Saturday, April 26, 2008


I've been sort of coveting an ESV Journaling Bible. I saw them at Sam's Club a month or so ago and then hemmed and hawed about getting one. By the time I was ready to pull the trigger they were all gone from both of the clubs by our house. Then I considered getting one online. After all, I had some extra money in my pocket.

Then I realized how silly this was. I can journal using the Bible on my Sony Clie. I decided to start doing that this morning. There is something to be said for interacting with the text a little bit. Plus, it's nice to be able to jump around my notes.

Sometimes it's just better to use the resources you already have. In fact, I'd say that is generally true. I just have to wait out the desire.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Here is my sermon on Ephesians 2:1-10. It may undergo some minor revisions, but this is probably how it will more or less look when I turn it in.

Where We're Coming From

I am trying to decide if I'm going to go and see "Expelled." I am intrigued by it, but I think it can wait until it hits Netflix. After watching this interview with RC Sproul I think I get the basic gist of what the movie is all about.

Check out this post from a blog that I am warming to. I think he makes a good point.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


It's been a busy week for me. We've had some major problems with a system I support at work and that has kept me quite busy. I've had to get some writing done for the end of the semester. Fortunately, it hasn't been too much. I really have very little cause to complain. The only serious task ahead of me is preparation for my Counseling final next Thursday.

I wanted to link this article because of what he wrote about Sundays. I hope that my family will someday look at church that way.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Real Problem

We evangelicals are great at complaining about the state of the public school system. To be sure, there is much junk in there. Their proselytizing about evolution, sex education, and homosexuality are of course problems. However, after my counseling class tonight I can't help but think that there is a much bigger problem. Our kids are being fed the lies about self-esteem.

Scripture makes it clear that we must have a realistic view of self. We should not think ourselves too good (Romans 12:3). However, we can't function in society if we are always moping around about how we are not naturally good. Apart from the gospel there really isn't much else to do but to try our best to hang in there.

However, as Christians we have the gospel. We know that man is naturally sinful and desperately needs Christ. We know that any worth we have comes from our union with Christ. The problem I see is that we are fighting against schools telling kids how great they are. In a world where some math books refuse to present right and wrong answers for fear of hurting kids' self-esteem, this is definitely a problem.

Later, when people get out into the world there are psychologists to help them suppress any feelings of low self-esteem they may have. I just hope that they run into Christians who can share the gospel about how they do not need more self, but they do need Jesus.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Watch Your Prayers

Lately I've been praying for a heart to share the gospel with my coworkers. I think God is giving it to me. I had a conversation with a coworker about the authority of Scripture, the nature of man, and the value of antidepressants. I felt a little bit of the old burning in the chest as I got into the debate, but mostly I felt sad for her.

I am starting to feel a heaviness about my lost coworkers. I guess this is good, but I was a lot happier when I just ignored their lostness. I want to make the same request that Paul made to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV
(18) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(19) and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
(20) for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Reminder

Psalms 97:9-12 ESV
(9) For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
(10) O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
(11) Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
(12) Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

I came upon this as part of my reading today. There are a couple of points I think bear emphasis:

One is that we must rejoice in the Lord. We are righteous if we are in Christ. Of course, this is not because of anything we did, but because of what He did for us on the cross.

The other is that we are to hate evil. Do I hate evil? I'm afraid I don't hate it as much as this command would seem to indicate I should...

Do you?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Importance of Scripture

Deu 17:18-20
(18) "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests.
(19) And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,
(20) that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

Are we this serious about the Word? Granted, the kings only had to transcribe Genesis-Deuteronomy, but most of us cannot be bothered to read through the Bible every day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Cure for Bitterness

Psalms 95:1-11 ESV
(1) Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
(2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(3) For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
(4) In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
(5) The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
(6) Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
(7) For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,
(8) do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
(9) when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
(10) For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways."
(11) Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest."

When I read this I was thinking that the first two verses would make a great invocation for a worship service. I suspect that they will be used in a few places today. As I finished this Psalm I was reminded of Paul's admonition:

Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV
(18) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
(19) addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
(20) giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
(21) submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Note verse 20. We are not just to give thanks when things are going well. We are not just to give thanks for the pleasant things. We are to give thanks always and for everything. In case you're wondering, in the Greek this would be literally "in a continual state of giving thanks at every time on account of every thing".

