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More on the Way July 10, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Seeking Him.
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Joe,

Great suggestions on the reading material; in fact, I plan to take the “three paragraphs of Edwards’ essay” challenge myself.  I think that’s about all I can read in a sitting without getting a headache anyway!  Definitely some deep thinking in that essay, but well worth it I am sure. 

I’ve got a few things burning on my heart, but I am heading down to the beach for a few hours today with my lovely wife, so I’ll look to write a little more later this afternoon or evening. 

Seeking Him with you,

Larry

A Sabbath’s Day Blog July 9, 2006

Posted by Joe in Seeking Him.
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Lar,
I know you were busy today preparing for your message this evening–the normal sunday routine–but I wanted to get something up here on the Sabbath for any faithful readers (which I have heard there are a few- praise God!). So here is my Sabbath’s day blog…

Of course we didn’t set out to start off this blog with a short discussion of the Trinity, but that is exactly what happened—and I am O so thankful! My heart has loved every minute and I have personally seen the fruits of contemplating the greatness and glory of our God—particularly His triune Personhood. Also (and this is what I want to mention here) it has compelled me to dive deeper into this glorious mystery of trinity in unity. So I am picking up a book called Father, Son, & Holy Spirit by Bruce Ware.

I have heard nothing but good things on this work and have had it for a few months now. I will be reading it for the next few weeks, Lord willing, and hope to share some insights. Interestingly enough, the subtitle of the book is “Relationships, Roles & Relevance”—which goes right along with your last point on practicality.

That being said, I would encourage anyone with a desire to search further into this glorious mystery to pick up this book. It is my understanding that it is a great starting place. Also, Jonathan Edwards’ An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity is a great read. It is well beyond us all, but it is my conviction that is a main reason why we should read it! I would challenge us to take 3 paragraphs a day on that essay. It might sound like nothing, but I trust that it would be time well spent! I can promise that reading and meditating upon the truths presented in that essay will bring your mind and heart to a different place—a better place! Just an idea for the hungry of heart.

Also, John Piper’s The Pleasures of God must be mentioned. Larry and I hold it in high esteem (it is our favorite actually), because the great, grand vision of God set forth in that book is what holds our hearts and drives our lives. Piper discusses God’s Trinitarian joy (in particular, the relationship between the Father and Son) with enough clarity to stir up the soul. I think I can speak for Larry and say we would recommend that book above all others (except the inspired, infallible Word of God of course!).

Enough for now. I might have slightly overstepped the limits for the Sabbath’s Day blog. Well, praise God for the New Covenant in Christ Jesus; for there is no condemnation in Him!

Seeking our great triune God with you,
Joe

Finally…I’m Back! July 8, 2006

Posted by Joe in Seeking Him.
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Alright, it has been too long Lar. And don’t worry, this one won’t be too lengthy itself. Just a few words that swelled up within me as I read your last post once again. Particularly the practical application stuff…

Well, as you alluded to, there is a great connection between what we believe about who the Holy Spirit is and how we live. Whether we realize it or not, our theology determines the strength of our living and serving and ministering–always! A big vision of God and His glory is much needed in this day and age, b/c without it, all we have are a bunch of weak religious works. Our hearts are desperate to know God in all His glory and splendor. The reason bad theology is so bad is b/c it weakens the church by weakening the lives of individual Christians. That’s why Tozer said that what we believe about God is the most important thing about us.

Anyhow…back to the connection between our understanding of the Holy Spirit and our living…
If the Holy Spirit is the personified joy of the Father and the Son…AND the One who dwells in us as believers….it follows that Christians should be the happiest people in the world. Of course, there is much more than that, but this is a short post, so I am only going to mention this: If we are filled with the very joy and delight of God in God, we possess a joy and happiness like no other. We partake of a perfect and eternal happiness, not some shallow happiness that lasts only a moment, but a deep and abiding happiness in God Himself.

