John Piper's Heart in the 2008 Election

Friday, October 31, 2008

When the Narcissist will not Weep, Part 4

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Cure: Seeking Sight

Here are some steps that you can take to see.

  1. Realize the reality of suffering in the world. Take note of the current atrocities in the world. Suffering is global. This will aid in the dissolution of the narcissism. There is a whole world of suffering.

  2. Cultivate relationships. Work to strengthen your friendships. Strive to know your friends better. Share your own suffering with them.

  3. Repent and pray for sight. Ask God to open your eyes to the world of suffering and the suffering around you. Pray that he gives you compassion.

  4. Be hospitable. Open your home to others to develop relationships. Invite them over for a meal. Spending time with them will cultivate a genuine and deep love for them. It may also be the best way to comfort the suffering.

  5. Pray for the suffering and read your bible. Prayer and the reading of the Scriptures can unite our hearts to the purposes of God. We should pray and read strategically. As we communicate with God, he will soften you.

  6. Think deeply about things. If you are weak in your understanding of God, then you will be useless in the war on suffering.
These are not exhaustive but are meant to be a start.

When the Narcissist will not Weep, Part 3

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Arrogance of Blindness

We can look at the friends of Job. Notice that they are said to be his friends. This is meaningful to us because they have a past with Job. They know him well. We so often identify Job when it may behoove us to realize we could easily identify with his friends. When our brother is in pain, we are likely to break the silence with a word out of season (cf. Proverbs 15:23). Why would we do such a thing? We think our answers are the balm needed. We have the solution, and we know the right time to give it. We refuse to take time in the situation to learn from the one who is suffering. We arrogantly proclaim that we must know the situation better. We know the pain better. We presume to be wise. We are fools. It is as though a question is being asked in suffering that the one suffering needs to answer. However, unless we are astute in our listening to the question, we answer too quickly. We share the guilt of the one in the proverb who “gives an answer before he hears”; indeed, it becomes our “folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). We need to be have the heart of the righteous who “ponders how to answer” and not have “the mouth of wicked [which] pours out evil things” (Proverbs 15:28).

Our quick answer shows that we are blind to the true nature of the suffering. We have not shared in the pain. We pour out abstract theology, but we fail to apply it appropriately. We make a mockery of the faith with our arrogant eloquence or quick cliché. We do not linger over love. We trivialize truth. We presume to bring peace and only exacerbate the situation. We are vinegar on the wound. The best thing Job’s friends did was showing up and shutting up. They went astray when they opened their mouths. A time for words will come, but knowing the time takes wisdom and prayer. Use the time to pray for the appropriate words. We need to discern the pain.

When the Narcissist will not Weep, Part 2

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Nature of the Blindness

The clear teaching of Scripture is that we are to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15b). However, many of us have become blind to the pain of our fellow man. We must be able to perceive pain people before we weep with them. We are not to be superficial in our communion. We are to weep with them. We are to come alongside them, suffering with them. We are one in Christ, and the body should respond when part of it is hurting.

I have remarked that many of us have become blind to the pain of our fellow man. What has blinded us? What would make us unable to see others? We might say sin. What is the nature of that sin? Diagnosing something as sinful does not tell you how to defeat it. Be specific. When we are in a war, it is not enough to say, “These are the enemies!” We must know the enemy well. We must know the enemy’s location, its strongholds, and its weaknesses. Why are we blind? Why do we lack compassion? We are numb to each other because of our own narcissism. We have preempted the command of God to love Him and love others with an exclusive love for self.

When the Narcissist will not Weep, Part 1

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Diagnosis: Blindness

Take a look around your group of friends. I think we can agree that most of us do not know what pains exist in each individual. Not only do we not know what pains exist, but we also do not know at what depths they reside. A clear illustration is the dim-sighted Eli’s encounter with Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:9b-16.

Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

Not only did Eli not notice Hannah’s suffering, but he also thought the worst of her. Hannah’s suffering was deepened by Eli’s response, feeling she was now considered by him “a worthless woman”.

