12.31.2010

Aesop's Fables

Offering proverbial wisdom in story form, Aesop wrote these stories in the sixth century before Christ. I was pleasantly surprised for the most part by how they promote personal virtue in relationships. Sometimes it's just a "scratch his back and he'll scratch yours," self-interest kind of wisdom. Or a description of how people prefer their own nation or master to other people. But it also promotes a common-grace sense of justice. Some classics that many people know, and also many unknown gems.

Happy New Year!

So this blog has over 2000 posts now, heading into 2011.

No Bible or book summaries for this year.

I think I say this every year, but I'm hoping to do more free writing more regularly.

Revelation 19-22

19 - Rejoicing in heaven over Babylon's fall and the invitation to the glorious marriage supper of the Lamb. Christ goes forth to subdue the nations by His Word/sword. Invitation to eat the flesh of the conquered.

20 - Satan bound 1000 years; martyrs raised to reign; Satan released and rages, but defeated. All are judged by their works, and those in the book of life are spared from the lake of fire.

21 - The bride comes down from heaven; restoration and our child-of-God status declared.The city: safe with walls and no night, pure and beautiful with jeweled foundations, close to God so no temple is needed.

22 - the city has a river from the throne, and the tree of life which heals the nations spans the river. Jesus is coming soon to right all wrongs. Come to Him now.

Revelation 13-18

12 - a dragon tries to destroy the woman (church) and her Child (Christ), but He ascends to heaven. War in heaven between angels and dragon, who is thrown down to earth where he makes war against us, the church.

13 - beasts from sea and land get all people to worship them and kill the saints who don't.

14 - God's pure people; 3 woes on the ungodly who fall and are judged; the earth harvested at the end of time.

15 - 7 angels with bowls full of plagues come from the temple to smite the earth, while the saints sing anew song of Moses.

16 - 7 plagues come, like in Egypt, on unbelievers who don't repent.

17 - The great prostitute, Babylon, the city that rules the world [Rome], sits on a beast with heads (successive rulers of the city), drunk with the blood of saints and getting others drunk with her sins.
18 - Babylon is declared fallen, saints called out of her, merchants and kings lament their loss of delicacies and sins.

12.29.2010

Revelation 6-11

6 - 1st 4 seals: 4 horsemen who bring conquest, war, famine, and death to earth.
6 - seal 5: martyrs in heaven cry for justice.
6 - seal 6: The earth is shaken and its kings fear the wrath of the Lamb.
7 - God's people all completely sealed before the earth harmed
7 - saints worship God and the Lamb in glory, free of all trial and pain.
8 - Seal 7 opened: silence while prayers are heard
8 - 1st 4 trumpets bring destruction to 1/3 of earth.
9 - 5th: Giant locusts come out of a pit and torment unbelievers for a time
9 - 6th: Armies invade from the east
10 - A mighty angel comes down and says all will be done by the 7th angel's trumpet; John eats his scroll
11 - two witnesses prophesy, are killed by the beast, resurrected and ascend to God. The 7th trumpet sounds, kingdom victory is declared, and the ark appears in the heavenly temple.

Revelation

1 - John sees a vision of the all powerful Jesus on the Lord's Day.
1 - He tells John to write what he says and give it to the seven churches.
2 - Ephesus lost it's first love but hates error
2 - Smyrna will suffer more than just slander. Be faithful.
2 - Pergamum has some who hold error. Repent.
2 - Thystira tolerates Jezebel. Throw her out, or Jesus will when He comes
3 - Sardis needs to wake up before she dies. Some there are worthy
3 - Philadelphia has an open door to hold fast to Christ
3 - Laodicea thinks it's independent, but needs what Jesus has
4 - John sees a throne and One on it like a jewel.
4 - Around it are lamps, elders, living creatures all worshiping Him.
5 - a Lamb appears, who alone can take and open the scroll. All worship Him

12.27.2010

2-3 John

2 - I'm glad you are walking in the truth; love each other; watch out for deceivers who deny Jesus has come in the flesh, and do not receive them.

3 - Gaius, thanks for showing hospitality to the saints. My other letter was intercepted by Diotrophes, who is supporting the wrong people and suppressing the truth. Demetrius is doing the right thing.

1 John

1 - We proclaim to you what we have seen and touched: Jesus. God is light; Jesus' blood cleanses from our sin.

2 - We know Jesus if we keep His commands; love your brother, not the world. Antichrists have gone out from us denying the Son; abide in the Son.

3 - God loved us and made us His children. We are being purified as we hope to see Him. Continuing in sin shows you are not of God. Jesus came to destroy Satan's works. We know we are of God when we love our brother

4 - False prophets deny Jesus has come in the flesh. God is love, so He sent His Son to save the world.

5 - Those who love God love the brethren and overcome the world by faith. Spirit, water and blood testify to the Son. I write so you know you have eternal life, believing in the Son.

12.26.2010

Hey! A Child is Born to You!

With a "Cotton Patch Gospel" feel, Robinson captures well the saying that familiarity breeds contempt, and overcomes it successfully. Hark turns into "Hey!" When the school bullies come to Sunday School for the free food, they volunteer for the Christmas pageant and know nothing about the story. Some get a fresh look at Joseph, Mary, the wise men and Herod, while other traditional church ladies keep trying to run things as they are "supposed" to go, catalog the faults of the upstarts and miss the point. Pretty good.

Jude

I wanted to write about our salvation, but need to warn you about wicked men sneaking into your fellowship. Like the wicked angels, Sodom, Cain, Balaam, Korah, they rebelled and fought against God. Enoch prophesied that God will judge them. They are discontent, seek their own gain, cause division, pervert grace into sensuality. You build yourselves up in the faith instead. God will present you to Him faultless.

2 Peter

1 - I remind you before I die to make your election on Christ sure by clinging to His promises and adding virtue to your faith. You have the sure Word of God to direct you.

2 - God has and will punish the wicked. Don't listen to false teachers who promise freedom, but enslave you.

3 - Scoffers say Jesus won't return, but God came in the flood of water and He will come again in fire, like a thief to destroy the earth. So we need to be holy as we wait for the new heavens and earth. Listen to what Paul says, even its hard to understand. False teachers distort what he says, like they do the rest of the Bible. Grow in the grace of Jesus Christ.

12.25.2010

Cricket on the Hearth

I had no idea what to expect in this short story, and remain a bit confused. A man wrongly suspects his wife of infidelity, when she is actually bringing a long lost love together with her friend. Apparently the main theme is how love overcomes trials and setbacks, which is good, but it’s a bit sentimental. Tackleton and Ebenezer Scrooge from Christmas Carol are similar, each changing from grouch to benefactor.

Pig Out?

25 reasons why Christians may eat pork

by James Jordan

Pulling no punches, Jordan addresses the teaching that we should eat according to the diet in the OT, especially the levitical laws forbidding pork. Rushdoony and Gothard have been teaching this, most recently, and some cults also do. This is a straightforward, easy-to-understand rejection of their position, but done in a constructive way. Highly recommended.

Spy book

Told from a decidedly anti-French Revolution perspective, which I consider a plus, The Scarlet Pimpernel bridges the English Channel in its scope and sucks you in to consider the heroism of a spy saving the lives of nobility from the guillotine by delivering them in disguise through the gates of Paris and covertly crossing to England and freedom. The French minister extorts the leading lady of England into helping him track this spy, which leads to some tough choices for her. This book is not great literature, but is a good story.

The Innkeeper

I re-read this short poem by John Piper, for Christmas, made into a book. It's really too short for a book.

