Thursday, March 24, 2011

Luke 6:46

While having coffee at the cafe in the local United Methodist church, at the sanctuary entrance they have a large display (with expensive-looking video and music, etc) to solicit for various questions about who they think God is, questions about the faith, etc, with a bunch of verses listed on sheets of paper with space provided so that you can "sketch or write you(sic) answer on this page." What's amusing about these questions is that one of the verses is Luke 6:46:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"

For a United Methodist church, with its generally wonky theology, I thought that this is quite ironic that they would choose this particular Luke text as a question.

(Strangely, the wireless internet connection wasn't working today at the UM church cafe, but this wasn't a big deal since I wanted to work on some C# coding with a book that I've been studying, plus I packed along my MP3 player to listen to a Mark Dever 9Marks interview, so all is well. I think the UM staff is on to me and shut it off just for my sake... :)

Also ironically is that in this interview I'm listening to with David Wells they've been discussing the state of the culture and how America is what could be considered predominantly "spiritual" and how this puts the Christian message in a much different context - closer to the Nchurch as it was in the context of Acts. That "spiritual" direction describes a lot of how it feels walking through in this UM church - spiritual flavoring but no high-view of scripture, no Scripturally-sound doctrine, etc.

They do have a nice cafe though with half-decent coffee.  Just would have been nice had the WiFi been working...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ephesians 1:1-14

(The following is a devotional I wrote during my time as the central mailer with Alpha-Omega fan magazine.  Just pasting it here as I clean out some old jump drives on my desk...)

Ephesians 1:1-14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Paul's text to the Ephesian church speaks of the blessing of our adoption and redemption, as well as the glories of our being predestined for an eternal inheritance. Reading this passage, and knowing the value that Christ has put on our lives, we are obligated to use our earthly time wisely and effectively, which brings me to the topic of time, and our usage of the limited time that we have.

Although as a concept this can be difficult to fully grasp, time is a convention created by God, and that belongs to God. As such, we should use time in accordance with His will, and not that of our own. And while this does apply to time lost due to sinful behavior, it also applies as well to non-moral behavior. Consider, we can sometimes wind up spending (or more accurately, wasting) life's precious time with watching television (a rerun of a sitcom we've already seen a half dozen times already), video games (you don't need another game of Tetris, Rob), exercise, or even sitting motionless rocking in a chair. Time is a very easy commodity to waste.

In every manner which we use time, we could question if we are using our time wisely as well as to the best of our abilities. Even work itself can be time poorly spent if our working is simply an excessive pursuit of overtime in an attempt to amass money, or when done only for material pursuit and to the detriment of spiritual growth and family commitments.

Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote an excellent sermon on this very topic called "The Preciousness of Time" that's worth reading.  Edwards addresses the topic so much better than I, and while he makes no references to 'Tetris', he does point out a number of important considerations, not least of which is consideration of how precious time is to those who have come to the end of it. Those of us who aren't in that situation should appreciate what it would be like to be at our last days, and make the most of the time that we have. The internet is the pinnacle of time-wasting, with surfing, social networking, online gaming, etc, all being capable of burning up time which is a very precious commodity.  I've personally felt the soul-draining experience of time wasted with online gaming, as well as the regret of lost time that can never be regained.  Reading this text in Ephesians, we as Christians are given a clear picture of Christ's amazing love for us, and how important we as the elect are to him.  Knowing this, we are obligated to look at our lives and how we spend out time, and make the most of the time we've been given.

Time is short, and time cannot be recovered.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dr Lloyd-Jones documentary on George Whitefield

Pastor Justin posted this on Facebook and it's good enough that I'd like to share it here as well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brother Andrew - Dan Wooding

We recently read the biography/life story of Brother Andrew by Dan Wooding, and greatly enjoyed this story.  While serving as a biography, Christian testimonial and an account of high-danger evangelical missions, the book remains a very entertaining account from cover to cover, and serves as a powerful reminder of the power of prayer, and of God's deliverance from situations of seemingly impossible peril.

One of the people mentioned in the nook really caught my attention, and probably stood out to me more than anything else in the book.  Brother Andrew recalls his time with William Hopkins (aka "Uncle Hoppy") during his time staying at the headquarters of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade.  Brother Andrew notes that:

"I soon learned that Uncle Hoppy gave away ninety percent of his income to various missions.  And whenever he found a tramp in need of accomodation, he just took him home with him and he and Mrs. Hopkins cared for that down-and-outer."

I've heard from a couple places of the idea of a reverse tithe, or the idea of giving away 90% of your income and living on the 10%.  Rick Warren, of Purpose Driven Life fame, supposedly follows this model (and seems to be gettin by ok).  This model of stewardship is one of just incredible faith in God's provisions, and I've prayed for the faith and ability to give like this someday myself.  Another section caught my attention:

"When a tramp would stop him in the street and ask for money, he would immediately dig deep into his pocket and hand over some cash.  'But Uncle Hoppy, he will only use it to buy more booze,' I would protest.  My English friend looked at me, as if I shouldn't have questioned his action.  'Andrew, the Bible tells us to give to those that ask, and that's what I'm doing.  You should always do the same.  Don't question their motives."

I've been thinking about that, as there are a number of folks to solicit for money along the I-45 over-passes, and like Brother Andrew, I've had the same thoughts about where the money goes to.  At the same time, I think Uncle Hoppy does make a fair point to consider, as no one can really know for certain what those individual motives would be.

We've moved on to a bio of Corrie ten Boom, but I'd like to revisit the Brother Andrew story someday and check out God's Smuggler.  His story is a very inspiring one, and makes for excellent supplemental material for family worship time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Westminster Shorter Catechism MP3s

Link to the Westminster Shorter Catechism on MP3. The divines are an exceptional way to study and retain the key doctrines of the Christian faith, and are mostly accurate (with exceptions like #95 which is just flat wrong.)