Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Expansion, original and final version

Here is the final version of our expansion:

Here is the original version, which some have felt bears a remarkable similarity to Minas Tirith...

Automatic, you say?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just released / just arrived

What a treat: Gerry sent me an autographed copy of Understanding Jonathan Edwards. These are essays given at a conference last year in Budapest. This was the first European conference on Jonathan Edwards, who is increasingly being seen as America's greatest theologian.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our tree

My wife & kids did a great job decorating it, as I was laid low with a virus. (That was good timing, huh?)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

doing Tuesday home sick. I sure hope this is the flu, I'd hate to think a cold could feel this bad. Maybe I should just call it a virus.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Doing Monday...

What I like to do on my day off (when I take it & when kids are in school)...
  • Read the Word
  • Catch up on other reading
  • Journaling
  • Blog and facebook
  • Get lunch or coffee with my wife
  • Work on old fountain pens. I'm currently stuck in my repair of this old (pre-1956) Sheaffer Snorkel TM with palladium Triumph nib:

I appreciate the work of Dave Walker, a UK Anglican, for his humorous insights into the life of the church...

Jeremiah 3:15ff, marks of true revival

Jeremiah's first prophecy of the new covenant comes in chapter three:

"'And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, "The ark of the covenant of the LORD." It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage. (Jeremiah 3:15-18 ESV)

I think there will be a literal fulfillment of these conditions in the millennial reign of Christ, and it certainly foreshadows the new heavens and new earth. But it strikes me that these same characteristics are true of the revivals that God sends us in the church age:

  • A return to clear and powerful exposition of God's word which will truly feed his people. There will be a hunger for truth and understanding, and for godly leadership.
  • The presence of the Lord will be sensed in a way that is different from the old covenant or past ceremonial forms. The living Lord Jesus Christ is far better than a return to past forms of worship. (Interesting: Jeremiah notes that there will be a day when the ark of the covenant will be removed.)
  • The throne of God (his kingdom) will be established in the hearts of his people. There will be a true desire to follow the Lord rather than the evil bent of our hearts.
  • The nations (all people groups) will notice and be attracted when such a work goes on in the church. The presence of the Lord will be sensed and will attract all kinds of people to it. Evangelism will take place with power.
  • There will be a breaking down of old divisions. The walls which separate people will come down and we will recognize our true oneness in Christ.
The question here: is this true of our church today? Should we not pray for this?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Subordinated to the economy

Reading David Wells' Above All Earthly Powers this afternoon, and came upon this quote from Reinhold Niebuhr, written back in the 1950s:

"We are somewhat embarrassed by the fact that we are the first culture which is in danger of being subordinated to its economy. We have to live as luxuriously as possible in order to keep our productive enterprise from stalling."

Is that prescient or what?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sheaffer Balance, 1940s

Taking a distinct liking to vintage Sheaffer Balances. They write so well. This black Balance was made sometime around 1940.

Read it a lot

"My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh."
(Proverbs 4:20-22)

My friend Ambrose at The Evangelism Institute writes...

But do you treasure the words of God?

Do you really believe that God's Word has value?

One of the great Puritan writers, John Owen, said this: "The principal end of the Scriptures is... to beget in the minds of men faith, fear, obedience, and reverence of God - to make them holy and righteous... Unto this end every truth is disposed of in the Scripture as it ought to be. If any expect that the Scripture should be written with respect unto opinions, notions, and speculations, to render men skillful and cunning in them, able to talk and dispute... they are mistaken. It is given to make us humble, holy, wise in spiritual things; to direct us in our duties, to relieve us in our temptations, to comfort us under troubles, to make us love God and to live unto Him... Unto this end there is more glorious power and efficacy in one epistle, one psalm, one chapter, than in all the writings of men..."

Is Jesus our First Love? Do we want to know what it means to love him and to follow him? Do we want to know what he is like and what he wants us to be like? Do we want to know God? Do we want to be like him - like Jesus?

Don't start with John Calvin or The Shack. Don't seek God in Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or John Owen or John Piper. Don't start with devotionals.

Start with God's very words.

Start with your Bible.

Read it - read it a lot...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jeremiah 1:12

Really been thinking about this verse. The almond tree has early blossoms and hence its branches "watch" (šäqëd) for spring. God also "watches" (šöqëd) over his word, to see that it is fulfilled. What a promise!f

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Go, Orion!

