Monday, December 10, 2018

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Kim:

In her book Advent, Fleming Rutledge talks about the significance of the combination of royalty stooping down to meet with her people.
Elizabeth I was a great monarch in part because the people knew that she loved them, and her processions through the countryside were specifically designed to allow them to love her in return. . . If it is true that there is unique power in the combination of royalty and stooping, then there has never been anything comparable to the errand of the Son of God. In Jesus Christ we see the One "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be clutched at, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave' (Phi. 2:6-7). The problem with much of our Christology nowadays, it seems to me, is that we have concentrated so much on the stooping that we have lost sight of the royalty. More than half of the biblical message is thereby eliminated, for it is the combination that counts. Thus we read in Exodus 3, "Moses his his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, 'I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them.'"  
The God who is so terrifying that we must hide our faces from his resplendence is the same God who has come down to deliver his people in their extremity.

Persis:

My pastor started a sermon series on Leviticus, so I picked up From Paradise to the Promised Land by T.D. Alexander off the shelf. It's hard to comprehend how much blood had to be shed day after day, year after year at the Tabernacle and the Temple. I also wonder what it was like for the early believers to realize that Jesus Christ's sacrifice was once and for all.
By emphasizing that Jesus Christ as God's unique son, provided the sacrifice necessary to atone completely for human sin, the New Testament highlights two important aspects of God's character: his justice and his love. Motivated by love, God provides the sacrifice necessary to meet the demands of his own justice. It is God, in the person of his own son, who pays the price of forgiveness for human sin. (pg. 226)

Rebecca:

Graeme Goldworthy on why the Old Testament relevant Christian scripture:
Jesus claimed that the whole of the Old Testament was about him. It has been estimated that the New Testament contains some sixteen hundred direct quotes from, or recognizable allusions to, the Old Testament. If we are interested in the New Testament's testimony to Jesus, we cannot avoid the implications of its preoccupation with the link between Jesus and the Old Testament Scriptures. The idea that the Old Testament deals with the rather irrelevant Jewish background to the Christian gospel is detrimental to the New Testament's exposition of the gospel. Jesus is declared to be the fulfiller, but we won't understand what this means if we don't understand what it is that he is said to fulfill. 
[The Son of God and the New Creation, page 37.]

Friday, December 7, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Persis:

Disagreement is not handled well in today's climate. Attacking the person rather than his stance on an issues seems to be the method of choice, which is why I appreciated this post by Mike Leake - What I Learned When My Position Was Mocked.
[I]f you aren’t being fair in your critique what are you doing to future conversations with those who don’t agree? And especially what will happen as you try to interact on different and more important topics like the gospel? You might have just absolutely exposed the foolishness of socialism and liberals and secular thinking, but have you now forfeited a hearing on the kingdom of Jesus? If your argument isn’t fair, gracious, and Christ-like then you probably have. So what’d you win?

Kim:

Late to the game, but I found this post by Chuck Lawless sobering, even while I had to admit to his point. "Why the North American Church is Unlikely to Experience Revival." 

Rebecca:

This week has been a particularly busy one, so I'm late with my link, too.

I have a few friends who are dealing with family members with dementia—and it is hard! Here's a piece on speaking the truth in love to loved ones with dementia.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Persis:

This is a quote from Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf. She is a neuroscientist and reading specialist who is concerned with what screen-reading is doing to our ability to read deeply. This in turn affects our thinking and our empathy. I don't know about you, but I have definitely seen a change in my ability to concentrate when I am reading from a print book.
Do you, my reader, read with less attention and perhaps even less memory for what you have read? Do you notice when reading on a screen that you are increasingly reading for key words and skimming over the rest? Has this habit or style of screen reading bled over to your reading of hard copy? Do you find yourself reading the same passage over and over to understand its meaning? Do you suspect when you write that your ability to express the crux of your thoughts is subtly slipping or diminished? Have you become so immured to quick precis of information that you no longer feel the need or possess the time for your own analysis of this information? Do you find yourself gradually avoiding denser, more complex analysis, even those that are readily available. More importantly, are you less able to find the same enveloping pleasure you once derived from your former reading self? Have you, in fact, begun to suspect that you no longer have the cerebral patience to plow through a long and demanding article or book? What if, one day, you pause and wonder if you yourself are truly changing and, worst of all, do not have the time to do a thing about it? (pg. 96)

Rebecca:

Nancy Guthrie's Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, a collection of short essays on Christmas topics by various authors, concludes with a piece by Joni Eareckson Tada. We think of Christmas a promise fulfillment—and it is—but, as Joni writes in A Christmas Longing, Christmas is still a promise, too, even for those who live on this side of the first Advent.
Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world. 
Every Christmas is still a “turning of the page” until Jesus returns. Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to … home. 
When we realize that Jesus is the answer to our deepest longing, even Christmas longings, each Advent brings us closer to his glorious return to earth. When we see him as he is, King of kings and Lord of lords, that will be “Christmas” indeed!
Christmas calls us to celebrate a glorious event from the past, but it also calls us to celebrate a  glorious event that is yet to come.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Kim: 

Mike Leake echoes much of what I've been learning in Greek Exegesis this semester. Originally, the Greek New Testament was written not only without punctuation, but in all upper case letters without spaces. The extras were added later. He wisely counsels us not to build a theology on the placement of a comma.

"One Part of Your Bible Which Isn't Inspired."


Persis:

In contrast to the endless debate about career versus home, I appreciate Pastor Sam Powell's post. He takes the discussion out of the realm of pitting one circumstance against the other and brings us back to Who gives us purpose and significance in our very different situations.
Ecclesiastes spells it out perfectly. Under the sun, all is vanity. Married, career, pleasure, mirth, wisdom, foolishness…
There is no life there, for the ground is cursed. The relationships are cursed. Bearing children is cursed. Unless God does something to restore Eden, what does it matter if you have 10 children or die childless?
But God has done something. He sent his Son, the perfect image-bearer of the God, so that in him we DO have purpose, meaning, significance.

Rebecca: 

My week has been a busy one, so I've done less online reading than I usually do. I did listen to a couple of sermons/lectures as I cleaned house and prepared food. I especially enjoyed this lecture by James Anderson on Scripture's self-attestation.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

On Being A Son


But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7 ESV)
My sister and I were the only children in our family. My father didn’t seem to mind that he had no sons, but my mother mentioned a few times that our family was the end of the line for his surname in our branch of the family tree. There were no sons to carry on his name.

