Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Continued Discontent

I'm trying to fight the malaise at work, but I'm afraid it's a losing battle right now. As I came in from the parking lot I was thinking about how I look so forward to lunch each day. It's certainly not because of the haute cuisine that I pack. I think it's because lunch is the time of day when I can do what I care about and not feel guilty about it.

I spend too much time on SCF email and reading various blogs and news items. I get enough work done, but I know I could do more. I just lack any fire for it these days. I want so much more to be in ministry where I am thinking about how I can help people grow to be more like Jesus. I also would like to spend more time thinking about how I could be more like Him.

I suppose part of that is shutting up and just doing my job like a good solidier. This is definitely a work of grace in my life. I'd better not let up on the prayers.

I realize that this is not the first such post I've written. Sorry for the recurring theme, but I guess that's what journaling is all about.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On Materialism and Persecution

Take 10 minutes to listen to this. It is brilliant.

I know that I have thought many of these same thoughts, but this is articulated wonderfully.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Getting Greek

I think that it is finally starting to click a little bit. We're doing Colossians in my small group and this week we're going to do Col 1:1-14. Lately our church has been doing an inductive study of the Sermon on the Mount. I had a hard time getting into the mechanics of it though. I enjoyed the discussion and I think it was valuable, but connecting the verbs and the objects seemed like tedious busywork.

I am willing to hear arguments that my attitude demonstrates a lack of humility on my part. However, I find that I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff when I'm in Greek class. I don't think that putting a bunch of pretty colors on the page is going to solve anything for me. What I did instead was make a block diagram of the passage in Greek. I need to take another look at it before we meet tomorrow morning, but I think that this is going to be helpful for me. At the very least it is going to give me some good practice in making diagrams and reading Greek.

It's funny that I can do that but I am having a hard time finishing my reading of 1 Cor 14 that I need to do for class. I really need to get ahead in class as I have a very busy April ahead of me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

We went to church this morning and got to hear a very clear presentation of the gospel. Unfortunately, our pastor is so aware of those who might be attending church for the first time that he does not say, "He is risen!" on Easter Sunday anymore. I'm not going to leave the church over this, but it does bother me a little bit. I realize that it's not a big deal and it may make someone new to church wonder about what is going on, but I think it's worth it so that those of us who have placed our hope in Christ can enjoy declaring the fact that Christ is risen indeed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

First of all, I want to apologize for not writing in a week. We were in Florida from last Friday-Tuesday and I am just now digging out of that. It was tough to have the long drive home on Tuesday and then class the past two nights. Amanda wasn't crazy about that, but she said that things went as well as they could.

I realize that I am turning into something of a spiritual wimp in an area that I am supposed to be leading. Specifically, I don't fast much anymore. I am carrying on the tradition that Amanda started in 2002 of fasting on every Good Friday. I went into today with a sense of dread. As I go through the day I feel cold, weak, and dizzy.

The funny thing is that I used to fast regularly when I was still doing the eating plan for The Lord's Table. Many of the people who serve under me also fast regularly. I have used the excuse of my exercise routine as the reason why I can't fast more regularly. Frankly, it kind of wipes me out so I don't do it much anymore.

Good Friday is different though. Today is the day when I want to really reflect on what Christ did on the cross. So maybe I am uncomfortable. Have all my friends left me? Nope. Have I been put through several unjust trials? Nope. Have I been beaten and scourged? Nope. Have I had a crown of thorns jammed on my head? Nope. Have I been nailed to a cross? Nope. Have I had to suffer from the loss of an intimiate relationship with God? Nope.

A little hunger is a good reminder, I think. I commend the practice to you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Continuing the Journey

I attended Journey to Jerusalem for the third straight week today. Today's text was very simple:

Psa 22:1 KJV
(1) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?

I know that I have read this too casually too many times. It is impossible for us to comprehend the perfect fellowship that Jesus had with the Father. Yet on the cross God turned His face from God so that we might have life. He was actually able to forsake His Son so that we could have life in Him. He did this with my sin in mind. If you are in Christ He did this with your sin in mind too.