It's a good antidote to the sentimentalism of Christmas, which cost families their babies' lives. Just a couple of brutal lines about 3/4 into the poem pack quite a punch. Jesus came into this sinful, harsh world to redeem the worst of circumstances. Mary's birth of Jesus was one of these - Christmas was no cake walk for Joseph and Mary.

2 Timothy

1 - Timothy, guard the faith entrusted to you.

2 - Soldier on in the strength of Christ's grace. Oppose foolish controversy with patient gentleness.

3 - disobedient false teachers will arise, but pursue Paul's example and God's Word.

4 - Preach the Word; I have fought the fight. Many have left me, and i was alone at my first hearing, but God is with me.

12.24.2010

No Salvation without Christmas

Hebrews 2:14-18
"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

Merry Christmas!

Hebrews 7-13

7 - Jesus is like Melchizedek: king of righteousness and peace without earthly genealogy. Jesus is  greater than Levi and Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek. He is better than Aaron's priests, since He lives forever, is sinless Himseelf, and was made priest by God's direct oath.

8 - Jesus offers a better sacrifice in the true temple, as mediuator of a better covenant with bettter promises. Looking for a better covenant is justified in the old covenant by Jeremiah 31:31-34, quoted in full.

9 - Jesus entered the holy of holies by His own blood, so the present temple system of sacrifices in the holy place is not needed anymore. Jesus offers a better, more effective, death than the temple sacrifices. Done only once, it removes sins forever, unlike the temple sacrifices.

10 - Jesus did God's will and sat down after serving. Priests sin, and continually offer sacrifice, always standing before God as servants. So let us draw near to Christ, stop sinning, and endure in faith.

11 - The saints of old lived and acted by faith.

12 - Look to Jesus who also suffered, and endure it as God's discipline of His children for our good. Maintain your purity, for you have come to Zion which obligations (greater punishment for rejecting the greater Jesus) and privileges (receiving a greater kingdom) are better and greater than Sinai.

13 - Offer pure sacrifices to God: show hospitality, visit prisoners, stay pure, content and true, bear Christ's reproach, obey your leaders, pray for us.

Hebrews 1-6

1 - God spoke ultimately in His Son, who is greater than and creator of all things. He has given Him all authority and made angels His servants, so Jesus is greater than the angels.

2 - Jesus' ministry was not through angels, but is greater than the angels' ministry (the Old Testament). He does not help angels but men, so became a man to save us.

3 - Jesus is greater than Moses, and Israel didn't enter God's rest led by him.

4 - We can enter that rest as we keep trusting Jesus our high priest.

5 - Jrsus is a faithful priest, who did not exalt Himself and who can sympathize with us.

6 - You can't be saved if you reject Jesus. I trust you won't. We have God's sure promise to rely on.

12.23.2010

1 Peter

1 - Bless God for giving us new life in Christ's resurrection, to the hope of His inheritance, even if we have to suffer here for a time. The grace we received was sought after by the prophets, so be holy, for you were bought with Christ's blood.

2 - you are a holy temple and nation. Submit to rulers and employers, following the example of Jesus by suffering for doing good.

3 - wives be respectful and virtuous; husbands be gentle and loving. Suffer for doing good, not evil, as Christ did.

4 - Don't please the flesh but love and serve each other, suffering only for Christ in doing good.

5 - elders, shepherd willingly, not domineering; young people, submit to elders. Be humble in suffering, and God will restore and lift you in His time.

Aesop's Fables

I'm reading 32 of these a day, to finish by year end, and have been struck by the Solomonic wisdom they convey (about 200 years after Solomon...), and how appropos many are to character, relationship, and leadership. Take these, for example:

The Three Oxen and the Lion
There were three oxen who always grazed together. A lion had his designs upon them and wanted to eat them, but he could never get at one of them because they were always together. So he set them against each other with slanderous talk and managed to get them separated, whereupon they were isolated and he was able to eat them one after the other.
If you really want to live in safety, keep close to your friends, retain your confidence in them and challenge your enemies.

The House-ferret and the File
A house-ferret slipped into a blacksmith's workshop and began to lick the file that she found there. Now it happened that using her tongue thus, the blood flowed from it. But she was delighted, imagining that she had extracted something from the iron. And in the end she lost her tongue.
This fable is aimed at people who pick arguments with others, thereby doing harm to themselves.

The Ploughman and the Snake Who Had Killed His Son
A snake slid up to the child of a ploughman and killed it. The ploughman, demented with grief, took an axe and went to keep watch near the snake's hole. He was ready to strike it the moment it came out. The snake poked his head out and the labourer hurled his axe but missed, and instead split a nearby rock in two. Having missed, he was in great fear that the snake would take his revenge on this attack by striking him with his fangs. So he attempted to appease it. But the snake replied: 'Neither of us can pretend to any good feelings, neither I when I see the gouge you have made in the rock, nor you when you look at the tomb of your child.'
This fable shows that great hatred does not lend itself to reconciliation.


The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon
Some dolphins and some whales were engaged in battle. As the fight went on and became desperate, a gudgeon [small fish] poked his head above the surface of the water and tried to reconcile them. But one of the dolphins retorted: 'It is less humiliating for us to fight to the death between ourselves than to have you for a mediator.'
Similarly, certain nobodies think they are somebody when they interfere in a public row.

12.21.2010

Titus

1 - appoint elders who can teach sound doctrine and refute error, for false teachers abound.

2 - Specific instruction for young and old men an women on living ordered and controlled lives, for which Christ redeemed us.

3 - God saved us from lawlessness and strife, so don't put up with it in the church.

1 Timothy

1 - Paul to Timothy: stay in Ephesus and reject heresy and speculation. Christ came to save sinners, and I was the worst. Fight the good fight.

2 - Pray for rulers, that we have peace. God wants all saved through the one mediator, Jesus. Men should pray and not quarrel. Women should be modest and verbally reserved.

3 - The kind of men elders and deacons should be in God's house: sober and controlled.

4 - Expect false teaching and oppose it: abstinence from marriage and certain foods rejects gifts God has given. Train yourself in godliness; be an example, though young; read the Word publicly.

5 - Make sure widows don't have family to care for them before the church supports them. Treat elders well, and fairly

6 - oppose those craving controversy for their own gain. Show them the contentment of godliness. Guard the faith entrusted to you.

12.20.2010

Philippians

1 - We thank God for you and pray your love and fruit grow. The gospel is advancing because I'm in jail - everyone wants to know why, or get me on trouble, so they all talk and learn about Jesus! Suffering is fine, for even in death we are with the Lord,, but God has more work for me here.

2 - be humble to each other, as Xhrist was. Don't grumble. I wanted to send you Timothy, but sent Epaphroditus, who was sick and almost died.

3 - Paul counts any other advantage as junk next to knowing Jesus. He presses on to know Him. Imitate the godly, as citizens of heaven.

4 - help others get along. Rejoice, and God's peace will guard you. Think on noble things. Thanks for the gift. I can do all things through Christ. God will meet your needs, too.

Ephesians

1 - blessed be God who chose us to be adopted, holy in the Son's redemption, sealed by the Spirit. I thank God for you and ask him too give you wisdom to know your inheritance and power at work for you.

2 - God made us alive in Christ when we were dead in sin, by grace not by our works. Jesus made peace at the cross between God and man, removing Jew/Gentile distinctions.

3 - The mystery of the gospel - gentile inclusion in God's people. Paul prays that Christ may dwell in their hearts and that they may know His great love.

4 - walk as you were called, in one faith. God has given various gifts to bring His people to maturity. Put off the old man of sensuality, lying, bitterness and anger; put on forgiveness.

5 - walk in love and light, not in fruitless deeds of dark sin, but filled with the Zpirit. Instructions on household and work relationships.

6 - Use all God's armor to fight Satan and sin. Pray for us, too.

