jump to navigation

The Sluggard’s Craving September 13, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Scripture Meditation.
1 comment so far

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

Self-Deceit September 5, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
add a comment

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

Thankful for Labor September 4, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
add a comment

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

Vick Commentary August 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

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.
add a comment

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

Meditations on Fatherhood, #4 August 14, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Joe,

Last week I shared a few of my meditations on fatherhood from the first three weeks of Halle’s life. I still have a few left that I didn’t get to, so hopefully I can share the rest of them this week. Here’s the fourth one:

In watching my little daughter, I am convicted about my own lack of faith in future grace. Of course you know that is the name of a book by John Piper, a book that has had a big influence on how I seek to live the Christian life. The conviction of that book is that all sin is the result of unbelief in God’s promises; therefore the way to fight sin is to fight the fight of faith that God will be faithful to keep all of His many promises to me.

I have especially been convicted about this as I watch Halle at mealtime. It is really a simple routine for newborns. They sleep, they wake up, and then you feed them. Then they stay up for a little bit, you put them back to sleep, and then the whole process starts over. Of course it’s not always that simple, but that’s the deal. For the last three weeks, when Halle wakes up she gets the milk she so eagerly desires.

Yet amazingly (not really, she is only three weeks old!), Halle does not seem to have faith in future grace. Around 8 times a day for the last three weeks, Halle has gotten milk when she needs it. Yet this morning as it’s time to feed, she still cries as though she doesn’t believe that the milk is going to be there this time. One day Michelle said to her, ‘C’mon girl, you’ve got to have faith in future grace! The milk’s been there for you every time you have needed it, and it will continue to be there for you just like it always has been there for you.’

And immediately it hit me, why should I be surprised that Halle can’t seem to grasp that the milk has always been there for her, when I often sin because I lack faith that God is going to continue to do for me what He has been doing for me for almost thirty years: supplying me with all I need and satisfying every heart’s desire.

I have been challenged about my own lingering unbelief as I have watched our little girl ‘worry’ about not getting her milk. May God help us all to believe that as God has been, He forever will be.

Larry

On Hold August 11, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Joe,

Sorry for the delay in getting my fatherhood reflections up, but I’ve had a tough couple of days and still don’t have internet access at home.  Hopefully I’ll get back to posting some more of those reflections on Monday.

Maybe you could pick me up with a couple of your weekend links?

Larry

Meditations on Fatherhood, #3 August 9, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Joe,

As I’m working on these meditations on fatherhood, I’m realizing that they really aren’t meditations on fatherhood, per se. They are more like reflections about God and life through my new experience of fatherhood.

One of the most frequent thoughts I’ve been having over the past couple of weeks is about the Incarnation. Looking at our baby girl, holding her and changing her and hearing her scream, has left me more amazed at the reality of the Incarnation. That God Almighty, the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, should descend to earth and take on human flesh in the form of a baby born in Bethlehem. How astounding this is!

Halle is very cute, and her helplessness really is pathetic (I am using this word based on its dictionary definition and not out common usage). She can do nothing on her own. If we did nothing, she would lie in her own refuse and would die. While that is certainly a horrifying thought to any parent, thinking about her absolute dependence and helplessness has made me marvel at the humility of our Savior, who existed eternally in majesty and glory that is incomprehensible to our human minds, yet was willing to forsake all that glory to become an infant. As the hymn goes, ‘In Christ alone, who took one flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe…’

I am thankful that God has given us this precious gift of a daughter for many reasons; and one reason is surely that being so close with this tiny baby has helped me to treasure what humble condescension Christ displayed in coming to ransom us from our futile ways. As it says so beautifully in 2 Corinthians 8:9,

“9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

That grace is all the more amazing as I behold this precious gift of Halle Charissa,

Larry

Meditations on Fatherhood, #2 August 9, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
2 comments

Joe,

Yesterday I shared the first of several random thoughts I have been having which have been sparked by becoming a dad on July 23rd. I knew (and was told by many people!) that the experience of fatherhood would be a great means of sanctification in my heart. Even in two and a half weeks, that has certainly been the case. One of the Scriptures which I was reminded of during Michelle’s labor was Romans 8:19-25:

“19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Verse 22 of course is the verse that really gripped me during the labor process: “22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Watching Michelle go through labor gave me a very vivid image of the kind of longing and groaning that the creation experiences for its freedom from bondage to decay. But verse 23 says it is not only the creation, but we ourselves (ie. Christians), who also groan inwardly waiting for the redemption of our bodies.

