The pleasure of pride is like the pleasure of scratching. If there is an itch one does want to scratch; but it is much nicer to have neither the itch nor the scratch. As long as we have the itch of self-regard we shall want the pleasure of self-approval; but the happiest moments are those when we forget our precious selves and have neither but have everything else (God, our fellow humans, animals, the garden and they sky) instead.
- John Piper quoting C.S. Lewis, Faith in Future Grace, page 84
Scientists know that light travel at the speed of 5.87 trillion miles a year. They also know that the galaxy of which our solar system is a part is about 100,000 light-years in diameter—about 587,000 trillion miles. It is one of about a million such galaxies in the optical range of our most powerful telescopes. It has been estimated that in our galaxy there are more than 200 billion stars. The sun is one of them, a modest star burning at about 6,000 degrees centigrade on the surface and traveling in an orbit at 135 miles per second, which means it will take about 250 million years to complete a revolution around the galaxy.
Scientists know these things and are awed by them. And they say, “If there is a personal God, as the Christians say, who spoke this universe into being, then there is a certain respect and reverence and wonder and dread that would have to come through when we talk about him and when we worship him.”
We who believe the Bible know this even better than the scientists because we have heard something even more amazing: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these [stars]? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” (Isaiah 40:25-26)
Every one of the billions of stars in the universe is there by God’s specific appointment. He knows their number. And most astonishing of all, he knows them by name. They do his bidding as his personal agents. When we feel the weight of this grandeur in the heavens, we have only touched the hem of his garment. “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him!” (Job 26:14). That is why we cry, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!” (Ps. 57:5). God is the absolute reality that everyone in the universe must come to terms with. Everything depends utterly on his will. All other realities compare to him like a rain-drop compares to the ocean or like an anthill compares to Mount Everest. To ignore him or belittle him is unintelligible and suicidal folly. How shall one ever be the emissary of this great God who has not trembled before him with joyful wonder?
- John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, pages 37-38
“All gracious affections have a tendency to promote this Christian tenderness of heart… the higher a holy hope is raised, the more there is of this Christian tenderness. The banishing of a servile fear, by a holy assurance, is attended with a proportionable increase of a reverential fear. The diminishing of the fear of the fruits of God’s displeasure in future punishment, is attended with a proportionable increase of fear of his displeasure itself; the diminishing of the fear of hell, with an increase of the fear of sin. The vanishing of jealousies of the person’s state, is attended with a proportionable increase of jealousies of his heart, in a distrust of its strength, wisdom, stability, faithfulness, &c. The less apt he is to be afraid of natural evil, having his heart fixed, trusting in God, and so not afraid of evil tidings; the more apt he is to be alarmed, with the appearance of moral evil, or the evil of sin. As he has more holy boldness, so he has less of self-confidence, and a forward assuming boldness, and more modesty. As he is more sure than others of deliverance from hell, so he has more of a sense of the desert of it. He is less apt than others to be shaken in faith; but more apt than others to be moved with solemn warnings, and with God’s frowns, and with the calamities of others. He has the firmest comfort, but the softest heart: richer than others, but the poorest of all in spirit: the tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest child among them.”
-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, pages 291-2
Hosanna, I see so much evidence of grace in your life. You are truly growing up. I have witnessed these wonderful things throughout the past year of your life:
- a growing tenderness towards your little sister
- growth in your knowledge and understanding of God (which is evidenced by the way you pray)
- exuberant and contagious spurts of joy and laughter
- increased sincerity in your apologies when you fail
- more courage and vehemence in your battle against sin
- more zealous to share your possessions with others
- more boldness to try new things and take risks (you started Kindergarten, sailing into it with great excitement)
- less bashfulness with adults (you are not too intimidated by adults to say thank you and hello, even to strangers)
- quicker response to discipline
- …and there is more, to be certain—but these are the evidences of grace that immediately come to mind.
I am so proud of you. You are headed in the right direction… but that is not why I love you. I would love you just the same if there were not these sweet evidences of grace, and even if the pattern of your life were going in the wrong direction. I love you because God gave you to us, as a gift, and my affections sing for joy over you. Nonetheless, I rejoice and am overjoyed that you are doing so well and show these evidences of God’s work in your life.
