Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy, part 1

Turns out that I am perfectly incapable of keeping a simple, 3-4 page paper down to well, 3-4 pages. So because there is so much more that I desire to learn from these passages, and because part of that learning process that helps me commit what I have learned to memory is writing, I have decided to post the sections of my paper that I have written thus far, and to "continue to write" my paper, so to speak, because I'm not sure if my professor would appreciate it if I turned a 3 page paper into a 12 page paper.

Here is the first installment, the introduction; I have chosen to title my paper, "Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy"

The American culture today suffers the pervasive and strikingly self-centered, dim-witted notion that just because something is "old" it is rendered useless; this can be seen in Americans' treatment of most anything: ideas, cars, houses, and sadly, even people. Even more distressing is that this way of thinking has crept its way into the church, as evidenced by the fact that many Christians have neither read the Old Testament nor see its necessity, beauty and usefulness. Many Christians seem to think that while the Old Testament is good for a few juicy stories, it is mostly boring history that could hardly pertain to a new covenant believer as much as the commands and instructions of the New Testament. However, nothing could be further from the truth; new covenant believers can and should study the Old Testament, for it is full of riches and hope and wonders for those who take the time to delve into it. One such treasure is the example of those who have suffered righteously. The Old Testament believers teach those under the new covenant how to persevere through trials while at the same time genuinely crying out to God; and more than that, they teach the secret of their perseverance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Mendicant

I thought this would go nicely with the post about Romans 5:1-5.

The Mendicant

by Martha Snell Nicholson

I stood a mendicant of God
before His royal throne
And begged Him for a priceless gift,
which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand,
but as I would depart,
I cried, "But Lord, this is a thorn
and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift
that Thou hast given me.
He said, "My child, I give good gifts
and give my best to thee."
I took it home and though at first,
the cruel thorn hurt sore;
As long years passed I learned at last
to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn
without this added grace.
He takes the thorn to pin aside
the veil which hides His face.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We also exult in our tribulations

Why would we ever rejoice or exult in our tribulations? That seems absurd from every human angle. But that's what Paul says in Romans 5:1-5:

1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)

It is obvious to rejoice in the fact that we as believers have access to God's grace and continue to stand in His grace. As Schreiner puts it, "Those who scorned God's glory (Rom 1:21-23) and have fallen short of it (3:23) are now promised a future share in it." This hope (ejlpivV) isn't a desire that something might happen—biblical hope is a sure confidence, a steadfast confidence in the promises of God. And in this case, it is the sure confidence that we will not be punished by the wrath of God because we have peace with Him, and that someday we will have the glory that Adam forfeited restored to us.

But why rejoice in our sufferings? Again, Schreiner says, "This is an astonishing statement since future glorification is prized precisely because afflictions are left behind." And since Schreiner understands this so much better than I, and since he says this so much more eloquently than I ever could, here is Schreiner's explanation of Rom 5:3-4:

"…The logical chain in the argument leads to the conclusion that afflictions end up producing hope. The reason that believers exult in afflictions, then, is that they conspire to produce greater hope. But how can afflictions beget hope? The chain of reasoning in verses 3-4 provides the answer.

"First, afflictions produce endurance. Those who undergo troubles are toughened up, so that they are able to withstand the storms of life. We have our first clue as to how troubles can spawn hope, since Paul often connects endurance with eschatological hope. Second, endurance produces tested character (dokimehvn). The word dokimhv is not found prior to Paul, but it is clearly related to dokivmion (testing, James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7). Elsewhere the term involves the validation or proof of one's character (2 Cor 2:9; 8:2; 9:13; Phil 2:22). After one endures many difficulties, a strength of character develops that was not present previously. Such tested character in turn generates hope. Why does tested character spark hope? Because moral transformation constitutes evidence that one has really been changed by God. Thus it assures believers that the hope of future glory is not an illusion. There is a pattern of growth in the here and now, however imperfect, that indicates that we are changing. Believers, then, become assured that the process that God has begun He will complete.

"…The parallel with Romans 8:28-39 is crucial here. Those who are justified will assuredly be glorified; nothing will separate believers from the love of Christ… [But] this assurance, as Romans 6 will show, is no ground for moral laxity."