In watching Michelle agonize in pain during childbirth, I received a shocking picture of the inner longing that I ought to be experiencing for the New Heavens and the New Earth. How convicting this is for me, for I often am so comfortable in my wonderful, American luxuries that I hardly experience any kind of genuine longing for my redemption. In my best moments I do feel that longing, but seeing the reality of childbirth gave me a whole new understanding of the depth of what I ought to feel as I wait for the coming of our Savior and King.

In seeing my sin, I have been driven to love the Savior all the more, who bears with us in all our weaknesses and is preparing us for the day when my affections will be proportionate to the glory that has been revealed to me. But for now, I know that seeing childbirth firsthand has given me an increased desire to cultivate that kind of holy ‘groaning’ in my soul today, and each day that God gives me until my faith becomes sight and I see Him as He is.

Longing to Long for Home,

Larry

“I did not Send them” August 9, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Last night I posted the first part of a letter to a friend who had passed along some verses to me from Jeremiah that called into question God’s knowledge of all future events.  I said that I would post the second part of the letter today.  So before I resume posting on some reflections on fatherhood, here is the second part of that letter:

Finally, the other verse you mentioned was Jeremiah 14:14,

 

14And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.

 

Your comment in the margins says, ‘Who is the father of lies?’  Obviously this is a reference to John 8:44, and the truth that Satan is the father of lies.  There is not too much for me to say here.  Yes, the false prophets were speaking lies and I have no doubt that they were immediately inspired by Satan.  Their actions were wicked and blameworthy and contrary to God’s commands.  In this way they violated God’s will. 

 

I agree with all of this.  But I suppose that the reason you’re quoting this verse to me is that you’ve heard me say that nothing can thwart God’s will, and so, in a sense, all that comes to pass is God’s will.  Let the record show that this is not simply what I say, but what the Word of God points us to:

 

2“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

 

6Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)

 

11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” (Ephesians 1:11)

 

The false prophets broke God’s will.  Nevertheless, they (nor anyone) did not thwart His purpose, and even their lies were part of God’s working all things according to the counsel of His will.  This is difficult to grasp, and the only way I know to reconcile these two realities is that the Bible speaks of God’s will in different ways.  I cannot address this more here, but a very helpful article in seeing this distinction in Scripture is called, ‘Are There Two Wills in God?’, by John Piper. 

 

But in closing, perhaps a biblical analogy will help.  In the story of Joseph being sold into slavery, Joseph’s brothers broke God’s will by their greed, jealousy, lies, etc.  Clearly this is activity that is contrary to God’s will.  Yet when the divinely inspired psalmist looks back on this story in Psalm 105 writes,

 

16When he [God] summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, 17he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

 

The brothers’ sin is now called God’s sending Joseph.  That is, it was God’s will for Joseph to be sent to Egypt.  And the way He decided to do it was through the evil acts of his brothers, for which they are responsible and guilty.  Even Joseph himself explained his circumstances as the will of God being done:

 

7And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

 

Joseph and the psalmist describe his plight as being God’s doing.  And in that sense I think I am on solid biblical grounds when I say it was God’s will.  Yet the brothers truly broke God’s will (of command) by sinning in selling their brother into slavery.  In Jeremiah 14:14, then, God is addressing the fact that these false prophets broke His will of command; He had not commanded them to speak lies.  Yet this passage does not speak of the other sense in which God’s will is mentioned in the Bible, the sense in which no purpose of His can be thwarted.  But I believe that reality is established in several passages of Scripture, though it is not addressed here.  Again, this idea is elaborated on helpfully in the article by Piper. 

 

I hope all this is helpful, and will promote peace and not division.  While it seems as though we disagree about our interpretation of some Scriptures, please know that I do admire your commitment to be faithful to God’s Word and your genuine love for Christ.  If anything I’ve written needs clarification or correction, please feel free to email me back.  For my own peace of mind, I am also sending this email to [a church elder], so that he can read what I have written and counsel me if he thinks I am in error in my handling of any of these verses.