That he had an all girl family didn’t make any difference when it came to inheritance. As a rule, when the last parent dies, if there’s no will that states otherwise, all surviving children, male and/or female, divide the inheritance equally. When my father died a few years ago my sister and I split the inheritance.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, which contains the text at the beginning of this post, this is not the way it worked. In ancient Rome, women were usually provided for by the men in their lives, and did not inherit the family’s wealth. Sons, however, could inherit. If there were no natural-born sons to inherit, or if, for some reason, the father did not wish to leave what he owned to his natural-born sons, he could adopt a man of good character to inherit his estate. It was a great privilege for a man to be adopted as a son.

It was, at least as it pertained to inheritance, better to be a son than a daughter, and better to be an adopted son than a natural one. Natural sons could be disowned and disinherited, but not so with adopted sons. Adoption was permanent. When a man was adopted, he became a chosen heir. He would inherit for certain.

It’s probably this kind of adoption Paul had in mind when he used adopted sonship to illustrate the relationship between the believer and God in the passage above. And as the context of these verses makes clear (see 3:28-29), both men and women are God’s adopted sons. Paul used a human institution that applied to men only to illustrate something that, in God’s household, applies to both men and women.

Some translations of the Bible translate son and sons in this passage as child and children. This is not necessarily wrong, but it does obscure one of the main points of the passage, and strips Paul’s chosen analogy of its power. Believing women are not simply children of God—and not simply his daughters, who, in Paul’s day, would have owned nothing for themselves. No, we are adopted sons. Our adoption papers are signed and notarized, and we are permanent designated heirs. In Christ, God’s riches belong to us forever for certain.

God adopts believers as his sons, and it changes everything for them. Every believer’s inheritance is secure because they are adopted sons of God. If we are adopted sons—and we are!—our inheritance is guaranteed.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Kim:

I am almost at the end of the final volume of the selected journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery. I read from it before bed. This entry is at the end of 1937, a year when her husband's mental illness had some very serious re-occurrences, and her son Chester made mistakes which caused her heart sickness.
December 31, 1937 
This has been a fitting close to a year of hell. Today I had another dreadful cup of disillusionment to drink in many ways the worst yet. What can be the end of this? Can there be any end? Will it not go on thus all my life? 
Nineteen hundred and thirty seven is ended. Oh, what a year! How can I have lived through it? And how can I live through 1938? If anyone tomorrow wishes me a happy New Year I shall shriek in his face. There has never been any happiness in this house -- there never will be.
While Montgomery had to deal with a lot (her husband was only the tip of the iceberg; her extended family often turned to her in times of struggle, financial and otherwise), some of her problems were made more unbearable because her own heart. By 1937, she had become very bitter. She often worried more about what people would think than she did about the actual people involved. But she was a desperate woman. It is so sad that she found little solace in Christ.

Deb:

Michael Kruger writes about the power that "deconversion stories" have on people like Jen Hatmaker, Rob Bell, Peter Enns, and Bart Erhman:
De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians. And their purpose is to convince them that their outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent. A person simply shares his testimony of how he once thought like you did but have now seen the light.
He details the pattern of the deconversionist playbook and relates it to recent accounts in this article and this interview.

Rebecca:

In his Commentary on Hebrews, Tom Schreiner sums up the prologue of Hebrews (1:1-4) like this:
Jesus is the culmination of God’s revelation. The OT Scriptures point to him and are fulfilled in him. We see in the introduction of Hebrews that Jesus is the prophet, priest, and king. He is the prophet, for God’s final word is spoken by him and in him. He is the priest by whom final cleansing of sins is accomplished. He is the king who reigns at God’s right hand. The last days have arrived in Jesus and the final word has been spoken, and hence there will be no further revelation until Jesus’ return. The great revelatory events have taken place in Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection, and exaltation. Believers do not need any other word from God for their lives. They are to put their faith in what God has revealed in and through Jesus the Christ.
Have you been taught that you should read and study a passage thoroughy on your own, and then—only then—should you check out a commentary to see what it says about the passage? I break this rule all the time. I love to read commentaries for their own sake, and paragraphs like the one quoted above is one of the reasons.

Persis:

I thought this was a helpful explanation of systematic theology found in The Son Who Learned Obedience by D. Glenn Butner, Jr. (pgs. 7-8)
Systematic theology stands one step further removed from the Bible than does biblical theology. Biblical theology attempts to explain synthetically the meaning of the biblical text in continuity with the meaning intended for the original audience, but it extends this meaning through redemptive historical analysis. Systematic theology draws on the Bible directly and on the conclusions of biblical theology to explain questions that are often foreign to the biblical authors and even the canon as a whole, questions which can nonetheless be answered with confidence given the scope of the Bible. Systematics treats the Bible in terms of the "comprehensive whole", the "overarching story"in which we are called to participate. It seeks not only to explain the logical connection between the explicit or intended meaning of various passages of Scripture, but also to uncover implicit meanings evident in the broad biblical witness but never elaborated in any detail in a single passage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

It is good to give thanks

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High
Psalm 92:1

Given that many people will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we wanted to share what we are thankful for. 

Persis:

It's been a busy and rough year. Much of the summer was spent packing my parents and moving them to assisted living. My dad's health then took a turn for the worse, and the Lord took him home. So in the midst of grief, I am thankful for my dad's life and legacy. I am also thankful for the Bible's promises that Christ's resurrection means we will be resurrected as well. My pastor "just happened" to be preaching this year through 1 Corinthians and the Heidelberg Catechism, so the sermons on 1 Cor. 15, my only comfort in life and in death, and the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting were so timely. God has also sustained my family in so many practical ways too for which I thank Him.

Kim:

There is so much to be thankful for!

Over this past year, I have had opportunities to be with my family, and the highlight of my summer was our vacation with my son and daughter-in-law. How blessed we are to have her in our family.

I'm thankful for being able to be in Seminary. I feel like this was what I was meant to do. I'm learning so much about theology, the Bible, and myself.

I'm also thankful that my parents and my in-laws are all healthy and live independently. After watching what Persis went through this past year, I was reminded that aging parents is not an easy road, and I'm thankful for every good year they are given.

I'm thankful that my identity is in Christ alone.