Orion Martin, seen here making a tackle vs. Georgia Tech, just scored a defensive touchdown against Boston College in the ACC championship game!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Young love (Jeremiah 2)

"Thus says the LORD, 'I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.'"
(Jeremiah 2:2)

Jeremiah is a big book, containing many prophecies, both in warnings and promises. But his judgments begin here: the loss of youthful love for the Lord. He refers to the devotion of a new bride to her husband. That is, the willingness to follow anywhere and to have no other joy than in her new lifelong companion. It is a love like that which often characterizes the first months of betrothal and marriage. This is what the Lord really wants from us -- and the source of all good things to follow -- our fervant and devoted love, that we personally delight in him like no other:

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD... And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, 'You are my people'; and he shall say, 'You are my God.'" (Hosea 2:19, 20, 23)

At that time in her wilderness wanderings Israel, in spite of the many other faults she had, had only the Lord and was truly and fully satisfied with him. All the blessings of the new land were yet in the future, and they had not yet been distracted (or entranced) by prosperity and success. It seems as if the gifts of God, his blessings, have the potential of becoming idols, or distractions to our devotion to God. Even good things can corrupt when they become ultimate things.

Christians are no different. The longer we serve the Lord the easier it is to find our pleasure in other things, even his blessings, rather than in him. We become devoted to lesser things, or false things, and so become deceived:

"I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

And it is imperative that we find, recover, or return to our first, true, young love:

"I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first." (Revelation 2:3-5)

God wants my love, first and foremost.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Word-based ministry (Jeremiah 1)

Reading Jeremiah, chapter one, about his call to be a prophet. Noticing...

  • The word of the Lord "comes". (1:1, 4, 11, 13) It is not thought up, dreamed up, arrived at... but rather is delivered by revelation from God and is to be delivered in that form. God says, they are "my words" which he will put in Jeremiah's mouth. (1:9)
  • God "watches over" his word, in order to see it fulfilled. (1:11) Whether judgment or promise, God assures that it will come to pass. We often think of God watching over his people with care, but he also watches over his word and its proclamation with great care.
  • The ministry of the Word involves both tearing down (cf 2 Cor 10:4-6) and building up (1:10). There will be both negative and positive aspects, warnings and promises, and truths both convicting and comforting.
  • The one who delivers God's word will himself be delivered. (1:8) The minister of the word is not be be dismayed by opposition but should "dress himself for work" (1:17). Deliverance means that the word and its minister will ultimately prevail (1:19)
This agrees with the New Testament, as well. The Lord Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32). Later, the apostles committed themselves to a Word-based ministry: "...we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:4) The apostle Paul also said, "...devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." (1 Timothy 4:13)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One more time

... we see that technology is not the answer to our deepest human problem of sin, darkness, hate, and rebellion:

The heavily armed attackers who set out for Mumbai by sea last week navigated with Global Positioning System equipment, according to Indian investigators and police. They carried BlackBerrys, CDs holding high-resolution satellite images like those used for Google Earth maps, and multiple cellphones with switchable SIM cards that would be hard to track. They spoke by satellite telephone. And as television channels broadcast live coverage of the young men carrying out the terrorist attack, TV sets were turned on in the hotel rooms occupied by the gunmen, eyewitnesses recalled... (The Washington Post, Dec 3)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Quotes from Sunday's sermon

"But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:7-9)

“Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”

(--Martin Rinkart, 1663. This hymn was written at the close of The Thirty Years' War by Lutheran minister Martin Rinkart who, at one point when his city was under siege and the plague was rampant, was conducting fifty funerals a day.)

“God wants your heart. He isn’t looking just for 'donors' for His kingdom, those who stand outside the cause and dispassionately consider acts of philanthropy. He wants people so filled with a vision for eternity that they wouldn’t dream of not investing their money, time, and prayer where they matter most.” (--Randy Alcorn)

"Generosity is more a function of the richness of one’s relationship with God than of the size of one’s bank account. It is more of an attitude than an amount given.” (Scott Pearson)

“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.” (Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle)

In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
"Notice that Jesus does not say that treasure in heaven will be the unexpected result of generosity on earth. No, he says that we should intentionally pursue treasure in heaven. Lay it up! It is not selfish to pursue the rewards that Jesus promises. In fact, it is foolish not to! The principle of sowing and reaping means that there are rewards for giving generously --the Bible teaches that storing up treasures in heaven through generous giving offers both greater safety and a higher rate of return than any other investment. It is not just nice to give / it is not just good-hearted to give / it is not just the Christian thing to do -- more than that, it is the wisest use of money with the greatest gains." (Scott Pearson)

"I fear, wherever riches have increased (exceeding few are the exceptions), the essence of religion, the mind that was in Christ has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality; and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.

"What way then can we take that our money may not sink us to the nethermost hell? There is one way, and there is no other under heaven. If those who 'gain all they can,' and 'save all they can,' will likewise 'give all they can,' then the more they gain, the more they will grow in grace, and the more treasure they will lay up in heaven." (--John Wesley)

Truth in swaddling clothes: God stoops to metaphor

Read and pondered John Bunyan's defense of using story-line, parable and metaphor to communicate truth. Was struck by his reference to God's own incarnation and humiliation as an apologetic for imaginative literature:

That they will take my meaning in these lines
Far better than this lies in silver shrines.
Come, truth, although in swaddling clothes, I find
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind...