 

Thanks for pressing me to think hard about what I believe,

 

Larry

Meditations on Fatherhood, #1 August 8, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Joe,

As I mentioned, my desire this week is to share several things that God has been teaching/reminding me of since I became a dad two weeks ago. They are a bit random, but that is what this blog does best, right?

I think the thing that first gripped me in the hours of Michelle’s labor was the reality and horror of human sin, and the curse that God pronounced upon the human race because of sin. After the Fall, God pronounced His curse in the Garden. Part of His words were addressed specifically to Eve,

“16To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…””

No one who has witnessed a woman give birth can read this verse the same way. Obviously they would not call it ‘labor’ if it was not hard and painful. I knew that going into this whole thing. But watching Michelle endure the pains of childbirth drove home the reality of human sin in a profound way. Watching her pain reminded me in such vivid imagery of what an atrocity we all committed in Adam when we exchanged the glory of God for a piece of fruit.

Having watched my precious wife go through 98 hours of regular contractions, I am now more repulsed by sin and its horrible effects in the world. For that I am grateful to God for using the gift of parenting to teach me about Himself and the wages of my sin.

Lord willing, I’ll share a couple more of my fatherhood meditations tomorrow.

Larry

This Week’s Plan August 8, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Good morning faithful readers,

With Joe away this week, here is my plan, now that I am trying to get back into a regular blogging pattern again.  The easiest way to get into the swing of things is to simply write about what’s been on my heart for the past couple of weeks.  That means writing about my reflections on being a father.  As of now I have 6 short meditations, and my guess is that more will come the longer this little girl is in my life!

I hope my thoughts will be an encouragement to any and all who might read this blog.  I had hoped to write my first meditation this morning, but some unexpected things have delayed that.  Lord willing, I will get up meditation #1 this afternoon.

Larry

Charity in Controversy August 7, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes, Random Musings.
2 comments

Joe,

This morning I shared a quote from John Stott that I read in the introduction to the book Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. As I mentioned, I was greatly encouraged by Justin Taylor’s introductory words. In it, he concedes that many people in our pluralistic society will regard a book such as this with disdain, thinking that to refute the teaching of other people is incompatible with Christian charity and humility. Taylor then gives five principles for engaging in such disputes about theology:

1. Controversy is required when essential truths are called into question. ‘Every significant doctrinal teaching in the church has been refined in the furnace of controversy.’

2. Truth and love are necessary companions in doctrinal disputes.

3. We must distinguish between a tolerant spirit towards persons that manifests itself in love, and a tolerant mind toward ideas that is never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. The former is to be pursued at all costs, while the latter is to be resisted at all costs.

4. We must love and pray for the good of those whom we critique. That’s convicting stuff! Far too often I have been guilty.

5. We must commune with God in the doctrines for which we contend. If I am not moved to love and delight in God’s sovereign power as I contend for the truthfulness of that doctrine, then I am not contending as I ought to. The endurance required to engage in doctrinal controversy is sustained by joy in the One whom we are defending.

Thankful for those who have contended for the truth, and in doing so have preserved the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 4),

Larry

Old Truth and Intellectual Gymnastics August 3, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
add a comment

Lar,

When you get a chance, check out this website, www.oldtruth.com. It looks like a good one.

Also, here is an article from Al Mohler that is about two weeks old. In it, he addresses the comments of a female professor who somehow argues that Martin Luther would not be against homosexuality if he were alive today. And the really incredible thing is that she has probably read much more of Martin Luther than you or I have Lar. I suppose it just goes to show that one can obtain various degrees and a whole lot of information without truly growing in wisdom. The arguments she makes (which Mohler cites) fail to connect. They really are a feat in intellectual gymnastics.

But lest we single her out by herself, let us remember that we do the same thing more or less every single day. All of us are good at justifying what we want to believe. Or drumming up support from a random comment of someone we respect, even though we are actually ripping it out of context. Or whatever else you can think of. The heart is deceitful above all else and desperately sick. Who can understand it? Surely not you or I, though by God’s grace, we must strive more and more to do so.

Let’s beware of our tricky hearts Lar. And let’s pray for one another as long as it is called today, lest either of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Spreading Joy August 1, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
1 comment so far

Lar,

So we need to get back on track huh brother? Well, in your defense, you don’t have Internet at the house, but what is my defense exactly? No excuses really. Except I suppose it can be said that I am a better blogger overseas! Lord willing, I will be back there soon.