Rebecca:

As I write this, my church family is preparing a memorial service for a beloved member of our church. I am thankful that the death of each saint is "precious in the sight of the Lord." I am thankful for the sure inheritance God keeps in heaven for us. I am thankful that his power keeps his children faithful to the end.

I am thankful that our trials, our pain, our suffering—and yes, even our death, when it comes—are all God's mysterious way to perform his wonders. I am thankful that God is always accomplishing his purposes.

I am also thankful for beautiful weather. It could be -30°C (Its November in northern Canada, after all.), but it's above freezing instead. This is a rare gift from the One who controls all temperatures everywhere.

I'm thankful that my grown children all live nearby. This too is a rare gift, especially for someone who lives where I do.

Deb:

I'm grateful first and foremost for God's grace to the chief of sinners, for giving new life to my heart of stone, and for transferring my lost, depraved self from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of life through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. All else is done from love and offered back to Him, for His glory and for the good of those whom He places in my path. Thank you, Lord.

What are you thankful for? Please share in the comments.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Kim:

Dr. Carolyn Weber, author of Surprised by Oxford, is an adjunct professor at my school. At our Seminary blog, she talks about "The Power of a Good Question."


Persis:

Amy Mantravadi on Women Writing Theology:
Theology is a noble subject of study for women. Individual churches and denominations must search the scriptures to determine exactly how women’s gifts should be exercised, but we must never forget the positive command placed upon both males and females to proclaim the gospel hope within them.

Rebecca:

"When we know and remember the mercy, grace, patience, and love that Jesus has given to us, we will be able to reflect his heart. Pouring out mercy, grace, patience, and love to those who cannot or will not pay it back to us mirrors Jesus . . . ." — Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks Are Not Useless to Jesus.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Persis:

This is a prayer from Born to Wander by Michelle Van Loon (pg. 59) that's been on my heart.
Heavenly Father, I want to unpack my bags and be home. Because of that desire, there are times I've sought shortcuts so I can try to skip the scary, uncertain parts of the journey. At other points, I've grown impatient and sought to meet my needs in ways that seemed practical and clever, but weren't Your best for me. I've craved comfort and security, and I've labeled those cravings "contentment."
You placed the desire for home within me. You've wired me with needs for food and shelter and safety and I recognize that sometimes, I've focused on meeting those needs in ways that have compromised me. Those compromises have led me further into exile, away from You. Please forgive me and set me on the right path.
Your Word says, "Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies - make your way straight before me" (Ps. 5:8). My enemies may want to take my life or they may simply want to woo me from You with false promises of security and comfort. Awaken me to the ways in which I've baptized the world's view of contentment in spiritual language.
Please, Jesus, help me to accept Your gift of holy discontent as a way in which I will discover what it means to live as a pilgrim. How I want to follow you, Lord! Please guide  me.
I ask these things in the name of the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.
Kim:

I just picked up a book called The Soul in Paraphrase, which is a compilation of devotional poetry. It is edited by Leland Ryken. This excerpt comes from "The Dream of the Rood," which is possibly an eighth century composition, and the author unknown. In this poem, the tree which made the cross of Calvary speaks:
It was long ago -- I remember it --
that I was cut down from the edge of the forest,
ripped up by my roots. Strong enemies seized me there,
made me their spectacle, forced me to bear criminals . . .
I was raised as a cross; I lifted up a mighty King,
the Lord of heaven; I did not dare to bend.
They pierced me with dark nails; I bear the scars,
the open wounds of hatred . .
They mocked us both together. I was drenched with blood
that flowed from that man's side after he had sent forth his spirit . . . 
This volume promises to be good, including poets such as George Herbert, John Donne, John Milton, Anne Bradstreet, and Christina Rosetti. It would make a lovely Christmas gift. It is hard cover, fabric covered, and has a book mark.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Kim:

A Bible study sabotaged? Peter Krol directs our attention to C.S. Lewis to answer this question, in "How to Sabotage a Bible Study."
Bring the Enemy’s word out to be dissected, examined, and (if at all possible) critiqued — but make sure to divide the three strands. They must never read devotionally, theologically, and ethically all together
My hermeneutics professor likes to say: "Every time you crack open the Book, you're face to face with God." He doesn't see it as a legitimate thing to say there is no devotional reading of Scripture.

Persis:

Two links to two podcasts:
White Horse Inn - Mystical Views of God & Salvation (Specifically Christian universalism)
Theology Gals - Mysticism, We Don't Need You
Rebecca:

One way to help your children engage with Scripture: Inductive Bible Study Is Not Just for Adults.

Deb:

The Encourage Podcast featuring Life-giving Leadership from Susan Hunt

Also, Michelle Lesley discusses why women preaching is a primary doctrine issue (unlike baptism, which is secondary)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Kim:

I just began reading Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life: Practical Wisdom From Richard Baxter. It promises to be good:
For the past century and more the notion has been abroad in evangelical circles that the effect of being born again through faith in Jesus Christ will always be a life marked by spiritual euphoria: constant cheerfulness, exuberance, confidence, and high spirits stemming from the knowledge that the God of grace, the sovereign triune Lord, is always actively on one's side. Indeed he is, and the picture drawn is an attractive and happy one -- but see what it leaves out! Certainly triumphant joy in the Lord is a characteristic feature of a healthy Christian life. But Christians, like other people, live in and through bodies -- bodies that from time to time malfunction, get sick, wear out, and finally die; and physical factors, without without spiritual slippages, can at any stage bring on, among other things, depression in its various forms. Some in the past have gone so far as to diagnose depression in Christians as always a sign of unbelief or something major sin, but this is not right.

Persis:

This quote is from Born to Wander by Michelle Van Loon. This book intrigued me, and I'm glad I started reading it as I've been reminded recently that Christians are "strangers and pilgrims" whose citizenship in heaven. (Heb. 11:3, Phil 3:20)
There is something familiar to every human being about the distress of damaged relationships, the disorientation of relocation, and the soul-altering grief of loss. The things in this world that mark us as wanderers point to our exile from Eden and scattering from Babel. They leave us with a sense of homesickness that not even the coziest home or the most joyous family reunion can every dispel. (pg. 27)
Early church fathers said the state of humankind was that of the homo viator (traveler, pilgrim). We have been born to wander. The questions of where we're from or where we're going are clarified by this truth. They become: "Are we moving towards God or wandering away from him?" It is an unsettling question. Those who crave nostalgia or long to live in bunkers of contentment may not be interested in answering it. But for the wanders, the question is a reminder that exile has a purpose that goes far beyond tell us what our next zip code is to be. (pg. 28)

Rebecca:

I have a two commentaries on Hebrews, but neither of them answered a question I had about Hebrews 1:2. (None of my study bibles answered it either.) How is it, I wanted to know, that the Son is appointed heir to all things? Doesn't he own everything automatically, since (as the verse goes on to say) he created everything?

