May 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last night Matthew graduated from Multnomah Biblical Seminary with the degree of Master of Divinity. This weekend has been filled spending time and celebrating with family and friends. We had a beautiful lunch party yesterday which was hosted by my parents and attended by our siblings, Matthew’s dad, Matthew’s grandpa and his wife, and my great uncle and aunt. We also went to a wonderful party today to celebrate with many friends.
I am so happy for my husband! It has been such a joy to be able to live with him and love him for the past three years while he has worked for this degree. The most amazing part is, even through the busyness and difficulties associated with being a full-time seminary student as well as a pastoral intern, Matthew has been such an amazing husband. I have never felt neglected or cast aside for the sake of his education and I can say, without exaggeration, that Matthew has become a better husband and father in the past three years.
Today my husband said that learning should always lead us to worship. I am so grateful to be married to a man that desires to love God more and love people more. I am also glad that he teaches me to desire the same.
April 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“Spiritual disciplines are provided for our good, not for our bondage. They are privileges to be used, not duties to be performed… But the spiritual disciplines are fertile ground for legalistic thinking. They can easily become a performance measurement by which we gauge whether to expect God’s blessing or not. If I’ve been doing pretty well, having a regular quiet time, studying my Bible, and so on, then I’m hopeful about God’s blessing. But if I’ve not been doing so well – then, I might as well go back to bed… I do think we should actively promote spiritual disciplines. They are absolutely necessary for growth in our Christians lives. But we should promote them as benefits, not as duties. Perhaps we should stop talking about being ‘faithful’ to have a quiet time with God each day, as if we were doing something to earn a reward. It would be better to talk about the privilege of spending time with the God of the universe and the importance for our own sake being consistent in that practice… We need to teach grace before commitment, because grace understood and embraced will always lead to commitment. But commitment required will always lead to legalism.”
Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace, pg. 127-128
May 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I have not read Christless Christianity, by Michael Horton but I had heard a section quoted a few years ago and was never able to remember where it was from so I was excited to find it used in Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.
” What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached.”
April 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
I have been translating some segments of Greek texts from a number of important Greek-speaking Church Fathers this semester. The class is with Dr. Jon Robertson who did his doctoral work at Oxford in this same field. There are only two of us in the class so we get a lot of great interaction with Dr. Robertson.
This last week we translated Gregory of Nazianzus, sermon from Easter, here is excerpt from my translation:
1.3 Yesterday the Lamb was slaughtered and the doorposts were anointed, and Egypt sang a dirge for her firstborn, and the one who destroys passed over us, and the seal was fearful and awe-inspiring, and we were walled in with honorable blood. Today we have cleanly fled from Egypt and from Pharoah the bitter ruler and heavy commander, we were liberated from mud and brick making. And there is not one hindering us to celebrate the Lord our God, to celebrate our departure, not in the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,not bringing Egypt’s godless dough.
1.4 Yesterday I was crucified with Christ, today I am glorified with him. Yesterday I died with him, today I am made alive. Yesterday I was buried, today I rise. But let us offer to the one who suffered and rose again for us. You will perhaps think that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the passing earthly material, that enslaves this world below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men. We offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God and most fitting, we give back to the image keeping with the image, we see our dignity, we honor our archetype, we know the power of the mystery, that Christ died.
April 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
When the Gospel really grips our heart, and sinks down deep, it changes everything, our motives, our joys, our loves, everything. Mere moral sway won’t really change us. Jonathan Edward’s, Thomas Chalmers, John Piper, Tim Keller, and many others all preach and teach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the center, they do this because they know that the truth of the Gospel is much more than just a message of justification, though it certainly and absolutely is a message of justification, but the Gospel is intended to pervade every sphere of our life and heart.
I was singing Be Thou My Vision with my kids this morning and realized that the Gospel was alive and well in the verses of the song, not just as a message of justification, but as a motivator for something else:
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
Why don’t we heed riches anymore? Because heeding riches is wrong? Because someone told us to stop heeding riches? We don’t heed riches anymore because we have a infinitely greater treasure and inheritance that is of far greater worth than mere earthly treasures, namely God Himself.