Practically speaking, we possess a love and joy and happiness that gives us as Christians the strength to suffer for the sake of Jesus. It is this happiness that sustains us in our trials, indeed, that enables us to THRIVE in our trials! The happiness of the Godhead should exude through our lives, so that others who know not this happiness begin to ask questions. It is my belief that when Christians find their joy in God (really…IN GOD!), they begin to live indestructible lives, primarily because their joy is so full in God that they fear nothing at all! We have brothers and sisters dying throughout the world this very moment for the sake of Jesus. How can they do so? B/c the joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The enemy rightly fears such saints, for they assail his fragile kingdom.

This is by no means exhaustive, of course, and I could go on, but this is good to spark some thinking. I’ll mention just one more practical thing…If it can faithfully be said that the Holy Spirit is the happiness of God in God, doesn’t it follow that Christians should wholeheartedly pursue a full experience of this happiness? This might sound shallow and somewhat charismatic to some Reformed folk (which I include myself in of course), but the pursuit of happiness in God is in my mind a much needed emphasis. And I of course don’t mean some shallow, worldly happiness, but a happiness that leads us to suffer for the happiness of others in Jesus. This is needed, much needed to say the very least. We can have all our theological i’s dotted and t’s crossed, but if we know nothing or little of the happiness of God in personal experience, we study in vain! For if our lives do not testify to a joy-filled, happy God–particularly through joy-filled suffering and struggle–our lives do not faithfully testify to the one and only Lord of lords and King of kings, b/c He is infinitely happy!

There is more to the Christian life, I know, but I tend to think that this is a big piece of the puzzle and sadly lacking from most our lives. No doubt it flows from something we have misunderstood about God (or something we have failed to properly emphasize–like God’s infinite happiness!).

Well, that is it for now. I always write more than I set out to! Of course, how can I help it, for it is my joy?!

In pursuit of the infinitely happy God with you,
Joe

A Couple Scattered Thoughts July 7, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Seeking Him.
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Joe,

If that’s what you’ve got to say when you’ve only got a few minutes, then I’m really wondering what kind of a discourse you’re going to give me when you’ve got a lot of time! 

I trust you know what I meant when I asked you to “get practical”.  Of course there is nothing more practical in the Christian life than knowing Jesus Christ.  After all, it is knowing Jesus that Paul said was so valuable and so satisfying that all that he held as gain he regarded as rubbish in order to possess this great Treasure.  If we do not know Him accurately, then we cannot love Him as passionately.  If we have not contemplated the excellencies of Jesus Christ, then we cannot proclaim Him with much power to those who don’t know Him. 

I simply wanted to make sure that we make application to some of these heavy truths that we are likely to explore here.  It is one thing to say that the Holy Spirit is the Personified infinity of joy flowing back and forth between the Father and the Son.  It is another thing altogether to see how this reflects the infinite happiness that God has in enjoying His own glory, which has the potential to ignite such a passion in us when we consider that Jesus prays that His joy would be in us.  I just want to make sure we are constantly looking to take these glorious truths and move them from the abstract to the personal.   

I don’t think I am communicating well what I mean, but that may be because I’ve been looking at the computer today for well over 6 hours now (sermon prep for Sunday night), so I’ve about had it for the day.  But let me at least close with a Scripture that hopefully will stir our hearts!  I read it this morning and it certainly did for me:

6By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. 8Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” (Psalm 33:6-8)

I know this is a burden of yours, that all the earth might fear the Lord; that is, that some from every tribe and tongue and nation and language might stand in awe of Him. Keep urging me to pray these God-sized prayers and not settle for my own private world which too often forgets the spreading of God’s glory to the ends of the earth. 

Larry

A Little Somethin Somethin… July 6, 2006

Posted by Joe in Seeking Him.
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Larry,

So I only have a few minutes, but I have to say a little somethin somethin. We’ll have to pause our discussion on the Trinity for a moment, because some research needs to be done. But do not worry, there is plenty of material–Biblical material that is! Of course, some good quotes won’t hurt either. Anyway….

