ.  Indeed, at age 20 I died to an old  life and found new life in Jesus.  But more, as united to Christ by faith and by the Spirit, I am part of the new creation that  began at Jesus' resurrection, which will be consummated in fullness at his second advent. It was the Firstborn and Lord of the new heavens and new earth who stepped out of the tomb that Sunday, and us with him.   Chesterton writes,  On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.  In  varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.  What they were  looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God  walke

such a good shepherd

Listen to this song by Fernando Ortega.  Enter in, and worship the Shepherd!

Wesley on human depravity

Sometimes people think that it is only Calvinists that hold to "total depravity".  Yet this is a biblical doctrine, held also by classic Arminians, too.  It is only in Pelagius (in the 4th century) and later in the Enlightenment and some branches of modern evangelicalism that believe there is some good spark in humanity that is able to respond to the knowledge and goodness of God.   Case in point is this excerpt from John Wesley's sermon on "Original Sin." "...we can have no love of God: We cannot love him we know not. Most men talk indeed of loving God, and  perhaps imagine they do; at least, few will acknowledge they do not love him: But the fact is too plain to be denied. No man  loves God by nature, any more than he does a stone, or the earth he treads upon. What we love we delight in: But no man has  naturally any delight in God. In our natural state we cannot conceive how any one should delight in him. We take no pleasure  in him at all; he is u

Parker V-S Vacumatic Successor

Great pen. Took many good notes with a burgundy VS in D. A. Carson's class on Hebrews. Eccentric? Yes, I know. PenHero 365: Parker V-S Vacumatic Successor

hard sayings of Jesus

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."  (John 6:53-55 ESV) I'm preparing to preach on the second half of John chapter 6, which includes this statement by Jesus.  His hearers -- both outsiders and his own disciples -- found it difficult and offensive.  As would many today.     In my study I came across F. F. Bruce's book, The Hard Sayings of Jesus (IVP Academic, 1983)  His introduction is noteworthy: Many of those who listened to Jesus during his public ministry found some of his sayings 'hard', and said so. Many of those who read his sayings today, or hear them read in church, also find them hard, but do not always think it fitting to say so. Our Lord's sayings were all of a piece with his ac

what to give thanks for

Many families like mine, I know, have a time around the Thanksgiving dinner table where we share "what we are thankful for."   Sometimes, especially with younger children, there may be long pauses after we've thanked God for our family and pets.   So, it's time to think ahead and get a running start on gratitude.  Here's what I came up with this morning... God exists, and you are not him.  God reigns, not chance!  God rules over creation and history, working all things according to the counsel of his most wise and glorious will.  Give thanks for these truths!   God is unchanging in his essence, nature and purposes. God is good, his steadfast love endures forever, he is infinitely wise and powerful, and he is not capricious or evil. Give thanks that he is trustworthy! God has made a beautiful creation: trees, mountains, animals, and many other things.  For all things bright and beautiful, great and small, wise and wonderful -- give thanks to God f

highlights, from the garden to the city

I am enjoying From the Garden to the City , by John Dyer, which is a readable, yet thoughtful, biblical theology of technology.  Here are some quotes... “One of the most dangerous things you can believe in this world is that technology is neutral.” "When technology has distracted us to the point that we no longer examine it, it gains the greatest opportunity to enslave u s."  “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” (quoting John Culkin) "...a simple, encompassing definition of technology: 'the human activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for  practical purposes.'" "Technology, then, is the means by which we transform the world as it is into the world that we desire. What we often fail to  notice is that it is not only the world that gets transformed by technology. We, too, are transformed." "In this sense, technology sits between us and the world, changing and molding both at once. The world feels the s

we are bracketed

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.  (Revelation 22:13-14 ESV) "Our lives are bracketed, or, boundaried, not by the decisions and actions of Caesar, not by the rise and fall of Rome, nor by the rise and fall of the United States. Our lives are boundaried by him, ‘the first and the last.’ Whatever else happens in our history and whatever else happens in my history, Jesus is there as the first word and Jesus is there as the last word. And Jesus is here in the middle with the Word that gives us life.”   (--Darrell W. Johnson, Discipleship On The Edge: An Expository Journey Through The Book of Revelation ) Painting above, Christ in the Hagia Sophia as "Pantokrator", which is Greek for "The Almighty (All-powerful) One". 

amateur + google = scholar?

Here's a quote sent to me from my friend Harry...   "One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that  an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search  engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the  skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it  does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not  explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point.  It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the  user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed  with the internet may at best be better informed than he would  otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar  in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar  himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition." (- Dr. Timothy McGrew,  Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan U )    

not at all natural

"And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him." (Acts 17:26-27 ESV)  An age-old question of philosophers is, "why is there something rather than nothing?"  Another question easily overlooked is the follow-up, "why is there this something rather than something else?"  Sixty years ago, in an article titled "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," Physicist Eugene Wigner, who received a Nobel Prize for theoretical contributions to nuclear physics, remarked, "it is not at all natural that 'laws of nature' exist, much less that man is able to discover them." Here are some other things he wrote: "The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is

on athanasius

" [Athanasius] stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, 'whole and undefiled,' when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius – into one of those 'sensible' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away."   (--C. S. Lweis on the influence of Athanasius, from his introduction, On The Incarnation )

real hope

“Christian hope is not about wishing things will get better. It is not about hoping that emptiness will go away, meaning return, and life will be stripped of its uncertainties, aches, and anxieties. Nor does it have anything to do with techniques for improving fallen human life, be those therapeutic, spiritual, or even religious. Hope has to do with the knowledge of ‘the age to come.’ This redemption is already penetrating ‘this age.’ The sin, death, and meaninglessness of the one age are being transformed by the righteousness, life and meaning of the other. What has emptied out life, what has scarred and blackened it, is being displaced by what is rejuvenating and transforming it. More than that, hope is hope because it knows it has become part of a realm, a kingdom, that endures. It knows that evil is doomed, that it will be banished. This kind of hope has left behind it the ship of ‘this age,’ which is sinking.” (--David F. Wells, from The Courage to Be Protestant )

a prayer

Martyn Lloyd-Jones mentions in his sermon "What is a Christian?" a stanza that  Hudson Taylor had written on a slip of paper that he used as a bookmark. When Taylor,  founder of China Inland Mission,  died in 1905, this was discovered in his Bible:  Lord Jesus make Thyself to me A living bright reality More present to faith’s vision keen Than any outward object seen More near, more intimately nigh Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie. --Attributed to  Charlotte Elliott  (1789-1871)