"Well, yet I am not fully satisfied,
That this your book will stand, when soundly tried."
Why, what's the matter? "It is dark." What though?
"But it is feigned." What of that ? I trow
Some men by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine.
"But they want solidness. Speak, man, thy mind.
They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind."
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs wants solidness, because
By metaphors I speak? Were not God's laws,
His gospel laws, in olden time held forth
By types, shadows, and metaphors ? Yet loth
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The highest wisdom! No, he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
God speaketh to him; and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be."

(--John Bunyan, preface to The Pilgrim's Progress.)

Many years later Jonathan Edwards, in his work on typology said, “I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, and the divine constitution and history of the holy Scriptures, be full of images of divine things, as full as a language is of words” (Types, p. 152).

Metaphors and images speak to us and God has created a world that abounds with them. These are "truths in swaddling clothes."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sheaffer Balance

The Sheaffer Balance is a classic celluloid fountain pen with an excellent Lifetime nib and wonderful writing properties. Not long ago I picked up a 1930/31 model from a flea market. It's my current favorite, and almost identical to the one pictured below.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top ten irritating phrases

The British newspaper, The Telegraph (online), recently listed the Oxford top ten most irritating phrases:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

I said, I wonder if you could put all these into one sentence, and here are a few responses:

"With all due respect, I personally, at this moment in time which is fairly unique, that is, at the end of the day, absolutely agree it's a nightmare to (and I shouldn't have) try and prove it's not rocket science, 24/7." (-Doug)

"At this moment in time, at the end of the fairly unique day, I personally think it's a nightmare, for the job absolutely shouldn't of taken 24/7; with all due respect, it's not rocket science!" (-Linda)

And the winner is:

"With all due respect, it's not rocket science to critique one's life, and at this moment in time I personally feel that at the end of the day I can look back and immediately know what I did that was fairly unique, the kind of thing I should repeat 24/7, and what I did that I absolutely shouldn't of done, things that make me summarize my whole life with, 'It's a nightmare.'" (-Hannah)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The love of the Father

Reading these most encouraging words from John Owen's Communion about the love of the Father...

Resolve of that, that you may hold communion with him in it, and be no more troubled about it. Yea, as your great trouble is about the Father’s love, so you can no way more trouble or burden him, than by your unkindness in not believing of it. So it must needs be where sincere love is questioned…

Communion consists in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no communion with him therein. How, then, is this love of the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with him? I answer, By faith. The receiving of it is the believing of it. God has so fully, so eminently revealed his love, that it may be received by faith. “Ye believe in God,” John xiv. 1; that is, the Father. And what is to be believe in him? His love; for he is “love,” 1 John iv. 8.

This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing. Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not. This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. …for the love of the Father is the only rest of the soul.

(Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I:3 [1657] )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From George Mueller's journal

(May 7, 1841) "The primary business I must attend to every day is to fellowship with the Lord. The first concern is not how much I might serve the Lord, but how my inner man might be nourished. I may share the truth with the unconverted; I may try to encourage believers; I may relieve the distressed; or I may, in other ways, seek to behave as a child of God; yet, not being happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, may result in this work being done in a wrong spirit."

Friday, November 7, 2008

The great "I Am"

“I am the One who is” (Exodus 3:14, Septuagint [LXX], 2nd Cent. BC)

“The True Being is eternal, ingenerable, and incorruptible, unto which no time ever brings mutation.” (Plutarch, ca AD 46-119)

“’He who is’ has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14, Latin Vulgate, 4th C. AD)

“I am that I am… [God] designated Himself by this name as the absolute God of the fathers, acting with unfettered liberty and self-dependence. This name precluded any comparison between the God of the Israelites and the deities of the Egyptians and other nations and furnished Moses and his people with strong consolation in their affliction, and a powerful support to their confidence in the realization of His purposes of salvation as made known to the fathers.” (Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the OT)

“The name is usually translated ‘I AM’ and connotes the personal, eternal, and all-sufficient aspects of God’s nature and character.” (Andrew Hill and John Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament)

“The greatest and best man in the world must say, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am’; but God says absolutely – and that is more than any creature, man or angel can say – ‘I am that I am.’” (Matthew Henry)

“God is not hurried on in the time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel.” (C. S. Lewis)

“God is the great reality.” (J. B. Phillips)

“Believe Me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.” (John 8:58, The Message)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Historic moment

But with mixed feelings. I rejoice that an African-American can be our president. I appreciate his youth, vision, and oratory. But is our new president more inexperienced, more liberal, than we know? Was this election more about just getting change and getting rid of everything that reminded us of the past president? Is it more about pumping ourselves up as Americans?

This reminds me of John F. Kennedy's election, which I remember as a little boy. Today is indeed a new day, and we'll see what changes will come, for good or ill.

T. S. Eliot once wrote cynically, "An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry." I am not that cynical but I am reminded of Daniel 4:34-35...

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"

Finally, this was sent to me, and a good reminder...

