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Announcing a Blog Move September 16, 2007

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.
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Alright everyone, here is the deal. We are moving this blog to the Seek Him website! Yes, that is right, we are renovating the Seek Him Ministries website, so that our blog will now be on there (along with 2 others as well). We are not yet completely sure of the final format, but things are settled for now, RSS feeds, etc.

Just go to www.seekhim.org. Then click on “Blogs” and “Seeking Him” and you will have found us. As I said, we aren’t sure on the final destination address, but when we finalize things, we will certainly let you know (from every angle we can!).

Thanks for your patience (and simply for reading us!).

Seeking Him with you,

Joe

One Mark of a Healthy Church September 15, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

As you know, tomorrow night at our church there will be a meeting open to the congregation to discuss a newly drafted position paper on the issue of divine election.  I was involved in the process of drafting part of this document, and I am grateful that time was taken by church leaders to get together for many weeks to discuss the great and glorious doctrines of election and predestination.

Yet I know that there are some in the church who disdain that such meetings take place.  They think that to sit around, discussing and debating doctrinal matters, is a waste of time.   ‘Let’s stop worrying so much about the details of doctrine, and let’s start reaching the lost and loving one another,’ they might say.

One thing that I find interesting about the kind of person who typically is irritated by doctrinal debates is that they also typically express a desire to live like the Acts Church.  They say they long for the Church to be like it was in the New Testament, the way it is described in the book of Acts.  No doubt they have in mind verses like these in Acts 2,

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awecame upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

They read passages like this and they say, ‘Come on!  Let’s make our church like this one, with real love and fellowship!’  And I agree!  But what I find interesting is that these lovers of Christian community who long for an Acts Church experience are skeptical about doctrinal debates.  It seems as though in rejoicing in the Acts Church, they seem to overlook Acts 15:

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question…When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

This is amazing, isn’t it?  The Acts Church that everyone wishes we could re-kindle, was a Church that experienced doctrinal dissension followed by debating among the leaders to determine what was true and valuable for the souls of God’s people.

So I agree with my doctrinally skeptic friends; let us pursue an Acts Church experience in all our local churches.  In doing so, we ought to see genuine love and fellowship among God’s people, and we ought to see great care when it comes to matters of doctrine.  When there is disagreement, careful, humble debate and discussion by the leaders is necessary to preserve a true New Testament church experience for God’s people.  Only by doing the hard and glorious work of discussing the whole counsel of God will we preserve the ‘faith once for all entrusted to the saints’.

Longing for An Acts Church,

Larry

The Compassion of Jesus September 14, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Hey Joe,

Sorry bro, I know I have been dropping the ball here at Blog Nation.  Where have I been?  I suppose I could best explain with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “28Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”  Except for me it has not been all the churches, but the one in particular that God has called me to serve in.   Ministry is great, but the more I am involved in it the more I can relate to this verse.

Anyway, the other day I read these words in Mark 6,

 “34When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”

I found this to be an amazing sentence (actually it’s two sentences in English, but only one in Greek).  The compassion of Jesus is a precious thing, something that all Christians treasure.  And yet what struck me in this verse is what the compassion of Jesus prompted Him to do.  He had compassion on the people, and the result of His compassion was that He taught the people many things.

Jesus did many things to demonstrate His compassion.  Just after this, He fed 5,000.  He healed the sick and cleansed lepers and raised the dead and dined with sinners, and on and on I could go.  But let us not miss this.  Moved with compassion, Jesus taught the people many things.

Many people today seem to believe that an over-emphasis on teaching is unloving and unhelpful.  It is impractical and promotes cold intellectualism and unnecessary divisions.  But oh how desperately we need to learn our philosophy of ministry from Jesus, not from our experience!  Jesus’ compassion moved Him not to ignore teaching, but to practice it.  Because He loved the people so much, He was moved to instruct them in the ways of the Kingdom.

This point was pressed home even more for me last week when I prepared my message on the life of Joni Eareckson-Tada.  In her autobiography, she talks about the repeating cycle of hope followed by setback followed by suicidal despair that she couldn’t seem to break.  Then she describes what finally broke the cycle.  It was being introduced to a young man named Steve Estes.  Joni writes,

He sensed that I…had not really mastered some of the basic Christian doctrines – the character of God, the deity of Christ, sin, repentance, and salvation – and that became the focus of our weekly studies…As Steve shared basic Bible doctrine with us, I began to see the shallowness of my own faith and spirituality.  My spiritual ups and downs could be charted as easily and accurately as my physical progress…With each succeeding week, spiritual truth became more real, and I began to see life from God’s perspective…

While there are many people today who say we should worry less about Bible doctrine and focus just on loving people, it is clear that as Jesus loved people by teaching them, so Steve Estes loved Joni specifically by teaching her Bible doctrine.  And as Joni began to learn more about life from God’s perspective, she began to see some of the reasons why God had brought about her paralysis.  As she began to learn more about God’s sovereignty, Joni began to see that her accident was not a tragedy, but a tool. 