I know that's a huge quote, but it really encouraged my heart, and I hope it encourages you as well!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just some thoughts from Amy Carmichael…

Now that the Christmas rush is over, I feel like I can finally start the vacation part of my Christmas vacation! I'm back into reading A Chance to Die, Elisabeth Elliot's biography of Amy Carmichael. I love how Amy Carmichael refused to dress the gospel up with gimmicks or special presentations—she wanted the gospel to be preached and JUST the gospel!

"Saral [an Indian woman who became Amy's helper] came one day with an idea for drawing the women to hear the Gospel. She would teach them to knit with some pink wool she had been given, 'and they will love me more and like to listen when I talk about Jesus.'

"Amy could not say yes to that. She explained that the Gospel needed no such frills. It is the power of God for salvation. Saral protested that there was nothing in the Bible which bore upon pink wool and knitting needles. Indeed there was—Zechariah 4:6, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.' There was no need for tricks which might open houses—houses were open. No need for methods of helping to humanize and fill bare and empty lives—'these women have a full day's work.' To try to help God with pink fancywork was, she felt, plain unbelief." (pg 126)

Yet Amy also did everything in her power to become completely Indian, insofar as it was not sinful. She studied and learned the language, she wore Indian clothing, and longed to live among the people, rather than removed from them in missionary houses that were overtly English and well-to-do (I'm still in the earlier years of her ministry). I love that Amy made this distinction and how she stuck with it, even when no one else around her carried these same convictions.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Sovereignty of God in Pain & Suffering

These photos from The Boston Globe's "Big Picture" section broke my heart. It's times like these when it would be so easy to shun God. It's human nature to see these horrendous pictures and automatically question, "WHY, GOD, WHY?!" in essence demanding an answer from the Creator of the heavens and earth. I'm not trying to diminish the pain and suffering these individuals and their families are going through—they are absolutely suffering, in a greater way than I have ever experienced. But the question that arises is: "Is God sovereign or good?" thus making individuals choose between the two, as if they are mutually exclusive options.

I am certainly not the first to propose this, and I know I will not be the last, but the right question to ask is, "Can it be shown that God is both wholly good and absolutely sovereign?" I firmly believe with all my being that the answer is a resounding "YES!" But before I attempt to spew out everything I've been learning going through the Desiring God National Conference, 2005; James with my Bible study methods class; my discipleship counseling class; and the Old Testament with my Old Testament survey class, I need to (1) finish my homework [lol] and (2) think of a structured, concise, and compelling way to answer this question, both for my own heart and anyone else out there listening to my ramblings J

However, for those who absolutely cannot wait, a few great places to start searching would be:


My goal is to blog at least once short post per week on this subject… whether that goal is realized or attained is another matter entirely.


PS—if you haven't looked at the "Big Picture" link mentioned above, you really ought to. They will set you thinking!

Monday, September 14, 2009

“What Does It Mean?” vs. “What Does It Mean to Me?”

"...In many situations, however, it is extremely important that we search for the author's meaning because of serious negative consequences that will come if we misunderstand or intentionally ignore the meaning the author intended. For example, one of the most common literary texts in America is the big word STOP painted on the red octagonal signs at many street intersections across the country. If you choose to, you can follow a reader response approach and interpret the text to mean: 'slow down just a bit, look for cars, and then speed on through the intersection.' The police, however, believe strongly in authorial intent for the determination of meaning, so they will respond to your interpretation with a traffic ticket and a fine."


So it seems that our culture is not as postmodern in its practice as it is in its thinking. That's somewhat encouraging…

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Seasoned with Salt

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

I have always (I think) admired the sort of people that can easily and instantly turn a silly or frivolous conversation toward the things of God, and have always wanted to be able to do that. But it isn't easy, at least at first, to be that intentional and that focused… I know for me, it's easier when I am meditating on what I'm learning either from church, or from reading books, or studying God's Word, but sometimes it's still hard! So when I came across these great questions from a blog I follow, I thought I'd share them with everyone; they'll help me for sure!

Questions for Biblical Fellowship

1. What is one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what are you doing to this end?
3. Who is one person you would like to spend time with asking questions about their relationship with the Lord?
4. What is one new way you could help strengthen the church?
5. What is one thing you could do to improve your prayer life?
6. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
7. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
8. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
9. In what area of your life do you most need growth and what will you do about it?
10. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year?