Top 10 Predictions No Matter Who Wins the Election

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

(And God approves this message...)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Copper nails

David Kingston told this story on Sunday:

F. E. Marsh was a pastor of a New York church in the 1900’s. After he preached on the subject of stealing, a young man came to him and said, "Pastor, you have put me in a bad fix. I've stolen from my employer, and I'm ashamed to tell him about it. You see, I'm a boat builder, and the man I work for is an unbeliever. I have often talked to him about Christ, but he only laughs at me. In my work, expensive copper nails are used because they won't rust in water. I've been taking some of them home for a boat I am building in my backyard. I'm afraid if I tell my boss what I've done and offer to pay for them, he'll think I'm a hypocrite, and I'll never be able to reach him for Christ. Yet, my conscience is bothered." Marsh counseled the young man to confess his sin, and this is what happened.

Later when the man saw the preacher again, he exclaimed, "Pastor, I've settled that matter and I'm so relieved." "What happened when you told your boss?" asked the minister. "Oh, he looked at me intently and said, 'George, I've always thought you were a hypocrite, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe there's something to your Christianity after all. Any religion that makes a man admit he's been stealing a few copper nails and offer to settle for them must be worth having.'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday quotes -- seventh commandment

The message, "The Honor of Marriage", is here.

“Do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love and cherish her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?”

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing to a young bride and groom from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1943.)

When Billy Graham was asked his secret of love, being married fifty-four years to the same person, he said, "Ruth and I are happily incompatible." His wife, Ruth Bell, said this about marriage: “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The opening of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1877) Sexual freedom is not a new, enlightened idea (see Romans 1) Anna Karenina ends, some 1700 pages later, like Ecclesiastes… ‘Yes, the one unmistakable, incontestable manifestation of the Divinity is the law of right and wrong, which has come into the world by revelation, and which I feel in myself, and in the recognition of which—I don’t make myself, but whether I will or not—I am made one with other men in one body of believers, which is called the church."

Ultimately it's about God himself. He is saying "Be like Me!"...

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love…" (Deuteronomy 7:9)

“'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."
(Ephesians 5:31-32)

"I will never leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5; Deut. 31:6; 1 Chron 28:20; Heb 13:5)

"His love endures forever." (Psalm 118 et al)

Finally, two excerpts from Wallerstein's landmark work, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. ...

“Children in postdivorce families do not, on the whole, look happier, healthier, or more well adjusted even if one or both parents are happier. National studies show that children from divorced and remarried families are more aggressive toward their parents and teachers. They experience more depression, have more learning difficulties, and suffer from more problems with peers than children from intact families. Children from divorced and remarried families are two to three times more likely to be referred for psychological help at school than their peers from intact families. More of them end up in mental health clinics and hospital settings. There is earlier sexual activity, more children born out of wedlock, less marriage, and more divorce. Numerous studies show that adult children of divorce have more psychological problems than those raised in intact marriages.” (page xxix)

“But it’s in adulthood that children of divorce suffer the most. The impact of divorce hits them most cruelly as they go in search of love, sexual intimacy, and commitment. Their lack of inner images of a man and a woman in a stable relationship and their memories of their parents’ failure to sustain the marriage badly hobbles their search, leading them to heartbreak and even despair. They cried, ‘No one taught me.’ They complain bitterly that they fell unprepared for adult relationships and that they have never seen a ‘man and woman on the same beam,’ that they have no good models on which to build their hopes. And indeed they have a very hard time formulating even simple ideas about the kind of person they’re looking for. Many end up with unsuitable or very troubled partners in relationships that were doomed from the start.” (p. 299-300)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Processing anger

Thinking about Chris's statements about anger coming from our "blocked goals."

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil."

This chart has been helpful in showing people how to resolve anger.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


"The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone."

(John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p 160)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday quotes

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)

“Ordained by God as the basic unit of human organization, the family is ... the first school of human instruction. Parents take small, self-centered monsters, who spend much of their time screaming defiantly and hurling peas on the carpet, and teach them to share, to wait their turn, to respect others' property. These lessons translate into respect for others, self-restraint, obedience to law-in short, into the virtues of individual character that are vital to a society's survival.” (-- Charles Colson, 1931- )

“The Western family is rapidly approaching its third violent crisis. The climax will be reached before the end of the century. It will be reflected in extremely high rates of all the symptoms of family decay – divorce, childlessness, disloyalty of family members to each other, and the unwillingness of many persons to burden themselves with families. Even heterosexuality itself will be challenged. This development of antifamilism will be associated with a changed system of social relations in which more and more human behavior will be based on willed contract, compulsion, and temporary selfish interest rather than on family feeling and the voluntary willingness of persons to carry on their daily social duties...
"This crisis will be the third such manifestation of mass disregard of the family in Western society. The first occurred between 450 and 250 BC in Greece, and he second among our Roman forebears between AD 300 and 550”….. “Facing these crises, neither Greek nor Roman civilization was able to survive.”
(--Carle C. Zimmerman, in 1947, prominent Harvard sociologist, author of Family & Civilization. His objective was to investigate the connections between the kind of family that predominates within a civilization, and the vitality of that civilization.)

