Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Calvin and a New Vocabulary

I recently finished reading Calvin by Dr. Bruce Gordon - and not only did I learn much about the details of John Calvin’s life, but I also came to know the meaning of a number of words I had never heard before. Here are just a few (with their meanings):

Perfidious = treacherous
Calumnious = to discredit or malign
Coruscate = sparkle
Sophistry = displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone
Invidious = prejudice
Envisage = to conceive or imagine
Profundity = intellectual depth
Prolixity = long-windedness or extreme wordiness
Dissimulation = deceit or deception
Apoplexy = a stroke, intracerebral bleeding
Contumacy = rebellion; insubordination
Perfidy = betrayal
Timorous = fearful, timid
Circumlocution = indirect expression
Foetid = foul-smelling
Alacrity = eagerness
Perspicuous = easily understandable
Unctuousness = smug, self-serving earnestness
Panegyrist = an orator who delivers eulogies
Prescient = foresight
Avaricious = covetous, greedy

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Self-Trust vs. Superhuman Hope in God

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)
It is natural . . . for us to trust in ourselves. It is so natural, and so confirmed by the habits of a lifetime, that no ordinary difficulties or perplexities avail to break us of it. It takes all God can do to root up our self-confidence. He must reduce us to despair; He must bring us to such an extremity that the one voice we have in our hearts, the one voice that cries to us wherever we look round for help, is death, death, death.

It is out of this despair that the superhuman hope is born. It is out of this abject helplessness that the soul learns to look up with new trust to God.

From "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians" by James Denney

Saturday, May 15, 2010

God's Non-Flammable Sovereign Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

As sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:21

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Joy of the Gifts and the Giver of Gifts

I have enjoyed the challenge of Doug Wilson’s edgy reflections in his books – and I am now pleased to find he is writing regularly as a blogger. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s blog entitled “A Full Tank of Gas and Lots of Wyoming Ahead.” Click here to read the whole post.

Given my finite limitations, I have to think about the gifts God gives to me a lot. I have to think about the fact that my feet are not cold anymore, that it is time for dinner, that one of my shoulder blades itches, and so on. To use Lewis’ conceit from the toolshed, I have to spend a lot of time looking at the sunbeams, and a fraction of my time is set aside for direct worship of God, looking along the sunbeam. The temptation we have is that of treating all this as a zero-sum game, assuming that any time spent on the gifts is necessarily time away from the Giver. But though this sometimes happens, it does not need to happen. Rightly handled, a gift is never detached from the one who gave it. Wrongly handled, a gift can be the occasion of selfishness, which is a common problem. But it can also be the occasion of a higher form of selfishness, one which pretends to be above the whole tawdry field of “gifts in themselves.”

Picture a particularly “pious” little child who was impossible to give gifts to, because he would always unwrap it, abandon it immediately, and run up to his parent and say, “But what really counts is my relationship with you!” A selfish child playing with a toy ungratefully is forgetting the giver. This pious form of selfishness is refusing to let the giver even be a giver.

We should not assume that in the resurrection, when we have finally learned how to look along that beam, in pure worship, that our bodies will then be superfluous. God will not have given us eternal and everlasting bodies because we finally got to such a point of spiritual maturity that we are able to ignore them. In the resurrection, we will have learned something we currently struggle with, which is how to live integrated lives. If God is the one in whom we live and move and have our being, it should not be necessary, in order to glorify God, to drop everything. We shouldn’t have to keep these things in separate compartments.

Incidentally, this kind of integration will prevent dislocations from arising in families that are sold out to the glory of God. Integration will keep our neighbor (or wife, or husband, or kids) from feeling like a means to an end. There is a delicate balance here, but God is most glorified in me when I love what He has given to me, for its own sake. This is teleologically related to the macro-point of God’s glory being over all, of course, but we still have to enjoy what He gives, flat out, period, stop. Otherwise, in the resurrection, God will be looking at all the billions of His resurrected saints, standing there contentedly, looking at Him, and He will say, “You know, you people are impossible to shop for.” Which is, of course, absurd and impossible. In the resurrection, it will be possible for us to be absorbed by God’s gifts in ways that are impossible to conceive of now.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Deeper Life of the Gospel

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13-14)
Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. . . . After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. Since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel.

from “Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels” by Tullian Tchividjian

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Sovereignty of God Over Financial Fear

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. (Psalm 135:15)

May 7, 10:37 AM EDT

World markets plunge despite strong US jobs data

LONDON (AP) -- A strong set of U.S. jobs data Friday failed to shore up confidence in world markets as stocks plunged again amid mounting fears that Europe's debt crisis could spread and derail the global economic recovery. . . .
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. (Psalm 46:6)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Praying for Your Church

On Tuesday, April 27 Kenny Stokes was affirmed as the Interim Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church during John Piper’s eight month leave of absence. Kenny and I became good friends while we each served churches in Iowa some years ago. Let us pray for Christ's all-sufficient grace for Kenny as he joyfully bears this calling in the days ahead.

In his response to this appointment, John Piper prays the following for Bethlehem as they follow Kenny’s leading. May we also pray that God would move in all of our churches so that we would see:

• hundreds of people coming to Christ,
• old animosities being removed,
• marriages being reconciled and renewed,
• wayward children coming home,
• long-standing slavery to sin being conquered,
• spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy,
• weak faith being replaced by bold witness,
• disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession,
• boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word,
• disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and
• lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory.

from DG

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Heaven's Declare the Glory of God

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

On March 30th a space telescope captured and transmitted images said to be over 20,000 light years away. NASA’s scientists believe this picture to be the image of a cluster of stars in which a supernova had exploded leaving a pulsar (the center of white light in the middle of the image). Scientists have also computed that the matter inside of a pulsar is so dense that one teaspoonful would weight billions of tons on earth, and that its magnetic field would be millions of times stronger than anything we have ever experienced in the world we live in..

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)