Think about that for a while. If God the Father had wanted to He could have sent a legion of angels to rescue Jesus, but He didn't do that. Then in the end He had to turn His face from Jesus because He could not bear to look at my sin that was upon Him.

If that doesn't give you a clear picture of Christ's love I don't know what will.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Cry of My Heart

Psa 66:16-20 ESV
(16) Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
(17) I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue.
(18) If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
(19) But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
(20) Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!

This is my heart's cry and why I want to go into full-time ministry. I want to tell people what God has done for my soul. I want to tell them the story of how crying to Him with earnestness set me free from bondage to sin. I want to tell about the victorious life that I have in Christ for the glory of His name.

It is an incredible thing to have the privilege of worshiping the living God. I would do well to remember this.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Learning with Humility

Here is today's Tozer. I sorely need to remember this as I sometimes let all my book-learning get in the way of sitting quietly and learning when I am taught:

Pastoral Ministry: Fencing With Masters

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but
according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they
will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears
away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
--2 Timothy 4:3-4

Every one who has come to the years of responsibility seems to have
gone on the defensive. Even some of you who have known me for years
are surely on the defensive--you have your guard up all the time!

I know that you are not afraid of me, but you are afraid,
nevertheless, of what I am going to say. Probably every faithful
preacher today is fencing with masters as he faces his congregation.
The guard is always up. The quick parry is always ready.

It is very hard for me to accept the fact that it is now very rare
for anyone to come into the house of God with guard completely down,
head bowed and with the silent confession: "Dear Lord, I am ready
and willing to hear what You will speak to my heart today!"

We have become so learned and so worldly and so sophisticated and
so blase and so bored and so religiously tired that the clouds of
glory seem to have gone from us. Christ the Eternal Son, 108-109.

"Lord, quiet my own heart before You and give me that humble spirit
of listening. Whenever I come before You (including this morning!),
may it be with my 'guard completely down, head bowed.... ready and
willing to hear what You will speak to my heart today.' Amen."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Another Memory Verse

Job 42:1-6 ESV
(1) Then Job answered the LORD and said:
(2) "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
(3) 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
(4) 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.'
(5) I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
(6) therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

I have to memorize verse 2 for my counseling class. It really got me thinking. It seems to me that this verse is a serious problem for an Open Theist or for an Arminian. God does want to see everyone saved in one sense, but there must be some higher will in His being or else all would be saved. The point is that God will accomplish what He wants to accomplish. I certainly will keep praying for God to work in the lives of people who don't know Him, in our country, etc. However, I know that ultimately things will be the way He wants for them to be. I know how the story ends.

For a great article treating the tension between God's will for all to be saved and the fact that not all are saved, check this out.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Much is made of mystery by the Emergent folks. Some of them seem to be fascinated with the conversation about truth, but they refuse to go to Scripture when it plainly gives them answers. One of my memory verses for Biblical Counseling really speaks to this:

Deu 29:29 ESV
(29) "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

In other words, there are some mysteries out there. We won't understand a lot of things until we get to meet Jesus face-to-face. This verse tells us that those things belong to Yahweh. However, there are things that are revealed to us through Scripture. Those belong to us and to our children forever that we may do them.

Of course, this verse was speaking about Torah. I don't think that it is a fallacy to extend that to Scripture though. Even if we just stopped at Torah we'd have clarity on questions in the conversation like whether or not homosexuality is a sin.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Staying on the Journey

As I wrote last week, I have been going to the Journey to Jerusalem at Tupper Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. And, as I wrote, this is a completely different experience for me. This week was more edifying because I was more prepared for what I was about to experience. It was a great message about what it means to behold Jerusalem as Jesus did at the time of the Triumphal Entry. He also made the point about how Jesus lost everything right after the parade.

What’s really cool about this service is that I have been inviting coworkers to it. There are a lot of people who stay busy on Sundays and likely would not come to my church, but they are coming to this service. I joking think, “Come for the spectacle, stay for the gospel.”