Anyhow, I was at the grocery store today. At this particular market, I see the same man rather regularly. He is an older gentleman, but not too old, and he may be a little slow mentality. Or a little simple. But everytime I see him, I am encouraged. I walk away happier for having encountered him. Today was no different. He was out in front of the store organizing the new carts that he was excited about. And in his enthusiasm he was telling each person about that and encouraging them to make use of them.

Now, the carts were kind of nice. Not to big and easy to use, but in the end, they were carts. Not that big of deal really. But he was excited about them and everyone knew it. You could not help but know it. For again, he was out in front of the store greeting you with the good news. And then, after my shopping was done, I left the store and was joyously wished a good day by the same man.

You might think that I have some huge lesson to draw out of this, but that is not the case. Then again, maybe the lesson is bigger than we might think. Do we realize how far a joy-filled greeting goes in the transformation of society and culture? Think of it. In his eight hour shift, that man will surely encounter hundreds of people. And most of them–or maybe all of them–will walk away better for having seen him. At the very least, they will walk away with a great happiness of heart–all through a simple, sincere greeting and the recommendation of a new cart.

Is that a big deal? It depends how you look at it I suppose, but at the very least, we can learn the good lesson that how we interact with others at the simplest level goes much further than we could possibly know. How are we doing here Lar? Let’s take note. And let’s aim to spread the joy of the Lord wherever we might travel.

Seeking to spread joy with you,
Joe

Why I Love Jesus July 30, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Joe,

It dawned on me that since we went into the hospital on the day I preached about how the Cross reconciles us to God, I never posted about how the Michael Jordan video made me admire Jesus more.  Here’s what I said in my message:

So what makes Jesus so great?  How can I take 20 minutes to describe what Paul calls ‘the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ’?  I think it is the mingling of transcendence and imminence that come together in Jesus that makes Him so beautiful in my eyes.  By that I mean that Jesus is unfathomably big and great and above all and unlike anything we’ve ever seen.  He is infinitely higher than us, beyond us, unattainable and unapproachable.  But with that highly exalted splendor, He has come near to us and made Himself available so that we can have access to Him. 

 

An illustration will help.  When I worked for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan came to the United Center for the first time since his retirement.  Being an employee I had access to areas that even the media did not.  They swarmed him, but could only go so far.  I went through a hallway, and there he was, standing 10 feet away from me.  I was in the presence of the greatest basketball player who has ever lived.  I felt like a ten-year-old!  He looked my way, and then got into an elevator with a couple of people, and he was gone.  That was as close to greatness as I could get, and it lasted a fleeing moment.

 

That’s how it is with the people who this world esteems as great: athletes, entertainers, musicians, etc.  You can’t get close to them.  They have body guards and gates around their mansions and you can’t draw near to them.  They’re so far away, unapproachable.  I got a glimpse of Jordan, but it’s not like he invited me out to dinner or anything!  But Jesus is ten billion times greater than all the ‘great’ people of the world put together.  He dwells, according to 1 Timothy 6:16, in unapproachable light.  But the greatness of Jesus is that though He is so highly above us, He does not keep us at a distance, but comes near and invites us to enjoy Him to our heart’s content.     

Those who are Faith in Little… July 23, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes, Random Musings.
add a comment

Lar,

I trust you can finish the last part of that verse….“will be entrusted with much.”

I confess that as of late I have not been faithful with this blog! I am sorry brother. Yet as is often the case, seasons of unfaithfulness can often lead to greater resolve for future faithfulness. I hope and pray that is the case for me writing on this blog. At the very least, I will be checking in with you once per day this week.

To begin, here is a quote from John Newton. He writes,

“Two heaps of human happiness and misery; now if I can take but the smallest bit from one heap and add to the other, I carry a point. If, as go home, a child has dropped a halfpenny, and if, by giving it another, I can wipe away its tears, I feel I have done something. I should be glad to do greater things, but I will not neglect this. When I hear a knock on my study door, I hear a message from God; it may be a lesson of instruction; perhaps a lesson of penitence; but, since it is his message, it must be interesting.”

