Friday, September 28, 2007

Tozer -- the Fire

I got this today:

September 28

Revival: The Fire Falls

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, "These things says He
who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: 'I know your
works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.'"
--Revelation 3:1-2

For a long time I have believed that truth, to be understood, must be
lived; that Bible doctrine is wholly ineffective until it has been
digested and assimilated by the total life....

We must be willing to obey if we would know the true inner meaning
of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. I believe this view
prevailed in every revival that ever came to the church during her
long history. Indeed a revived church may be distinguished from a
dead one by the attitude of its members toward the truth. The dead
church holds to the shell of truth without surrendering the will to
it, while the church that wills to do God's will is immediately
blessed with a visitation of spiritual powers.

Theological facts are like the altar of Elijah on Carmel before the
fire came, correct, properly laid out, but altogether cold. When the
heart makes the ultimate surrender, the fire falls and true facts
are transmuted into spiritual truth that transforms, enlightens,
sanctifies. The church or the individual that is Bible taught
without being Spirit taught (and there are many of them) has simply
failed to see that truth lies deeper than the theological statement
of it. That Incredible Christian, 92-94.

"Lord, send the fire today. Amen."

This really speaks to something that has been going on inside of me for a while. On one hand, I don't want dead orthodoxy. On the other, I don't want empty works. I want a faith that is built on the truth of God's Word and that really loves to see the wonder of God's Word. I want that to increase my love for God and to push me into action for His glory. That is the kind of faith I want.

I certainly echo Tozer's prayer. Don't you?

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I find it amazing how much real work I get done when I need to study for a test. I have my first Old Testament test tonight. I think it will be OK as the professor has been pretty generous in grading so far. We have had a total of three quizzes. I got a 105 on the first because I got the bonus question right. As I took the second I felt terrible because I wasn't prepared for what he asked. In fact, since I know the professor a little bit I felt embarrassed to turn the quiz in. I felt like it was going to be a slap in his face that I didn't prepare for his class. I got a 100 on that one.

Given that, I think I know what I need to know. Here are some interesting points to consider about the Pentateuch and about Genesis and Exodus:

Why did Moses put Gen 1-11 in the book?
  1. He wanted to show that the God of the covenant is the creator God
  2. He wanted to show what rest looks like
  3. He wanted to introduce the idea of a promised land
  4. He wanted to introduce the idea of a nation that would come through Eve's seed
  5. He wanted to introduce the idea of the blessing that will come through God's covenant
  6. He wanted to show what walking by faith looks like
Have you ever considered that the Pentateuch is often called the "book of the Law" but is really more of a book of guidelines? Law is part of it, but it is mostly narrative with some poetry. The Law part really goes from Sinai (around the middle of Ex 15) until Num 10. Num 10 - Deu 34 is really about leaving Sinai and taking the land.

We had some fascinating stuff on the eschatological implications of the Pentateuch. Sometime check out Gen 49, Num 24, and Deu 31. Note what is going to happen "in the last days". Lots of stuff about Jesus!

Those are some highlights of my studying. I hope that I can remember some of this past the test, but I'm not counting on it. To me, the important thing is to remember having studied something and knowing where to look to learn more about it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Great Difference

As I mentioned previously, I enjoyed lunch with a friend yesterday. We were talking about getting older. He and I are almost symmetrically far from 30, me on one side and him on the other. He asked me if 30 made me feel any different and I had to say that it didn't. I feel like I did a lot of maturing when I dealt with sexual sin in my life. Having a baby at 29 also helped me to grow up a little bit. I'm in better shape now than when I was 23, so I don't have that either.

What I do have now is ear hair. Ear grows out of the little flap covering my right ear canal. A little bit grows around my ear, but it's mostly there and it's mostly on the right side. In fact sometimes I stroke it thoughtfully when it gets long. This totally disgusts Amanda.

If that's all that happens as I age I'm cool with that.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I had lunch with a friend from church today. He is younger than me and is one of my few links to the generation with whom I have no real connection. I don't really speak their language and don't really understand the cultural stuff they do. Perhaps part of it is that they were the first generation to have the internet in their house while they were in high school.

At any rate, we were talking about the music in church. I confessed that yesterday I was thinking about sports while we were singing "How Great is Our God". That is a fantastic song and in fact I think that it won a Dove award, for whatever that is worth. However, my mind was just wandering. I was thinking about how Ohio State dismantled Northwestern and Bill's dream of OSU slipping into a National Championship under the radar like they did in 2002. I was thinking of how the Indians needed just one more win to clinch the AL Central Division. Basically my mind was far from what we were singing.