“The parent who does not teach his child to obey is being cruel to him. The habit of implicit obedience to parental authority is the foundation of good citizenship. More than that, it is the foundation of subjection to God's authority.” (Billy Graham)

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.” (The Duke of Windsor, 1894-1972)

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." (Mark Twain, 1835-1910)

“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22)

Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recabites, "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.' Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.'" (Jeremiah 35:18-19)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Faith as resting

My introduction to Puritan theology in seminary was the study of William Ames' The Marrow of Theology. I read again his comments on faith (in light of a recent sermon on the Sabbath commandment) and found them so helpful...

1. Faith is the resting of the heart on God, the author of life and eternal salvation, so that we may be saved from all evil through Him and may follow all good. Isaiah 10:20, "Lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in faith..."

11. Faith is the virtue by which, clinging-to the faithfulness of God, we lean upon him, so that we may obtain what he gives to us. John 3:33, He who receives his testimony has sealed that God is true; John 1:12, As many as received him believed in his name.

12. These five things belong together in divine faith: 1) a knowl­edge of what God testifies to; 2) a pious affection toward God which gives his testimony greatest force with us; 3) an assent given to the truth testified to, because of this affection toward God who is the witness of it; 4) a resting upon God for the receiving of what is given; and 5) the choosing or apprehension of what is made avail­able to us in the testimony.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

There is none righteous...

... no, not one! (Romans 3:10)

Is Paul's teaching of human depravity too pessimistic?

What about that nice guy down the street who always supports community causes, or that kind co-worker who has more integrity than many professing Christians we've met?

Robert Mounce gives one possible explanation...

"Paul's portrayal of the unrighteous person may seem overly pessimistic to many contemporaries. After all, do we not all know certain individuals who live rather exemplary lives apart from Christ? Certainly they do not fit the description just laid out. Although it may be true that many of our acquaintances are not as outwardly wicked as the litany would suggest, we must remember that they are also benefactors of a civilization deeply influenced by a pervasive Judeo-Christian ethic. Take away the beneficent influence of Christian social ethics and their social behavior would be considerably different." (Romans, Broadman & Holman, 1995, p. 110)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

National Punctuation Day, Sept 24

“My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.”

Ernest Hemingway, letter, May 15, 1925

The official website. It's about time. (Not, its about time.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The sower

I've always drawn encouragement from van Gogh's "Sower", who depicts a man working late into the evening sowing the good seed. I discovered a similar one he painted, entitled "The Sower in the Evening".

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flew: Dawkins "a secularist bigot"

Antony Flew has a scathing review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion:

The God Delusion by the atheist writer Richard Dawkins, is remarkable in the first place for having achieved some sort of record by selling over a million copies. But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot...
This whole business makes all too clear that Dawkins is not interested in the truth as such but is primarily concerned to discredit an ideological opponent by any available means...

On Dawkins' treatment of Einstein, Flew says,

The fault of Dawkins as an academic ... was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form. Thus we find in his index five references to Einstein. They are to the mask of Einstein and Einstein on morality; on a personal God; on the purpose of life (the human situation and on how man is here for the sake of other men and above all for those on whose well-being our own happiness depends); and finally on Einstein’s religious views. But (I find it hard to write with restraint about this obscurantist refusal on the part of Dawkins) he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it.
I don't think Antony Flew has lost any of his sharpness! Full article here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quotes from Sunday's sermon

"I don’t know about you, but I have a romantic attachment to railroad travel; I am a sucker for railways. It probably dates back to my childhood, when travel by railroad in England meant you were going on holiday. And so the image of the law as a railroad track makes a lot of sense to me. A railroad engine is designed to travel on a railroad track. When it is on the track it does just fine, and it can enjoy life as its designer intended it to. But suppose a railroad engine says to itself 'these tracks are so confining; the scenery is so much better away from the track. I am going to jump off the tracks and enjoy my life as I want to.' What happens? Disaster!

"And the Ten Commandments are like the railroad tracks for us. God designed us so that we would be most fulfilled and most at peace with ourselves and our neighbors when we stay on the tracks by living according to the ten commandments. If we say to ourselves, as so many people do 'but they are so confining; I am going to explore life beyond these restrictions', then we risk coming to ruin and destruction.