12.17.2010

12 Days...

Hey folks, I'm hearing some hints that people are celebrating the 12 days of Christmas early, making the 12th day the 25th of December. I'm not one to observe days religiously, like you're sinning or silly or anything, but do be aware that the 12 days of Christmas STARTS on the 25th, and ends the day before Epiphany, connecting the two holy days. This, the origin of "Xmas" and more is explained more fully here, a good resource.

Okay, I'll take my own advice now, and lighten up. Enjoy the holidays, and merry Christmas to all!

So, lighten up, already

"Seriousness is not a virtue.... It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one's self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally, but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity." ~Chesterton in "Orthodoxy" (HT Valerie KyriosityAngie Mason Brennan)

Death stayed, then killed

Sermon text: 2 Samuel 24, where the plague on Israel for David's sin is stopped by God's mercy at the threshing floor on Mount Moriah, where David determines to build the temple.

Araunah’s threshing floor looked ahead to the place of atonement in the temple. The temple altar looked ahead to the cross of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Table here looks back to the cross of Jesus Christ. Only the cross stays the hand of the angel of death for your sin. Not eating here, not your good works, not even being repentant for your sin stays His judgment. Only the death of Jesus on the cross pays it all. But the picture God has given to remind us of the cross is this table. Here we proclaim the Lord’s death. Every subtle sin rooted out, exposed, judged, condemned, and defeated. Enmity with God removed and favor restored. God delights to do this. Here, death turns to life; grieving to dancing. He redeems you to himself with laughter, joy, bread and wine.

Philemon

Paul appeals to Philemon to receive, free, and maybe send back to Paul Onesimus, a slave who ran away from Philemon and was converted by Paul. Paul could command Philemon to do this, but asks him to do it freely, out of love.

Colossians

1 - we give thanks for your faith and fruit in Christ, asking God to give you wisdom and strength to endure, since He has saved you from darkness into the bright kingdom of His Son, who is the image and fullness of God, reconciling all things (which were made through Him in the first place) back to God at the cross. Paul suffers for the church.

2 - The mystery and wisdom of God is Christ. God's fullness is in Him bodily. You are circumcised in baptism, united in his death and resurrection, where He triumphed over all other "powers." So dont submit to manmade regulations.

3 - look up to heaven, where your life is hid in Christ. Put off sin. Put on love, peace and the Word of God. Wife submit to husband. Husband be loving and gentle. Employee, work as if for God, for that is the case.

4 - Pray for an open door for the gospel among us. Speak with seasoned grace to outsiders. Greeting from those with Paul.

12.16.2010

Acts 24-28

24 - Paul accused before governor Felix, kept in custody 2 years, but protected

25 - New governor Festus hears Paul, who appeals to Caesar. Festus relates his case to king Agrippa, asking for help in what to say in sending Paul on to Rome.

26 - Paul speaks to Agrippa, that he believes what all Jews believe, seeking to persuade Agrippa. He and Festus agree that Paul is innocent, but must go to Caesar since Paul appealed to him.

27 - a tough voyage to Rome ends In shipwreck on an island.

28 - Paul bitten by a deadly snake but preserved; heals a servant. Arrival in Rome. Preaching to Jews; response is mixed; Paul goes to the Gentiles.

12.14.2010

Romans

1 - Paul, an apostle of Christ, wants to preach in Rome the gospel of which he is not ashamed, in which God's righteousness is attained by faith. God's wrath is against Gentile unrighteousness, giving glory to creature instead of Creator, so He lets them do vile things.

2 - The Jew is also guilty for judging Gentiles, but sinning himself. Claiming to follow the law doesn't save you.

3 - All are guilty. Redemption is available to all, not through the law but through Christ.

4 - Abraham was justified by his faith, before he was circumcised (before he had the law); therefore we can be justified by faith apart from the law.

5 - So we have peace and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. Adam's sin brought condemnation to many; Jesus' obedient death brings justification to many.

6 - But you are dead to sin, united with Christ's death, so don't sin anymore. We are no longer slaves of sin, which leads to death, but slaves of righteousness, which yields the fruit of eternal life.

7 - we are not under the law, since we died to it, but serve God in the Spirit. The law teaches what sin is, but the sin comes from me.

8 - Yet we are not condemned, being in Christ and His Spirit, not walking in the flesh. The Spirit tells us we are God's children. We groan, awaiting our redemption. The Spirit helps us pray accordingly. God works it out for the good of those He has called, who will be glorified. He is for us in Christ, and nothing will separate us from His love.

9 - Why doesn't Israel believe? They have God's promise and covenant. Not all ethnic Israel is the true Israel. God shows mercy to whoever He wants. He has rejected many Jews who sought God by works, and favored many Gentiles who found Christ by faith.

10 - Faith is from the heart regardless of being Jew or Greek. Why hasn't Israel believed?

11 - A remnant does believe, just like in Elijah's time. Many have disbelieved, resulting in Gentiles being grafted in; Israel might not continue in unbelief and may be grafted back in at any time. God's ways are mysterious and wonderful.

12 - serve God sacrificially, using your gifts humbly for the body, being peaceable even with persecutors.

13 - be at peace with civil authorities by doing good, showing honor, paying taxes. Love one another; do not lust and covet.

14 - Don't be contentious over secondary things. We live to the Lord; don't live your opinions in unloving ways. Bear with each other.

15 - Receive Gentiles who believe Christ. I plan to come see you on my way to Spain. Pray that God delivers me from unbelievers in Jerusalem.

16 - Greeting specific people; warning away from divisive and obstinate people.

Acts 20-23

20
Paul heads for Jerusalem. First stop, Troas. Preaches all night. Eutyches falls through the window, dies, and raised to life. Farewell to Ephesians elders: shepherd the flock.

21
Voyage to Caesarea. Prophecies of Paul's arrest. Arrival and meeting with James, who asks Paul to sponsor some mens' purification rites, as proof that he is not against Jews keeping the law. He does but a riot starts when he is seen in the temple. He is taken by roman soldiers to the barracks for safety and questioning, but he asks in Greek to speak to the crowd.

22
Paul recounts his Damascus road exp with the Lord Christ, but they don't get upset until he says God said to go to the Gentiles. They riot and the Roman soldier on command sends him to be flogged for questioning and confession. He gets out of it by saying he's a Roman citizen.



23
The Roman tribune sends him before Sanhedrin to figure it out. Paul gets the Pharisee party on his side. Jews conspire to kill him when he is moved. Paul uncovers the plot and tells the tribune. He sends Paul to Governor Felix in Caesarea with full security.

12.13.2010

What are you excited about?


"If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.
Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow."

– Don Carson, lecture, “Is the Culture Shaping Us or are We Shaping the Culture?” delivered at the CBMW Different By Design Conference (Feb. 2, 2009, Minneapolis, MN)

12.08.2010

2 Corinthians 10-13

10 - We don't minister to you with worldly methods, comparing ourselves to others, speaking powerfully or beautifully. We minister to you in the Spirit, destroying arguments and building you up. We aren't trying to take credit for things we didn't do (though we planted the Gospel among you). We mean to go beyond your land with Gospel, not take credit for what others have done among you.

11 - Paul descends to their level and compares himself with others who are claiming equal authority with him. They are false apostles preaching another gospel, even if they speak better than he does, or charge a higher speaking fee. He is as much a Hebrew and has suffered more than they. But he boasts in his weakness, not his strength.

12 - Paul knows of sensational visions, too, but only boasts in his weaknesses. Some speak against Paul that he exploited them. But how? He has been seeking their good, in Christ, always, spending and being spent for their souls.

13 - I am coming soon, and will use my authority with Christ's resurrection power for your good. Restore, comfort and love each other.

