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Gone as well… October 31, 2006

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
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Yea,
So we are headed down to the shore as well Lar (a different one than you), so I also might be scarce until Thursday. I would encourage all of Blog Nation, however, to check out Justin Taylor’s Between Two Worlds during the next few days. You won’t regret it! (The link is in the right hand column.)

We also need to make our post on the gospel of John. I will aim to do that by the end of the week. Catch you then, Lord willing.
In His joy,
Joe

Gone… October 31, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings, Uncategorized.
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I’m heading to the shore for a four-day spiritual retreat (a lovely birthday gift from my wife), so there will likely be no blogging from me until Saturday or Sunday.

I’m sure Joe can faithfully satisfy our hungry readers (all three of them).

Larry

Quotes from the AW’s October 30, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes.
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We get a lot of quotes from Mr. Tozer (thanks mostly to Joe), but here is one from A.W. Tozer and also one from A.W. Pink.  I preached last night on Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the meek…” and these were two quotes that nourished (by piercing) my soul:

“Meekness is that grace in the believer that causes him to bear patiently insults and injuries, that makes him ready to be instructed and admonished by the least eminent of saints, that leads him to esteem others more highly than himself, and that teaches him to ascribe all that is good in himself to the sovereign grace of God.” Arthur Pink

“The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed.  Think for yourselves whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you.  As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol.” Tozer

Let us lay aside the heavy burden of pride by seeking our rest in the meekness of Jesus, who is gentle and lowly heart and promises that if we will learn from Him, we will find rest for our souls.

Larry

A Difficult Article to Read; A Difficult Reality to Deal With October 29, 2006

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
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I don’t post this article to mess up anyone’s comfortable little world.  However, it is my opinion that we need our comfortable little worlds a little more messed up.  For this world is a sinful one, a messed up one, and as Christians we should by no means be ignorant of this.  This article details a young woman’s killing of her unborn child by shooting a gun at her belly.  That’s horrible for sure.  But what is worse is that a circuit court judge threw out her case, saying that she is somehow exempt from the law.  Why?  Well, why else?  Abortions are legal, so why can’t a mother do such a thing?

Now I really do grieve for this young woman.  Her story is tragic, and I have no doubt that the power of the enemy is at work.  However, we run ourselves and our society into the ground when we fail to hold people responsible for their own actions.  Worldviews collide in debates such as this.  And the quotes in this article reveal those worldviews.  They don’t go deep enough, but if we look below the surface we can see the presuppositions that are driving such statements.  You can easily tell who believes in objective truth and who doesn’t it–even in a few short statements.

Where there is no God or at least no objective standard of moral right and wrong, anything goes.  Well, maybe not anything, but the standard becomes relativistic.  What the community or culture thinks is best becomes ‘law.’  That’s scary stuff and that’s the America in which we live.

We need revival brothers and sisters.  We need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  For before we go on pointing the finger at everyone secular, we need to realize that the problem is with us, the church of the Living God.  Let us repent of our sin.  And let us pray for the Church and this nation.  May the Lord have mercy soon.  Or else we might be soon forsaken.

Grieving at our sin soaked world and longing for a perfect day,

Joe

On Reading and Suggestion #6 October 29, 2006

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
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Lar,

Good stuff posting that article by Piper. We all need to be reminded of that periodically. What does it say of us that we prepare more for other activities than we do Sunday worship? I trust that it speaks volumes.

As for suggestion #6, I think I know what he is getting at, but you know my rule–do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26). Well, I suppose that isn’t my rule now is it!? Anyhow, I do live by this. Erin will attest to that. I think what Piper might be getting at are those topics or concerns that might be somewhat weighty or drawn out. Maybe they need to be thought through some more or something. Or maybe they just need to be overlooked entirely in the cause of love.