Christ-centered Hip Hop

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Christ, the Only Way - R.C. Sproul

Piper on taking the Lord's Supper

Friday, May 02, 2008

I found this latest Ask Pastor John episode to be encouraging.  One thing that struck me was:

Now, after you've appropriated afresh the work of Christ and are enjoying that forgiveness, you eat. And you eat worthily, not because you had a good week, but because you have a great Savior and are united with him by faith and are renouncing all those sins.

That is something worth carrying with you throughout the day:  "[Y]ou eat worthily, not because you had a good week, but because you have a great savior...".  That's wisdom.

The New Atheism - Mohler at DTS

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here are some helpful videos to help understand the new breed of atheism, i.e. a militant atheism. As always, Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary provides a helpful analysis.

Session 1: The New Atheism and the Endgame of Secularism

Session 2: The New Atheism and the Assault on Theism

Session 3: The New Atheism and the Defense of Theism

Session 4: The New Atheism and the Future of Christianity

Song for the Suffering Sons

Monday, April 21, 2008

All creation heaves and groans,
Travailing with no repose. 
A single desire deeply moans 
In these sons' turbid souls.

O, come forth, My faithful child,
And behold your great reward:
My Son, your Brother, mild—
A body like His—triumphant and scarred.

Joyfully bear the weight of glory whole! 
A dangerous delight, in Me, to embrace—
Now! The absence of sinful flesh's control
For Terror turned to gladness by Holy grace.

Oh, what hope of blissful day
Upon our tired hearts descend.
Stand firm! bruised heels of clay
For soon He comes, the skies to rend.

Ignorance is the New Science: The Arrogance of Man in Contemplating Male Nipples

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I happened upon the article Top 10 Useless Body Parts. Fairly certain that I would disagree with it, I debated reading it. I read it and was annoyed. Now, I am a huge proponent of science. After all, I have a degree in mathematics, and my thesis was entitled Analysis of Optimal Controls for Single and Multiple Agent Models in Treatments of Leukemia. (In other words, I am not ignorant with regard to science.) Interestingly enough, the word "science" has its roots in "to know" (see here). Thus, when I got to this part of the article, I was indignant:

"When you're sick you may feel that certain body parts are more trouble than they're worth. And in some cases, you'd be right...[A] few biological traces of our prehistoric ancestors still remain with us in the form of freeloading body parts we lug around with us, but have no use for."

It seems that ignorance has become knowledge and speculation has become science. Let us look past the evolution issue that most of my friends would debate in the article. I am not saying that it is not an issue worthy of discussion, but it's expected and dismissed. Instead, let us look at a fundamental error in the logic. Suppose we examine a structure we know to exist, e.g a third eyelid, body hair, male nipples, etc. However, we do not know what beneficial function this structure performs. Therefore, it must be useless. It must serve no good purpose. It must be vestigial. Behold the new scientific method:

  1. Define (beg) the question.
  2. Gather information and resources from those who agree with you.
  3. Speculate.
  4. Pretend to collect data.
  5. Analyze data.
  6. Manipulate data and draw conclusions that justify your speculation.
  7. State that you are correct to like-minded researchers.
  8. Never question your conclusion again.

My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!

a poem by Anne Brönte

My God! O let me call Thee mine!
Weak wretched sinner though I be,
My trembling soul would fain be Thine,
My feeble faith still clings to Thee,
My feeble faith still clings to Thee.

Not only for the past I grieve,
The future fills me with dismay;
Unless Thou hasten to relieve,
I know my heart will fall away,
I know my heart will fall away.

I cannot say my faith is strong,
I dare not hope my love is great;
But strength and love to Thee belong,
O, do not leave me desolate!
O, do not leave me desolate!

I know I owe my all to Thee,
O, take this heart I cannot give.
Do Thou my Strength my Saviour be;
And make me to Thy glory live!
And make me to Thy glory live!