There is much to say about this quote, but I’ll point out two things. First, Newton was content to be faithful in the smallest of details. He wisely realized that the big things in life are the small things. And only those who are faithful in those small things will be entrusted with the great. Second, note His trust in the wise providence of God. Do we recognize divine appointments? I confess, I often am annoyed by ‘interruptions’, but then I must ask, who is interrupting me? Isn’t it the Lord? If I believe it, I will welcome and enjoy every single moment. Pray for me, that I might not resist the will of our God!

Enough for now Lar. Lord willing, I will catch you soon, but I have a feeling that I won’t hear much from you today. But that is a good thing really and can be explained further to those who read.

Seeking Him with you,
Joe

Jesus and Michael Jordan July 18, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
add a comment

Joe,

As I said, last week in preparing for my message for this Sunday morning I was pressed to think much about the greatness of Jesus. As I did that, I found myself surprised to be drawn to this video of Michael Jordan. If you’re wondering how in the world contemplating the greatness of Jesus drew me to a video of Jordan winning the Bulls’ sixth championship, you’ll have to come hear the message this Sunday! (Is that like a sermon cliff-hanger?)

Larry

How I Feel vs. What is Real July 17, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes, Random Musings.
2 comments

I remember Sinead O’Connor from her ripping in half a picture of the pope on Saturday night several years ago. Apparently she has just released a new CD that is 99.9% based on the Old Testament Scriptures. I found this portion of a recent interview with her in Christianity Today stunning. Even more stunning, this CD is being marketed to Christians!

I couldn’t help but thinking of Mahaney’s chapter in Living the Cross Centered Life on truth and emotions. The entire article is full of her saying, ‘I think…I feel…’ May the folly of her own beliefs guard us from the temptation to examine what is true in light of how we feel about the truth.

Are you a Christian?

O’Connor: Yeah, by birth and by culture.

Is Theology an album for Christians?

O’Connor: I wouldn’t say it’s just for Christians. It’s 99.9 percent based in the Old Testament. To say that it’s an album for Christians would imply that it’s not for other people. But I think it’s a record that would appeal to all kinds of religions.

What does Jesus mean to you?

O’Connor: I’ve had a lot of faith in Jesus ever since I was a little kid. I always joke with my friends that I have a cab company called “Jesus Cabs.” And I tell my friends, “If you ask Jesus for anything, it will happen. But you have to believe that it’s going to happen.”

What about now? Where do you stand in your faith in Jesus?

O’Connor: I think everybody has an individual relationship with Jesus. I kinda really do believe in this Trinity thing, that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one thing. I understand Jesus as being an interceder, someone you ask when you really need a big favor from God. I also feel that Jesus is inside everybody. It’s almost like an energy or a thing that lives inside of us.

How about his role as a Savior?

O’Connor: I grew up in violent circumstances [in a later e-mail, O’Connor clarified that she was abused as a child by a family member], and Jesus was a Savior to me insofar that he would make me forget what was going on. But to say that Jesus is a Savior can sometimes translate as, “Unless people know doctrine, they’re not going to be saved.” I don’t believe that. I believe God loves everybody. And at the end of the day every creation of God goes on to God and his love equally. So I have difficulties with the implication that because somebody on the other side of the world doesn’t know Jesus, they don’t get saved.

So there’s no such thing as Jesus being the one way, truth, and life?

O’Connor: I believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and that whole kind of thing is one particular energy. If you want a put a picture of a body on it, then fine. But I call it an energy. Some people paint a picture of Jesus. But to me, he’s an energy. That energy is the same no matter where you are in the world or whose side you’re on. If you call it Allah or you call it God or you call it Buddha, it’s all the same. I thing God saves everybody whether they want to be saved or not. So when we die, we’re all going home.

So it doesn’t matter your lifestyle, we’re all going to heaven.

O’Connor: Yeah, I don’t think God judges anybody. He loves everybody equally. I think there’s a slight difference when it comes to very evil people, but there are not too many of those in the world.

God’s character is very human; he goes through the whole gamut of emotions that a person might go through.

By human, do you mean fallible?

O’Connor: People often say, “If there’s a God, why does he let bad things happen?” We expect God to be perfect, but if we’re made in God’s image, then perhaps God isn’t perfect. And that’s OK. But I also believe that partly we are God. We are part of God and God is something that’s in us and all around us.