Angels in the Architecture

A great book for recovering the "full-orbed" gospel, as it is often called. This means recovering and treasuring: beauty, the church, feasting, authority, wife and children, and more. Deep gratitude for all the gifts God has given us in this world was at the heart of the Reformation, but quickly lost by many. Medieval life actually assumed many important things that were lost in the Enlightenment. This book calls us back to them.

Get it here!

12.07.2010

Covenants

A rare five stars! Biblical depth and balance on what a covenant is, and how God has dealt with His people with them. The first 60 pages looks at what a covenant is: a bond in blood sovereignly administered. The rest of the book looks at God's activity with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and finally in Christ.

Some important points from the book:

A covenant is a structured relationship. Some emphasize the structure, others the relationship, but both are essential.

All covenants with God are gracious. Those after the Fall involve God's grace in spite of our sin. The covenant with Adam at first is also gracious in a different sense, as God's creation and provision for Adam and Eve was unnecessary, an act of sovereign love.

Each new covenant God made did not replace the previous one, but developed and expanded His dealings with us, the previous covenant promises remaining in force until all were fulfilled in Christ.

Chapter 11 offers an excellent analysis of dispensationalism.

This is the perfect book for the interested reader who wants to go deeper in studying the Word.

Grow in Grace

Great book here, by a presbyterian pastor in Lynchburg, Virginia. It covers each of the seven deadly sins from a practical and Reformed perspective. Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. It is easy reading, but also convicting and piercing. The introduction is especially good on how to grow in the Christian life by grace. There are Scriptures and prayers at the end of each chapter, to lead you to the Lord regarding each of these sins.

Pick it up here.

Wives and mothers working outside the home


Tim Bayly writes...

"The issue is critically important, and yet not to be dealt with in a wooden way. Specifically, some work outside the home is always required of wives and mothers and is good and right--Biblical, even...


"Buying and selling land. Teaching the younger women at the church-house. Making cookies and taking them to the homeschool co-op or school classroom. Teaching in the homeschool co-op or school classroom. Buying groceries. The list is long. Some work outside the home is required by the specifics of a home and marriage. Husbands die or are disabled and mothers must provide for their families. Husbands commit adultery and abandon their wives and children forcing their wives to provide for their children. Again, the list is long.

"There are any number of other reasons a husband and wife might make a decision for the wife to work outside the home and we must be careful not to subvert the freedom of their consciences by declaring or insinuating that decisions they've made based on circumstances we have a limited knowledge of are contrary to the Word of God. At the same time, we must recognize that in Reformed churches today too many of our marriages are contrary to the Word of God precisely at this point. Women are not domestic, but have deserted the home for work and play. Our older women, but also our elders, pastors, and deacons must admonish those women who have abandoned their home."


More here.

2 Corinthians 5-9

5 - If we die we are with the Lord. We have a ministry of reconciling men to God through Christ
6 - You treat us as imposters but we are sincere and sacrificial. Separate yourselves from sin
7 - God comforted us, though I had to grieve you with my letter.
8 - the Macedonians have given generously. Finish what you started in this. Titus and Apollos bring this letter, and to collect your gift for Jerusalem. Your generous gift will result in more thanksgiving to God.

12.06.2010

2 Corinthians 1-4

1 - we have been afflicted, so we can comfort you in your trials. My plans to you don't vacillate - I just couldn't come to you right now. Christ is the faithful yes to all God's promises; I didn't want to pain you with a difficult visit just now.

2 - I am not the source of your current pain, but the one you've had to discipline. Forgive him, now, so he isn't crushed. Christ always leads us whatever our plans, and we are a sincere, Christ-like aroma to believers.

3 - we don't deal with letters of commendation to show our capability. We minister a new, more glorious covenant of the Spirit, not of letters. We are bolder than Moses, who served with a veil. We are free, without a veil, and being more and more glorified in the Spirit.

4 - the unveiled gospel shines in us, but Satan blinds minds from seeing it. It shines in jars of clay to show God's power, and fulfill your purpose of thanking God. Our light affliction will give way to great glory.

Verses for the day

2 Corinthians 1:8-11
We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely no on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

1 Corinthians 9-16

9 - Paul has a right to live off the Gospel, but doesn't want to, to win more for Christ. Run to win.

10 - Israel was baptized and communed with Christ, yet fell away in sin. You are baptized and commune with Christ, too, so take heed. Give glory to God and eat what you want, but be sensitive to the weak conscience of others.

11 - maintain proper male/female distinction in worship (a woman's longer hair is her covering, her way of saying she is under authority. Don't be divisive in worship. Commune with regard for each other and for Christ, or He will discipline you.

12 - there are various gifts from one Spirit, as there are many members in one Body. The gifts and members need each other and should not despise each other.

13 - Without love you have nothing; what love is; it will last beyond other gifts, and defines the maturity as opposed to childishness.

14 - tongues are not forbidden, but also not very edifying, which is the point of spiritual gifts. Keep worship orderly: one thing at a time, so all may learn from each. This is authoritative: reject one who rejects it.

15 - most important: Christ died, was raised, and appeared to us. There IS a resurrection of the dead. If not, your faith and all my work is in vain. But our mortal bodies will be raised, transformed into incorruptible glory, defeating death. So our work is NOT in vain.


16 - take regular offerings on Sundays. I need to stay in Ephesus right now, but will come to you soon. Respect Timothy and other forefathers among you. Do all in love. The churches greet you.

1 Corinthians 1-8

1 - Be united; don't follow men divisively; the cross is folly to worldly wisdom
2 - We discern the things of God by the Spirit, not natural wisdom
3 - Don't boast in men, who are just building on Christ's foundation
4 - You boast yourselves to be greater than the apostles. Stop it
5 - remove the unrepentant professes to believe. Stop boasting
6 - judge among yourselves, don't go to unbelievers
6 - immoral won't inherit the kingdom; sexual immorality is a sin vs the Spirit
7 - marriage principles for the present distress
8 - food offered to idols is fine to eat, since idols are nothing.
8 - But some don't get that yet. Don't make them sin against conscience.

11.30.2010

Good stuff

On envy:
"Will we... destroy envy within us? Or will we allow envy to destroy our relationships and then to destroy us?.... It must not be welcomed in our hearts; it must not be pampered, nursed and fed with our pride, self-pity, resentment, bitterness, and ingratitude."

On anger:
"The media loves to display this anger as a way to capture our attention and increase their ratings: two talking heads on the divided screen screaming at each other. Beware: do not feed on the toxic anger of our popular culture.... When you're listening to the radio, or watching the news, and you're hearing all the angry commentary about what's going wrong in America, and it gets all those chemicals churning around in your brain, and you feel yourself getting angrier and angrier and angrier, remember: be "slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness God requires" (James 1:20)."

Genevan matchmaking

So I just skimmed this thick, academic book full of Calvin's matchmaking letters and found some interesting nuggets.

1. Calvin played matchmaker a lot in Geneva, taking many personal hits for making recommendations against someone or other's child's particular suit.

2. Calvin recommended that couples get to know one another before committing to marriage. "Love requires previous acquaintance." This is of the "whoa, slow down, there, young buck" variety. But he made wedding plans for himself before meeting a potential bride. It fell through, and he was discouraged. Then he married someone else 2 months later.

3. Geneva had strict rules about getting married within 6 weeks of being engaged, to avoid "the perilous interval," as Chesterton called it. Those who delayed were admonished publicly by the session, and eventually "compelled to celebrate" marriage. Pre-marital sex was eventually censured publicly by not allowing flowers at the ceremony, and by announcing the sin at their wedding ceremony! Whoa.