You mentioned something in your last post that I need to comment on briefly before I head to bed, namely, the practical nature of contemplating the glory of our God.

Without doubt, you understand that I could talk all night about this, because a great fire burns within my soul! Few things frustrate me more than when I here people speak about theology as if it were impratical. I know that you weren’t saying that, but as you know, many people do–and actually put it in writing! In the church today, it is popular to think that theology should be left in the hands of some well-educated men. Nothing could be more deadly! For I believe that there is absolutely nothing more practical than the knowledge of God!

I can’t go on too long about this (b/c of time of course!), but I need to at least say that for most of us in the American church, our entire understanding of the Christian life needs to be flipped right side up. Yes, we are upside down right now. Or maybe it would be better to say that we are inside out. For it seems obvious to me that our tendency is to begin with peripheral realities and then to try and move from them to the center. But this is by no means what the Bible would point us to. For the Bible begins and ends with God. He is forever the beginning, middle and end of all things (Romans 11:33-36). When all is said and done, the Scriptures are meant to reveal the glory of our God. They are meant to be a chief means through which we come to see Him and savor Him to the glory of His great name!

The biggest problem in the world is that man is cut off from a right relationship to God. We need reconciliation! We need the Son to be our center, so that everything else can be in its proper place. That which is peripheral must remain peripheral. That which is central, must remain central and permeate all else that is peripheral. And the knowledge of God (not simply head knowledge of course, but a knowledge that leads the heart to soar in adoration and admiration of His glorious Person!) is at the center. It is our one need!

There is much more, but let it be clear to all that it is impossible for us to live beyond the intimacy of our fellowship with our Maker. Our knowledge of God dictates the power of our life. So, contemplating the glories of His Triune Person is about as practical as we can be, b/c no matter what we might be doing, knowing, loving and enjoying God comes first! The knowledge of God is the root. Everything else is fruit. So if the root is good and rich and strong, the fruit will be sweet and satisfying!

I could go on–and if I took the time to look through this post I could probably say this better– but I am sure we will be here once again! If anyone is listening to these words besides the two or us, ask yourself, does the entirety of your life revolve around the pursuit of God Himself–the pursuit to know Him and love Him and delight in Him as you ought to His glory?

David said, “One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). I ask, when all is said and done, are you a person of one thing? O how I long to see the Lord raise up people who get this and live and die for this one end!

Father, won’t you be pleased to pour out your Spirit and usher us into the knowledge of you! Please Father, deliver us from our unending preoccupation with peripheral matters and rivet our hearts with the glory of your Person! Raise up a people of one thing Lord. Raise up a people whose hearts are steadfast and fixed on you through Jesus. We have only one need Father. We have only one need. Show us this. Make it plain. Bring us to our knees. Make us cry out to you until you come and capture our hearts forever and ever. We need mercy! We need grace! Glorify your great name through your Son! Do it because of Jesus. For it is in His name that I pray. Amen and Amen!

I am confident that He will hear this prayer, and the many others that are being lifted up right now by faithful and fervent saints! May His Spirit be poured out upon those called by His name, so that the Lord Himself might be central once again!

Seeking Him with you always,
Joe

Some more on the Trinity? July 6, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Seeking Him.
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Joe,

I did have a feeling as I checked this blog a few times yesterday and saw no post from you that you were getting a big one ready…and of course I was right.  How in the world am I supposed to respond to all that?  I definitely like your thoughts on John 17:26, I can’t say I’ve ever considered that passage to be speaking of the Holy Spirit. 

I also thought you did a nice job of explaining Edwards’ concept of the Holy Spirit as the joy that the Father and the Son share toward one another.  Where does he get that biblically though?  I mean, it sounds great and all but what Scripture does he use to point to such an understanding? 

