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Spiritual Darkness August 31, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

This report reveals the spiritual darkness within every human heart. We really do whatever it takes to justify our wickedness, won’t we? Maranatha. Maranatha!

Longing for the day of redemption,
Joe

Food for Thought August 31, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Quotes.
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Joe,

Yes, I am actually still alive!  As you know, I’m quite busy working on a tough message for this Sunday morning, but to make up for my absence, I think this quote that I read over at Justin Taylor’s blog will keep people occupied for awhile.  Good stuff indeed!

Larry

U of M Footbaths August 31, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

What do you do with this? Either way, I think we can say for certain that there would be big problems if it was Christians that the school was catering to.

Catch you later,
Joe

Mother Theresa’s Redemption August 30, 2007

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Lar,

Here is a great article by Rick Phillips on Mother Theresa. I’m not sure how much you have been reading about her, but if you are only going to read one article, this seems to be the one. I walked away so thankful for what God has done for us in Jesus and for the fact that He has opened my eyes to that great work.

Thankful for the unwavering love of God in Christ,
Joe

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Tattoos and Piercings August 30, 2007

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Lar,

Here are some good reflections by Sam Storms regarding Christians getting body piercings or tattoos. I trust they will serve our worldviews well. And maybe they will keep you from getting that big “Bad for you” tattoo across your back (?).

Ok, I could go further with that nonsense, but that’s enough.
Peace,
Joe

Does God Cause Sin? August 30, 2007

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Lar,

Here is part two to the series of post at Desiring God. These are well worth keeping up with!

The distinctions within these posts are certainly difficult to sort out, yet they are well worth thinking through. And in the end, the reality ought to be clear. The Lord God is working all things according to the counself of His will. In this I hope and in this I rejoice!

Thankful for our sovereign God,
Joe

Does God Author Sin? August 29, 2007

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Lar,

I trust you have seen this post if you have been on the Internet at all, but I wanted to share it just in case. I am looking forward to reading all four parts and someday, reading John Frame’s work as well. For now, it is sitting on my shelf!

Marveling at our sovereign God with you,
Joe

Christian Vision Project August 29, 2007

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Lar,

Let’s make sure that one of us purchases these dvds, so that both of us can view them and learn from them.

Catch you more manana,
Joe

A Few Good Links August 28, 2007

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Lar,

Here are a few good links for you (and anyone else) to check out.

First, there is Al Mohler commenting on studies that show plainly the great need for fathers. As always, he is right on.

Next, here is a post that you might like: 50 tips for frugal living.

Third, here is a short commentary on the Jason Bourne films--three films that I greatly enjoyed. I have not read the posts he spoke of, but look forward to doing so at some point.

Finally, let’s make sure that one of us obtains this book.

Until later,
Joe

Vick Commentary August 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
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Lar,

I watch television about three times a week…while lifting at the gym. I am usually limited to either ESPN or Fox News (Comcast sometimes a bit), so my exposure to things is quite small I suppose. Although WORLD magazine is a good one for news. Anyhow, while working out today, I received almost two hours on Michael Vick. Seriously…two straight hours.

I had planned on writing about my consistent, three-times-a-week exposure to Vick’s saga today. And after reading your post, I determined to precede according to plan. What follows most certainly will fit into the category of Random Musings (which is surely my favorite by the way).

The first thing that I wanted to mention is the fact that although my exposure to television is incredibly limited, I am overdosed on this story. How then must the rest of the American public feel? Then again, many might well be numb to hearing the same news stories again and again. Or maybe many enjoy it. After all, if people were not willing to tune in, why then would the networks consistently return to the same old saga?

That speaks volumes about our culture doesn’t it? Even more, it speaks volumes about where our culture is headed. Look at the news. Virtually nothing is edifying. If you are to ture in for just a few hours a day, your worldview cannot help but be radically affected. God is certainly peripheral, at best. Special interest stories might shine a little light on the image of God in man, but usually commentators take the opportunity to exalt a person’s goodness…and not God’s goodness for sure. What you encounter on the television day after day is sin. A fallen world. A world in need of redemption. Yet those who watch–at least most of them I assume–are not filled with longing. They do not groan. They do not weep. Indeed, I don’t weep.