Why does this happen? Sometimes I think that I can't really deal with what we sing in church. Some of these songs are so rich that I will just break down if I really consider what it means. But then again, I don't do nearly enough contemplation of God's greatness besides, so isn't that what the singing time in church should partly be?

He agreed that happens to him sometimes too. He has an interesting dilemma where he says that Jesus is often more a character in a story than a real person that he can truly identify with and give his troubles to. I know that I can relate to that. Sometimes I'm so busy making sure I have the right theology that I miss the forest for the trees.

I will say that we sang "Jesus Paid It All" afterwards and I couldn't sing it because my voice kept cracking. That hymn got me through my initial battle with sexual sin. It is a song that I need to remember more often. The modern version was from one of the Passion CDs. I really like the drums after each chorus as well as the bridge. Check it out on iTunes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Tozer

I got this one today and I think that it speaks volumes about where things are in the church today:

Revival: Don't Substitute Praying for Obeying

So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and
sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is
better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."
--1 Samuel 15:22

Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of
late-and how little revival has resulted?

Considering the volume of prayer that is ascending these days, rivers
of revival should be flowing in blessing throughout the land. That
no such results are in evidence should not discourage us; rather it
should stir us to find out why our prayers are not answered....

I believe our problem is that we have been trying to substitute
praying for obeying; and it simply will not work....

Prayer is never an acceptable substitute for obedience. The sovereign
Lord accepts no offering from His creatures that is not accompanied
by obedience. To pray for revival while ignoring or actually flouting
the plain precept laid down in the Scriptures is to waste a lot of
words and get nothing for our trouble. Of God and Men, 55-57.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; show me any wicked way that
needs to be corrected in my own life before revival can come. I'm
praying for revival; help me to also be obeying. Amen."
I think about some of the blogs I read that are very strong on orthodoxy, but I wonder how much practice there is? I recall all the "amens" about John MacArthur's stance on using the Word of God to relieve stress and the scoffing at Doug Pagitt's scoffing. But how many of those people are going to pornography to relieve stress? Or maybe even more telling, how many are going to food to relieve stress?

I certainly don't think I have the market cornered on personal holiness. I've been down that road and have realized the futility of it. I have my stumbles that remind me of the battle that wages in me. However, I also know that despite all my counseling, teaching, and learning I do not rely on the Word of God as much as I'd like. I certainly preach better than I live.

In other words, I think that a lot of us in the Reformed blogosphere talk a good talk and make sure that none of our Reformed brethren would accuse us of heresy, but are we walking the walk?

1Co 4:19-20 ESV
(19) But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.
(20) For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tightly Packed

It occurred to me last night that my life is a lot like how it was when I was a Chemical Engineering Major at OSU. I remember one quarter when I had 4 classes, but was busy just about every waking moment. Now I only have 2 classes, but a lot more going on, including a full-time job. I stay pretty busy.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm really bringing glory to God with my life. I am reminded of Charles Spurgeon who said that he'd rather burn really intensely for the gospel for a short while rather than take it easy and live an extra 10-20 years. I doubt that Spurgeon slept much more than I did. On top of that he was certainly gluttonous and he suffered from gout. I guess in some ways I have it easier than he did.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Greek Week

No, I'm not talking about rushing a fraternity. I was thinking about how my weeks go with studying Greek and I thought I'd share this. Ride the roller coaster of emotions with me:

Work frantically to finish up translation and get ready for verbal quiz. Fortunately, I got things pretty well cemented last night, but should be reviewing my notes instead of blogging. I have class where much is explained.

Pretty mild day. I am more focused on getting ready for my Old Testament quiz that night. I will review my vocab, however. I review vocab daily and add words as often as I can. I'm currently at over 400 words and down to words that occur at least 34 times in the New Testament. Believe it or not, I still have roughly 1800 words to learn if I want to know every word in the New Testament.

Start to read the textbooks. The books make sense at a certain level, but it is impossible to truly absorb all the material. For example, there are a LOT of uses of the genitive case in Greek.

Saturday and Sunday
Despair. I start to translate the week's passage and feel like I don't know what I'm doing. I look up words in the lexicon only to discover that it is some inflected form of a word I already know.

Deeper despair. How will I ever have this ready for the quiz?