And to make this a bit practical, how should what we’ve talked about along these lines make us pursue Jesus more passionately?  I know we will end up tackling some heavy theological themes on here, but I don’t want this site to be a place where we exalt head knowledge without applying it to one another.  If such a concept of the Trinity is true, and if Jesus prayed in Gethsemane that this joy that the Father and Son share would be in us, how should such truth affect our lives?

Let me know what you think, and if you can get some Scripture to support Edwards’ ideas that would be great.

 Larry

Oh Yea! I’m Here! July 5, 2006

Posted by Joe in Seeking Him.
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So Lar…I had a full day of fellowship, and it was sweet, even though it didn’t include you brother! First we got together with Rod Conner from To Every Tribe Ministries (www.toeverytribe.com). Our getting together was pretty last minute, but you will definitely have to meet him. It was such an encouragement to see all that they are doing among the unreached. He came with his wife, daughter, son-in-law (who I played against back in the day), and his grandson. We got to see a little video of their work. The frontlines brother. I told Erin that if we let you and Michelle see it, you might have been packing your bags tonight! Pretty sweet.

Then Gerry and Doreen came over for dinner. Another great encouragement to say the least! As you can imagine, the kids especially burned off some energy. Abigail was pretty wired after her buddy Lukas left. And then Timmy and Allison stopped by! Again, need I mention that it was a great encouragement! Fellowship is sweet. I love the Word, reading it, meditating upon it, and hearing it publicly proclaimed (or proclaiming it myself!), but godly fellowship must never be underestimated! What sweet encouragement it is when our hearts are united in seeking Him! We miss the face to face dynamic most of the year, but the Lord grants much grace during the summer to make up much of the time.

Anyhow…it is late and past my bedtime, but way to get the ball rolling brother. Of course leave it to you to start this thing off with a short discussion that reaches back into the glorious mystery of Trinity in unity! I am by no means surprised. And you without doubt that I absolutely love it!

So first things first…Amen! B/c I love all that you said and I absolutely love this verse! Everytime I read it, my heart begins to soar and my mouth is somewhat stopped. I know that might be hard to believe, but this verse and the reality conveyed there does leave me somewhat speechless. John 17:26, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I offer this humble thought before I go further. I have honestly always taken “the love with which you have loved me” to be a clear reference to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. My understanding of the Trinity– which comes largely from Jonathan Edwards’ essays on the Trinity– is that the Holy Spirit IS the love that the Father has for the Son and that the Son has for the Father. He, the Holy Spirit, is infinite in His perfections and truly and sincerely and eternally a Person in that He is the very joy and love that the Father and Son have in and for one another.

Their love for one another and joy and delight in one another is so real and intense and eternal that it is an actual Third Person and equal in deity. C.S. Lewis also pointed to this reality in something he said concerning the Trinity. Let’s try to find that quote (and a few by Edwards for that matter).

I could be off on this, but if this is true, it would probably line up a little better with your first point. (Would you agree?) And your first point is how I have always understood this verse– with particular reference to the Person of the Holy Spirit of course. Essentially, I understood Jesus to be saying that He made known to His disciples the name and glory of the Father and will continue to make it known so that the very love that the Father has for the Son–that infinite and perfect love that is SO infinite and perfect that it IS the Holy Spirit!–would be in them (His disciples). And not stopping there, He says at the end, “and I in them.” And how else is Jesus IN His disciples but by the Holy Spirit Himself? (Now that was a mouthful I confess!)

Some might think that this interpretation gives less force to the verse, but I would totally disagree, b/c in my mind, it maginfies the glory of the Trinity. It magnifies the love that the Father has in the Son. Not only that, but more so it points to the great reality that Christianity is deity indwelling men! “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” This is absolutely breathtaking and serves to put Christianity in its proper, glorious place! Think of it. To use the title of Henry Scougal’s work, “The Life of God in the Soul of Man.” Let us fall to our knees and tremble!