A man is accused on arranging dog fights and treated dogs in a terrible fashion. Here we are, the caretakers of God’s creation, called to bring out all the potential that is in the earth, called to dominate the world in order to reveal the glory of the One who has all dominion. Here we are in our fallen state. Here we are…failing to do what we were originally fashioned for. Here we are rebelling against the very purpose for which we exist. We ought not to be surprised that the creation groans for the revealing of the sons of God. And we ought to be amazed (though we understand the doctrine of sin) that man groans not under the weight of his sin.

It’s so obvious brother. Just turn on the news. Indeed, just look in the mirror. I suppose that is as far as I need to go.

Enough for now brother….Lord knows, I could go on. Let’s live with longing Lar. And let’s pray that Michael Vick might truly come to know the redeemer and take part in ruling the earth for the good of creation and the glory of God.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Vick Finds Jesus August 27, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes, Random Musings.
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I’m not writing that sarcastically, but just using his own words.

The sports fans out there are probably following the Michael Vick dogfighting saga.  Here’s the beginning of CNN’s report on the issue today:

RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) Shortly after entering a guilty plea Monday to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge, suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick apologized “for all the things that I’ve done and that I’ve allowed to happen.”

art.vick.press.conf.pool.jpg


In addition to making apologies to Atlanta Falcons teammates, his coach and the National Football League, Vick also said he was sorry “to all the young kids out there for my immature acts.”

“What I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up,” he said.

He said that he was “disappointed in myself” and that “dogfighting is a terrible thing and I … reject it.”

He said, “Through this situation I’ve found Jesus.”

Let’s pray that it is really true, and not a vain profession by a man trying to clean up his public image.

Larry

Baptism and Church Membership Thoughts August 23, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
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Lar,

Where are you brother? Now that you have Internet at the house, the blogging standard is going to be really high!

Anyhow, I figured I would follow with a few thoughts about the recent baptism and church membership discussion. Though many might deem such a discussion unimportant, I certainly would disagree. For the terms we draw up for membership in our local churches are as important as they get. And of course, those terms are determined by our theological convictions. Here are a few thoughts from my limited vantage point right now.

1) I wish Piper and Grudem could agree, because whatever they would agree upon would carry a great deal of weight in my book.

Now, the reason I say this is not becasue “I follow Piper” or “I follow Grudem.” No. The reason I say this is because you definitely have to give a great deal of weight to a a great Bible teacher changing his mind on a particular thing. But the interesting thing here is that Piper now believes the boundaries for church membership should be expanded a bit, while Grudem has switched to the opposite. If they both could agree, that would carry a great deal more weight in my book. Yes, I respect both of them a great deal, but that is what makes discerning through this all the more difficult! But that is good. I need my mind to be stretched. I am much too lazy in my thinking.

2) I’m not with Dever’s conviction that one who has not been baptized as a believer cannot take the Lord’s Supper.

I’m not sure how much I can say about that, but I would simply point out what others have pointed out: there are too many “What ifs” that have to be answered and that, in my judgment, cannot be adequately answered. I really like and respect Mark Dever and am thankful for his strength of conviction on the local church and baptism. And I am with him on both, however, when you are dealing with men who clearly love the Lord and the Scriptures, and who believe that their infant baptism is valid, it has to be a very hard deal to refuse them access to the Lord’s Supper. I’m not down with that (for whatever it’s worth).

3) Sam Storms has a lot of good stuff to say.

I would encourage everyone to read through his posts. Sam is humble, knowleagable and firm. That’s a good combination. He has also been on both sides of the baptismal spectrum (I believe).

4) Baptism is a very big deal.

I won’t say too much here about this particular statement, but I do think it is worth pointing out again the fact that this discussion is worth having. Baptism is important enough to argue about a little bit. I am certainly under credobaptist convictions–and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But I certainly have a great deal of respect for those who hold paedobaptist convictions. In fact, many of many favorite teachers are in that camp! And that definitely means something…

Enough for now Lar….I would like to hear some of your thoughts on this one.

Thankful I got baptized (as a believer even after getting sprinkled as a baby!),
Joe

Baptism and Church Membership August 22, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

Lord willing, I will check back in later with some more thoughts, but for now, I thought it would be helpful to make sure everyone read Justin Taylor’s summary of the matter first.

I need to read and discern a bit more through it to give my thoughts, but now, I definitely agree with Storm’s assertion. Of course, after reading some more, I might end up disagreeing, but we shall see….

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Storms on our ‘Togetherness’ August 21, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

We must be a bit behind on things, brother.  Two of our readers emailed me this morning with this article by Sam Storms on the recent discussions between some men who we greatly respect on the subject of baptism.