The practical fruit that has been borne in Joni’s life has been the result of a man who loved her enough to teach her.  He was a man who followed in the steps of Jesus, who loved people by teaching them, not by minimizing the importance of sound teaching.

May we who bear Christ’s name have the same burden to teach and serve others in a way that would make manifest the beautiful compassion of our Lord and Savior.

Larry

The Sluggard’s Craving September 13, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

Where are you brother? I need to get you back in blogging shape sometime soon here. When I get home, I will make sure to tie you down to your desk, so that you can pump out 10 posts or so that I can manage for you!

Anyhow, I wanted to share a short reflection I had the other day while playing hoops. (And yes, I will keep it short.) I was working out in the gym. Nothing fancy. Just doing my normal routine, while another guy entered the gym and began shooting on the other end. He was a younger guy I suppose who had his headphones on and looked like he really wanted to get a workout. His actions supported that notion as well, because he began shooting and running around quite frantically in some respects. Three-pointers and intense moves to the hoop filled up most of his time.

The one thing I could not help but take notice of, however, was the simple fact that he was absolutely horrible. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. He was just plain horrible. He was flying through the lane and throwing up 3 foot shots that wouldn’t even hit rim. And that is not an easy feat. His three-point shot was flat and he didn’t make much, but he kept running around hard.

Another thing that I could not help but notice was the fact that he was a little frustrated with himself. And this, in particular, was what set up off to thinking. For here was this guy working out hard on the basketball court in a way that was not really constructive. Now, he was getting something of a workout, but he was a little frustrated and wasn’t really doing anything to improve his game. And, more than anything else, I knew that he had not done much in the past to improve his game. So why did he expect so much now?

Now, I realize that I may have been reading the situation wrongly. That is surely a possibility, but either way, the lesson that came to my mind is summed up in Proverbs 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of diligent is richly supplied.”

Note one main thing: the soul of the sluggard still craves. That’s big isn’t it? For you would think that someone who rarely plays basketball (as was this guy’s case) would by no means get disappointed when the ball didn’t go in the hoop. After all, it takes some skill and a great deal of practice. You would also think that I wouldn’t have expected to be a good golfer all those years (when I expected it that is,–for I don’t anymore!) when I rarely if ever played golf. Yet here we are, expecting good things while never preparing for them.

Now, this is one thing when it comes to athletics, but quite another when it comes to our spiritual lives. So the question I want to ask is this: Are we expecting good things while failing to diligently prepare for them? Are we expecting to be strong in suffering or great in our parenting or ministry or whatever else while we fail to prepare for greatness? Do we walk out on the court once a year and wonder why the ball doesn’t go in? Or do we go play golf now and again and get a little frustrated even though we never practice? I trust you get the picture. And I trust you would agree that this is something we could all work on.

Let us exhort ourselves Lar and take pains to be diligent in our preparation. Sure, we may not see the fruit today, but is it really today that we are worried about? A little to be sure, but not fully.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Last Link of the Day! September 12, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

I promise, this is my last link for today. This post was just too good to pass up. It is a reflection by Timmy Brister that I trust will stir the soul.

Done for the day,
Joe

Practical Preaching September 12, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

I am on something of a ‘linking’ role. Knowing your heart to preach the Word, here is a post that you will definitely want to check out and apply. As Taylor alludes to, we could also use such an application grid to help us gain a better grasp on the Word of God.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Practical Calvinism September 12, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Quotes.
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Lar,

Check out this quote from Philip Ryken over at the World Magazine Blog.

Peace,
Joe

On Reading September 12, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

I think I may have linked to this post before, but it is so good and simple that there is no harm in doing so again. It is Al Mohler’s post on the reading of good books. His advice is invaluable and surely well tested (b/c he is such an avid reader!). I’m not so sure about taking books to the ball games. That’s not my style for sure, but hey, we all have different gifts I suppose. Of course, there are times when I am on the bench that I wouldn’t mind picking up a good book. But that probably isn’t a good thing. I need to zone in and be a better cheerleader.

So here’s a question for you in light of that post: what advice are you going to embrace? And if so, what is your next action step brother?

Let me know,
Joe

A Few Good Links September 11, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

Check these out when you have a chance brother.