Now…with all that being said, I really did love your second point! Honestly, I never saw the verse like that before, but I can see it now and love that truth! And I really have no doubt that it is true, but I just wonder in what sense. B/c I realize that the convenant love God has for His people comes only through the Son. It is all to the glory of the Father through the glory of the Son. We, God’s people, are the beloved love gift of the Son to the Father. Jesus has bought us, so that through Him, we can experience the very love of God! Such a reality is also breathtaking to say the very least!

Seriously, I could probably stay up all night thinking this verse through, but it simply wouldn’t be wise. Not to mention, it cannot hurt to leave such a discussion for another day! For I do not doubt that if the Lord gives me breath, He will use this great truth to stir up my soul tomorrow. The hard part for me now will simply be quieting my heart to rest for the night! Everyday it seems that my heart is hottest at night. All day is just one complete warm-up. Tomorrow I will awake and need grace upon grace to burn once again! I will cry out to the Father for an infilling of the Holy Spirit, that is, for the very love and joy that the Father and Son have for and in one another! Pray for me brother. I will do the same (although I confess it will probably be a little later than you!).

Rejoicing in the Father’s love with you,
Joe

Gethsemane Love July 5, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Seeking Him.
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Alright, so I guess I’ll get the ball rolling.  I thought you were the one with all the free time on your hands!!  I was reading the High Priestly prayer this morning in John 17 and was wondering your thoughts on verse 26: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.””
I’m trying to understand exactly what Christ is saying in these words, and there could be two different possibilities.  Perhaps Jesus is saying that He has made known to His disciples the name (or glory) of His Father so that His disciples would have the same love for Christ that the Father has for Christ.  That would be intriguing, that Christ’s dying prayer for us is that we love HIM like His Father does. 

But It could be read another way.  Isn’t another way to read it like this: Jesus made known the glory of His Father so that we would taste and experience the Father’s love just like Jesus experiences the Father’s love.  In the first example, Christ is the object of the Father’s love and the love Jesus prays would be in us.  In the second, we are the object of the Father’s love, and Christ prays that we would experience it “in us” the way Jesus does.   

If this is what Jesus meant, then we read the first half of the verse, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known…” as the means by which Jesus is loving us.  The way He seeks to fulfill His desire that we experience God’s love is by putting on display the name/glory of God the Father.  So Christ loves us ultimately by showing us God in all His glory.  What an awesome thought that is, expressed here in Christ’s dying prayer in Gethsemane.   
Thoughts?   
Larry

Nice Addition July 5, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Seeking Him.
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Joe, thanks for the addition of “What is this blog?” at the top of the homepage.  The way God brought us together in this pursuit of Christ truly was remarkable (though I’m sure any two close friends in Christ have a similarly remarkable story).  If you are a visitor to this site I recommend you take the few minutes to read the “What is this blog?” section and give thanks with us to the One who works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11).

Greetings July 4, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Seeking Him.
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So you want to know what is our vision for this site?  That is a good question.  But first, let me acknowledge with gratitude to God how far He has brought us in nine years!  Isn’t that amazing, it has been nine years since I met you up at PSU.  To think about where we have come in those nine years truly is a testimony of the grace of God, and He deserves to be mightily praised for it!  What may He do with the rest of the time He gives us on earth?  Let God lead the way. 

So what shall we make of this blog?  What is its purpose?  I confess I have had some reservations about doing something like this, largely because of something I said a few weeks ago at Koinonia: 

“I want to challenge you to make it a point this week to commend something beautiful about God to one another every day.  And don’t use Xanga for this; there is something unhealthy about being able to write all kinds of stuff about God on a website but being unable to speak to someone who is standing right in front of you.” 

And now two weeks later I am posting on a blog?  The messages I preach are first for me, and I must give an account for how I have heeded my own words.  If someone reads this blog and has the impression that I never talk like this when I am around people, then I hope that they would rebuke me.   

But having thought hard about those words I preached the other week, I do feel secure that I am not being a hypocrite.  I never said that online journals were evil, only that they should never be used as a substitute for true fellowship.  So what is my aim in corresponding with you on this site? 