Of course, I could just be giving him the benefit of the doubt (which I suppose I should do), but if I am wrong about what he is pointing to, I would have to say that I would disagree. I mean, there have surely been times when Erin and I were struggling before Church. Of course, there are times when the whole matter cannot be fully spoken through, but there are other times when the both of us have seen the urgency of getting our hearts ready for worship and thus, worked through the matter quicker than we might have normally. In saying this, I suppose that I might even suggest that if we really do take Sunday morning worship seriously, maybe Saturday night is the time to get everything out and our acts together so to speak. We need to have our hearts right for Sunday morning. Realizing this, we might be able to work through things better than normal. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but I can say that I have experienced it.

With that being said, here’s a good Sabbath day’s quote by Charles Spurgeon that I came across on Between Two Worlds. I think it is wisdom for us to especially use Sunday as a reading day when possible. I know that I look forward to it especially for that reason!

Seeking Him with you,

Joe

Preparing for Worship October 28, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Here are 10 ways to prepare for Sunday worship from John Piper.  It is amazing how little thought and preparation goes into how we prepare to worship the Lord on Sunday mornings.  Yet at the same time people talk about not getting anything out of the message or feeling like God is distant.  I believe God will bless us richly if we give heed to these exhortations.  You can read or listen to the entire sermon here.

Joe, I would love to hear your thoughts on point #6; this seems to be in opposition to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24.  What do you think?  With that exception, I think these recommendations are outstanding.  And I’d be interested to dialogue about #6.

How Do You Prepare to Hear the Word of God on Sunday?

I have ten exhortations, most of them very short, but worthy of much more reflection than I can give them here. You can take them and go over them. I hope you jot them down and talk about them as a family or perhaps in your small groups tonight. The question I am trying to answer is, How do you prepare to hear the Word of God in worship on Sunday morning? Specifically, I mean what can you do Saturday evening and Sunday morning and on the way to church and when you come into this room? That is the time frame I have in mind.

1. Pray that God would give you the good and honest heart described in verse 15

There are many things we can do with our wills – and must do. But our wills are governed by our hearts and what our hearts love. So we must have a new heart if we are to do what we ought to do, and do it with joy the way God commands us to (Psalm 100:2). And the Bible teaches that this new heart is a work of God. Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart.” Jeremiah 24:7, “I will give them a heart to know Me.” So we should ask God for it. “O Lord, give me a heart for you. Give me a good and honest heart. Give me a soft and receptive heart. Give me a humble and meek heart. Give me a fruitful heart. Give me a heart for you.”

Set aside some time before you go to bed Saturday night, and then again when you get up Sunday morning to pray like this.

2. Meditate on the Word of God. Read portions of your Bible with a view to stirring up hunger for God

How many of you have heard of the word “appetizer”? Most everybody. But how about the word “appetize”? No? Because it’s not in the dictionary. Well I hereby create the word! An appetizer is that which appetizes. To appetize is to awaken appetite. And that is what an appetizer is for. So if the sermon is the meal, the appetizer is the portion of the Word that you meditate on Saturday night and Sunday morning. This is crucial. You need to cultivate spiritual taste before you come if you want to enjoy and benefit most from the meal of the Spirit. If your palate is worldly, you will have no taste for spiritual things, and will not hear as you ought. So “appetize” your heart by meditating on the Word of God Saturday night and Sunday morning. Plan it in. This is the way you “Take heed how you hear!”

3. Purify your mind by turning away from worldly entertainment

James 1:21: “Put aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” How do you receive the implanted word? By putting aside all filthiness and wickedness. This is what makes the word “unreceivable.” It astonishes me how many Christians watch the same banal, empty, silly, trivial, titillating, suggestive, immodest TV shows that most unbelievers watch – and then wonder why their spiritual lives are weak and their worship experience is shallow with no intensity. If you really want to hear the Word of God the way he means to be heard in truth and joy and power, turn off the television on Saturday night and read something true and great and beautiful and pure and honorable and excellent and worthy of praise (see Philippians 4:8). Then watch your heart unshrivel and begin to hunger for the word of God.