Storms raises some very insightful points here, and I wonder what your thoughts are on all this.  I know you are busy with ‘Seek Him Prep’, but if you have time to give Storms’ piece a read, let me know what you think.

For what it’s worth, I think he is right on, and I’m not sure what to make of the apparent lack of togetherness among the Together for the Gospel guys.

Larry

Habit August 21, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Lar,

This quote spoke to me yesterday….

I am your constant companion, I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am at your command.
Half of the tasks that you do you might just as well turn over to me
and I will do them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed, you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done;
after a few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people and alas of all failures as well.
Those who are great I have made great,
those who are failures I have made failures.

I am not a machine, but I work with all the precision of a machine,
plus the intelligence of a person.
Now you may run me for profit or you may run me for ruin.
It makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will lay the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am called Habit.

All that is quite true isn’t Lar? We are in large part defined by our habits–for good or ill. I think it can be said that our growth in holiness is determined by our putting away old habits and fighting for new ones. New habits of thought. New habits of response. New habits of discipline. New habits of how we spend our mornings and evenings. On and on we could go. Holiness is a grand thing, yes. But it is grand merely because it is the culmination of a lot of little things. A lot of little habits. To put off the old man and live according to the new man is impossible apart from the transformation of our habits. How are we doing here? What areas of our lives are still dictated by the habits of our old man? These are questions that we need to continually ask ourselves. For the Lord aims to bring change to us one little bit at a time.

Pray for me brother. I need grace–O so much grace!–to leave no stone unturned, as it were, to let nothing slip by, but to examine every area, so that I might eat and drink to the glory of God. Let’s do it together brother. For we cannot do it alone.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Four-Point Calvinism? August 17, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Quotes.
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Lar,

Here is an interesting quote from R.C. Sproul.

Also, we need to finish the week stronger next time brother! I was caught up in another project today. Lord willing, I will come with something strong next Friday!

Peace,
Joe

Therefore… August 16, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes, Scripture Meditation.
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From a sermon by Piper on Romans 12:1 —

When Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers . . .” he is saying: The life I am calling you to live (in Romans 12-16) is built on something. It doesn’t come out of nowhere. It has roots. It has a foundation. Christian living has roots. It has foundation. It has causes and grounds and reasons. And that is no small thing!

For the next five chapters Paul will call us to live a certain way as Christians. And with this word “therefore” he is saying: The foundation we build our lives on is the foundation laid in Romans 1-11. Paul is turning now from doctrine to practice. He is turning from theology to ethics. From what is true about God and Christ and salvation to what we should do—what we therefore should do because of Romans 1-11. Because of all the truth about God and sin and Christ and the cross and the Spirit and faith and justification—because of all that we have seen in Romans 1-11, therefore we are to build our practical lives on this. Paul moves from foundation to application with the word “therefore.” Christian acting and feeling and speaking are not rootless. They have foundation. They are built on something. Paul spent 11 chapters, and we spent six years, laying the foundation for the building of Romans 12-16. If we miss this connection, we miss everything.

The Point of Christianity: To Glorify the Mercy of God in Christ Let me give you one reason for this and an application. The reason Christianity must build our lifestyle on God’s mercy in Jesus Christ is that the whole point of Christianity is to glorify the mercy of God in Christ. We exist to put the glory of God’s mercy in Christ on display. So Paul spends 11 chapters opening the mercy of God in the work of Christ, and then says, “therefore” build your lives on this. Live a life that shows this! That’s why you exist.

So we say, “Because of God’s mercy revealed in Christ, therefore, I do this and not that. Because of God’s mercy revealed in Christ, therefore I speak this way and not that way. Because of God’s mercy revealed in Christ, therefore I cultivate this kind of emotion and put that kind to death. Because I exist to glorify the mercy of God in Christ, I live this way and not that way. Christian living is built on something!

An Application for Parents: Don’t Say “Just Do It”

One application: Parents, teach your children that the behavior and attitudes you expect from them are built on something! Don’t say, “Just do it.” As they get older help them see that the standards of thought and attitude and action and entertainment and ministry and mercy are all built on the mercy of God in Christ. Help them see that Christian living is not a list of do’s and don’ts, it is a way of showing the glory of God and Christ. Help them see that Christian living—for children and teenagers and adults—is built on the gospel—on the beauty of Christ crucified and risen and reigning. The question is not mainly, “What’s wrong with this music or this movie or this party or this dress or these drugs or these friends?” The question is, How can I act and speak and feel so that I help my friends see the worth of Jesus above all music and movies and parties and friends? How can I live to show that Jesus didn’t come into the world to help me party better but to help me love better and die better?