"Now don’t misunderstand me at this point. I am not saying that obeying the ten commandments will make you a Christian; far from it. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were scrupulous in their obedience, and yet they committed the serious sin of wrongfully condemning Jesus to death. But what I am saying is that these commandments were given by God for our good, and for our protection as Christians. God made us, and He knows how we operate and how we will be happiest and most fulfilled." (David Kingston,
sermon, 9/7/08)

“Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped.” (Augustine, AD 354-430)

“Whatever a man seeks, honors, or exalts more than God, is idolatry.” (William Bernard Ullanthorne, 1806-1889)

"When I was a little girl my mother would often say to me, 'Edith, I know just who you've been playing with today.' She knew because I had become something like the other little girl, whichever one it was, enough like her that the girl could be identified by my changed accent, my mannerisms, and other telltale changes. Children often copy other children quite unconsciously. So do adults. We are affected by the people we spend time with, in one way or another. God makes clear to us that not only is it sin to bow down to idols and worship or serve them, but that there is an effect which follows very definitely. People who worship idols become like them.” (Edith Schaeffer, "The Art of Life", Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 8)

“If I live indifferently to the things of the Lord, ...if I continually give in to every suggestion of the flesh, ...if I have a love affair with materialism and acquiring things at any cost, If I chase after empty, hollow images for the rest of my life, then my children and their children will do this as well. If God does not have the proper place in my life then the repercussions will be felt from generation to generation. Basically God is reminding us that our children will COPY our sins. They will follow our example when it comes to the things we worship.” (Mark Adams, Redlands Baptist Church)

“A budget is a theological document. It indicates who or what we worship.” (James S. Hewett)

"I'm going to sit down and make myself a god.
I'll have a faith that won't make me seem odd.

I want this god available when it is convenient.

Of course his doctrines will be ever so lenient.

I'm going to create my own god you see.

Because I don't want my god embarrassing me."

“The reason we lie (or ever do any sin) is because at that moment there is something we feel that we simply must have--and so we lie. One typical reason that we lie (though it is by no means the only one) is because we are deeply fearful of losing face or someone's approval. That means, that the 'sin under the sin' of lying is the idolatry (at that moment) of human approval. If we break the commandment against false witness it is because we are breaking the first commandment against idolatry. We are looking more to human approval than to Jesus as a source of worth, meaning, and happiness. Under the sin of lying is the failure to rejoice in and believe in our acceptance in Christ. Under the sin of lying is a kind of heart-unbelief in the gospel (whatever we may tell ourselves intellectually.)

“At the root, then, of all Christian failures to live right--i.e. not give their money generously, not tell the truth, not care for the poor, not handle worry and anxiety--is the sin under all sins, the sin of unbelief, of not rejoicing deeply in God's grace in Christ, not living out of our new identity in Christ.” (Tim Keller, “On Preaching In A Post-Modern City”)

Oh for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heav'nly Frame;

A Light to shine upon the Road

That leads me to the Lamb!

The dearest Idol I have known,

Whate'er that Idol be,

Help me to tear it from Thy Throne,
And worship Only Thee.

(William Cowper, English poet and hymnwriter)

The world is run by information

"The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It’s run by little ones and zeros, little bits of data. It’s all just electrons.... There’s a war out there... and it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think, it’s all about information.... The world is run by information."

Margaret Manning, RZIM Today's Slice 9/9/08

“If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Mandy, a faithful companion to my mother for many years, died this week. What's been going through my head is that poem...

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

All the horses and dogs and farm creatures that my mom loved... they came as as gift from the Lord. It's going to be real hard for her now, since this may be her last dog. (Maybe.) Aging is a humbling process as we give up one by one all those things we enjoyed most in life. For her it was first the horses and riding, and now possibly the ability to care for a dog.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Luther on the first commandment

"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

That is: Thou shalt have and worship Me alone as thy God. What is the force of this, and how is it to be understood? What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the whole heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together, faith and God. That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.

Therefore it is the intent of this commandment to require true faith and trust of the heart which settles upon the only true God, and clings to Him alone. That is as much as to say: "See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never seek another," i.e.: Whatever you lack of good things, expect it of Me, and look to Me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, creep and cling to Me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other." ...

(--Martin Luther in The Large Catechism)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Technocratic barbarians...

The Christian heirs to the classical tradition gave their own distinctive expression to the ultimate human need toward which all profitable human inquiry is directed: It is the need to know God.

The consequence of forgetting this need and the world of questions arising from it—of replacing these questions with the acquisition of technical competence or job training—is brutally clear. It is to risk producing computer programmers, scientists, business managers, doctors, and lawyers, who are at best technocratic barbarians. It is to place in the hands of succeeding generations ever greater power over their world and their fellow human beings, and to fail to teach them the ends to which this awesome power is to be used.

However much America—and the world—needs technically skilled workers and professionals, there can be no doubt of the critically greater need for liberally educated citizens and human beings, who can distinguish good from evil, justice from injustice, what is noble and beautiful from what is base and degrading.

--Christopher Flannery, “Liberal Arts and Liberal Education” (1998).

Friday, August 22, 2008

first the law, then gospel

"The road to the promised land runs past Sinai." (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)

Above, Mt. Sinai behind St. Catherine's monastery. Below: the summit of Sinai.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buddha and Christ

"In the course of my travels I have entered a number of Buddhist temples in different Asian countries. I have stood respectfully before a statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing around his mouth, serene and silent, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time, after a while, I have had to turn away. And in my imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness.