4. Trust in the truth that you already have

In our text, the second soil failed to hear the way it should because it had no root. What is the root that we need in hearing the word of God? Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream.” The root that nourishes fruitful hearing is the root of faith. Hearing begets faith and faith begets better hearing. Trusting in the truth you already have is the best way to prepare yourself to receive more. So when you pray and meditate and turn off the TV, consciously fix your heart on the promises of God and trust him Saturday night and Sunday morning.

5. Get a good night’s rest on Saturday night

I am aware that some of you work all night on Saturday, get off at 7 AM and shower and grab a bite to eat and come straight to church. Bless you. God has special graces for you and you must seek his special help. Trust him. He will help you. But I am talking to the rest of us who make our own choices about when to go to bed. My counsel is: decide when you must get up to have time to eat, get dressed, pray and meditate on the Word, prepare the family, and travel to church; and then compute backward eight hours (or whatever you know you need) and be sure that you are in bed 15 minutes before that. Read your Bible in bed and fall asleep with the Word of God on your lips and in your mind.

It takes more discipline to go to bed on time than to get up on time. There are not as many pressures to go to bed. And sleep is so boring compared to playing or going out or watching TV. I especially exhort parents to teach teenagers that Saturday is not the night to think of staying out late with friends. If there is a special late night, make if Friday, not Saturday. It is a terrible thing to teach children that worship is so optional that it doesn’t matter if you are exhausted when you come. What happens here is more important than a college entrance SAT, and we do work hard to get our kids to sleep well before an important test.

Without sufficient sleep, we are not alert; our minds are dull, our emotions are flat and unenergetic, our proneness to depression is higher, and our fuses are short. “Take heed how you hear” means get a good night’s rest before you hear the Word of God.

6. Forebear one another without grumbling and criticism

Psalm 106:25 says, “They grumbled in their tents; they did not listen to the voice of the LORD.” Saturday night’s and Sunday morning’s grumbling and controversy and quarreling can ruin a worship service for a family. My suggestion is this: When there is something you are angry about or some conflict that you genuinely think needs to be talked about, forebear, and put if off till later on Sunday after worship. Don’t dive in Saturday night or Sunday morning.

And when you come to worship, don’t come as hypocrites pretending there are no problems. We’ve all got problems. Come saying: Lord, show me the log in my eye. Humble me and cleanse me and show me so much of yourself that I know how to deal with this in a more Christlike way than I feel now. You may be surprised how many of your crises get changed in the light of God’s Word and worship.

7. Come in a spirit of meek teachability

Not gullibility. You have your Bible and you have your head. But James says “In meekness receive the implanted word” (1:21). If we come with a chip on our shoulder that there is nothing we can learn or no benefit we can get, we will prove ourselves infallible on both counts. But if we humble ourselves before the Word of God, we will hear and grow and bear fruit.

8. Be still as you enter the room and focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God

I would like to recommend that as we enter the room here we “come on the lookout for God and leave on the lookout for people.” That is, come quietly and go hard after God in prayer and meditation. Then leave with a view to taking risks as you extend your welcome and love to other people. We will not be an unfriendly church if we are aggressive in our pursuit of God during the prelude and aggressive in our pursuit of visitors during the postlude.

Are you with me in this? This is different than the way many churches conceive of the pre-service atmosphere. For many, the louder the better, because it connotes life and friendliness. That is legitimate in some contexts, but something huge is lost, a sense of the greatness and holiness and wonder of God. There are almost no times in our lives when we together get blood- earnest about God and our meeting him in his greatness. Let Sunday morning be one of those times. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Where do we do that? Let’s do it just before the service in this room. Let the Commons be abuzz with greetings. But let this room reverberate with the electric power of silent passion for God’s glory. There is a world of difference between the silence of apathy and the silence of passion! Pray, meditate on the text to be preached, ponder the words to the songs. Go hard after God.