Cultivate in your home the understanding of the word “therefore” in Romans 12:1. Help the children absorb this worldview. The Christian life has roots. It has foundation. It is built on something. Because of the truth of Romans 1-11, therefore live the life of Romans 12-16. That’s Paul’s first message in verse 1.

You can read the rest here.

Trusting in Horses and Chariots August 16, 2007

Posted by Joe in Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

So I had a good extended time of Bible meditation this morning and thought I would share a few thoughts.

The first comes from Psalm 20:7 which says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

In essence, what struck me was the fact that our trust in the Lord does not lead us to less diligence or discipline in our use of horses and chariots. On the contrary, I think it should lead to more. What I mean by that is that though the Israelites did not want to trust in their horses and chariots, they still had to labor, in wisdom and with great diligence, day in and day out to maximize their horse training and their chariot maneuvering. They had to train for battle, though they were trusting in the Lord.

Of course, this carries with it great risk, but it is a risk that we must take. The risk is simply that the more you train, the more apt you are to trust in your training ultimately, that is, to trust in your horses and chariots. The more you invest into a certain thing, the more apt you are to trust in it. The flip side of this, however, is that if we fail to train and have the opportunity and capability to do so, the Lord usually will not grant His blessing. Sure, we can overspiritualize things (and I do think that this is a great struggle), but in the end, that is all that it is–an overspiritualization of things. For me to say that the Lord is going to provide for me financially (that is, I am not going to trust in my chariots and horses) while I fail to balance my checkbook and come up with an overall plan for how I am going to maximize the resources He gives me–well, that is an overspiritualization of things. And I think it is downright wrong. Does it honor the Lord? Well, it might seem to, but I don’t think it really does. What honors Him more is for me to do what I know I ought and to work my chariots and horses so that they are prepared when battle time comes. And, in all of that preparation, to always remain dependent and fighting for faith in the Lord.

This is big for us I believe. I think that most Christians today are desperate to embrace both sides of the equation, for all of us tend to lean towards one side or the other. Some of us are apt to trust in means while others are apt to overspiritualize things to such a degree that we fail to do what we ought to do. We fail to get down to the hard work of diligent preparation. Let us realize then that our trust in the Lord does not mean that we neglect means. As as basketball player, it is foolish for me to think that the Lord is going to open a great door of opportunity for me (and that I am going to succeed in walking through that door) if I have not done my diligent preparation. Or as a Christian, it is foolish for me to think that I don’t need to spend time in the Word and prayer because I don’t want to trust in that activity, but in the Lord. That isn’t spiritual. It is more spiritual to get down to work in utmost humility and dependence, in the recognition that “the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (Provers 13:4 I believe).

I could go on, but that is enough for now. I’ll save my other Bible meditation for sometime later. Until then Lar, let us examine ourselves to see where we are failing in this. And in what areas of our lives that we are failing. Let us leave no stone unturned brother, but seek to honor the Lord in all things–by trusting Him ultimately, while diligently doing all we can to prepare for battle (whatever that ‘battle’ may be).

Seeking to trust and to labor with you,
Joe

Strange Maps August 15, 2007

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Lar,

I am looking forward to reading that article you mentioned today. Before I forget though, I came across a website called Strange Maps in World Magazine the other day. Here is an interesting map to take a look at. I’ll catch you soon brother….Lord willing.

Joe

For Better or Worse August 15, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

As I mentioned to you yesterday, I am taking advantage of a few weeks off of my weekly preaching responsibilities to prepare a biographical message which I hope to preach on September 9th.  After considering a few subjects, I settled on Joni Eareckson-Tada, who suffered a broken neck in 1967 and has been a quadriplegic since.

In 1982 she was married to Ken Tada.  While I haven’t read too much about him, I can’t imagine what a remarkable man this must be.  In my research I came across this short article he wrote in Christianity Today a couple of years ago, and thought I would pass it on to you.  It was encouragement to me this morning.  I hope that it especially will minister to the married people who visit our blog.

Praying that God will make me a Christlike husband in comfort and in affliction,

Larry