Then I remembered I have a set of Calvin's Commentaries, too. And guess what? He answered the question for me.
But the word heir is ascribed to Christ as manifested in the flesh; for being made man, he put on our nature, and as such received this heirship, and that for this purpose, that he might restore to us what we had lost in Adam. For God had at the beginning constituted man, as his Son, the heir of all good things; but through sin the first man became alienated from God, and deprived himself and his posterity of all good things, as well as of the favor of God. We hence only then begin to enjoy by right the good things of God, when Christ, the universal heir, admits to a union with himself; for he is an heir that he may endow us with his riches. 
In other words, the incarnate Son became heir as the representative human, and in union with him, we receive the inheritance we lost in the fall of Adam. It's as our representative that he is appointed heir to all things.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Kim:

"Is it possible you aren't contending for the faith but are just being a jerk?"

Jared Wilson asks this question in his article "Jerks for Jesus." This is something I'm sure we've all witnessed. It is this kind of phenomenon which prompted me to stop following some people online.


Rebecca:

Two posts that ask important (and related) questions:

Persis:

Now that we've celebrated the 501st anniversary of the Reformation, where do we go from here? Here is Carl Trueman on The Reformation We Need.

Deb:

In Virtue Gone Mad, Michael Foley writes: "There would be no cultural concern for the victim were it not for Christianity"

Also, Paul Maxwell discusses the controversy over Keller's supposed use of Speech Act Theory

Monday, October 29, 2018

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Persis:

From All That's Good by Hannah Anderson:

The possibility (probability) of making a mistake has the power to paralyze us. Not wanting to ever misstep, we set up strict guidelines and fence upon fence. But most of the time, we are not trying to protect ourselves from bad decisions as much as we are trying to protect ourselves from the punishment we’ve learned comes with misstepping. But if our choices are being driven by fear instead of faith, they are wrong regardless of whether we ever step outside the boundaries or not. Instead of being paralyzed by the possibility of making mistakes, we must learn to trust the goodness of God—to trust that even if we do fail, even when we do make a mistake, His goodness will lead us to repentance and bring us safely home.  (pp. 164-165)

Rebecca:

Fred Sanders on how the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed to us:

In order to inform us that the Father has a Son and a Holy Spirit, the Father sent the Son and the Holy Spirit in person. The triunity of God was revealed when the persons of the Trinity became present among us in a new way, showing up in person and becoming the object of our human observation. The apostles testified that what they saw with their eyes and touched with their hands was “that which was from the beginning,” because it “was with the Father and was made manifest to them (1 John 1:1-3). Doctrines that are first announced verbally have the character of revealedness less directly; the doctrine of the Trinity has it more directly. . . .[T]his is an indicator that the doctrine of the Trinity is more than just another doctrine on the list of true things we have been taught by God about God. It is God’s self-revelation by way of presence in a more direct, intense, and personal way [The Triune God, page 40].

Friday, October 26, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Kim:

Crossway has been putting out a series of articles entitled "10 Things You Should Know . . . " I really enjoyed this instalment, "10 Things You Should Know About Bible Study." I especially appreciated the distinction between reading and studying.

Persis:

From Michael Horton - Heaven Is Not Your Final Destination. "The final state is the resurrection of the body and life everlasting."

Rebecca:

I know I keep linking to biographical sketches of women from Christian history, but I love reading them. Some of those Reformation women lived really difficult lives, but remained faithful to the end. Courageous is the only way to describe these two.
Deb: 

A profitable take on a difficult passage from 2 Kings 2: What's the deal, Elisha? Bears attacking kids? Derek Rishmawy helps explain from the context. 
Additional link: Dr. Michael Kruger on why we can't unhitch from the Old Testament.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

All That's Good - Review and a Giveaway

All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment by Hannah Anderson, Moody Publishers, 2018, 215 pages.

What is discernment? Is it knowing who to unfollow and who to mute? What books not to read? What foods and medicines will make you sick? But what if discernment is more than just what and who to avoid? What if discernment is not only rejecting the bad but also embracing what is good?

This is the case Hannah Anderson makes in her new book All That's Good. She writes that discernment is not just a life hack or tips and tricks. It's being "changed by wisdom" and becoming "people who know the difference between what's bad and what's good, what's good and what's better." (pg. 14) It is a quality of life to be cultivated that goes deeper than a checklist. Thus "discernment does not change the challenges we face; it changes our ability to face them." (pg. 25)

All That's Good begins by turning the reader to the source of discernment, God himself, and the promise that he will give wisdom to those who ask it. He can also open our eyes to the beauty and goodness that still exists amidst the brokenness in this world. "With the eyes of faith we can see the work that God is doing in it - the work He is doing to those of us who come to Him seeking to be made good." (pg. 43) In appreciating the good gifts that God has given us, he uses them to draw us closer to him. As a result, we are changed into people of virtue, who learn how to think and not just simply what to think. (pp. 53-58)

The second half of the book is based on Phil. 4: 6 "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable." Hannah discusses how discernment relates to the pursuit of truth, honor, purity, justice, and what we commend or condemn with our speech. These are very practical and challenging chapters that address issues of day-to-day holiness as we live in community with our neighbors and fellow Christians.