About two years ago I wrote out a brief purpose statement for my life which I was reminded of this morning during devotions: I want my life to be an instrument through which God would produce in others a deeper enjoyment of Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glory.  Having thought about the idea for a blog which you presented last night, I do believe that a blog can bring others into a deeper enjoyment of Himself.  Perhaps if God wills, the act of our encouraging/discussing/pondering with one another will be able to touch some people with His glory that I will never be able to see face to face.  After all, the internet was God’s idea, so let’s use it for His glory!  Lord, forbid that we should use it for any other reason.   

If God would be pleased to take the five loaves and two fish that I bring to Him and, like Christ with the five thousand, use them to feed you and anyone else who may visit this site, I would be grateful to God.  I have nothing to bring in and of myself, but surely the Lord will multiply even the tiniest scrap that we willingly lay before Him.  Souls are thirsty for the glory of Christ.  I know mine is, and I know yours is.  And I trust others’ are too.  If they will profit from the overflow of our hearts, then I am game on.  If I become another person online than the one you or anyone else sees in person, then I will write no more. 

So may we never put on a show for others.  Let us come with the Truth, and let us exhort one another to make Him supreme in all of life.  Let us ask God to fill our hearts with such deep love for His glory that we would be unable to keep it inside, and would therefore spill over to touch one another and anyone else who is thirsty for their joy and His glory.    

Looking forward to what God will do with this,  

Larry

First Words July 2, 2006

Posted by Joe in Seeking Him.
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So where do we begin Lar? With what do we start? I trust there will be no lack of material. I, for one, have plenty to say. And let’s be honest, you aren’t too shy either my brother.

Maybe we can begin by talking about our vision for this thing. What is it? It was begun on a whim really, but isn’t that often how great things come about? It is really beautiful. The Lord brings a thought to mind. A word is spoken, an idea expressed. The heart then latches onto it as exciting and worthwhile and the wheels begin to turn. All the sudden, I am on wordpress.com putting together a blog that wasn’t even an idea hours before. Who knows where it will go? Who knows how the Lord might use it in our lives and in the lives of others? Well, no matter what, we know He will use it for our good and His glory–and in that we rejoice!

So with all that said (or not said, depending upon how you look at it!), I am excited brother. I think this will be a worthwhile venture. By God’s grace, it will not be (like sadly so many other blogs) a royal waste of precious, limited time. I’m in it for the kingdom brother, and so are you. I am in it for the joy of all peoples brother, and so are you. So with that in mind, I offer up this prayer to our good and gracious heavenly Father….(For really, is there any other way to begin? I think not!)…

Heavenly Father, I thank you for my good brother Larry. I thank you that in your sovereign will, you choose to save us and unite us in your glorious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I praise you that in your providence, you saw fit to burn in us a passion for your great name. Bless this blog, Lord God. Bless it not for our sake, but for your sake. Use it not only to increase our joy in you and in one another, but to increase the joy of all the nations. Let the ripple effect of this small and humble venture be felt in the furthest nations of the earth. Do so Father because we are weak and foolish. Do so because you love to reveal your infinite power and wisdom to all!

You are good, Lord, O so good! Reveal your goodness to us and to others through all that is said. May the worth and beauty of your Son, Jesus, be made plain through this lengthy conversation. O Lord, if it be your sovereign will, see fit to draw hearts to yourself through this humble venture. Strengthen the weak. Encourage the fainthearted. Fill the hungry with good things for your name’s sake in your Son. Help us to see Jesus in all of life and lead others to the same. Increase our joy in you so that your joy may abound more and more until that final day of Jesus–that great day when He, our Savior, will usher us, your people, into your fullness of joy! We long for it Father and pray that we might taste more of it still–and lead others to the same. Hear us Lord. Answer us Lord in accordance with your word and will, for the sake of your Son Jesus. For it is in His name that I pray. Amen and Amen!