"The crucified one is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us, dying in our place in order that we might be forgiven. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross, which symbolizes divine suffering.”

(John Stott, Why I Am a Christian, p. 63)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1000 lost golf balls

Funny the things we remember. Some of the few lines of poetry I remember from junior high era were these in commentary on modern culture, from T S Eliot's "The Rock"...

"Here were a decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Parker Striped Duofold

One of my favorite, and nicest writing, pens is a Parker Striped Duofold, made between 1942 and 1948. I have the green and gold version (celluloid).

International week

Great week meeting our international students. Picnic on Thursday, furniture giveaway and delivery today. Met and talked with new students from:

  • China (Nan Jing, inner Mongolia, Hong Kong)
  • India (Mumbai, Ahmadabad)
  • Turkey (Istanbul)
  • Ghana (Volta region)
  • France (Nice)
  • Belarus
  • Finland

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Epitaph upon a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

(W. H. Auden, 1940)

There are respectable tyrants still today, and children are still dying in the streets.

Monday, August 11, 2008

No Time for Chance to Matter

Once upon a point of infinite density, Nothing that was Something went boom. Then there was Everything. Everything eventually named something 'Matter', the tragic character in our story. Sadly, Matter had no mind, yet this makes our tale or the more amazing!

Now matter had only one companion, the hero of our fable, a mysterious stranger of unknown origin called 'Chance'. Chance, though blind, was a brilliant artist. Chance taught mindless matter to paint and paint our pupil did. Matter painted a universe from centre to rim on the canvas of a vacuum. And lo, innumerable galaxies emerged filled with infinite wonders, beauty, order and life. The inspired brush strokes of ignorant matter, guided by the hands of blind Chance, created together a cosmic masterpiece. But as matter and chance were working away they failed to spot out villain called Time. Time crept in unnoticed back at the boom and was extremely wound up about being stirred from his sleep. Time determined there and then to 'wind down' again and thus rub the masterpiece out – as soon as he got hold of that chance! Chance, being blind, didn't see time coming and mindless matter was helpless to intervene.

Now, time ruins the painting little by little and brags that by Chance its just a matter of Time before the canvas is blank and the boom will swoon and everything that was Something will be Nothing again. Once more upon a pointless point of infinite nothingness, with no Time for Chance to Matter anymore.

(Joe Boot, from "Searching for Truth, Discovering the Meaning and Purpose of Life")

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 ESV)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hillsongs Live, "Healer"

This Hillsongs singer, Mike Guglielmucci, had just found out that he was suffering from cancer. He sat down and in tears with God, sang out this song from start to finish...

Friday, August 1, 2008

mlj on mp3

Finally!! Martyn Lloyd-Jones on mp3 download here.

Check out the daily reading here.

Here's the man... no, here's "the Doctor"...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things old and new

Talk about the best of the old and the new. Live webcast of vintage fountain pen repair (and the DC pen show) here.

Today writing with a Parker VS, a really nice pen. A button-filler ca. 1947-49...

Friday, July 25, 2008

"People have been undeservedly kind; they have formed an ideal picture of myself -- the devoted pastor, the kindly old gentleman, and the courageous prophet! They don't see me as I really am, selfish, self-centered, seeking and enjoying the praise of men, lazy, possessive and timid."

(--Cyril Foster Garbett, Archbishop of York, diary entry on occasion of his 80th birthday; from the biography by C. Smyth.)


Very helpful, balanced, fair.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vanity, Value

"Vanity" was one of the first biblical words I learned as a new Christian. Ecclesiastes really spoke to me then as a college student. Summum bonum is the "highest good", i.e., God's glory and blessedness. Vanity is what's left when we forfeit ultimate Value.

If not in honor, beauty, age, nor treasure,
Nor yet in learning, wisdom, youth, nor pleasure,
Where shall I climb, sound, seek, search, or find
That summum bonum which may stay my mind?

There is a path no vulture's eye hath seen,
Where lion fierce, nor lion's whelps have been,
Which leads unto that living crystal fount,
Who drinks thereof, the world doth naught account.

This pearl of price, this tree of life, this spring,
Who is possessed of shall reign a king.
Nor change of state nor cares shall ever see,
But wear his crown unto eternity.
This satiates the soul, this stays the mind,
And all the rest, but vanity we find.

--from The Vanity of All Worldly Things, by Anne Bradstreet, Puritan wife and America's first female poet.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Boaz and Ruth

[Above] Rembrandt's pen and brush drawing of Boaz and Ruth, 1645.

Naomi said, "I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?" (Ruth 1:21)

But later Boaz blesses Ruth with six measures of barley and says, "You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law." (Ruth 3:17)

Same Hebrew word in both passages. The Lord is no one's debtor. He fills the empty. Sometimes when our dreams don't come true, we think we have nothing. But we forget that with Christ we have all things, and will never be empty-handed.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Global Christianity

Exciting times! Just within the past couple of days I prayed with a Swedish believer (and his American fiance) who is staying with one of our Egyptian brothers. I also received emails from two new believers, one Turkish, the other a Brazilian raised by Buddhist parents. In church Sunday we have fellow Christians from other nations, as well.