I read All That's Good in one sitting as I had time to kill on a 7-hour train trip. I meant to put it down after a couple hours and take up another book, but I couldn't put this one down. I've appreciated Hannah's previous books, but this one struck a deeper chord with me. I've been trying to cultivate the life of the mind after decades of letting it go dormant, formerly believing that spirituality and thinking were mutually exclusive. But initially, discernment (or what I thought was discernment) was more about proving my rightness and ammunition against someone else's wrongness. It was selfish and prideful. However, what Hannah writes is far from this. It's true that we will be transformed as we grow in wisdom, but this transformation does not occur in isolation. Its goal is not for ourselves alone. This gift of discernment, which allows us to see and enjoy so many other good gifts from God, is "for the healing of the body of Christ." (pg. 182.) When I read those words, I nearly started crying, but I managed to hold it together because I was in the quiet car. Hannah described the burden in my heart for the last few years that I could not articulate until now. "As much as we must learn to discern the goodness in the world around us, we must learn to discern it within His Body to see its goodness despite its brokenness... To know the goodness of those with whom we "live on one bread and one wine."" (pg. 184)

All That's Good is a book that I will be returning to again and again, and I highly recommend it. You won't find a list of "10 easy steps to discernment," and your thinking will be challenged. In fact, Hannah writes that she is going "to do my best to complicate your decision-making process, to lead you away from our common disposition to fear-based thinking toward a place of hope and abundance." (pg. 14) But it will be worth it in the end.

We're giving away a copy of this book. Please use the form below to enter the giveaway. One entry per person please. The giveaway ends midnight October 28th.

* The giveaway has ended. * 

 I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, October 22, 2018

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Persis:

This quote is from All That's Good by Hannah Anderson. I read it all in one sitting literally as I was on a train for 7 hours. Lord willing, I will be reviewing it soon.
Discernment does not overlook the brokenness of the world. It does not deny the need of redemption. It does not excuse sinfulness, live in a false reality, or pretend that a damaged statue is just as good as a carefully preserved one. What discernment does is equip us to see the true nature of the world and of ourselves, - both the good and the bad. Discernment helps us see the world for what it was made to be and believe that God is powerful enough to restore it to its intended purpose. That somehow we are part of that process. That somehow we will be restored ourselves.  (pg. 42-43)
Kim:

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in a compilation of his sermons on Isaiah 40, comments on v.1-2, and what the message of God is:
The message of God is one that comes to us in Christ and comes to us exactly where we are, even as the Lord himself put it in that perfect picture he once painted of a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. This man fell among thieves and was wounded and left there on the road. Certain people passed him by, but the one whom our Lord praised crossed the road and went to where the man was lying and cleaned and bandaged his wounds and took him to an inn and paid for him. He dealt with the man exactly as he was and here he was. And that is what the gospel does; it speaks to the heart of Jerusalem. How wonderful it is that the gospel of Christ comes to us exactly where we are, however weary and sad we may be.

Rebecca:

Hebrews 1:1-2a says this:
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. (CSB)
Notice the contrasting pairs of phrases:
  • Long ago/in these last days
  • God spoke to the fathers/he has spoken to us
  • By the prophets/by his Son
In Tom Schreiner’s Commentary on Hebrews, he writes this about these verses and their contrasting phrases:
[W]e see that the one phrase with no corresponding phrase is “at different time and in different ways.” Still the author expects the readers to fill in the gap. The revelation in the former era was diverse and partial, but the revelation in the Son is unitary and definitive. The final revelation has come in the last day for God has spoken in his last and best word. No further word is to be expected, for the last word focuses on the life, death, and resurrection of the Son. As 9:26 says of Jesus, “But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Believers await the return of the Son (9:28), but they don’t expect a further word from God. No more clarification is needed. The significance of what the Son accomplished has been revealed once for all . . . .
We don't expect more revelation from God. He has spoken finally and definitively in the Son. We have it all.

Deb: 

Writing on the gulf between the scholarship of the academy and Bible study from the pews, Dr. Craig Carter highlights some of the central issues in scripture interpretation today. One example:
Many people seem to confuse the allegorical method with postmodern reader-response methods of hermeneutics in which the reader actually reads meaning into the text that was not there initially. The difference between at least some of the allegorical approaches of the fathers and the modern, reader-centered approaches, however, is that the former do not seek to read the reader’s ideas into the text, but rather to extract a second layer of meaning from the text itself. As David Steinmetz makes clear in his classic article, “The Superiority of Pre-critical Exegesis,” the allegorical method actually lies between the two extremes of the Enlightenment’s single-meaning theory, on the one side, and a postmodern reader-centered approach, on the other. The allegorical approach views the text as having more than one meaning, but not an unlimited number of meanings and certainly not mutually contradictory ones... 
A fundamental choice confronts the would-be interpreter at the outset: inspiration or naturalism. This basic choice cannot be avoided, only obfuscated. The choice between inspiration and naturalism is the basis of the gulf between the academy and the church of which Steinmetz spoke. Classical interpretation of Scripture— which was the approach in Western culture from the early centuries up to the Enlightenment and still is the approach followed in the (conservative) preaching and teaching of much of the worldwide church today— cannot adopt methodological naturalism without rendering inoperative the doctrine of inspiration.
Carter, C. A. (2018). Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Pre-modern Exegesis. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition (pp. 5, 16).

Friday, October 19, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Kim:

You Say "Horseface," and I hear . . . 

I felt my heart go out to Michelle Van Loon when I read her post. It was not just for her words concerning the U.S. President which moved me, but also for what she endured as a child, and the reminder that words sting. Many of us have painful memories generated by someone calling us names. Words do hurt.

Rebecca:

How should do we answer our children's questions about death? These are questions we might wish we could avoid forever, but sooner or later, life circumstances will force the issue. What should we tell them? "The good news is that God has given us answers in the Bible" [Rachel Miller].

Persis:

Before Abraham was, I am  - Pastor Sam Powell writes about who Jesus is - fully God, fully man, the only mediator, and the only way to God.

Deb:

The Whole Earth Groans - Michael Hanby writes about how the present anthropological heresy denies both God and human dignity.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Rebecca:

John Calvin was sure the book of Hebrews belonged in the Bible even though he was also sure it wasn’t written by Paul, but by some other unknown author. In this quote from the introduction to his Commentary on Hebrews, he explains why it merited a place in the canon of scripture.
I, indeed, without hesitation, class it among apostolical writings; nor do I doubt but that it has been through the craft of Satan that any have been led to dispute its authority. There is, indeed, no book in the Holy Scriptures which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that only true sacrifice which he offered by his death, so abundantly treats of the use of ceremonies as well as of their abrogation, and, in a word, so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law. Let us not therefore suffer the Church of God nor ourselves to be deprived of so great a benefit, but firmly defend the possession of it.
[Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews]

Kim:

One of the books for my Synoptic Gospels class is F.F. Bruce's Hard Sayings of Jesus. The assignment was to look for some area of disagreement we had with Bruce's analysis. Thankfully, it was a group project. It's kind of daunting to be told to critique someone of Bruce's stature. Here is a conclusion Bruce made regarding the parable of the camel going through the eye of the needle (Mark 10:25):
No doubt Jesus was using the language of hyperbole, as when he spoke of the man with a whole plank sticking out of his eye offering to remove the splinter or speck of sawdust from his neighbour's eye (Matt 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42). But the language of hyperbole was intended to drive the lesson home: it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God --  humanly impossible, Jesus concedes; for God, with whom nothing is impossible, can even save a rich man. But if so, then the rich man's heart must be changed by having his attachment to material riches replaced by attachment to the true riches, 'treasure in heaven.'