9. When the worship service begins, think earnestly about what is sung and prayed and preached

Paul says to the Corinthians, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). And he says to Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). Anything worth hearing is worth thinking about. If a message does not require the engagement of your mind, it is probably not going to take you anywhere beyond where you are now. But that would probably not be biblical preaching. If you would take heed how you hear, think about what you hear.

10. Desire the truth of God’s Word more than you desire riches or food

As you sit quietly and pray and meditate on the text and the songs, remind yourself of what Psalm 19:10-11 says about the words of God: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” So because the Word of God is greater than all riches and sweeter than all honey, take heed how you hear. Desire it more than you desire all these things.

As Proverbs 2:3-5 says, “If you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”

May God make us a people who hear the Word of God and bear fruit a hundredfold so that the lamp of our lives will be on a lampstand giving light to all who enter the kingdom of God. Take heed how you hear! Amen.

My Saturday Recommendation October 28, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Recommendations.
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Joe,

As you know, I am devoting the next several months to preaching through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.  As my Saturday recommendation I thought I would comment on the book that has most helped me most so far in my meditations.  It has given me material for preaching, but more importantly, food for my soul.  The book is Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, by Martyn Lloyd Jones. 

When I tell people that I am estimating 30-40 sermons to make it through the Sermon on the Mount, most people seem amazed that it could take that long.  But Lloyd-Jones’ book is a compilation of 60 sermons he preached on the Sermon on the Mount back in the 1950’s.  I don’t think it will take me that long, but God has used this book to stir my soul as I have sought to faithfully unpack Jesus’ words.

Larry

Quick Book Recommendation October 28, 2006

Posted by Joe in Recommendations.
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Lar,

I would like to recommend a book this week that I have not yet read. In fact, I might not read it at all (sort of). See, it is 031025599601_aa240_sclzzzzzzz_v65766406_.jpgcalled Christian Beliefs and is by Dr. Wayne Grudem. The reason I want to recommend it even though I might never read it is because I am presently reading his Systematic Theology and thoroughly enjoying it. I have looked through that work before, but I have set it aside as my nightly read before I go off to sleep. And what a wonderful practice this has been as I dose off thinking of God. There is just no better way to rest in my opinion!

Christian Beliefs is the shortest version of Grudem’s Systematic Theology. 031028670001_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_aa240_sh20_ou01_sclzzzzzzz_v65765812_.jpgThere is one between the two entitled Bible Doctrine (pictured below)031022233801_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_aa240_sh20_ou01_sclzzzzzzz_v36940747_.jpg– which comes in at about 600 pages I think. Erin is reading it right now. And in all honesty, he is not a hard read. He explains everything well and exults over the truths he presents. I can’t recommend him highly enough. So if you are looking for a doctrinal introduction, look no further. Check our Grudem’s Christian Beliefs, or if you are up for it his Bible Doctrine. And if you really want to go for it, join me in reading his Systematic Theology. Little by little and you can get it done. It might take 6 months of so, but 20 minutes a night will make it happen. And I can tell you, the fruit is rewarding.

So Lar, I suppose I just recommended three books. Well, so be it. Check out Grudem. He’s a great teacher. You won’t regret it, no matter which one you choose to read.

Peace out for now,

Joe

Still Alive October 27, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

Been a busy couple of days, sorry I have failed Blog Nation. I do have a thought that I am hoping to get up tomorrow, but for now I will just leave a verse that is on my heart this week:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Let us strive to live at peace with all, that Christ might be magnified in all.

Larry

The Danger of Pleasure October 27, 2006

Posted by Joe in Quotes, Random Musings.
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Lar,

Here are some thoughts for you.

“Surprising to us perhaps, Jesus’ demand for vigilance is directed more often at the pleasures of life than the pain. Some people are driven away from God by their pain, but more are lured away by their pleasures. Pleasures seldom awaken people to their need for God; pain often does. So Jesus is more concerned to warn us about the dangers of prosperity than the dangers of poverty.”