1-2 Thessalonians

1 - Thanks for your faith, hope and love in Christ
2 - I gave you the Gospel with integrity. You received it as from God.
3 - I sent you Timothy, fearing your wavering in affliction, but you are faithful
4 - Be holy; love each other; hope in the resurrection for those who have died
5 - Christ's return will be a surprise, so stay awake and work

2nd letter
1 - God will judge those who afflict you now, when Christ comes
2 - Christ won't come until the lawless one does; God chose to save you
3 - pray for our deliverance from evil; warn as brothers the idle

Acts 15-19

15 - Jerusalem council decides Gemtlies are in by faith - keeping Mosaic law not required,; Paul and Barnabas want to go visit the churches they started, but they separate over John Mark

16 - Paul takes Timothy as a disciple; on to new ground in Philppi; Lydia converted; Paul and Silas jailed; earthquake; jailer believes; Paul released

17 - opposition at Thessalonica; more reception at Berea; preaching in Athens

18 - On to Corinth, tentmaking with Aquila and Priscilla. Jews reject, but many believe. Jesus tells Paul to stay and he does for 1.5 years. Then back home to Antioch, while Apollos strengthens Greek Christians.

19 - Back to Ephesus, Paul baptizes 12 disciples, spends over 2 years there healing and exorcising, and sends helpers into Greece (this ministry is very like Jesus'). Riot in Ephesus.

11.26.2010

Fun ride

Imaginative. A good message about kids needing self-control and to be kept away from the boob tube. Lots of biblical allusions. Charlie is Joseph who goes down to Egypt where there is food, ahead of his starving family. When his companions fall short and sin, he is faithful. He is adopted by God and given a rich inheritance totally by grace. He brings his family back to the promised land of blessing.

Food for Kids

This was a delightful read. Nesbit has a way of narrating a story for children, rather like Lewis' Narnian chronicles in ease of speaking to little ones. The story emphasizes giving to others when you are pinched yourself, how to carry on when things aren't ideal, being strong for others, and what boys need from a father figure. Very healthy, edifying, and enjoyable.

11.25.2010

Galatians 1-6

1 - Paul is concerned the Galatians are turning from the Gospel. False teachers be damned!

1-2 - Paul isn't pleasing men. He gives his biography to show he isn't under the other apostles. They added nothing to his ministry, but confirmed it. He even had to rebuke Peter once.

2 - We are justified and live by faith in Christ, not by trying to keep the law

3 - Abraham believed God's promise. We live the same way as Abraham's children. The law convicts us of sin, and Jesus redeems us from its curse. The law cannot give or make us righteous.

4 - You are a son and heir of God because Christ took the curse of the law for us. Why go back to being a slave? You latched on to me and my gospel at first but now you spurn me. We are children of the free grace covenant mother Sarah, not the law-bondage covenant mother Hagar.

5 - if you trust circumcision, you don't need the cross. Don't use your freedom to hurt, but to heal each other. Spirit and flesh fight each other. Be led by Spirit, not flesh.

6 - circumcision zealots are in it for the PR. Don't give in. Boast only in the cross.

11.23.2010

James

1 - ask God for wisdom; the poor are rich and the rich poor; resist temptation; do the Word, don't just hear it

2 - don't be partial to the rich; faith without works won't save you
3 - control your tongue; be peaceable, not envious and selfish
4 - deny your pleasures; humble yourself; don't boast
5 - the rich have done wrong and need to repent; be patient and pray

11.22.2010

Acts 7-14

7 - Stephen recounts Israel's history, rebukes their unbelief, and is stoned
8 - Church persecuted; Phillip evangelizes Samaria and Ethiopian eunuch
9 - Saul converted-preaches in Damascus and Jerusalem; sent to Tarsus
9 - Peter heals and raises Dorcas to life
10 - God brings Peter to preach to Cornelius; Spirit falls even on Gentiles!
11 - Peter reports to Jerusalem; Barnabas sent to growing church in Antioch
11 - Barnabas calls Paul to help; Antioch sends aid to Jerusalem
12 - James martyred; Peter rescued from prison; Herod killed by God
13 - Saul and Barnabas sent west to preach Christ; Sergius Paulus converted
13 - Saul changes name to Paul; preaches in western Antioch - conflict
14 - On to Iconium: more growth & conflict; stoned at Lystra; back home

11.19.2010

Worked-over stones

1 Pet 2.4-5: "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

The picture is that we are a temple, made of stones. Jesus is the cornerstone, with the right shape and position. All the rest of the stones follow His pattern. He is the master builder, who knows what is needed in each stone. He knows your deeds, your faithfulness and your failings. So He is chiseling and sanding away on each of us. It is the sin in us that keeps us from fitting together well as His temple, and that prevents pure sacrifice to God. Let us admit to Him that we don’t meet the design specifications and return to the shop for further work. We do this not so we can be the best stone on the worksite, but so we can fit well with our neighboring stones, bringing harmony, joy, beauty and true worship offered to God.

7/18/10

11.18.2010

Acts 1-6

1 - Wait for the Spirit. Jesus ascends to heaven. Judas replaced
2 - Spirit comes. Peter preaches Christ. 3000 repent, believe & fellowship
3 - Peter heals a lame beggar, and preaches Christ again
4 - Peter and John arrested. Peter preaches Christ to Sanhedrin
4 - Apostles forbidden to preach Christ, released & pray for boldness
5 - Ananias and Sapphira die lying to the Spirit. Apostles heal and preach
5 - Tension between Sanhedrin and apostles defused by Gamaliel
6 - Apostles appoint deacons to administrate. Stephen preaches and is accused

The high doctrine of Mr. Cranky

Check out this Spurgeon excerpt here.

A taste, and summary:
"I would not find half a fault with their doctrine if it were not for their spirit"

Maturity

Part of maturing is responding well to people who judge you as immature.
Especially if it's for real immaturity in your past.

11.17.2010

This changes that


Doug Wilson, on Halloween and voting, a couple weeks ago...

"There is no problem with giving candy to the kids who come to your door tonight. Go ahead, enjoy yourself, and bless their evening. There is no problem with going to the polling place this Tuesday and casting a responsible Christian vote. That is your civic duty, and a great privilege.

"But it is no sacrament. The world is being actually transformed here [in worship, at the Lord's Table]"

The Spirit transforms, unifies

The most overlooked thing in our understanding of God and Communion, is not a thing at all, but a person, the Holy Spirit. He is the unifier, the go between, God’s ambassador to us here. While the firstfruits of our flesh is in heaven, God’s Spirit is with us. We believe the Lord truly feeds our souls with the body of Christ, in this meal. We also believe Christ’s body is not physically the bread and wine, for He is in heaven. So how does this feeding take place? By the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit. Thank Him today for drawing you to Christ, for enlivening you to want Christ, for uniting you with Jesus, so that your souls can be fat and satisfied with Christ.

This happens as we worship Him, and the order of our worship is like the order of our salvation.
Call to believe = call to worship
Call to confession = conversion, repentance, faith
Justification = declaration of pardon
Sanctification = hearing God’s Word
Glorification = Communion


7/11/10

A new heart, for God's sake

Ezekiel 36:31-32 - "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!”

Notice two things in these two verses.
First, We loathe ourselves and our sins. This is repentance, and nothing less will do than to hate our sin and fling it from us like a greasy oil rag. But in the context of the passage, we do this AFTER we have been given a new heart. As you are repentant of your sin, be grateful that God has given You a new spirit in your heart to be so repentant.


Second, God doesn’t do this for our sake, but for His name. The nations look on and see a nation no different than them, so they blaspheme God’s name and count him as no greater than other gods. But we are to be holy because He is holy. We confess our greatest desire is to glorify God’s name, while at the same time clinging to sins, grudges and grumbling, that drag his name into the dirt.



