Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Didn't Really Throw Up, But...

Ok. So I couldn't leave yesterday's post alone; I just have to revisit it.

First I would like to share a comment by my blogging brother, Jake.

I understand the stomach-churning you are experiencing and say to you with hard-conviction that I can relate!

It is one thing to express doubt or affirm that there is and will be a lack of FULL understanding that we will have on this side of eternity... after all.. we are human... frail... finite...

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?"

But with Boyd... he uses a sophomoric interpretation to portray, as you put it, "a putrid expression of who God is."

Because, it seems, in Boyd's mind... the chief end of God is to make man's life better... if He can!

Jake's last remark is the one that I want to address. The God that Boyd is protraying is a God who--just like Jake says--exists to make man's life better. Once this is acknowledged the rest of Boyd's arguments really do make sense.

But that is not the God I know. The God I know does not share His glory. All glory is due Him as Scripture shows.

When speaking of a rebellious Israel:

For my name's sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
In Paul's introduction to the Romans:

...Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ...

In John's appeal to his Christian brothers:

I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.

In David's request for the removal of sin:

For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Within this smattering of verses we see that God is not most concerned with our well being, but rather His Glory. Now we also have a great promise in Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

So as God's perfect will is carried out by His power, the good and the bad (Lamentations 3), He also works it for the good of those who love Him.

However, if God's glory is not the chief end of man, but rather the well being of man is the chief end of God, then it is easy to say that God's will is not the sole determining factor in the universe; neither the glory of God, nor the good that God promises are a guarantee. That would make God out to be a liar.

God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

So, Boyd's comments are coming from a different underlying canon which is driven by man-centeredness. And as long as his comments are built on a foundation where God exists without the intent that His glory is the most important end in all of everything for all of time, then we cannot expect any more than statements like the ones made in the sermon quoted in Christianity Today.

I pray that the cannon I am driven by is one that is God-centered and is seeking to glorify Him in all that I do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Something That Makes Me Want to Throw Up

It is not in the least bit surprising that a post with that title would be driven by an article in... (drum roll)... Christianity Today.

What is surprising is that this post has little to do with what Christianity Today is doing, but rather what someone in Christianity Today is saying. Well, he's not just saying it in Christianity Today. He has been saying it for quite some time. And it makes me want to throw up.

I had forgotten where Greg Boyd really stands; the words that really come out of his mouth. They make me want to throw up.

Here is an excerpt from the article.

Inside the spacious, one-level sanctuary, Boyd bounds onto the stage, shirt untucked, wearing jeans but no shoes. His text is Luke 13:1-5, where Jesus responds to concerns about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus also mentions the 18 on whom the tower in Siloam fell. "Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?" Jesus asks. "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Boyd explains that we cannot know anything about why bad things happen.

"Everyone say squat," Boyd directs. The congregation dutifully responds. "That's what you don't know. You don't know squat."

Boyd then strings together a series of scenarios: one person is healed and another is not; one nation prospers and the other suffers.

"All we know is that in this unfathomably complex war zone, crap happens," Boyd says. "It hits the fan, sprays everywhere, and once in a while you get hit."

He elaborates to make sure no one misses the point. No one plans to come down with cancer. Nor should we pretend that cancer fits within God's will, he says.

"This wasn't in your daily planner. It wasn't in God's daily planner. This wasn't God's perfect script for your life," Boyd continues. "It's a war zone. There are a lot of wills that affect what comes to pass other than God's. Now of course the sovereign Lord of history is infinitely intelligent. So he anticipates every possible mess from all eternity, and he has a plan in place so that when the mess happens he has something in place to bring good out of it, to redeem it, to use it to his advantage. He doesn't cause messes for a purpose, but he brings purposes to the messes."

What a putrid expression of who God is. What makes Him God if lots of other wills affect what comes to pass? God has to shift this way and that to make His will work within everyone else's?

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Maybe I will continue this discussion in future posts. If I can stomach it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tree of the Week (10.28.08)

Here is an original "Tree of the Week." This lovely piece of vegetation is in the pasture across the street from Rebekah's grandparents house in Florida.

Monday, October 27, 2008

God Answers All Types Of Prayers

Rebekah and I spent this weekend in Florida visiting her family. On Saturday night, as we were going to bed, we prayed together. The Lord prompted me to pray out against materialism in our lives. And the answer came quickly.