These words are from John Piper’s new book, What Jesus Demands from the World. I read them the other night and thought they would speak to almost all of us (or maybe all). For the most part, I think we as American Christians are ignorant of this reality–that the comforts of this life can be deadly to our souls. Well, actually that is not perfectly accurate, because the comforts themselves must not be blamed. It is how we tend to trust in those comforts that kills us. Something within is the real problem.

If all we do is take away the comforts (and maybe we should think about a few), we fail to deal with the real problem–the inner problem. In fact, I think it could be said that many times we tend to deal with these external things in order to not have to deal with the inner realities that make us trust in those things. We can burn all our comfy furniture if we so desire, but that won’t kill our self-sufficiency. In fact, it might make us worse by fueling some sort of religious self-sufficiency within.

Instead, the hard road (in one sense) is living a diligent, faithful, death-to-self Christian life within the comfortable confines of America. It’s hard work to have the pleasures and be so riveted with Jesus Christ that those pleasures are as rubbish. Like I said, it doesn’t mean we go build big mansions. But it also doesn’t mean that we go build huts and live in someone’s backyard either. It just means we need to fight the fight of faith by fighting against the sinful tendency within out souls to trust in anything but God. And that is hard work, no matter where we are.

Pray for me Lar, I need grace to be vigilant and diligent for the sake of my soul and the glory of my God.

Seeking the comfort that can only be found in Jesus,

Joe

A Small Dose of Tozer October 26, 2006

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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‘Our constant effort should be to reach as many persons as possible
with the Christian message, and for that reason numbers are
critically important. But our first responsibility is not to make
converts but to uphold the honor of God in a world given over to
the glory of fallen man. No matter how many persons we touch with
the gospel we have failed unless, along with the message of
invitation, we have boldly declared the exceeding sinfulness of man
and the transcendent holiness of the Most High God. They who
degrade or compromise the truth in order to reach larger numbers,
dishonor God and deeply injure the souls of men.

The temptation to modify the teachings of Christ with the hope that
larger numbers may “accept” Him is cruelly strong in this day of
speed, size, noise, and crowds. But if we know what is good for us,
we’ll resist it with every power at our command.’

Interesting Article October 25, 2006

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

Didn’t want to leave the day without a post, so I’ll just point you to a worthwhile article by Al Mohler. Nothing fancy, but a good read regarding Grudem’s book on ‘evangelical’ feminism (if there can be such a thing).

More to come on John tomorrow, Lord willing.

Peace brother,

Joe

John 1:1 Continued October 24, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Gospel of John.
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Joe,

What more do I say to all that but, ‘Amen’!  I mean really, that was a little more than I was expecting, and I hope you aren’t expecting all that from me!  I suppose some days there will be more to write than others, and right now there’s not much time.  But I just wanted to step back from all the details that you gave and just make two broad observations that strike me as I begin reading this awesome display of Christ’s glory that is the gospel of John.

First, I am struck at how different John’s gospel is than the other three gospels.  When you read these opening words, there is something mysterious, something awesome, that hits you.  I know many people recommend that an unbeliever begin reading the New Testament with the gospel of John, and it seems like this is why.  You read the first 18 verses and your first thought is (at least my first thought is), ‘What’s going on here?’  My first impression of John’s words here is that we are entering into holy ground, into the holy of holies so to speak.  All the Scriptures are sacred, but here we are diving into the infinite depths that is the ocean of God’s glory.  John writes of Jesus the way no other man has ever written of Him.

Second, it is clear to me how much we are in need of divine illumination and grace to understand John’s portrait of the eternal word.  The very first verse is an assault on our pride and arrogance in dictating to God what He can and cannot do, and who He can and cannot be.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  This makes absolutely no sense.  How can someone be with God, and God, at the same time?  Vast amounts of people simply dismiss this as double talk.  It is impossible.  And yet with the infinitely wise Triune God, all things are possible.  The Word was God, and the Word was with God.  We cannot understand this, and yet we affirm it and love it and sing of it and proclaim it to others. 