Psalm 96:3 ... Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Revelation 5:9 ... And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation..."

Writing by hand

Nice handwriting. Fountain pen user. Flexible nib.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Recapturing the center

The Gospel Coalition is a network of leaders and ministries that seek to recapture the center of evangelicalism. "Evangelicalism" has become so broad, so diverse, so scattered, that some feel the term does not mean anything anymore.

Charismatics and their leaders ("apostles") to this side, Rick Warren and friends over there, Willowcreek and the seeker sensitive here, the emergent church to this side, and so on.

The Gospel Coalition seeks to state clearly, and provide resources for, churches who want to remain faithful to the historic gospel and to biblical exposition. Many resources, including videos, will be made available for free. They have a special ministry to university communities, as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Apostasy and Melchizedek

Spent a lot of time today on the warning passages of Hebrews, specifically chapter 6. Not hypothetical, not empty warnings. Thinking through who is being addressed and what the nature of apostasy is.

Melchizedek is only mentioned three times, each a thousand years apart: Gen 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews. One of the most helpful parts of this class is a thorough examination of the author's use of Old Testament passages in the New. Most valuable!

Am convinced of the need of taking more time to read and study in the original languages, something that has waned a bit for me over the past few years. I'm so thankful for DTS's emphasis on language and exegesis, and don't want to lose those resources.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This afternoon in Hebrews 1

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. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? (Hebrews 1:1-5)

We spent most of the afternoon in this one passage. Wow, there is so much here...

Info on D A Carson. More links here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our friend the stingray

A school of these beautiful creatures decided to feed where we were swimming. They're not agressive but we decided to give them room to swim about.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daily delight

"Then I [Wisdom] was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always...
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors." (Proverbs 8:30, 34 ESV)

Wisdom (hokmah = wisdom, good sense, skill, insight) is using what God has revealed in order to live skillfully. It is more than just following the commandments of God, it is how to apply God's revelation (both in the word and in nature) to the intricacies of daily living.

Wisdom is how to navigate life's difficulties, avoiding pitfalls, solving problems, dealing with paradoxes, and concluding with a well-lived life, all through a God-given skill.

It is more than content, it is an art, which calls for self-discipline and practice.

How then do we "listen, watch, wait" for wisdom?

  • Observe nature -- this is one way God reveals truth to us... Jonathan Edwards wrote, “I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, and the divine constitution and history of the holy Scriptures, be full of images of divine things, as full as a language is of words” (Types, 152).
  • Observe human relationships around you -- how they work and don't work; how people talk and how they respond. Think about the actions people around you take and the consequences they experience.
  • Observe Scripture above all -- study, wait, spend time daily, develop convictions. This is more than a quickie "devo", but finding truths to chew on all day. (See James 1:23, 24)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

VT softball... world series

Tech takes on TAMU at the beginning of the national championship.

Satisfied but seeking

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me." (Proverbs 8:17)

Two truths we must always keep before us, in balance, as it were: that in Christ I am complete, justified by the "once for all" sacrifice of Jesus; and, that I am to pursue God in an ongoing relationship, almost as if I didn't have that relationship.

What I mean by that is [somewhat paradoxically] that having found God I must still seek him, and that I cannot seek him properly until I've already found him. But having found him, I do not cease seeking him. The difference is that I seek him in security, not insecurity. He has much yet to give us and to show us:

"The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them." (Psalm 25:14 NIV)

I think the best analogy is dating and marriage. Once married we should not give up dating our spouse. We should pursue them in much the same way as we did when we were dating.

The problem with us is that often when we are satisfied we give up seeking.

I wonder, how much am I missing when I am not seeking the Lord passionately?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Re forgiveness

The amazing thing about forgiveness -- both in giving it and in receiving it -- is that it involves a humbling of self.

If I ask to be forgiven (of another or of God), I humble myself by admitting my failure and offensiveness. I must receive as one unworthy to receive, but still I must admit my need to receive forgiveness. "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" (I ask couples in pre-marital counseling to practice these words every day.)

If I am asked to give forgiveness, this too involves humbling. And maybe this is why we find it so hard to forgive others sometime. To forgive I must give up my own superior position and forfeit my "right" to satisfaction. (If it's conditional, it's really not forgiveness.) I must admit I was hurt, and must let go of that by trusting God to be Judge of the universe. I must release my (righteous?) anger and say, in effect, "I'm no different than you, and just as I have been forgiven, so I forgive too."

It costs both people something to forgive and to be forgiven. In both cases I give up my supposed right to be right, or to be seen as right, or to be seen as perfect. In true reconciliation both parties give up their pride.