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Showing posts from November, 2017

the right kind of stupid

Photo by Hunter Bryant on Unsplash "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;  fools despise wisdom and instruction."  (Proverbs 1:7 ESV) It's a strange thing to receive a lecture from a fool.  Or to have amoral people pronounce moral judgments upon you.  This seems to be the  operating principle behind much of the arrogance in social media today.  What seems to be lacking is not only wisdom, but the "meekness of wisdom" (James 3:13).  I have spent the last couple of months in the book of Proverbs.   The book opens with a refrain -- and repeats it in various forms -- "the fear of the  Lord is the beginning of wisdom..." (See 1:7; 4:7; 9:10: 15:33.)  Over and over again, we are told to listen, to heed, to think about, to ponder, to  humble ourselves, and to diligently pursue wisdom.  And it's always God's wisdom, which is a moral, obedient wisdom, not the fool's kind of  arrogant wisdom.  Teachability comes first, and te

new earth to be heaven incarnate

"When Jesus Christ came to Earth, one of the names given to Him was Immanuel, which means 'God with us.' The Incarnation means that God became man and lived with us. And when Jesus ascended to Heaven in His resurrected body, it demonstrated that the Incarnation wasn’t temporary but permanent. This has great bearing on where God might choose for us and Him to dwell together. The New Earth will be Heaven incarnate, just as Jesus Christ is God incarnate."  ~ Randy Alcorn, Seeing the Unseen .

education as Christian formation

"We traditional Christians in America can learn from both Eastern European examples [of Czechoslovakia and Poland under Communist rule] .  We face nothing so terrible as the Czechs did under Soviet domination, of course, but the more insidious forces of secular liberalism are steadily achieving the same aim: robbing us and future generations of our religious beliefs, moral values, and cultural memory, and making us pawns of forces beyond our control.  This is why we have to focus tightly and without hesitation on education."    ~ Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option , p. 145. 

the course of history

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in...  (Romans 11:25 ESV)  "Of course, human beings perceive the course of history and events as they occur...  The point is that the mere observation of these events does not translate into an understanding of what God is doing in history.  Human beings see the bare events as they transpire, but they do not perceive the saving plan of God that is being accomplished in and through these events."   ~ Thomas Schreiner, Romans (Baker Academic, 1998), p. 634.

because God so wills

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV) God's self-revelation to us -- in nature, the Scriptures, and his Son -- is his own freely chosen act of self-disclosure, in the words of Carl Henry.  We did not seek or find God, but he himself takes the initiative to reveal his nature, mind, and will to us.  This includes historical acts and facts, but also includes the God-given meaning of those acts and facts.  Henry writes... "Only because God so wills is there a special revelation that centers in the redemptive acts of Hebrew history from the exodus to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and in the communication of the meaning of these saving acts in both the prophetic and the apostolic word.  Only because God so wills is the truth of God given in the special form of insp

the God who stays

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:36 ESV) I am studying the second half of the 11th chapter of Romans.  How much of the glorious nature and character of God is included in the doxology of 11:33-36!  I was also reading in Carl Henry's 6th volume of God, Revelation and Authority and came upon these words, a good overview of what it means that all things come from God, through him, and unto him, for his glory...  "The Bible depicts God as the providential sustainer of the universe by his omnipotent omnipresence and also the divine governor of all things. The  living God everywhere upholds and maintains the created universe; he does so, moreover, for the sovereign purpose and goal for which he initially  created it. "God who stands -- who eternally exists -- and who stoops -- first in voluntarily creating the finite universe and then in voluntarily redeeming his  fallen creation -- is also God who stay


I'm currently reading two books on Christian engagement, Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option , and Russell Moore's Onward .  There's much to think about in both, but I'm attracted to Moore's prophetic-minority engagement model.   Here are a few early highlights...  I don’t accept the narrative of progressive secularization, that religion itself will inevitably decline as humanity evolves toward more and more consistent forms of rationalism. As a matter of fact, I think the future of the church is incandescently bright. That’s not because of promises made at Independence Hall, but a promise made at Caesarea Philippi—“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). I believe that promise because I believe the One who spoke those words is alive, and moving history toward his reign. That is not to say that the church’s witness in the next generation will be the same. The secularizing forces mentioned before are real—obviou

homesick for Eden's happiness

My wife and I are enjoying Randy Alcorn's updated book of "Seeing the Unseen" devotions.  It's wonderful to find books that we both like reading together.  It's a great way to start the day, reading aloud to each other.   Here's one highlight from Day 63, "Homesick for Eden's Happiness" When we separate God from happiness and from our longing for happiness, we undermine the Christian worldview... Were we merely the product of natural selection and survival of the fittest, we’d have no grounds for believing any ancient happiness existed. But even those who have never been taught about the Fall and the Curse intuitively know that something has gone seriously wrong. Why else would we long for happiness and sense what a utopian society should look like if we’ve never seen one? We are nostalgic for an Eden we’ve only heard echoes of. What if God made us for happiness, and therefore our desire to be happy is inseparable from our longing for God?

what endures after movements come and go

I have found some striking thoughts from a book that D A Carson co-authored almost 25 years ago.  It’s a novel that consists of letters from an older pastor to a younger pastor.  I was struck by the timeliness (and timelessness) of the following paragraphs.  The movements he is referring to are the various American religious movements on the rise among Evangelicals at that time, like the health and wealth gospel, a return to high church, and the Vineyard movement.  The “rapidly changing society” he speaks of is America in 1993, before the Internet really takes off... But there is another sense in which these movements are reaching out to people and giving them a sense of spiritual reality often missing in formally orthodox but rather dead churches. In no country in the English-speaking world are churches fuller and the sermons emptier  than in America. Of course, there are magnificent exceptions. But I am not surprised by the flight from evangelical orthodoxy into high-church r