Friday, October 12, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Kim:

Find some "Encouragement for Bible Reading From Puritan Women." These women always inspire me. They were often said to have been known for "their piety." Is that something I will be remembered for?

Rebecca:

Here's the story of Anne of Bohemia, who is said to have carried copies of the New Testament in Latin, Czech, and German, when, as a 15 year old, she travelled from Bohemia to England to marry Richard II, King of England. John Wyclif would use this piece of information in defense of his work to produce a Bible in English, an act that was "considered heretical by church officials, who feared that untrained minds would misunderstand its teachings and cause further problems in the church." If church officials considered him a heretic, he argued, wouldn't they have to call the Queen a heretic, too, since she probably "had the Gospel in three languages: Bohemian, German, and Latin”?

In this way, and maybe more, young Anne played a small part in what would eventually become the Protestant Reformation.

Deb:

One of the remarkable (and little-known) facts about the early Christian movement was its popularity among women. The ministry of women was critical to its success and expansion in the earliest centuries. Dr. Michael Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, recently spoke about this very topic to the women who attended The Gospel Coalition's Women conference. His session explores the impact of women during this time period (particularly the second century) and helps to draw out lessons to be learned for the modern day. Listen to the session here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Kim:

One of the books I'm reading in my Synoptic Gospels class is F.F. Bruce's Hard Sayings of Jesus. I read something interesting in his discussion of the saying in Matthew 5:29, about plucking out your right eye if it offends you:
Shortly after the publication of William Tyndale's English New Testament, the attempt to restrict its circulation was defended on the ground that the simple reader might mistakenly take such language literally and 'pluck out his eyes, and so the whole realm will be full of blind men, to the great decay of the nation and the manifest loss of the King's grace; and thus by reading of the Holy Scriptures will the whole realm come into confusion.' So a preaching friar is said to have declared in a Cambridge sermon; but he met his match in Hugh Latimer who, in a sermon preached the following Sunday, said that simple people were well able to distinguish between literal and figurative terms. 'For example,' Latimer went on, 'if we paint  fox preaching in a friar's hood, nobody imagines that a fox is meant, but that craft and hypocrisy are described, which so often are found disguised in that garb.'
Even back then, the presence of figurative language was easily understandable by the general reading audience.


Persis:

This is from a prayer for a time of bereavement by John MacDuff.
Let us hear Jesus' voice of encouragement and love, sounding amid the stillness of the death-chamber, and from the depths of the sepulcher, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave!"

O Helper of the helpless, Comforter of all who are cast down, better and dearer than the dearest and best of earthly relatives--give us that grace which You have promised specially in seasons of weakness. May we realize the truth of Your own precious promise, "As your day--so shall your strength be."

May this thought reconcile us to bear all and suffer all--that we shall soon be done with this present evil world--and be with our God, and that forever and ever! Hide us meanwhile, in the clefts of the Smitten Rock, until this and all other of earth's calamities are over and past. May we trust Your heart--where we cannot trace Your hand! We wait patiently for the great day of disclosures, when all shall be revealed; and all be found redounding to the praise and the glory of Your great name!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 

Persis:

Do you wish to get well?
He didn’t come for those who think they see. He didn’t come for those who think they walk. He didn’t come for the rich or the powerful or the entitled. He didn’t come for the ones on the top.
He came for the hungry, the oppressed, the afflicted, the widow, the orphan. Those that don’t have the strength to get to the water.
He came for those who have had their choice and their voice taken away.

Kim:

Mommy Drinking is No Joke

I had honestly never heard of the phrase "mommy juice" in reference to mothers drinking alcohol. Perhaps it is because I've only attended churches where most people did not drink. Whatever your position on the freedom to drink, the idea that mothers must rely on a drink to get by is something to be concerned about. Any joke about drinking to excess whether mom or dad or anyone else is in poor taste.


Rebecca: 

The Bible study I hold at my home is now moving from the Epistle of Jude to the Epistle of Hebrews. (We are going to have to pick up our game a bit. We spent 9 sessions on the 25 verses of Jude. It was great going over each verse with a fine-toothed comb, but at that pace, we will be working on Hebrews for several years.) Searching for resources on Hebrews, I was reminded this series of Bible studies on the book of Hebrews led by Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary. To start at the beginning, you will need to scroll down to Season 1, Week 1.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Essential Truth

The Lord is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works (Ps 145:9)

One of the most humbling moments I've ever had came during a time as a new Christian when I worked in a word processing pool. My boss told me at my 6 month review that there were comments from others in the pool that I complained too much. I was mortified. Over the years, I have had a struggle to stop complaining.

Concentrating on God's goodness has been one of the most helpful things to my tendency to complain. I keep learning that in every difficult situation, God is always good. I was reminded of this last Sunday when I was talking to a friend at church. She has been dealing with a very serious health situation. I had not seen her for a while, and when I commented that she looked good and seemed to be in very good spirits, she said, "Well, look around; I could have it much worse." In the face of her own illness, she recognized that there are others in our congregation (and there are; many) who are dealing with much worse. She sees God's goodness. She counts God as good for providing improvement, for providing medical care. She was looking outside of her circumstance and toward God.

In the past, while complaining, I have had people suggest that I look for God's goodness. I have not always responded to that counsel in a good way. When we are feeling sorry for ourselves, we want validation, and sometimes, we secretly enjoy feeling that we deserve to complain. There is definitely a time for allowing someone to express her frustration, but ultimately, we cannot stay there.

Complaining infects our thinking, taking our attention away from God to ourselves. We stop seeing God as good, but it is crucial to avoid that. God's goodness is why he shows mercy time after time whenever we sin. It is why he sustains us, why he sustains the world, why he delays the coming of Christ that others may come to know him. God's goodness is in the big things and the small things. If we have trouble seeing God as good, there are two things we can do: 1) read the Word of God daily, and 2) look around us. There are little signs of God's goodness everywhere.