Rejoice With Trembling: The Proper Response to the Anointed of the LORD

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:11-12

God has His people. In the Old Testament, He redeemed a people, bringing them out of bondage in Egypt. In doing so, He created a nation. This nation was to have a king. This was not to be a king like other nations, but a king of God’s appointing. The king of Israel is anointed of God. He is God’s representative, His servant. For someone to come against the king was, in essence, to oppose God. The king was not someone with whom to trifle. Israel longed for the Messiah. We sometimes forget that Messiah and Christ are interchangeable, both meaning “Anointed One”. Therefore, when we speak of Jesus Christ, we speak of the King. Jesus is the fulfillment of the longing of Israel for a proper king.

When we read this passage in Psalm 2, we read this as a characteristic of Jesus Himself. To oppose Jesus is to oppose God. Any ruler of the earth will reckon with their treatment of Jesus. Approaching King Jesus must be done fearfully. What a tension is held in that command: Rejoice with trembling. Knowing that the one you approach has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Paul writes,

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Concerning the consummation, John writes,

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:11-21)

We flee unto Christ, rejoicing with trembling. Our only hope is in the one who has the power to destroy us. Therefore, let us, who have been born again of God, sing the inspired words of Paul:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:31-34)

Does Genuine Love Mandate Free Will?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

An insightful and short commentary on free will and love.  Here Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason probes the statement, "Free will must exist so that love may be genuine."  How does our understanding of free will influence our understanding of God?


Pray for Zimbabwe: Election on March 29th

Friday, March 28, 2008

In a previous post, I relayed the horrible situation dealing with  Zimbabwe's economy.  The presidential election will be held tomorrow, and anything could happen.  The hope is that a civil war will not break out.  We put our trust wholly in the Sovereignty of God, and we affirm the words of Daniel:

"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding."  (Dan 2:20b-21)

This recent article from the BBC may be helpful as you pray over the Sovereign Lord's appointment tomorrow.  Yes, He is sovereign, yet we are still responsible for our action/non-action!  It is a sad thing when the bride of Christ is numb to the suffering in the world.  May she weep over the terror in the world, but may the tears shed not be shallow.  They must be tears of action and compassion.

Interview with Tim Keller

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I came upon this interview that held with Tim Keller and felt it to be very interesting and useful. Tim Keller is author of The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism. He is also pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. In the interview, he addresses:

  • His method of evangelism in preaching.
  • His view of sanctification

  • Books to help train people in apologetics.

  • How he approaches the skeptics questions.

  • Various ways to approach specific questions from skeptics. This one is particularly useful.

The interview can be found here.

"Good at Math": What Counts?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Recently, I was asked “What does it mean to be ‘good at math’?” I thought it through, and here is an edited response. Even if you don't like mathematics, it is a good exercise to go through for anyone. What does it mean for someone to be good at what you do? There are a few points that I would address in being “good at math”:

  1. The proficiency of the student in the narrowest sense of mathematics,
  2. The student’s reasoning ability in dealing with philosophical arguments, and
  3. The religious motivation behind the student’s study.

At the most superficial (disregard the negative connotation) level, being “good at math” is about knowing the language of mathematics. The student who is good at math will begin to have both a competency with the tools of mathematics and an intuitive understanding (a “gut feeling” if you prefer) of what will work. These appeal to those situations where the student sees a theoretical result developing from the material and where the student models mathematically a physical phenomenon. In other words, the student sees the ramifications of the learned theory with regard to (a) the broader scope of the theory and (b) is able, if it is possible, to handle the theories and applications in the physical sciences. I do believe that the second (b) is of lesser importance relative to the first (a). The student should be able to write clearly, concisely, and logically to express the theory.

Next, we deal with a philosophical understanding of the math. The student who is good at mathematics is able to see into the world of philosophy. The student, able to navigate through arguments, can think critically through the philosopher’s logic and develop an opinion (given an appropriate amount of time). This view comes from an understanding that philosophy and mathematics have been intertwined throughout history. In fact, Plato inscribed over the door of the Academy, “Let no one who is not a geometer enter.”