Contrast the first half of the Psalm with the second. God is telling us to give thanks and then He gives an example of a time when the people didn't give thanks. It didn't work out too well for that generation, did it?

I want to enter His rest. Knowing that I am going to do that is a great source of thanksgiving, amen?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Walking Around

I just took a walk around our building. I used to do this just about daily with my friend Cliff, but our schedules haven't worked out lately. I figured that it would be a better use of my lunch hour than giong into the secluded room I have for a nap. We are having one of those picture-perfect North Carolina spring days. If anything it might almost be a bit warm, but that's OK. The sunshine is welcome after our week of darkness. I know that my family in NE Ohio don't want to hear about a week of darkness after they suffered a month of it in January.

I finished my daily Greek vocabulary review on my walk. I also did my review for my Biblical Counseling scripture memory verses. That got me through about half of the walk and then I had time to just sort of think.

One thing I noticed is that we still have a lot of walkers inside the building on a day like today, but few go outside. Why don't more people go out when the weather is so nice? I know that for me it is because there is a certain sense of naughtiness I feel when I go out. It's as if playing hooky is OK if I'm at my desk surfing the web or if I'm walking down to the mailroom, but if I go outside for 15 minutes there is a problem. I think it's the sense of departure from availability.

I thought about how I was playing with fire at the end of my workday yesterday afternoon. I thank God for deliverance from porn, but I am still tempted. It's easy to look for things I shouldn't and get close to the edge. Yesterday's Biblical Counseling class was convicting as I was reminded that legalism doesn't save. It doesn't matter what I do if my heart is wrong.

I was tempted to make a few comments in that class yesterday. As we talked about legalism I thought about making a joke regarding Baptists, but thought better of it. We also talked about essentials of the faith and how eschatology is not one of them for fellowship. I wanted to make a snide comment about Dispensationalists, but I decided against that too.

My overarching thought was that I didn't really want to come back into the building. I'm ready to go home and enjoy some homemmade BBQ.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ephesians 2 Update

As you may recall, I'm doing Ephesians 2 for my exegetical study in Greek class. It's always interesting to start getting into a passage in depth because you don't know what you will find. Will my presuppositions hold up?

I haven't written my syntactical analysis or my sermon outline, but I can tell you that the passage means what it appears to mean. The concept of being "dead" in our sins means that we were spiritually dead. The idea of God "making us alive" with Christ means that God does the work. In other words, salvation is an act of grace, not a smart decision on our parts. Verse 9 speaks to that as well.

This study has reaffirmed my belief in the Doctrines of Grace. God is in charge. We still need to respond, but God gets it all rolling. Verse 10 also reminds us that we are to persevere in our faith as well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Missionary Man

I love the idea of being a missionary. How cool would it be to bring the gospel to those who haven't heard? Plus there would be such an element of adventure to it. I try to imagine picking up stakes and moving to some place like Italy. Last night I spoke to our friend Shanelle who is serving the Kiwis in Christchurch, New Zealand. She also has helped to establish some small groups in the Philippines and a church may be forming. She is doing great work and it is an honor to be able to support her. I would love to have stories like that.

The problem is the support. The thought of raising it just paralyzes me. I'm not afraid of moving away from all that I know. I'm not afraid of learning a new language. I'm not afraid of learning another culture. However, the idea of raising funds just seems impossible.

When Paul gives his list of offices in Ephesians 4:11 I don't see "fundraiser" listed, though of course some pastors become that. Why must someone with a missionary heart go through the pain of raising funds? Is the church dropping the ball or am I just being a wimp?

I've heard it said that you're either going, sending, or sinning. I'm glad that we can send right now. I'd like to go someday.

Or maybe I should worry about being a missionary here at the bank...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Parenting Seminar

I found the seminar taught by Dr. Stuart Scott to be very helpful and encouraging. I left it with a few takeaways. Specifically, I need to remember that it is not my job to save my children. It is my job to be faithful and it is God's job to save them if it is His will to do so. I think that we naturally have this idea that our children merit God's grace. I know that a part of me thinks like that. However, I know that is no more true for them than it is for me. It is pretty clear that they are sinners who need grace. I pray that God would save them.