Last week, I was struggling with a cold, and I complained. I grumbled about the timing. A stuffy head, runny nose and fatigue were not helpful for my crowded to-do list. One day, late in the afternoon, I sat outside and watched as a hummingbird hovered at my feeder. A harried squirrel realized there was a human and a Beagle on my deck and ran furiously at the sound of barking. I noticed that my maple tree is showing its colours among the top leaves. I caught the scent of someone burning leaves, and I heard the sounds of the kids two doors down from me playing outside. I had my cup of Yorkshire tea, comfortable on my Muskoka (or as the folks south of me say, Adirondack) chair, outside of a comfortable home, with a book on my lap for a class at seminary where I'm privileged to go; little things given by the hand of a good God.

The essential truth of God's goodness can shape our thinking in both the little things and the big things. It can bring us out of a funk or give us a strategy for avoiding grumbling and complaining. It may not solve our situation, but within it, we can see God's goodness. In these days when it seems like all around us see nothing but doom and gloom, we need to understand that God is good.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Persis:

This is a quote from Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis who recently lost his wife to dementia.
Learn to lament with people...  Listen to the stories of the suffering and identify with them. Say unprofound but appropriate things like "I am so sorry" and "That is terrible." It is not wise to try to cheer before it's time... I am still but a babe in this loving skill, suffering well with others. Will you join me in the school of lament? Will you learn to sit on the mourner's bench before God and with those whom you love? (pgs. 168 & 170)

Rebecca:

Four principles from New Testament passages on how to love God through our work from Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton:
1) Work to please God: The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30). In the parable of the talents Matthew presents Jesus commending initiative, diligence, and even savvy attempts to earn interest on one’s money (Matt. 25:20-23, 27). He likewise discourages a slothful, fearful failure to be fruitful (25:26-30). 
2) Do all for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). 1 Corinthians 10:31 communicates Paul’s view that all things should be done for God’s glory. God created the world to fill it with his glory, and those who would make God’s character known should join him by pursuing his renown whether eating, drinking, or doing anything else. 
3) Do all in Christ’s name (Col. 3:17). The name of Jesus is about the character and mission of Jesus. To work in the name of the Lord Jesus, then, is to work in a way that reflects his character and joins his mission. To put his character on display is to be transformed into the image of the invisible God (2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 1:15). This means for Paul to speak of working in Christ’s name is another way for him him to urge working for God’s glory. 
4) Work from your soul for the Lord (Col. 2:23). In addition to working for God’s glory, Paul instructs the Colossians to work from the soul for the Lord. This appears to mean that they should put all they are into their work rather than merely doing things to preserve appearances before men. Christians should employ their creative capacities and soul-deep energies as they seek to serve God in their work. With God’s glory as our aim, nothing less will suffice.

Kim:

Another quote from D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies:
Unless we recognize the "distance" that separates us from the text being studied, we will overlook differences of outlook, vocabulary, interest; and quite unwittingly we will read our mental baggage into the text without pausing to ask if that is appropriate. We are truly prepared to understand a text only after we have understood some of the differences between what the text is talking about and what we gravitate to on the same subject.
Deb:

From Elizabeth Garn, speaker at the recent PCA Women's One Conference in Annapolis, Md:
In Genesis 1 the Lord says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (v. 26). God suddenly stops the unfolding creation account, invites us in, and tells us what he’s about to do: create mankind. Not only that, he tells us why. He’s going to place his image on the earth, and he’s going to do it in the form of men and women (Gen. 1:27). Our purpose as children of God, as women, is to bear his image.

Images are reflections, and that’s what we were crafted to be—reflections of God here on earth. We were created to be signposts pointing others to him, mirrors displaying his character to the world. When people see us, they see aspects of God. How amazing! Your purpose, then, isn’t something you earn or work for; it’s something you already are.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Five Star Links


Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Rebecca:

As you know, right now Jesus is in heaven in glorified human form, and he will remain in human form for all of eternity.  Does his everlasting humanity limit him anyway? For instance, how can he be omnipresent if he is in heaven in a human body? [Clint Archer].

Kim:

Are you familiar with the Apostles' Creed?  If you are not, Zondervan Academic has a post that provides a good summary. Included is a video clip from Mike Bird who is always very interesting, and who has a lovely Aussie accent. If you want to learn more check out Bird's book What Christians Ought to Believe. I read the book when it came out, and enjoyed it very much.

Persis:

What place does biblical counseling have in helping a family face dementia? Dementia: A Biblical Approach for Care.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Great Equalizer


When you have loved ones who are aging and declining, it's hard to avoid facing death, and it is sobering. For some reason, the phrase "Death is the great equalizer" came to mind the other night, so I googled it. References to Shakespeare came up, but the Bible describes this far better than any literature could.

"The wages of sin is death" 

This statement certainly encompasses us all no matter our station in life, bank account, or IQ score. In Adam all die, and none of us are exempt. But the verse doesn't end there, thank God.

"but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Death may be a great equalizer, but there's another far greater equalizer. The gospel. When it comes to salvation, there is nothing we can do to merit God's favor. No matter how good we think we are or what sort of spiritual lineage we think we have, those things are nothing. But there is also no one who has sunk beyond the reach of God's grace. There is one Savior for the pharisee, the publican, you, and me. Christ alone paid the debt that we could never pay. Christ alone lived the life we could never live. The only thing we bring to the table is our sin, but Christ brings everything.

There are brothers and sisters who I would disagree with doctrinally, but when we stand before the throne of God, we aren't going to be pulling out our theological resumes and showing them off. We will be bowing before the Lamb and saying that He is worthy.

And when, before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
"Jesus died my soul to save,"
My lips shall still repeat.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Quotes of Note



Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking,  or all of the above.

Persis:

This is from Spurgeon's Treasury of David on Psalm 103:13 -
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." To those who truly reverence his holy name, the Lord is a father and acts as such. These he pities, for in the very best of men the Lord sees much to pity, and when they are at their best state they still need his compassion. This should check every propensity to pride, though at the same time it should yield us the richest comfort. Fathers feel for their children, especially when they are in pain, they would like to suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive towards us is our heavenly Father. We do not adore a god of stone, but the living God, who is tenderness itself. He is at this moment compassionating us, for the word is in the present tense; his pity never fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.