First, here is a good post on engaging spiritual conversation– a must read for us all in my opinion.

Second, here is an article Justin Taylor highlighted on a theology of sleep.

Finally, this is a book I might want to check out.

Catch you soon brother,
Joe

9/11’s to Remember September 11, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

Yes, I know I need to get on the ball a little better with blogging.  Hopefully that will happen a little more this week, as I don’t have a message to prepare for this Sunday night.  But today is a busy day, so I thought I would just point people to this reflection on 9/11 by John Piper.

Larry

Giving Thanks September 10, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

I was going to write a post for this blog tonight, but felt more inclined to do so on our parenting blog….so I did. But I figured I would link to it here in hopes that it could encourage others (which of course, is why I posted it there in the first place). Let us be faithful to give thanks in all things, brother, for we are doing O so much better than we deserve.

Praising His name,
Joe

Two Announcements September 8, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Recommendations.
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Lar,

I am thankful to say that I have two announcements. Saturday probably isn’t the best day to make them, but I might make them again next week either way. First, we (Erin and I on behalf of Seek Him Ministries) have begin a Bible Memory Club. We have called it Standing on the Promises. (You can also find it in the right hand column entitled SH Bible Memory Club.)

Essentially, we will be memorizing one or two verses per week. You can sign up either by email or through an rss feed. The verse(s) of the week will come to you everyday. And that plan will be to read it out loud ten times and say it without looking ten times. It should take no more than 5 minutes per day, but will surely pay off!

I realize that there are other places to get this kind of thing, but I am sure ours will have a certain flavor about it. Of course, we will be focused on the promises of God. But I also look forward to memorizing longer passages of Scripture one verse at a time.

So spread the word brother, so that we might spread the Word! Seriously, I would encourage anyone reading this blog to join. I know it is a struggle for us to memorize the Word, so this could serve as a good way to hold you accountable to it. So don’t be shy, sign up!

Second, I set up a link to a blog I started about 4 months ago or so. It is called Joe’s Notes, and is comprised simply of my daily notes on the Scriptures. I have always taken notes almost every morning and a while back purchased a program that enables me to do so on the computer and easily send the content to a blog. So if anyone is interested in checking that out, there is also a link under “Personal Sites” off to the right.

Alright brother, Lord willing, I will catch you in a few days.
Storing up the Word with you,
Joe

Steve Saint Article September 6, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

Here’s one of the articles I quoted from in my message this past Sunday morning where I described the response of Steve Saint to the death of his dad and the other four missionaries in Ecuador. The details that Steve shares in this article are simply amazing. They left me in awe of the sovereign grace of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ.

I hope to respond to the post you made yesterday about self-deceit some time tomorrow. Since I finally have internet access on my computer here at the house, I don’t have much of an excuse anymore to be lazy with blogging!

Catch you tomorrow,

Larry

A Theology of Hugging September 6, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

Here is an interesting post from Richard Mouw on hugging. Yes, hugging. I’ll catch you later brother, maybe even with a hug!

Peace,
Joe

Self-Deceit September 5, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
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Lar,

Great link, though I fully confess there is something in me that would rather not have read it. O yea, that is the same something that is being addressed in that post. So subtle is our arrogance isn’t it? Indeed, it can be though it is not always the case. At times it is obvious, but I know that I am O so good at carefully maneuvering my way around my pride, so as to make it look less terrible than it actually is (or something other than what it is). I remember Tozer saying that one evidence of pride is our ‘humbly’ confessing certain sins before God, but resenting the same things said about us by others or particularly, by our wife. Another is our so called brokeness over our failure to attain a certain Christian ideal. We might seem contrite, but the problem is that we have failed to live up to our own high expectations. And our expectations are high because we are so proud.

In light of that last post, I wanted to link to this one as well. The post is called “The Offspring of Pride” and lists 11 things that pride leads to. They are taken from a sermon by the Puritan, Richard Mayo.

I am with almost every single one. The only one that I do not agree with is number 7, self-deceit. And I wanted to get your take on the matter. For when I look at the events that led up to the fall, I see self-deceit preceding pride. Think about it, pride can only grow in the soils of self-deceit. That is, pride is a false opinion of oneself. So pride is based on an incomplete or inaccurate knowledge of oneself. Satan distorted reality before Adam and Eve acted in pride. He led them to believe that they were something that they were not (self-deceit) and thus, they became proud.

On the flip side, humility grows only in the soil of self-knowledge. That is, our humility (or lack there of) is based entirely on a clarity of spiritual sight. Growth in humility flows from growth in the knowledge of God and thus, the knowledge of ourselves. The only times we act in pride (which is sadly quite often) are times in which we are not seeing clearly.