Finally, while the other two are based in skill and intellectual adeptness, this one is based on motivation. I mentor a mathematics student, and my focus in our meeting time is not ultimately on the mathematics; though, we both appreciate it. Instead, our shared passion for mathematics and the beauty of reason provide a springboard to worship God as revealed in the Bible. The following is a sampling of passages that deal with this particular topic:

a.) “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men...” (Colossians 3:23).

b.) “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

c.) “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4a).

d.) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

e.) “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3a, emphasis mine).

This is the ultimate reason why I study mathematics. This is the characteristic I want to see in myself when I desire to be “good at math”. If the student is to be good at mathematics, the student must understand from where math comes. Math is part of the way that God has revealed himself to creation, and students miss something crucial when they (a) ignore it and (b) do not use it to contemplate joyfully the manifold beauty of God as revealed in the complexity of his handiwork through the providence of Christ’s word of power. Because biblical Christianity teaches that there are no rogue molecules in all of existence, it is rebellion against the Creator not to consider the beauty of Christ when studying the laws, i.e. the mathematical principles, that govern creation which find their root in the Creator. Therefore, I do not encourage people to be good at math for math’s sake; that would be meaningless, absurd even. In the truest definition of good, it would not be good to deny the fundamental truth that undergirds all the truths you are analyzing. I would encourage them to see why there is meaning in studying math. There are two immediate quotes that come to my mind:

a.) “For he loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake.” – Augustine in his Confessions, writing to God

b.) “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are halfhearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – CS Lewis in The Weight of Glory

Why the Father loves the Son: The Ground of Our Salvation

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

John 10:17-18

We have approached Easter this year. We will gather in congregations to remember the ground of our salvation. The New Testament resounds with importance of the resurrection. It is unavoidable: if you want to understand the depth of your salvation, you must have a theology of the resurrection. Paul states,

  • "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Romans 8:34).

  • "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).

I have been lingering over the above verses from the Gospel according to John, and I thought it would be edifying to share my thoughts.

A Charge Given

The Father commanded the Son to do something. What is it? A quick answer could be to sacrifice his life for the sheep. Expounding upon the exultation of the Father over his Son's sacrifice, Piper writes, "God deeply and joyfully approved of what the Son was doing in that hour of sacrifice. In fact, he had planned it all together with the Son. And his love for the God-Man, Jesus Christ, on earth was owing to the very obedience that took Jesus to the cross. The cross was Jesus’ crowning act of obedience and love. And this obedience and love the Father profoundly approved and enjoyed." Have you ever thought about the attitude of Christ as he carried the cross? Did he grumble the entire way? When he sent Judas, did he do so second-guessing himself? Would that have been pleased the Father? Does a grumbling son bring honor to a father's command? The Father commanded the Son to do something. Our quick answer that it was to sacrifice his life for the sheep is only part of the story; it's on the way to something deeper. Let's dig. Of course, the sacrifice does fit the context and is part of the answer. However, what else do we see?

Purposeful Obedience in Joy

We read in verse 17 that the Father loves the Son because

  1. The Son lays down his life.
  2. The Son does so purposefully.

What do we know about Jesus' attitude concerning the cross? Jesus knew the agony and ignominy of the cross. He was to be crushed by the Father for the sake of the lambs' sins. However, we see in Hebrews 12:2 that he despised the shame of the cross but endured it. Why did he endure the cross? It was for the joy that was set before him! What was the joy that was set before him? It was the glory in the resurrection. There, he inherited the name above all names:

"After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs" (Hebrews 1:3b-4).

In the sacrifice, Jesus purposefully and joyfully laid down his life. He declares that the reason the Father loves Him is because his sacrificial laying down his life is grounded in his purpose of taking it back up again. We read later that Jesus prays to the Father:

"Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed" (John 17:1-5, emphasis mine).

The Ground of God's Love for Us

It is Jesus' joyful, purposeful obedience to the Father's command that provides the basis for God's love for us. In our meditations on the cross and resurrection, our thoughts are often a repetitive, common phrases and stories. Paul states, "[Faith] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:24b-25). It would be good to bring our hearts to linger over passages instead of just checking off a reading list. There are those little phrases that should bring us to are knees.