Rebecca:

Why should a Christion treat animals humanely? Why should they value all of nature? From Nancy Pearcey:
Genuine respect for animals and the rest of nature . . . derives from the conviction that all creation comes from the hand of God and therefore has intrinsic dignity and value. Scripture teaches that humans are stewards of creation, responsible to a higher authority for the way we care for the world around us (Gen. 1:28). Proverbs 12:10 says, "The righteous care for the needs of their animals." Humanity is not the highest rung of an evolutionary ladder, free to use nature any way we want for our own benefit. Instead we will answer to the Creator for the way we treat his creation.
[Love Thy Body, page 103.]

Kim:

For my Greek Exegesis class, we are reading D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies. It is a truly eye-opening, thought-provoking book. In the introduction, Carson outlines the reasons why examining fallacies is helpful, and he provides a potential danger:
The first is that persistent negativism is spiritually perilous. The person who makes it his life's ambition to discover all the things that are wrong -- whether wrong with life or wrong with some part of it, such as exegesis -- is exposing himself to spiritual destruction. Thankfulness to God for both good things and bad things and for his sovereign protection and purposes even in bad things will be the first to go. It will be quickly followed by humility, as the critic, deeply knowledgable about faults and fallacies ( especially those of others!), comes to feel superior to those whom we criticizes. Spiritual one-upmanship is not a Christian virtue. Sustained negativism is highly calorific nourishment for pride. I have not observed that seminary students, not to say seminary lecturers, are particularly exempt from this danger. (p.22)
What Carson is talking about here is the tendency to allow knowledge to puff us up, and it isn't restricted to those studying Greek or those in seminary, for that matter. For anyone who is perceived to be in a position of authority, there is always a fear of spiritual one-upmanship. There is a lot of "sustained negativism" online. We probably see it daily.

Deb:

Sometimes, it can be tempting to give up -- to stop putting forth the effort to walk in obedience and grow in the knowledge of God and His grace. Especially with the rapidly changing cultural environment and the increasing polarization among fellow Christians, my personal motivation and inspiration can wane significantly.

Mike Leake in Torn to Heal encourages us to hold onto God's promises and His Word even when we're navigating the toughest times in life:
Yet God is in the process of redeeming us. The process is slow and it is painful, but God will stop at nothing to bring it about. Completely. All things, both good and ill, work together for our greatest good — conformity to Jesus. This includes our pain… He will stop at nothing to fully redeem us. He does this by changing our desires. And this is good (p. 16).

Friday, September 21, 2018

Five Star Links

Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Kim:

I so appreciate the writing of Christina Fox. She is insightful, humble, and encouraging. I really enjoyed her "Writer's Prayer."

Forgive me for the ways in which I have stolen your glory in my writing. Forgive me for the ways in which I have not glorified you in the words I have written. Forgive me when I fail to use the gift you've given me in a way that honors you, when I waste the gift and horde it, or when I fear what others think of my writing more than I fear you.

Persis:

This is the story of Kim In Tae, a survivor of Japanese-occupied Korea and the Korean War, written by her grandson - Hope When Hope is Lost.
While we commemorate the stories of freedom fighters, we tend to overlook the vast majority of regular people like my grandmother whose own hopes were sacrificed on the altar of someone else’s ideologies, ambitions, or societal norms. Their stories deserve to be heard as well.
Rebecca:
Scripture says that we should [glorify God] in every facet of our lives. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). This includes our God-given vocations. And it applies in our mundane, ordinary lives . . . . 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Book Review: God Is Better Than Trucks


What is God like? When a child asks this question—or a similar one—how should we answer?

There’s a real sense in which God is nothing like anyone or anything in a child’s world. (He’s not much like anything in an adult’s world, either.) “To whom then will you compare me, God asks, “that I should be like him?” (Isaiah 40:25 ESV). The right answer to his question is “no one!” There is nothing in creation that is like the Creator (Isaiah 46:9). He is so far above and beyond the things he has made that there is really no comparison to be made (Isaiah 46:5).

How, then, do we bridge the gap between a child’s limited concrete knowledge of the material world and true knowledge of our infinite, transcendent God? How can we explain to a child what our God, who is pure spirit, and cannot be seen or touched, is like?

Even though God is like nothing in his creation, everything in creation reflects the One who made it. Every created thing points to its Creator. Throughout scripture, God uses some of the small ways things in creation reflect him to teach truths about himself. Scripture calls God a rock (Deuteronomy 32:18), because God, as the ultimate protector, is a little bit like a rock, which can also protect people from harm. God is full of life and strength, and, in a much lesser way, so is a cypress tree, so God tells us, "I am like an evergreen cypress" (Hosea 14:8). Even things made by his image bearers point to him, so he likens himself to some of them, too—a fortress (Psalm 46:7, 11), or a  shield (2 Samuel 22:3), for example—to explain aspects of his divine nature.

We can’t see or touch God, but we can see and touch things in our world. As he explains himself using illustrations from the material realm, we can know something about our immaterial, transcendent God. But we need to be careful how we use these illustrations, because, in the end, no illustration, or even a collection of illustrations, can adequately describe God.

In the picture book God Is Better Than Trucks, Sarah Reju teaches children about God’s nature and works using things from their world and their interests—trucks and other modes of transportation, twenty-six of them, from A to Z—and finds the perfect balance between these two truths: God is like nothing in his creation, but everything in his creation reflects him.

In this book, children can learn about God by comparing him to an ambulance, a bulldozer, a car carrier, a jet, a kayak, and many more. Each comparison is accompanied by a verse from scripture that supports it. Here is the text from the page for the letters F and G, which accompanies a picture of a fire truck and a garbage truck:
The fire truck sprays water to put out a fire, but God sends rain to water the whole earth. God is better than fire trucks! The garbage truck cleans up garbage, but God cleans our hearts. God is better than garbage trucks!
By the end, a child will know something about God’s nature and his works, and it will also be clear that God is so much better and so far beyond any truck that exists—or ever could exist—that there is really no comparison at all.

If you are looking for a book about God to read aloud to a 3-5 year old, you can't do much better than God Is Better Than Trucks. It would make a great Christmas gift, too.

Sarah Reju is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom of five kids, and lives in Washington, D.C.