The opening verse of the gospel of John is an invitation to have your world rocked.  Small, trivial, humanly logical ideas of God must be thrown out.  We must deal with the reality of God on His terms, not ours.  The Word eternally is God, and the Word eternally was with God.  Let us pray for grace to understand, and grace to rejoice.

Larry

John 1:1 October 24, 2006

Posted by Joe in Gospel of John.
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Lar,

I seem to remember that when we started this blog, one of your first posts was in regards to the Trinity. Now you want to ‘blog through’ the Gospel of John. I love it and count myself thankful! I do hope our words can serve to stir up the whole of Blog Nation, however, I am quite sure that no one will profit more than we will. May the Lord give us insight and diligence to think and meditate and write so as to point to Jesus Christ and stir up the affections of our own souls and all those who listen in on this conversation! I trust He will grant such grace. So here I start with John 1:1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Let’s take note of a few glorious things….

1) “In the beginning was the Word…” Note particularly the first three words. It is surely no coincidence that the gospel of John begins with the same words as the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. John writes with a view to commending Jesus Christ, so he wastes no time with pleasantries. He jumps right into things and points to the eternal deity of the Son of God. For what else can commend Him as much as His deity–His place as the Most High God? In the very first sentence, John makes it plain that we are not dealing with some human messiah, but the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone dwells in immorality and unapproachable light. This first phrase alone should make us tremble.

Before the earth was brought forth, before even the angels of heaven were created, indeed, an eternity before all these things took place, Jesus Christ was there. He was with God in the beginning. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). He is eternal, self-sufficient. Time is in His hands.

2) And not only was He there in the beginning, but He “was the Word, and the Word was with God.”

a) First note John’s use of the word “Word”, or in the Greek (what little I know at this point) ‘logos’–word, utterance, meaning. Jesus Christ is the expression of the deity in prime as it were. “Word” points to speech and is it not true that we are especially revealed by what we say? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Well, God the Father ‘speaks’ that which is perfect, that which is eternal, that which is an exact expression of the infinite riches and glory of His Person and Deity. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “He [Jesus Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3). Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, the perfect expression of infinite perfection.

b) Second note that Jesus Christ is not merely an expression of God the Father, but in fellowship with God the Father–“the Word was with God.” From all eternity, God the Father and God the Son have not merely co-existed, but enjoyed perfect and intimate and infinite joy in fellowship with one another. God the Father loves and delights in God the Son with a awesome, infinite passion. As the most beautiful of Beings–indeed the Essence and Source of Being–God can do no less than delight fully in the riches of His Image or Expression or Word. The Father and Son have never been, are not now, nor ever will be lukewarm in their affections for one another. Never will their fellowship wax and wane, never has their been a dull moment in the Trinity. Never have they become bored with one another, and never will they be bored with one another. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Word was with God–and their fellowship was sweet and rich and intimate and infinite and deep. And so it is now. And so it will forever be. O let us marvel at our great God!

3) “The Word was God.” Jesus Christ, it must be emphasized again, did not merely enjoy fellowship with God as we one day we, as creatures, will through Him. No. Jesus Christ enjoyed fellowship with God the way God enjoys fellowship with God–because that is exactly who He is. Paul says, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15). By firstborn, He does not mean first among the creatures, but first and preeminent over all creatures–for in the whole context, Paul is pointing to the Deity of the Son. Jesus Christ was there in the beginning not simply as a spectator to the glory of God as revealed in creation, but as the glory of God Himself–as the Creator Himself. “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