7/11/10

Sharp as knives

Heavenly Father, Your Spirit moved men to write these words. They are from Your will, and so they are without error. Wicked men seek to distort them; we seek to be fed by them. Please feed and strengthen us by these precious words. Even more than being without error, Lord, these words are alive and powerful, sharp as knives. As we handle them, they will cut us. But only led by Your surgeon hands. So because we trust You, we take up Your Word again, trembling to know we will not be the same afterwards. Help us trust You for that unknown future, we pray in Jesus’ name, the living Word, Amen.

Luke 19-24

19 - Jesus restores Zacchaeus; parable of talents to teach we are to be faithful when He is gone. Triumphant entry into Jerusalem, hailed as King, hailers rebuked by Pharisees, but Jesus refuses to stop them, but instead opposes temple transactions (oppressed the people).

20 - Jesus and Jews spar. They question His authority, and try to trap Him. He refutes and rebukes them.

21 - Jesus is impressed with the proportionally great sacrifice of a poor widow. Others are impressed with great buildings and huge donations. Jesus speaks of the temple's destruction.

22 - Judas seeks to betray Him. Jesus transforms Passover, and urges His disciples to humble service and support of each other in coming hard times. Prayer and arrest in Gethsemane. Peter denies Him as Jesus is tried and condemned.

23 - Jesus tried before Pilate, condemned, crucified, and buried.
24 - Jesus' body is gone Sunday morning, angels preach the gospel. Disciples amazed. He appears to Peter, and to two going to Emmaus, then to all 12. He assures them He is alive, eats in front of them, teaches them, and ascends to heaven. The disciples worship Him there, and go back to worship Him in the temple.

11.15.2010

Luke 14-18

14 - Parables of the kingdom; the cost of discipleship
15 - Parables about found and forgiven sheep
16 - Wealth is to serve the kingdom, not to be sought for itself
17 - Forgiveness, duty, gratitude, and steadfastness to the end are hallmarks of the kingdom
18 - Pray persistently and humbly, coming to God as an infant not trusting in your own riches. Bartimaeus does all this and is healed.

Oh, and Egypt is now America

Bread in Egypt
by Toby Sumpter


"Joseph provided bread for Israel in Egypt. In fact, Joseph provided bread for most of the surrounding world in Egypt. 

"It would not be hard for Israel to slip into seeing the systems and culture of Egypt as the source of Yahweh's provision of this bread (which is partially true), and from there, it is only a short step to mistaking Egypt as the source of bread rather than Yahweh. 

"Thus, when Yahweh orders Israel to leave the leaven of Egypt behind, He is insisting that He is the One who provides bread for Israel. God can rain bread and meat out of heaven and cause water to gush out of rocks if He wants. And sometimes He uses obvious means (like a prosperous nation) to provide for His people. But either way it is Yahweh who provides bread for Israel, and in so far as Israel comes to trust in Egypt for bread, they are idolaters."

11.12.2010

Luke 11-13

11 - Jesus teaches how to pray, and to pray persistently. He casts out Satan, gives Jonah as a sign of judgment on those rejecting Him, and rebukes Pharisees for emphasizing less important external things, adding many regulations to the law, and approving of persecuting the prophets while claiming they themselves would not have done so in the past.

12 - Jesus warns against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the deceitfulness of riches, and the anxieties of life. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." So stay faithful and watchful for His return.

13 - Disaster victims aren't worse sinners. Disasters are warnings to us all to repent, as God patiently waits for it. Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath, crippled for 18 years. The way into the kingdom is narrow; many who think they are in will be surprised at the last day. Jesus will complete His mission on the 3rd day in Jerusalem, but that city will be desolate for her treatment of Him.

11.10.2010

Luke 8-10

8 - Parable of the sower; Jesus calms a storm, casts out a demon from a Gentile, heals a 12-year medical problem, and raises a 12-year old from death.

9 - Jesus sends out the 12 apostles. When they return He feeds 5000, with 12 baskets left over. (What's up with the number 12?) Peter confesses Jesus as Christ; He foretells His death and resurrection, and calls for self-denial. Jesus transfigured, and casts out another demon, but again foretells His death. Disciples don't get it, but argue who is the greatest and want to call down fire on Samaritans. But as one greater than Elijah, Jesus' followers' cost of following Him is higher.

10 - Jesus sends out the 70, rebukes cities that reject Him, rejoices at God's revelation of Himself to the simple, tells the Good Samaritan parable to show who and how to love, refuses to rebuke Mary for listening to Him instead of serving.

11.09.2010

Luke 5-7

5 - Jesus calls disciples, heals a leper, connects His healing power to His authority to forgive sins, and contrary to Pharisees says He came to celebrate recovering lost sinners.

6 - Jesus "works" and heals on the Sabbath. Jesus chooses twelve disciples, blesses the suffering and curses the rich, calls us to love enemies, to give without expecting a return, to not judge unless we're ready to be judged by the same standard. A good heart brings good deeds. So do what I say, and you will stand in the flood.

7 - A centurion shows faith in Jesus' authority. Widow's son raised from death. Johndoubts Jesus, who affirms his ministry. Their generation has rejected them both. A sinful woman loves Jesus much, while His Pharisee host loves Jesus little.

11.08.2010

Luke 1-4

1 - Gabriel foretells John's birth to Zechariah in the temple. He doesn't believe and is mute.
Mary. She believes, visits Elizabeth (who blesses her) and rejoices that God has kept His promises to Abraham. Zechariah regains his speech when he publicly names his child John as the angel said. He rejoices like Mary that God has delivered Israel as He promised Abraham. He foretells that John will go before the Christ.

2 - Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, announced by angels to shepherds. His redeeming work foretold by Simeon and Anna in the temple. Jesus shows wisdom in the Law at 12 years of age.

3 - Years later, John baptizes in the desert, gives ethical guidance to various types of people, and announces Jesus' arrival, baptizing Him. His geneology, through Mary, through David's son Nathan.

4 - Satan tempts Jesus away from the Father; He is rejected in Nazareth, but heals and preaches in several cities.

11.07.2010

Mark 12-16

12 - Jesus tells the parable of the tenants: the Sadducees are the tenants opposing God's servants and Son! They try a public relations move, asking if the people should pay taxes to Rome. They are to give Rome its due, and God His. The Sadducees then mock the resurrection to Jesus' face, and He refutes them with God's own self-description from the Pentateuch, the only books of the Bible they accepted as authoritative. Then a Pharisee asks which commandment is greatest, and Jesus shows His agreement with their basic theology (!). But Jesus shows from Psalm 110 that Messiah will be greater than David. Scribes rebuked; poor widow commended.

13 - Jesus predicts the temple's destruction. The disciples ask when, and Jesus tells them what will happen to them before that, and in the temple right before its fall. No one knows when, but it will happen before this generation dies, so stay awake.

14 - the Jews plot to kill Jesus after the feast. Jesus anointed with costly perfume. Judas agrees to betray Him. Passover prepared; Betrayal predicted; Communion instituted. They go out to Olive Mt, and He predicts their scattering and His resurrection again. He prays for the cup to pass by Him; they sleep; His arrest; their flight. Jesus remains silent before conflicting accusations, on trial before the Sanhedrin, but acknowledges He is the Christ when asked directly under oath. They take this as condemnation, faithlessly not considering the possibility that He is telling the truth. Peter denies Jesus after He is condemned, and as the rooster crows.