For this reason the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
John 10:17

Holiness and Incarnation

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:1-5,14,17

The Holiness of God
Moses asks God for His name (Exodus 3:13). The name God gives Moses will speak to the very character of God. I am sure Moses was very curious as to what God would say. And what does God say? “I AM WHO I AM.” Well, that’s odd. You and I would never say that. And that is exactly right. God cannot say, “I am like ___________.” There is no point of reference outside of Himself to which God can point and say, “There, look at that, I’m like that.” He is. He is like none other. All of who He is is. We are to talk about the attributes of God, i.e. what He is like, we must understand that whatever we learn about God, we must learn this: He is other. We say that God is “holy,” or separate.
RC Sproul writes,

There is a special kind of phobia from which we all suffer. It is called xenophobia. Xenophobia is a fear (and sometimes hatred) of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange or foreign. God is the ultimate object of our xenophobia. He is the ultimate foreigner. He is holy, and we are not. (The Holiness of God, 45)

God does the defining. We are subject to His definitions. He is original. We are derivative. God is being. We are becoming. Hannah was right when she prayed,

My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:1,2).

We read in Isaiah 40:25:

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

And then in Hosea 11:9

…for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst…

Because of His holiness, God is unable to tolerate sin (
Hab 1:13). He is pure, and we are impure.

Now you may ask me, “That is nice, but what does this have to do with the passage from John 1?” It is an act of gracious condescension for God to dwell among us. It has been rightly declared that God, in all of His holiness, has been made accessible through the finished work of Christ. Christ has made the holiness of God not merely tolerable; Christ has brought the impossible to reality by making the holiness of God enjoyable (cf. Psalm 2:11-12)!

Reason for God: Tim Keller addresses Google

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I have been waiting to watch this video! Thanks to Reformissionary for posting it.

Easter, Too Much for Children?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Russell Moore draws our attention to a perplexing situation arising between a church and the publisher of the Sunday school curriculum. I encourage you to read the letter that the publisher sent to try to explain the removal of the crucifixion and the resurrection from their preschool lessons.

Feeling the Divine: Holy Jealousy

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

“I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.”

2 Corinthians 11:2-6

Reading Too Quickly
The first thing we read here is that Paul feels a divine jealousy. We sometimes read too quickly through our Bibles and don’t linger. There is something mysterious in this first sentence. What does it mean to feel a divine jealousy? To know the answer to this question, we first must probe the concept of divine jealousy. Then we look to how the finite human can experience a divine emotion.

Divine Jealousy
Something that is missing from most Bible studies is an understanding that God is uppermost in His own affections. After all, God is righteous and must value something in proportion to its worth. That which is infinitely valuable must be esteemed as such. To do otherwise would be injustice--improper. When God sees that His worth is not being esteemed rightly by others, He sees an injustice. We encounter this often throughout the Scriptures:

“You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6, emphasis mine)

“Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.” (Exodus 34:11-16, emphasis mine)

“Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:23-24, emphasis mine)

In fact, the Lord says in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (emphasis mine). When we read of God’s jealousy, we must realize that it is an integral component of His righteousness.

A Human with Divine Jealousy
When Paul says, “I feel a divine jealousy for you,” what does he mean? Paul has been commissioned as an “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13, cf. 1 Timothy 2:7). Paul was calling Gentiles to repentance. He was calling them out of polytheism—and more broadly, pluralism. In our day, we could easily see Paul as an apostle to the post-modern. He was calling people out of culture where many realities were affirmed to an objective reality. He was calling them out of happy ignorance (read agnosticism) to the plain truth of Christ. This was the whole point of his sermon in Athens:

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols…So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, “To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown [i.e., in ignorance], this I proclaim to you.”’” (Acts 17:16,22-23, emphasis mine)