Hope and lightness. I'm ready to be like Calvin and go up to the pulpit with nothing but my Greek text. After a few times through the passage it finally starts to click.

It really is exciting to learn something new like this. However, it is also challenging. I find that the thick grammar we use is actually quite interesting. I thought that it would put me to sleep, but it doesn't. I like the discussions of the various controversies regarding exegesis.

All this is to say that I need to keep pressing on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Missing the Fun

The intensity of my life is starting to weigh me down a little bit. I am really glad that I don't have my Thursday night small group anymore as that was just too many nights gone each week. However, this semester isn't much better. They say that if you chew peppermint gum while studying you should also chew it while taking a test because the senses work together that way. If that's the case then I need a screaming 12 week-old to be next to me while I take my Greek quiz tomorrow.

I've managed to sneak in a quarter of NCAA Football '07 with Lily here and there. We also played a game of chess yesterday. However, I haven't had much time just to sit and relax for a while. The only thing approaching that has been sitting and having coffee with Amanda on Sunday. The problem there was that I always feel like I need to try to have a meaningful conversation with her. So that's work too...

I'm not sure what the solution is going to be. Lily's birthday party is this weekend and I'm getting a little bit wrapped up in the preparations for that too. I have to make a cake that looks like a teapot. It should be an interesting exercise, to say the least.

The good news is that we are on a protracted work-from-home schedule. It's nice to be able to get some things done during the day here and there.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today's Tozer

I get a daily devotional that has something from A.W. Tozer. I've copied today's below as it really encourages me not to worry so much about what is happening with others. If I want to be on fire for God then I can let all the stops off and enjoy Him.

Revival: Meet God Alone First

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your
door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father
who sees in secret will reward you openly.
--Matthew 6:6

Nothing can prevent the spiritual rejuvenation of the soul that
insists upon having it. Though that solitary man must live and walk
among persons religiously dead, he may experience the great
transformation as certainly and as quickly as if he were in the most
spiritual church in the world.

The man that will have God's best becomes at once the object of the
personal attention of the Holy Spirit. Such a man will not be
required to wait for the rest of the church to come alive. He will not
be penalized for the failures of his fellow Christians, nor be asked
to forego the blessing till his sleepy brethren catch up. God deals
with the individual heart as exclusively as if only one existed....
Every prophet, every reformer, every revivalist had to meet God alone
before he could help the multitudes. The great leaders who went on to
turn thousands to Christ had to begin with God and their own soul.
The plain Christian of today must experience personal revival before
he can hope to bring renewed spiritual life to his church. The Size
of the Soul, 15-16.

"Lord, I pray this morning the words of Jonathan Edwards: 'Resolved...
that all men would live for the glory of God; resolved, second...that
if nobody else does, I will.' Amen."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Direct and Indirect Cheering

As I type this Michigan is clobbering Notre Dame. Traditionally, this is the one game each season when I root for Notre Dame, but I'm actually a bit torn. Michigan has played so badly in the first two games this year that I actually am starting to feel badly for them. It was fun when they made history by losing to App State. It was funny for a while when they lost to Oregon. Then I realized two problems with this:

1) It seems like the universe is off-kilter. Michigan isn't supposed to be this bad. It's like Moriarty leaving obvious clues for Sherlock Holmes and not having a scheme behind it.

2) My attitude has been decidedly non-Christian. A fun part of sports is ribbing each other when there is a rivalry. However, I think that I took it too far last week. In fact, I had trouble sleeping on Sunday the same way I feel when I start looking at things I shouldn't. Not good.

I think that this is an opportunity for me to grow a little bit. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep supporting OSU and keep rooting against Michigan, but I think I may do it with a bit more grace. Time will tell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nuggets in Genesis

I'm really digging my Old Testament class, though I didn't do so well on yesterday's quiz. I think I blew it off too much after finding the previous week's to be rather easy. Fortunately we get to drop 2 quizzes in the class.

Here is a passage to chew on a little bit:

Gen 6:5-9 ESV
(5) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
(6) And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
(7) So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them."
(8) But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
(9) These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

Notice that Noah is first introduced as one who "found favor in the eyes of the LORD". It turns out that this idea of finding favor is the same idea as receiving grace. In other words, Noah first received grace from God. Then he was declared a righteous man.

This sure reminds me of what happens when we are in Christ. First we are sinners. Notice that in verses 5-7 man is described as being wholly wicked. This includes Noah. Again, I am reminded of how we are described in Ephesians 2.