At this very moment, we breathe because Jesus Christ gives us breath. We see because Jesus Christ gives us sight. We live because He lives. He is the Source. It is through Him–the Image and Expression of God the Father–that the Triune God Himself created all things. And it is through Him that He sustains all things. O let us beware of thinking small thoughts of Jesus Christ! Let us embrace Him and bow before Him now for how He is revealed! He is the eternal Son of God, the perfect expression of Deity–for in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19)–the infinite, holy, Most High Messiah.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So it was then and so it is now, for as God, Jesus Christ does not change. He is immutable. “Jesus Christ if the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). All that He ever was in eternity past, He is now in eternity present and He will forever be in eternity future. Therefore our hope is secure and our joy can forever be full. If we trust in Jesus, we can forever enjoy gazing upon the fullness of glory that we find in the perfect fellowship of the Father and Son. Never will we tire. Never will we become bored. Forever we will search out His riches with eager expectation. Day by day we will live and long to behold the glory found in Jesus Christ–the Word of God.

Lar, rejoice with me brother. I thank you for making this suggestion (or one might say ‘demand’?). This time itself has been well worth the effort. But isn’t this always the case when we think of God? Surely I have never regretted meditating upon His Word (yes, there is a double meaning there!). I suppose we are wise to take note of that which we never regret in order to order our lives with true wisdom.

Beholding the eternal glory of the Son with you,

Joe

Delay October 23, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

Sorry to say, but I’m going to have to delay the start of our blogarama (yes, I just made that word up) on the gospel John until tomorrow. Joe, if you want to get the ball rolling you are certainly welcome to do so! But in the meantime, here is a passage of Scripture that is on my heart today, as I experience some frustrations and difficulties because of ministry. The words of Paul are a refreshment to my soul:

23Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

I am reminded of how little I really suffer, and to make sure that my boasting is not in the things that make me look good to other people, but the things which display my weakness. For when I am weak, He is strong.

Larry

Speaking of Big… October 22, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Gospel of John, Random Musings.
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Joe,

You are right, a great Tozer quote. Our God is a big and mighty God. There may be no better place in the Scriptures to see just how big God is than the gospel of John (Did you like that segue, brother?). Last night Michelle and I took two hours (I know it’s not easy to find that time for the couple with young kids, but maybe it can be done?) and read through the entire gospel of John. Talking about a recommendation, that is a phenomenal way to spend a couple of hours!

Sometimes I can get so caught up studying the Word slowly and digging into details like conjunctions and verb tenses that I can miss the big picture. Both practices (reading slow and reading fast) can be beneficial, and last night was a very refreshing time with Michelle giving heed to the words of John the Baptist in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” It was sweet to behold Him; John (the Apostle) is one great story-teller! Only this is no made-up drama, it is the truth of the beauty of Jesus Christ, God Almighty incarnated in flesh and blood, dwelling among us and revealing the riches of His glory for our enjoyment.

As we read, I had the thought that it would be a rich experience for us to blog our way through the gospel of John. There would have to be some balance between moving slow and fast, and we could still blog on whatever else God is laying on our hearts, but to systematically move through the gospel of John and share our thoughts with one another (and Blog Nation of course) would be a sweet time in my opinion.

So that’s my proposal, starting with 1:1-4 tomorrow. As is the case now, we may have days where we can write more or less, but tell me your thoughts. I think I can find a way to take twenty minutes or so a day and share my thoughts on a short passage in this great gospel.

Enjoy the rest of your Sabbath,

Larry

PS — Michelle says no one will know what the word ‘segue’ means because it’s not spelled like that. But check the dictionary and you’ll see that even though she does have a degree in astro-physics, the journalism major prevails this time!

Sabbath’s Day Quote and Read October 22, 2006

Posted by Joe in Links, Quotes.
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Lar,

Good call on the Christmas gift idea brother. You are planning ahead this year huh? Just so you know though, I already have just a few copies of that book. I could point you to a few others I might like though! Anyhow, I just wanted to share this quote from Tozer today. I receive a Tozer quote each morning. Some days are better (much better) than others. Today was one of those days.

I am positively sure after many years of observation and prayer that the basis of all of our trouble today, in religious circles, is that our God is too small.

When he says magnify the Lord, he doesn’t mean that you are to make God big, but you are to see Him big. When we take a telescope and look at a star, we don’t make the star bigger, we only see it big. Likewise you cannot make God bigger, but you are only to see Him bigger….