There was a challenging aspect to the seminar as well. He raised a good question about prayer. Should children offer petitions to God? It's easy for me to scoff at the unrepentant sinner who prays for God to get them a job, a girlfriend, or through a hangover ("I'll never do this again!"). What is the difference between that and my daughter praying for something or someone? I think a lot of it has to do with how you view Jesus' command to allow the little ones to come to Him. Was He just talking about infants or was He talking about kids? If He was talking about children then where does the so-called "age of accountability" come in to the play? When is it no longer for a child to offer petitions to God?

I don't know if I completely agree with him on this. Lily is a prayer warrior and I really admire that about her. She has a childlike faith. However, I'm not sure that she really understands the gospel. It's so hard to say with someone so young, even if she does seem to be beyond her years sometimes. It is good for her to be in the habit of praying. Every night we give thanks to God for some things and we tell God that we're sorry for what we've done wrong. I think these are good habits.

At any rate, it's all good food for thought. I do know that I am going to keep preaching the gospel to my children as well as to myself. We all need reminders frequently, amen?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Counseling Conference

I just finished day 2 of the IABC conference here in Easley, SC. So far I have found it to be more edifying than the conference I went to in Denver in 2005. The theme of the conference has been on relationships by the book. Last night we had a general session that talked about the progression that Adam and Eve had in committing the first sin and how we go through the same progression. The cure? Knowing and loving God's Word.

This morning I got to share my testimony and then we had a session about divorce and about how God hates it. It's interesting that the ESV does not have the same impact in its translation of Mal 2:16 as the NASB or the NIV. I'll have to ask Randy about that one. The second session was about remarriage and how it often happens when people have not been divorced for biblical reasons. It's not an unpardonable sin, but as pastors we need to examine that.

The workshops have been OK. I attended one last night on how to counsel someone with cancer. The key thing is to point to God's goodness. God may heal the person or not, but He is always good and He always does good, even when it doesn't feel like it. I went to a workshop about marriage that a friend of mine led. It was a good reminder of what marriage is supposed to look like and that it is a covenant, not a contract. The last workshop I attended was about preparing children for the world. The main thing I got from that is to model godly behavior and to look for teaching opportunities in everything.

The highlight has been the parenting seminar taught by Dr. Stuart Scott. My life and marriage have been shaped by his book The Exemplary Husband. Tonight's two sessions were about our children's salvation. He offered us a great encouragement from Isa 1:2 that God parented children, but they turned from Him. If children can turn from the perfect parent then they can turn from us too. Our job is to be faithful in raising our children. It's God's job to save them if it is His will to do so. I need to certainly pray hard for that and that reminds me of the need for that. My anchor must be in my savior, not my children's performance. It has to be all for God's glory.

I hope to write more tomorrow after the two sessions. If they're as good as these two were then I will certainly be blessed.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Struggling for the Gospel

I do apologize for not posting more lately. Amanda was sick last Thursday and I spent the day with the kids. I was sick last Friday. Then there was the weekend and catching up. Here is a verse to contemplate:

Col 1:28-29
(28) Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
(29) For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Let's break this down a little bit. First, we see the need to proclaim Christ. That means that we need to be talking about Him and sharing Him with people. What is part of the message? We are warning people and teaching people with all wisdom. While I do think that the gospel is much more than eternal fire insurance, the warning of eternal condemnation must be part of the message. We have to do this with wisdom. To me, that means we must know our Bibles. We also must exercise care in how we communicate our message to people.

Why do we do this? Paul wanted to present the Colossians mature in Christ. That means that this is not just sharing the gospel to unbelievers, but also helping believers grow in faith as well. I think that this is big part of the "teaching" he refers to. The message from the pulpit, the counselor, or just the Christian friend should be one of helping each other grow in Christ. I think that starts with Scripture. We have to know what it says and then we need to prayerfully apply it.

The image of "toil" is powerful to me. I know that many a minister has been burnt out because the ministry was not done with the energy that Christ powerfully works within us. If we do this on our own we will fail. It will simply be labor and we cannot do it any more than we can keep moving stacks of firewood indefinitely without some external nourishment in the form of food and water.

This is one of my memory verses for Biblical counseling. I hope that you enjoyed thinking through this with me.