Eph 2:1-3 ESV
(1) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
(2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--
(3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Can a dead man change anything about his condition? No, but God can.

I just marvel at how God's sovereignty is so clear throughout Scripture. I certainly can't explain why He chooses to act as He does, but I know that He deserves all the glory and praise.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Little More Peaceful

The blogosphere is a bit more peaceful today. One of my least-favorite evangelical sites has been shut down. I actually do feel somewhat badly for the author because I know that she was doing what she really believed was the right thing. She thought it was her God-given duty to call out every problem that she perceived in the evangelical church today. She is a heretic-hunter par excellence.

I just don't know how much that site really helped anything. Were any Purpose-Driven churches changed because of her articles? Has Benny Hinn decided to shut down his operations? More importantly, how many people have been steered clear of any perceived problems? I guess if a few have then it was worth it.

She wrote in her farewell article that it hurt her to have someone write that "finding a good article on that site was like finding a nickel in a spittoon". As she so clearly demonstrated, Christian fellowship and love does not mean agreement. Apparently she is the only one allowed to vent her spleen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A 9/11 Dichotomy

I heard an interesting interview on NPR today. They were talking to a retired Army specialist who had served in Iraq and spent some time in the Walter Reed hospital after being wounded. They asked him his overall thoughts on the conflict. On one hand, he doesn't ever want to see another flag-draped coffin arrive in the States. On the other, he doesn't want all of the sacrifice already done to be in vain.

What gets me is that the people who thought that the war was a good idea in the first place now want to create a power vacuum there and have us come home. They want for us not to finish what we started. That seems patently ridiculous to me.

On the other hand, I know from my bible that there is never going to be peace in that region. But does that mean we shouldn't do what we can right now? Should we just abandon the area? I don't think so.

Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Can You Dig It?

My office is in the basement of my house. As might also be expected, the main water line comes into our basement. This means that I know when someone is using a toilet or sink upstairs because I can hear the water flowing through the pipe. For the past week or so I've heard a steady hissing coming from the water pipes. At first I thought maybe we had a leaking toilet or faucet, but I couldn't find one. That's when I got nervous and went into serious troubleshooting mode.

When I turn off the house's main shut-off I can still hear the noise. When I turn the water off at the street I don't hear it anymore. This tells me that the problem is somewhere in the main supply line. I hope that being able to hear it means that the leak is near the house.

I spoke to a general contractor that we've used before and told him my thoughts. He thinks my diagnosis makes sense. He also told me that the supply line is likely PVC. If that's the case I think I can fix this myself. I am really looking forward to stopping work for the day so I can dig up my yard and see what is going on with this. I really want an end to this literal drain of money.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My and Daniel Wallace

Like just about anyone else in their second year of Greek, I have my copy of Daniel B. Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. I know that one of my pastors has a copy of this that he got when he got his MDiv.

Frankly, I dreaded reading this book. In the first year of Greek you learn about the five basic cases of nouns (nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, and accusative). Now we're learning about all the flavors of these cases. There are a lot of them! Some of them are pretty obscure, but some happen fairly often. This book has a definition, clarification, and examples for every flavor. I thought that this book would put me to sleep, but I actually find it quite interesting.

I translated 1 Thessalonians 1 today. I'm actually parsing every noun, adjective, verb, and participle this time. I didn't do that last year, though now I wish I had. I feel like it is starting to gel a little bit more.

Better get to my vocab. I need to know 550 words by the time of my final. I'm around 350 now, so I just need to add about 20 each week. Faithful plodding...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Biggest Upset

I have to admit to taking pleasure in Appalachian State's surprise defeat of the winningest school in Division I college football -- The University of Michigan. There is nothing quite like knowing on September 1 that Michigan definitely will not be winning the National Championship.

I've asked several Red Sox fans if they care more about seeing the Red Sox make the playoffs or the Yankees miss the playoffs. They all pause for a minute. My brother-in-law Eric put it well. He said that's like trying to choose between eating a double chocolate cake and big bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Both are great and choosing one as superior is nearly impossible.

That's kind of how I feel about UM being the first ranked Division I school to lose to a Division I-AA school. Maybe this isn't a very charitable attitude. I have enjoyed it though.

Oh, and as of right now the Indians are 5.5 games up on the Tigers. I'm not counting them out though. I know that the Tigers are capable of going on a good run and that the Indians are capable of going on a terrible one. They are playing meaningful games in September which is about all I think anyone can ask for.