15 - The Jews accused Jesus before Pilate, who finds nothing wrong with Him, is amazed at His silence, and amused the Jews are afraid of His kingship. Soldiers mock, beat and crucify Jesus. Jews and passersby mock. God forsakes Jesus. He dies as Mary and Mary watch from a distance. Buried by Joseph of Arimathea

16 - Angels announce the resurrection to the women at the tomb. Those that hear don't believe at first, but Jesus tells them to "proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." He is taken up into heaven and the apostles go preach.

11.05.2010

Mark 9-11

9 - Jesus is transfigured, casts out a demon, and predicts His death and resurrection. In response, the disciples argue about who is the greatest. Jesus tells them not to stumble anyone, and to go to any extreme to get rid of sin.

10 - Jesus teaches that divorce was allowed for our hardness of heart. Jesus blesses little children, since the kingdom of God is made up of such. Jesus tells a rich young man who wants to please God that he must sell all he has and follow Jesus. It is hard for the rich to put Jesus first. Jesus again predicts His death and resurrection, and this time in response James and John ask for the two highest positions in His kingdom! Gentiles lord it over each other, but we must serve each other. Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus in Jericho.

11 - Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt, to crowds shouting for the coming of David's kingdom. The next day Jesus curses a fig tree going into the city, He cleanses the temple, and going out the disciples notice the fig tree withered. By faith, prayer, and forgiveness, the unrighteous will totter and fall. Jesus' authority challenged, but His accusers cannot even refute John's divine mandate in public.

How not to relate to our culture. Hate, celebrate, separate or legislate?

I've had this paragraph sitting around for a while.
On the cultural and political setting in the first century, as Jesus came on the scene...


HATE
Some of the Jews, called Zealots, said, give us liberty or give us death. They hated Rome's ungodliness so much they would rather die than have to live with it. And they used the sword to advance the kingdom.

CELEBRATE
Others, the temple leaders, the Sadduccees, said Rome isn’t the enemy. They are our friend. So what if we have to have their statues up and we sprinkle incense to an emperor? Look at the roads, the baths, the running water, the tax revenue that goes through us to Rome. Eat drink and be merry!

SEPARATE
Well, other Jews, the Essenes reacted strongly to that. Look how corrupt Israel has become. We’re starting over. And they headed for the desert to live separately and strictly, believing that their obedience would bring God’s blessing and King.

LEGISLATE
And finally there were the Pharisees who said, yes, our faithfulness will bring God’s Messiah, but we don’t have to do that in the desert; we can live in a sinful world and not be tainted by it. It’ll take a lot of strict rules, though. That is what will keep us faithful and bring in God’s kingdom.

None of these is correct as an overall view, but there are elements of truth in each. We should rather die than sin. We should celebrate cultural achievements. We should separate from corruption. We should regulate our lives by God's Word.

But above them all, we are to love God and His Christ, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

11.04.2010

Role of women in studying and teaching


Women and Theology from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Mark 6-8

6 - rejection at Nazareth; 12 sent out; Herod haunted by reports of Jesus, remembering his execution of John; 5000 fed; Jesus walks on water and heals

7 - Pharisees object to eating without ritually cleansing. Jesus says external stuff like that doesn't make you unclean in God's sight, but the sin that comes out of you does. A gentile is healed, getting crumbs from the master's table.

8 - 4000 fed; disciples warned against Pharisees; Peter confesses Jesus is God's Christ; He predicts His death and resurrection, Peter opposes Him! Jesus calls us to sacrifice and denial in an adulterous world.

Rappin' the Word, with the Heidelberg

Apparently at the 2010 Desiring God conference, after Kevin DeYoung (from the RCA in Michigan, my background) spoke on the Heidelberg Catechism, CJ Mahaney got up next and said he'd like to see his Christian rapper friend put it to a rap.

And he did.

Here's the result.

The lyrics are at this page, so you can read and follow along to keep up.

Something you didn't know about me

I can play the organ.

So here's a short satire piece on the organ by "Stuff Christians Like" that caught my eye.
Check out my reply, a few scrolls down...

11.03.2010

Our enemies to fight

"There are three great enemies against which God's children should daily pray: pride, worldliness, and unbelief."

JC Ryle, Expository thoughts on the Gospels, v 1, pg 157.

Colson on the election


Shameless repost...

The Great 'Now What?'
Thoughts on the Election


November 03, 2010

I confess: I'm a political junkie. And I don't know about you, but I'm pooped. I was up very late watching the election returns, doing radio interviews, chatting on line with visitors to the Colson Center website.

Major events are always fascinating to watch-and last night was no exception. It signaled a major sea change in the mood of the American people. They are tired of the government spending money like a drunken sailor. They are tired of government getting its hooks into every area of national life.
But whether you are sweeping up after the celebration or drying your tear-soaked pillow, we Christians ought to be asking ourselves: Now what?

Well, let's put first things first. I will be on my knees, begging God to have mercy on this country and on His Church. And we should pray for our newly elected representatives and senators. Indeed, today is a good day to remember the words of the apostle Paul: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1Tim 2:1-3).

And heaven knows our leaders will need our prayers. That's because the fiscal crisis before us is positively staggering. A few months ago, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson warned that America's soaring debt has placed the country's preeminence, power and global prestige at the "edge of chaos."

The threat Ferguson pointed to should be obvious to everyone.  Unfortunately, what's even more obvious is that our political system seems incapable of doing anything to avert this calamity.

If you are hoping that yesterday's election results will make that much of a difference, you hope in vain. The Republicans certainly don't have the votes to enact any massive government spending cuts: their program would almost certainly be filibustered in the Senate or vetoed by the president.

And, besides, neither they nor the Democrats are leveling with the American people about what is needed to get our fiscal house in order. Two-thirds of the federal budget is mandatory spending: entitlements and service on the debt. More than half of the remaining one-third goes to defense.

The remaining fourteen percent is what the average person thinks of as "federal spending." But even if you got rid of the whole thing-homeland security, food inspectors, the national parks, the FBI, etc.-we would still add nearly five trillion dollars to the debt over the next ten years.

And a divided government will not be able make the very painful decisions that need to be made. This sets us up for two more years of political battles leading up to the next presidential election. Well, that might be good for the folks who write the ads, and it might be good for the talking heads and for the political junkies, but as for the rest of it, I think most Americans are pretty well tired. 

But if the government continues to be deadlocked as I suspect it will be, then all the more must the Church bear witness to the truth, to love and care for our neighbors and those in need, to speak out on behalf of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. In other words, this is the time for the Church to rise up and really be the Church.

11.02.2010

Mark 1-5

1 - John comes as Elijah, baptizing and announcing Jesus' coming. Jesus is baptized, tempted, moves to Galilee, calls disciples, teaches in the synagogue, casts out a demon, heals many more, and His fame spreads.

2 - Jesus asserts by healing that He has power to forgive sins. He calls and eats with Matthew, the tax collector and His friends. This offends the Pharisees, but Jesus came to save such people. Fasting doesn't fit with Jesus' presence. Jesus doesn't need to follow man-made rules about Sabbath, as He is its Lord.

3 - Jesus heals on the Sabbath, contrary to the Pharisees' teaching. They oppose Him; He withdraws and picks 12 apostles. Pharisees say Jesus is demonic; He counters that then Satan would be against Satan. Jesus' mother and brothers come to take Him away, but His family is those who do God's will.

4 - parables about the kingdom received (sower), revealed (lamp), reproducing (seeds). Jesus calms the storm.

5 - Jesus casts a legion of demons from a gentile, heals a woman who hemorrhaged for years, and raises a girl from death.

Matt 25-28

25 - be prepared and productive while the master/bridegroom is away. When He comes, He will separate the sheep from goats, based on their deeds to the poor (the fruit of faith).