Our post-modern society is no different. We laud ignorance by affirming all propositions as true. In so doing, we affirm nothing but our rebellion against truth (Romans 1:18). Paul is passionate to see plainly the truth of Christ. In this, God has allowed Paul to share in the divine passion for the exaltation of singular Truth. Many of these “super-apostles” with their brilliant speeches come saying, “Here is a Jesus to worship.” It doesn’t matter to these Corinthians if this Jesus that is proclaimed is the true Jesus; they affirm an idea without validating it. In this, they affirm too much. In fact, this is what happened to Eve. Eve was deceived because she affirmed the serpent’s statements as true without validating against what God had really said. Paul says the Corinthians are in danger of prostituting themselves out to many gods, to many christs. In the same way, the post-modern whores out themselves to many “truths” but will not stay sincerely and purely devoted to the truth, namely Jesus Christ. They may say that they serve Christ, but the question would then be, “How do you know that your christ is the true Christ?” Your understanding – your knowledge – must be based on the objective reality of Jesus Christ that is proclaimed plainly throughout Scripture. Propositions about Christ are not like springs on a trampoline that can be removed. Paul was not martyred for springs on a trampoline. No truth about Christ is optional, negotiable, or removable.

Do you, like Paul, have a divine jealousy for the church? Do you care if people are worshipping the true Jesus or a Jesus of their own construction? As RC Sproul said, “[I]f we are to desire God, it is imperative that we desire the God who is and not a god of our own imagination.” We are commanded by the true Christ that if we are to worship, we “must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

Many thanks to Allison for encouraging those around her to be truth-centered!

Resurrection Realities

For the Christian, a theology that exults over the resurrection of Christ is crucial. As we approach Easter, God has been building up my theology of the resurrection of Christ and its connection with the resurrection of the believer. It is with great joy that I can refer you to John Piper's newest Taste & See Article: Let These Results of the Resurrection of Jesus Revive Your Passion for His Supremacy Over All Things.

Zimbabwe & Prayer

A BBC News article from July 2007 states,

"In Zimbabwe's case, the near-5,000% annual rate of inflation means that a loaf of bread bought today is about 50 times more expensive - in cash terms - than it was a year ago. And prices are continuing to accelerate, in some cases doubling in weeks - or even, on occasion, days. Wages, on the other hand, are nowhere near keeping up. One correspondent recently told the BBC News website that one candle can cost twice the daily official government wage for a farm worker, while the price tag for a single banana is 15 times what she paid seven years ago for a four-bedroom house. "

A more recent article from CNN from March 5, 2008 observes that

$1(US) = $25,000,000 (Zimbabwe)

That is absolute insanity. The article goes on to say,

"Currency dealers said uncertainties ahead of elections scheduled March 29 and the world's highest inflation of 100,500 percent led holders of hard currency to hang on to their money at the same time as the state central bank pumped more local cash into the market for election costs" (emphasis mine).

It is an interesting thing to juxtapose this situation with the all-too-common apathetic, naval-inspecting American, while thinking of the passage from Ezekiel 16:

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it." (Eze 16:49-50)

It would be a wonderful thing if we would get our heads out of our belly-buttons and do something. March 29th marks the presidential elections in Zimbabwe, and they could get out of control. John Simpson from the BBC says, "[T]he recent violence in Kenya over a disputed election worries many Zimbabweans" (hyperlink mine).

Please keep the people of Zimbabwe in your prayers. Pray for President Mugabe; he is not a just man. Pray that the Lord changes his heart or removes him from office.

The Consummation of All Things and a Memory

Monday, March 10, 2008

There are those memories that you hope God allows you to keep. You hope that they are held by His sovereign will in your heart to be cherished. For me, there is a collection of some of my most treasured memories, namely evening conversations with my momma. God provided Lois and Eunice for Timothy, and He blessed me with Sadie and Kathy. Through many evening conversations in my childhood, my momma taught me the beauty of Christ, the majesty of God, and the suffiency of the Scriptures. Our conversations were not the typical ones that mothers and sons have. We talked theology over a glass of tea or a Coke. My earliest memory of these conversations is of momma "reading to me about heaven." -- or should I say "weadin' to me about heaven"? I couldn't say my r's (among other things). As far as I can tell, it was what my momma read to me at this request that has been the most foundational. My momma read to me out of Revelation 20-22 in these instances. These passages illustrated for a little boy the grandeur of God. I'll leave you with two things. The first is one of my favorite passages from what my mom read to me. The second is a poem by John Piper.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." (Rev 22:1-7)

The information for the poem can be found here.