Today, upon returning home, we received a completely unexpected medical bill for $282.72 and immediately any talk of "it would be nice to have this or that" was squelched.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In relation to the latter Scripture reference, when fish is asked for, a serpent is not given. It is also then implied that if a serpent is asked for, a serpent is not given. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting for us to ask for the right thing. He knows what's best and He executes it. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). The idea is not that we get when we ask, but rather that God knows the good that we need. So if I were to request affluence and God gave me a medical bill, I had requested a serpent, but God delivered a fish.

With this in mind the medical bill is more encouraging to me than affluence. Why? Because when I prayed with my wife for God to mitigate against materialism, He heard my prayer, and it was in line with His perfect will. I asked for a fish and I received a fish.

Thank you, Lord.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Before The ESV Study Bible, There Were... Cars

Since my first post entitled "Before The ESV Study Bible, There Was..." was such a big hit, I decided to keep the ball rolling. The photos in this blog segment are not necessarily reflective of the views of this blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Resolution 11

Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

When we have a thought about God, an attribute or action we do not understand, we should seek to know God more through that thought. And not by thinking, but by studying His Word. Study, study, study, and make Isaiah 55:9 your last resort.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Resolution 10

Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

I think that we would probably refer to this today as "keeping things in perspective." Edwards understood that the pain he felt was probably nothing in comparison to the pain the martyrs felt. For example, John Huss, as accounted in Foxe's Book of Martyrs:

Then was the fire kindled, and John Huss began to sing with a loud voice: "Jesus Christ! the Son of the living God! have mercy upon me." And when he began to say the same the third time, the wind drove the flame so upon his face, that it choked him. Yet, notwithstanding, he moved awhile after, by the space that a man might almost say three times the Lord's Prayer. When all the wood was consumed, the upper part of the body was left hanging in the chain, which they threw down stake and all, and making a new fire, burned it, the head being first cut in small gobbets, that it might the sooner consumed unto ashes. The heart, which was found amongst the bowels, being well beaten with staves and clubs, was at last prick upon a sharp stick, and roasted at a fire apart until it was consumed. Then, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of that man should not be left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neigther by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind of torment.

This godly servant and martyr of Christ was burned at Constance, the sixth day of the month of July, A.D. 1415.
Edwards also knew that the temporary pain he felt here on Earth could be nothing in comparison to an eternity bearing the wrath of God.

To remember the martyrs and the torments of hell, when taken to its conclusion, will lead us back to the Cross of Christ and the knowledge that we have been freed from all pain and suffering. And that brings us joy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Heart's Cry

My wife started blogging today. She has dubbed her blog Heart's Cry.

I guess she wants a muntjac deer.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Two Things I Learned About/From Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Yesterday I picked up Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers From Prison at the library. I read approximately the first ten communications that he had with his friends and family and here are two things I learned:

  1. He enjoyed a good smoke. At one point he requests his mother to bring him his pipe and some cigarettes. I would have never guessed it. "Respected people from the history of the Church can't smoke." I thought. This thought may be a good indication of how our current culture has shaped how I think.
  2. Although his situation was less than ideal, Bonhoeffer made it sound quite tolerable. The bed wasn't too hard and there were even a few varieties of dry bread to eat. And when they let him outside for a few minutes each day to smoke he claimed that he barely remembered that he was in prison. Wow. That is hardly the perspective I have. I complain about getting up at five in the morning and not having enough natural light at work. And I have not been persecuted for anything. I need to be more thankful.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Resol-me-tions? No, resol-you-tions are Scottish resolutions as demonstrated by Sinclair Ferguson at the Desiring God Conference National Conference.

In his message, The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing, Sinclair outlined twenty resolutions drawn from the book of James concerning the tongue.

Here is the list:
  1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him (1:5).
  2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ (1:9-10).
  3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth (1:13).
  4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak (1:19).
  5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor (2:1-4).
  6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment (2:12).
  7. I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ (2:16).
  8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience (3:14).
  9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified (4:1).
  10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism (4:11).
  11. I resolve never to boast in any thing but what I will accomplish (4:13).
  12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God (4:15).
  13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door (5:9).
  14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say (5:12).
  15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer (5:13).
  16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful (5:14).
  17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need (5:14).
  18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed (5:15).
  19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them (5:15).
  20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander (5:19).

Tree of the Week (9.30.08)