I could go, but please give me your thoughts on the matter. I am not even proofreading this post, so I am confident that I could make things a bit clearer, but this should serve to get a short discussion started. And I do think a discussion of sorts is needed, for this is a very important matter. Why? Because our answer determines how we will fight the fight against pride and for humility. And in my opinion that fight is fought primarily by fighting for an accurate knowledge of God. For the knowledge of God leads to a knowledge of oneself. And this light cannot help but bring humility.

Alright enough for now.
Fighting for truth so that I might grow in humility,
Joe

Symptoms of Pride September 5, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
1 comment so far

Joe,

This post from Stephen Altrogge is good medicine for the soul.  Actually, I guess it’s more of a diagnosis than medication, but the first step towards healing is knowing what’s making you sick.

Larry

I would add one more to his list: reading the items on the list and thinking first about another person who needs to read the list rather than applying it to yourself.

Thankful for Labor September 4, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
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Lar,

I am setting this post to go up on Tuesday, though I am writing it on Monday night. As I am sure you are aware, today was Labor Day. So there were a few posts in the blogosphere that communicated God’s perspective on the matter. Three of them can be found here.

Anyhow, I wanted to offer a few of my own reflections. I think I have done enough of ‘linking’ for a bit. Reflections are needed–at least for me! As you know, I have been thinking a great deal about the topic of work. In a sense I have been forced to, for I have felt a great need to know God’s perspective on my playing basketball or doing whatever else I might do (including fixing up the yard!). So I have been reading and thinking for quite some time, doing my best to keep before my mind’s eye the topic of calling or vocation and consequently, labor or work.

I’ll tell you brother, this season of thinking and reading has been one of the most fruitful for my soul. For it has brought me to a place where I have just begun to really realize that all things can be done to the glory of God–just as we are commanded to do. Though I might have quoted 1 Corinthians 10:31 often enough, (“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”), something within me just couldn’t embrace it. After all, the vast majority of my life is spent in ‘normal’ world, you know, the routine things of life. Though I spend my share of time reading and reflecting and praying, I still have to workout (my work) and mow the grass and hang out with my kids and whatever else I have to do. Then I also watch movies and play golf and do a thousand other things that might not seem very applicable to the kingdom of God. At least that is what I thought.

And although some of these activities are different than my work, or the things that revolve around my job, in that they are voluntary, I mention them to make the point that I have often struggled with many of these things. That is, I have struggled to fully enjoy them, for deep within, my worldview was so limited that it would not support such activities, because, I would ask, “Shouldn’t I be seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?” And of course, the answer was always (as it should be), “Yes.”

But what I realize now is that the pursuit of the kingdom encompasses all of life. It encompasses the mowing of my grass and especially the way in which I go about my work. After all, work is pre-fall. It was there in the beginning. Adam was commanded by God to take care and cultivate the earth. He was called to bring out all the potential that was in the earth to the glory of God. Yes, He was called to seek first the kingdom by fashioning a world that aptly reflected the glory of the King.

And the glory of our King is that He has created us to enjoy various spheres of life. He has called us to shine forth His worth and beauty in every single thing that we do. And indeed, we ought to pursue the kingdom in every sphere, and to pursue a worldview that would see how we might do so in every sphere. For when we begin to taste of such a thing, yard work takes on a whole new meaning. So does hanging with the kids and watching movies and hitting golf balls or whatever else. Isn’t it wonderful that we can do all things to His glory? I still don’t know perfectly how I might do so, but I at least rejoice in the fact that it is possible.

Alright brother, that is enough random musing for this evening. Lord willing, I will catch you soon. For now, let is be our aim brother to see the Lord in all our work and in all our rest and in all our celebrating, that is, to see how we might faithfully make His rule and reign known in the various spheres the Lord has called us to dominate or cultivate to His glory.

Seeking first the kingdom with you,
Joe

Pastoral Book List September 3, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

I thought you might like to look through (and purchase!) the books on this list. It’s a good one for sure.

Peace,
Joe

Edwards on the Divine Decrees September 2, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

I had a couple of people after the message I preached this morning ask me where they could read the entirety of the piece by Jonathan Edwards that I quoted from.  If any of our readers are interested, here is a link to Edwards’ Concerning the Divine Decrees, which is where the quote was from.

As you read, remember these wise words that I first heard from John Piper: raking is easy, but all you get is leaves.  Digging is harder, but you might find diamonds.

Happy hunting!

Larry

Marriage September 2, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

I liked the strategy spoken of here. We are wise to make others account for their worldview…to force their hand so to speak.

Later,
Joe

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