"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

By the Breath of God Ice is Given

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

“At this also my heart trembles and leaps out of its place. Keep listening to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice, and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour. He seals up the hand of every man, that all men whom he made may know it. Then the beasts go into their lairs, and remain in their dens. From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.”

Job 37:1-13

Over the past few days, the college where I teach closed Monday afternoon, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Our region underwent a major ice storm. On my way home on Monday, I nearly lost control of my car. Vehicles were on the side of the road. The power went out for many people. My prayers were that my loved ones and I would be safe in the midst of the storm. The wintry mix of precipitation finally ceased. The ground was hard and slick. The trees and bushes were glassy sculptures. My car was encased in ice. I was not going anywhere soon.

I thought of Elihu’s words to Job about the providence of God. It is an amazing thing that snow and ice obey the command of God. We are kept in our places, trapped. Why? “[T]hat all men whom he made may know it.” It gives us pause. We have been given this day to think of the mighty hand of God, i.e. “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). These moments of pause are elements of “his kindness and forbearance and patience” that are intended “to lead us to repentance” (Romans 2:4). “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen” (Job 37:13). May we linger over the manifold wonder of the power of God in ordering his creation!


I am grateful to John D. Corson for letting me use these photographs. For more of John's work visit here.

Pray the Bible

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Greg Gilbert has posted an amazing blog entry on praying the Scriptures

Together for the Gospel 2006 Videos

Monday, January 28, 2008

I had long thought that it would be wonderful if the videos from the Together for the Gospel conference held in 2006 could be obtained. The audio has been available by Sovereign Grace Ministries for free here. Ligonier Ministries has made the videos available for viewing here or for purchase here.

Can it be? A Simple, Challenging, and Comforting Read

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In an era in which false conversions are common and truth is obfuscated or denied, John Blanchard has provided an amazingly clear text to help you examine if you are truly a regenerate Christian. The Bible is often seen as an antiquated text of checklists of to-do’s. In Blessed: The Beatitudes for Today, Blanchard expounds the opening section (called the Beatitudes) of the Sermon on the Mount, showing that the character of a Christian flows from a relationship with the Sovereign Lord. He notes that the Beatitudes as a whole is an evidence (singular) of one’s right relationship with God and not a checklist of things to do to get right with God. I have been challenged by Blanchard to lean upon Christ, to desire to look more like Him, and to herald the glory of the gospel. May God grant me more books to read like this one! I doubt that I have read such a simple, yet deep, text.

One of the blurbs on the back of the book states, “John Blanchard’s fertile mined, wide reading and clarity of style are all apparent in this excellent volume.” I agree whole-heartedly. After you finishing this text, you feel as though you have spent time in conversation with some of the greatest minds of Christian thought over the last two millennia. You realize that you are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.

Page after page, the reader is presented with the gospel. There are no formulas; there is no exaltation of pragmatism. The weary sheep will be comforted and encouraged by such an exposition! They will not be pushed to-and-fro by speculation but shown rich theology in the clearest way I have ever seen!

One of the most telling paragraphs is:

This is why the critical questions for anyone to ask are not ‘Do I have enough religion?’, ‘Do I belong to the right church?’ or even ‘Am I doing the right kind of things?’, but ‘Has God changed my heart?’ Has he radically changed my motives and affections?’ ‘Do I love what I once loathed, and loathe what I once loved?’ ‘Are my moral and spiritual endeavours driven by a passionate love for God and his ways, or by a lingering belief that they contribute something to my salvation?’ Do I have a genuine longing to be obedient to God in every area of my life?’ Can I truthfully say with David, “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart”?’ (Psalm 40:8). Christian conversion is not an external rearrangement of certain actions, but a radical transformation of the heart which inevitably results in an equally radical transformation of life.