This reminds me of Abraham and Lot in Genesis 13. Abraham and his nephew Lot get into a skirmish and they decide that its time to separate company. Abraham tells Lot in verse 9, “If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Abraham let’s Lot choose first. Lot gets to choose first? Why? Why would Abraham hold his land, wealth, and future prosperity with such an open hand? The answer comes in verse 15 when God tells Abraham to lift his eyes and see “ all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.” All of it will belong to Abraham and his offspring. God really wants this to sink in deep for Abraham so in verse 17 God tells Abraham “Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” He has him just get up and walk the land, walk the land and get a glimpse of what you will inherit.
We are Abraham’s offspring, which means that we will inherit the world with Abraham. I think we would do well to “walk around” like Abraham a little more. We sometimes have too much emphasis on doing and not enough on being. So right now, for just a minute just be. Sit under and mediate upon the great and massive truths of the Gospel.
If we are ever going to stop heeding riches, if we are ever going to be like Abraham and let Lot choose first, if are ever going to start doing then it must come from being, we must let the truth of the Gospel sink deeper and deeper into our hearts. Nothing else will change us. Nothing.
April 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I am reading Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections this week and I was struck with how Edward’s described the work of pastor’s, namely to stir-up holy affections in their people through the Word of God. This is an explanation of Gospel-Centered preaching at its finest:
And the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men, is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that his word delivered in the holy Scriptures, should be opened, applied, and set home upon men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on the Scripture, and other good books of divinity; because, although these may tend as well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men’s hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively application of his word to men in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the importance of the things of religion, and their own misery, and necessity of a remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided; and to stir up the pure minds of the saints, and quicken their affections, by often bringing the great things of religion to their remembrance, and setting them before them in their proper colors, though they know them, and have been fully instructed in them already, 2 Pet. 1:12, 13. And particularly, to promote those two affections in them, which are spoken of in the text, love and joy: “Christ gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; that the body of Christ might be edified in love,” The apostle in instructing and counseling Timothy concerning the work of the ministry, informs him that the great end of that word which a minister is to preach, is love or charity, 1 Tim. 3, 4, 5. And another affection which God has appointed preaching as a means to promote in the saints, is joy; and therefore ministers are called “helpers of their joy,” 2 Cor. 1:24.
Look particularly at 2 Pet. 1:12-13, here Peter says that he intends to always remind his readers of things that they already know. Peter inspires, motivates, encourages, and always reminds his people with something that they already know, namely, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Pastor’s job is to remind his people of what has always been true. No new fads. No new methods. Just the Gospel.
April 22, 2011 § 4 Comments
On Sunday night my family went over to one of pastor’s home from our church. In the car I gave my kids the standard lecture, “I want you to sit still, don’t make a mess, don’t talk too loud, etc.” No such luck. One of my children decided that sitting still was over-rated and got up about 78 times, another decided that screaming was a good way to ask their sibling for a toy. My neck was getting tighter and tighter, my blood was almost boiling at this point. Now some instances are disobedience and some are just kids being kids, for example, our pastor was telling us about this lovely new rug that they had just purchased, at that very moment my oldest does a little twirley ballerina move and knocks over an entire glass of liquid on the new heirloom. The response from our host was, “It’s fine, no big deal,” and at the same time, “Someone get a wet towel, quick!” Kids spill all the time right, I was way beyond “that’s just what kids do.” Needless to say, I was done.
On the way home I was mad and I made sure everyone knew it. When we walked in the front door my wife gave me a look of disappointment, so I entreated her to explain the look, she said to me, “Dear, there is sin in your heart. You are mad at the children because they made you look bad. You care more about what people think of you than you do about them.” Boom.
We have been reading, thinking, and talking a lot lately about idols that control our hearts and she nailed me. I find security, satisfaction, comfort, and control by being approved of by others. But in the end all of our idols will let us down, every time, no exceptions. My happiness in other people’s approval failed me Sunday night, my idol failed me and I was left empty. But it’s in that place, a place of realizing that we have no hope, where we are ready for the balm of the Gospel to change us. Because its only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can find an object of for our affections, a place to find our security, satisfaction, comfort, and control that won’t ever let us down, even when we let Him down.
So once my kids were in their pajamas, I had them all sit on my bed and I told them that daddy had disobeyed God and that I had sinned when I got mad at them. My 3-year old looked right at me and said, “God should put you in Hell for your sin.” She is right. But then my 4-year old looked right me and said, “But he isn’t going to, because Jesus died for you dad.” I was undone, the balm that only the Gospel can bring was ministered to my heart by two little girls that spoke the words of life.
Parents, husbands, wives, pastors, don’t live in the façade of the perfect life, you’ll never change and your people won’t either.