26 - Chief priests and Judas conspire to arrest Jesus. Mary anoints him with expensive perfume. They celebrate Passover with His betrayal and His blood sacrifice for our forgiveness on our mind. Jesus predicts the disciples' flight, prays for this cup to pass by Him, prevents violence, and is arrested. He stresses that He is a prophet, not a rebel. Sanhedrin condemns Him, Peter denies Him.

27 - Judas' suicide. Pilate tries Jesus, finds no fault but condemns to placate the Jews. soldiers beat, ridicule and crucify Jesus. Body buried and sealed in tomb by His enemies.

28 - Mary and the guards encounter an earthquake and angels, announcing Christ's resurrection. He meets the disciples and sends them to Galilee, while the Jews cover up the incident. Jesus sends the worshiping disciples to disciple all the nations by baptizing and teaching them His commands.

10.29.2010

Matt 20-24

20 - Parable of 1-hour worker getting grace (same pay as all-day workers), and the poor response to this by the all-day workers. Jesus predicts His death and resurrection again. Zebedee's wife asks a higher place for her sons, resulting in offense and rivalry.

21 - Jesus enters Jerusalem, cleanses the temple, curses the fig tree (representing temple leadership), and rebukes them via parables when they question His authority.

22 - Parable of the wedding feast. Many invited, few come, and even of those that do some do not come on the king's terms. Pharisees, then Saduccees each try to trap Jesus: pay taxes to Caesar? Multiple wives in the resurrection? Jesus answers defeating them soundly. He summarizes all the law as loving God and neighbor. Then He performs some exegetical jujitsu from Psalm 110 to show Messiah will be greater than they expect (as His own teaching skills far surpass their own).

23 - Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for proudly seeking honor from men, for spreading their legalism which keeps themselves and others outside the kingdom, for lacking discernment by callous disobedience in greater things while being over-scrupulous in lesser matters, for keeping up pious appearances while being evil on the inside, for being glad their forefathers killed God's prophets but claiming they wouldn't do that now.

24 - Jesus predicts the fall of the temple. Disciples ask when. Jesus gives signs: persecution, gospel spread, false prophets, abomination in the temple, people fleeing Judea, sun moon and stars will fall, elect gathered, Son of Man comes with power and glory - you'll know when it is near - all before this generation is gone (fulfilled in 70AD). Of the LAST day no one knows. That will be sudden and unexpected, like the flood.

Covenant is relationship

So I started reading The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson last night, and within the first three pages of this well-respected classic, Robertson says right out what seems to be disputed and rejected as Federal Vision error these days:

"The contextual usage of the term ["covenant"] in Scripture points consistently to the concept of a 'bond,' or 'relationship.'" (page 5)

And in the footnote: "While the divine covenants invariably involve obligations, their ultimate purpose reaches beyond the guaranteed discharge of a duty. Instead, it is the personal interrelation of God with His people that is at the heart of the covenant."

I'm not denying the role of structure in covenant relationship, but want to keep it in its proper place. The structure is there to serve the purpose of making peace between people: between God and man. There is a way to so overemphasize the obligations and duties that it perversely gets in the way of relationship.

10.27.2010

Rivalry countered by humble service

Matthew 20:21, 24-27

21 She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

10.26.2010

Matt 17-19

17 - Jesus is transfigured so that His divine majesty pierces the veil of earthly things. Jesus heals a man; it required prayer and fasting. He predicts His death and resurrection. He pays the temple tax for Himself and Peter, miraculously.

18 - We must become as children to enter the kingdom. Take extreme measures to not cause anyone to sin. Jesus has come to save those lost sheep. We are to deal justly with those who sin against us, and forgive much as we have been forgiven even more.

19 - Is divorce allowed for any reason? God intends marriage to be permanent on earth, but our hearts get hard, so divorce is allowed (not required!) only for sexual infidelity. It is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom, but those who sacrifice here will be rewarded in the regeneration.

10.25.2010

Matt 12-16

12 - Jesus plucks grain and heals on the Sabbath, resisted by the Pharisees. Jesus withdraws so as not to break bruised reeds. Pharisees pursue and escalate accusations. Jesus answers that He is plundering the strong man. He is greater than the temple, Jonah, and Solomon.

13 - Jesus teaches in parables about the kingdom, to help those who believe and keep doubters at a distance. It is received variously, bearing fruit or not; it has weeds sown in with the wheat until the end; it grows to great size and is useful; it is worth pursuing with all you have. Jesus is rejected in His hometown of Nazareth.

14 - Herod is haunted by John's rebuke and his unjust execution of John. Jesus feeds 5,000, then walks on water to disciples, who worship Him.

15 - Jesus rails on Pharisees who violate the Word of God to uphold their external traditions. Sin comes from within. A Gentile woman receives crumbs from the Master's table, by faith. He heals, and feeds 4,000 Gentiles.

16 - Jesus opposes the Pharisees further. Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ, God's Son, but then seeks to keep Jesus from going to the cross. Jesus says we must all take up our own cross.

10.22.2010

Matt 8-11

8 - Jesus heals a leper, centurion's servant, and Peter's mother-in-law. He has authority. Following Him comes before honoring your parents. He has authority over wind, waves, and demons.

9 - Jesus has power to forgive sins, proving it by healing a paralytic. He eats with tax collectors and other sinners who know they need a savior. New wineskins. Raises a girl to life from death; restores sight and speech. Laborers for the harvest are needed - the need is great.

10 - Jesus calls and sends out the twelve apostles to preach and heal with His authority. They will be rejected and persecuted as He has been and will be. Do not fear man, but God.

11 - John doubts Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus confirms He is, and that John was the greatest prophet leading up to Him. But Israel has rejected both. It will be worse for Sodom than for them. God hides the truth from the wise and gives it to the simple. Come to Jesus for rest, all who need it.

10.20.2010

Matthew 5-7

5 - Blessedness of kingdom citizens who are poor, mourning, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted. Be salt and light; Jesus fulfills law: anger and hostility is murder, lust is adultery. Love your enemies.

6 - Don't give, pray and fast for others to see, but for God. Don't give your heart to riches; trust God, seek His kingdom and don't worry.

7 - We tend to lose perspective in assessing ourselves and others. Don't give yourself a pass. Do to others as you'd want done to you. Watch out for false professors who don't obey Me. Do what I say and you will endure.

10.19.2010

We want to get in our own way

...men always delight in contriving some way of acquiring righteousness apart from God's Word. Hence, among what are commonly considered good works the commandments of the Law are accorded too narrow a place, while that innumerable throng of human precepts occupies almost the whole space.

Calvin, Institutes, Book II, Chapter 8, Section 5

10.18.2010

John 18-21

18 - Jesus arrested in Gethsemane, betrayed by Judas. He goes of His own free will, much like Elijah did in 2 Kings 1 (read that whole chapter, notice Elijah's ascension in the next chapter, and ponder the parallels!). Jesus is tried by Annas and Caiaphas while Peter denies Jesus thrice. Jesus accused by Jews to Pilate of claiming to be a king. Pilate finds no fault in Him

19 - Pilate flogs Jesus, then tries to have Him released, but the Jews demand crucifixion. Pilate gives the order. Prophecy is fulfilled about His garments, unbroken bones, pierced body, as John and Mary look on. Joseph and Nicodemus bury Him in Joseph's new tomb, at the eve of Sabbath.

20 - Mary goes early Sunday to the tomb, but finds the stone rolled away. She goes and tells the disciples. Peter and John race there and go away wondering. Mary stays and Jesus appears to her. She tells the disciples again. He appears in their upper room that night. Thomas wasn't there and doubts. We are to believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

21 - Jesus appears to the disciples in Galilee after a while, when they are fishing. He miraculously helps them catch 153 fish, representing all the nations for whom they will fish for disciples. Jesus restores Peter.