The chapters are:

  1. Setting the Scene (Matthew 5:1-2)
  2. The Congregation (Matthew 5:1-2)
  3. Nothing to Do With Us? (Matthew 5:1-2)
  4. The King’s Favour (Matthew 5:3)
  5. Concepts of the Kingdom (Matthew 5:3)
  6. The Wealthy Poor (Matthew 5:3)
  7. The Joyful Mourners (Matthew 5:4)
  8. Gentle Giants (Matthew 5:5)
  9. Unsatisfied Satisfaction (Matthew 5:6)
  10. God’s Overflow (Matthew 5:7)
  11. Seeing In the Dark (Matthew 5:8)
  12. God’s Peace Corps (Matthew 5:9)
  13. Blessings Out of Buffetings (Matthew 5:10)

A Heart for Evangelism

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This coming weekend my church is holding a seminar to help people live with an evangelistic mindset. Evangelism is an amazing grace that God has given us. In it, we let the overflow of joy that we have for God extend outward to proclaim His goodness to others that they may know the same joy. It is a privelige!

I commend
this sermon by John Blanchard to you for your encouragement. In it, he relays this humbling exhortation from Richard Baxter:

Oh, if you have the hearts of Christians, or of men in you, let them yearn towards your poor, ignorant, ungodly neighbours. Alas! There is but a step betwixt them and death and hell….Have you hearts of rock, that you cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves? If you do believe it, why do you not bestir you to the helping of others? Do you not care who is damned, so you be saved?

Can You Even Ask the Question, or Will You Get Expelled?

Friday, January 11, 2008

There are no stupid questions.” When teachers state this at the beginning of the semester, they are usually trying to create a certain type of learning environment. We want students to ask the hard questions. We want them to become passionate about learning. Asking questions is vital to learning! It is an exhilarating rush to ask a question, study diligently, and see the solution appear. It is like a boat on a voyage through uncharted waters. It crosses over the immeasurable distances, and through the fog, something happens: LAND! Here is an interesting thought: What if you were never allowed to get on the boat? Interestingly, a culture that purports free thought may have stifled it. Our academic institutions are to challenge us, but do they? Sure, they may say there are no stupid questions, but what happens when you ask it? Can you even ask the question? Expelled: No Intelligent Design Allowed features Ben Stein probing this question in the context of the Darwin vs. Intelligent Design debate.

The Believer's Good Portion

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village.
And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary,
who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.
But Martha was distracted with much serving.
And she went up to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?
Tell her then to help me.”
But the Lord answered her,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary.
Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

When we sit down to eat (especially in America), we find ourselves at a table with large portions. We can go to a buffet style restaurant and choose from many different salad toppings, entrees, and side items. We can go up as often as we would like, eating much…too much. We can start out well, eating a small salad with a low-fat dressing. Then we get to the main course, and the options begin to weigh on us, and we gorge ourselves. So it is with the Christian life. We can start off well, but then be overcome by the distraction until we are anxious and troubled, losing focus on the chief goal.

Here we see Martha, welcoming Jesus and, by implication, his disciples into her house. There is her good start that day. She prepared for and welcomed for her guests. This is something we must also do. You may have done this today, as well. But we must also set aside the rest of our day. This is where we begin to see Martha’s unraveling. An illustration may help us see Martha’s sin (and our own).

Imagine a woman at the buffet with a few too many sides and entrees. She is desperately trying to eat all of her food. Her stomach is beginning to ache. She is getting bloated. She is contorting her body to try and find room for the food. Sweat is breaking on her forehead. Next to the woman struggling with the food, we see another woman. This other woman is savoring a nice 7 ounce steak with a small salad and a baked potato. She is enjoying her meal, slowly chewing each piece. The food is settling nicely in her stomach, and she is comfortably situated with a smile on her face. Finally, imagine the woman who is eating too much bursting into the kitchen, grabbing the chef, and telling him to make the other woman help her eat some of the food.

The Lord tells Martha that Mary chose a good portion. Martha chose too much. She lost focus of Christ and his instruction. Let the words of our Lord remind us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mat 6:33). Today, may we sit at Christ’s feet and focus our attention on him. In all that we do, may we seek that one good portion: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Co 10:31).