My brethren, God calls us to magnify Him, to see Him big. A meeting is not big because a lot of people are present. A meeting is big because a number of people see a big God in the meeting. And the bigger God is seen, the greater the meeting. A friend of mine has a little saying, ‘I would rather have a big, little meeting than a little, big meeting.’ There are a lot of big meetings that are little because the God in them is a small God. And there are a lot of little meetings that are big because God is big in the midst of them….

That is the first thing–magnify God. Your ministry will be little, and you will live and die little unless you have a bigger God.
Amen A.W.

As for your Sabbath read, here’s a short one that packs a heavy punch–The Greatness of God by Herman Bavinck.

Enjoying His greatness with you,

Joe

Gift Idea October 22, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Recommendations.
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bscp_tiny.jpgI’ve never been big on buying Christmas gifts (maybe that’s because I grew up in a Jewish family!), but as a recommendation I thought it may be good to point people to a great gift idea for the upcoming holiday. Desiring God is running a special right now on the book Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, which is a great little book which sets forth the beauty of Christ using lots of biblical texts. It is only a little over a hundred pages long, and is a good way to introduce Jesus to an unbeliever. But I believe God will use it to also fan the flame in the hearts of believers for our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Desiring God is selling cases of these books (48 copies) for a dollar a book, plus $17 shipping. That is a lot of gifts for only $65! Here’s the details on this deal.

Also, if you want to preview the book before you make that kind of investment, you can read the entire book online here (Scroll down to the link for Seeing and Savoring, click and then you can open the PDF files by section of the book).

Maybe Joe will even be nice enough to put up a picture of the book (or show me how to do it!).

Larry

Back to Resource Saturday October 21, 2006

Posted by Joe in Recommendations.
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Lar,

What do you think about getting back to our recommendations for the weekend? I think we should. Not that we are limited only to that, but I don’t think we can go wrong on this one. Well then, here’s mine for this week: Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by C.J. Mahaney.

158134624701_scthumbzzz_.jpgOf course, I have already recommended it to you Lar, but it’s worth reinforcing I think. The more I read, the more I enjoyed it. Naturally, it’s aimed at men, but there are a few words to the women as well–written at the end by his wife, Carolyn (who has a few good books of her own for the ladies). But the bulk of it is to the fellas–and rightfully so. We are the leaders boys and the world is desperate for us to act like it–in a biblical, Jesus-like way.

Mahaney covers this need to lead quite well. He is frank and faithful and funny throughout the whole of the book. He doesn’t cover everything pertaining to marriage, but he doesn’t leave the main stones unturned (w/ one of those main things being sex of course). I recommend it for any and every husband. In fact, if you are the head of the household, I think you should consider it a must read. And that–soon. Maybe even now! You won’t be comfortable while reading, but if you are looking for comfort, you definitely don’t want to follow Jesus. It’s not comfortable leading and loving our wives like Jesus does the church, but it is biblical and vital and joyful. Let’s go for it men. Pick up this book and let it stir you to greater heights of living and loving in marriage. You won’t regret it. That is for sure. And neither will your wife!

Enough for now. Looking forward to what you are going to bring to the table Lar.

Seeking Him,

Joe

Praying in Faith October 20, 2006

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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I’m currently reading What Jesus Demands from the World by Piper. Lar, I know you already read it, but I don’t think you will mind reading some good quotes again. This one spoke to me.

Praying in faith does not always mean being sure that the very things we ask will happen. But it does always mean that because of Jesus we trust God to hear us and help us in the way that seems best to him. It may mean that he gives us just what we ask, or that he gives us something better. Will a father give a son a stone if he asks him for bread? No. But neither will he give him bread if it is moldy. He may give him cake. Sometimes God’s answers will overwhelm us with their excess. Other times they taste more like medicine than food and will test our faith that this medicine is really what we need.”