As things stand right now, this service is one of the highlights of my work week. I now think of those Wednesday lunch services like the top of the first hill on the rollercoaster.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Finishing Well

I have my midterm project due in Greek class tomorrow. What I've done is start to tear apart Ephesians 2:1-10. I diagrammed it first. Then I did the text-critical analysis (which I have since had to beef up). Now I'm doing a lexical analysis. I've decided to work on the following words:
  • dead
  • grace
  • made alive together with (this is one word in Greek)
  • saved
  • faith
  • works
I've got all my words done but works, so I'm putting off doing that. I think my problem is that I'm not quite sure what I'm doing or how much I should do for this. I probably shouldn't have waited for the last week to work on this either. I have had three weeks to work on it. I just couldn't bring myself to spend an evening in the library before this past week though.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Chatting Across the Aisle

I have a good friend in Wisconsin who hosts email for me. He and I worked together in California and he has been a mentor to me in a number of areas. JJ can fix a lot of things, including computers, cars, and things around the house. However, we definitely do not see eye-to-eye on most things involving politics or faith. He is a card-carrying liberal and a member of the Unitarian church. As you know, I am not those things.

I got to talk to him today because there was a problem with getting to my email. Apparently there was a power outage at his house and he was great about getting it back up. The phone call was a great chance to catch up a little bit. We of course discussed family and he asked me about how school was going. I decided to broach the subject of politics because I’m curious about what the other side is thinking.

I asked him about his thoughts on Barack Obama. He is excited by the prospect of a President Obama. Basically, JJ is interested in making sure that the indigent have health care and that we find a way out of Iraq. Those are valid concerns. I told him about my concerns regarding the 3000 unborn that are killed each day in America. I also admitted to him that the evangelicals do a good job of championing the rights of the unborn, but don’t do such a great job with the born. We agreed on that.

It was great to have a civil discussion with someone who sees the world from a very different perspective. I hope that he thinks that about me too. I try to be civil and yet hold fast to what I believe. At some point I realize that I am going to offend because the gospel is offensive. However, I want to make sure that it is the gospel that offends and not me or my attitude.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Being a Pastor

Check this out from today's Tozer:

Pastoral Ministry: In Need of a Physician

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in
green pastures; He leads my beside the still waters. He restores my
--Psalm 23:1-3

Human nature being what it is, the man of God may soon adopt an air
of constant piety and try to appear what the public thinks he is.
The fixed smile and hollow tones of the professional cleric are too
well known to require further mention.

All this show of godliness, by the squeeze of circumstances and
through no fault of the man himself, may become a front behind
which the man hides, a plaintive, secretly discouraged and lonely
soul. Here is no hypocrisy, no intentional double living, no actual
desire to deceive. The man has been mastered by the circumstances.
He has been made the keeper of other people's vineyards but his own
vineyard has not been kept. So many demands have been made upon him
that they have long ago exhausted his supply. He has been compelled
to minister to others while he himself is in desperate need of a
physician. God Tells the Man Who Cares, 115.

"Lord, I pray for pastors everywhere today who are indeed exhausted
and depleted. The task is so overwhelming and the demands so
extreme. Come today with a fresh breath of Your Spirit to refresh,
renew, and restore. Amen."

We just had a banquet for STS yesterday. It was pretty good, all things considered. The speaker told some stories about how he had been hurt in ministry. What's interesting is that Amanda was also sharing her concerns about being a pastor's wife. Frankly, I haven't thought through all of those implications yet. Apparently life moves into a fishbowl. I don't have too many secrets, but I can imagine how that would get old. This is especially true since our daughter is notoriously strong-willed.

All of this is a good reminder to me. Yes, we need to be faithful and preach the Word. We need to press on in hope and we need to rely on Jesus to get us through the inevitable trials. That all sounds great right now, but I suspect that it is much easier said than done when in the midst of them.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tending the Vineyard

Luk 20:9-16 ESV
(9) And he began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while.
(10) When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
(11) And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed.
(12) And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out.
(13) Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.'
(14) But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.'
(15) And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
(16) He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "Surely not!"

I know that this parable is told against the Jews. However, sometimes I wonder how much it applies to our time in America and our way of life. I think we could replace the tenants in this parable with Americans. How much longer will we have a free and sovereign nation? I know that it can't go on forever because no nation does. When will it end?