You are a gift to this family, and I thank God for you constantly. May you be blessed of our great and awesome God in this next year. May you continue to discover the wonders of His love, seen by the life He has given you in this beautiful, perplexing and sometimes terrifying world. But most of all, may you grow in your discovery of the miracle of the Father’s grace toward you, in Jesus. May you see that though your sin is more horrible than you could ever dare to think, His love for you is beyond finding out in Christ, who took the full weight of Father’s wrath for all His children. May the truth of this love be your growing delight, into eternity! May it be the foundation of all that you do, think and feel!
I normally don’t get excited about church building campaigns. For good reason, I think, I am often skeptical, wondering if the construction of a bigger and better building is the best use of a church’s resources. A church’s emphasis on the outward structure rather than the inward life is often evidenced by endless building campaigns.
The building campaign shown in this video however, is a building campaign I’m glad to take part in. I believe It is the result of wise stewardship and shepherding of the inward growth that God has been pleased to grant my church. I am on staff at the South Campus of Bethlehem Baptist, where we have between 600 to 800 attenders every week, and we are currently renting a High School auditorium for our Sunday gatherings. You can imagine the weekly set-up and take down for that this necessitates. Another reason I am proud to support this campaign: 5 cents of every dollar given to building campaign is given to the cause of the global poor (nearly 1 million dollars), and another 5 cents is given to fund church plants (nearly 1 million dollars).
I have often been irritated with the way many evangelicals insist on preaching from a self-written, uninspired, 5th gospel, which they call A Harmony of the Gospels. They fit together the four different accounts of the life of Christ, attempting to reconstruct history. After their history is “neatly” constructed they exegete and preach their account instead of inspired Word of God, the Bible.
Let me assure you, I have a strong confidence in the historical accuracy of the Scriptures. Yet, we should not treat the gospels as mere tools to aid us in our reconstruction of historical events which are then exegeted and expounded upon in the pulpit. Rather, we are to preach the Word of God as expressed in the inspired writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and not our feeble harmonies and reconstructions. Craig Blomberg shares these sentiments in Jesus and the Gospel: An Introduction and Survey, page 106:
Readers of the Gospels from the beginning of church history have recognized that the different writers had different theological emphases. The church’s preoccupation with constructing harmonies of the life of Christ generally blurred these distinctions. Ironically, it is often those more conservative Christians, who insist most strongly on the inspiration and inerrancy of the very texts the evangelists penned, who pay least attention to the form in which those texts were inspired, opting instead to study an artificial man-made synthesis of the four.
Logos Bible Software is giving away thousands of dollars of prizes to celebrate the launch of Logos Bible Software 4 Mac on October 1. Prizes include an iMac, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPod Touch, and more than 100 other prizes!
I know I haven’t updated the blog in a while. Over a month ago I asked you to pray with me about a position I was interviewing for at our church.
I thank God for your prayers. I trust that God would have given me the frame of mind and disposition of heart to praise him, whether or not I was offered the position.
God has once again surprised me by his plans, which are always better than my plans. I applied for an internship position and was offered a staff ministry position. I officially started today, serving in the Family Discipleship Department of Bethlehem Baptist Church as Pastoral Assistant for Young Adult Discipleship. I am so excited to be serving the body in this new capacity, and I am keenly aware of my need for God’s empowering grace.
I am reminded of my first post on this blog, in which I shared my disspointment after not making the cut for a job that I applied for. The same God who closed that door 2 years ago has opened another one for me now. He gives and he takes away. When the blessings pour in, I praise him for it. When the darkness closes in, still I will praise him.
Yesterday I interviewed for an internship position I really want, and my prayer was three fold.
I prayed that…
- If I would best serve the church in this internship, I would get it. If there is someone else applying that would better serve the church, I wouldn’t get it.
- If my private worship and service to my wife and family would be increased as a result of this internship, I would get it. If my private worship would suffer more, or my service to my wife and family would suffer more, I wouldn’t get it.
- I would be utterly transparent in my interview, not putting on a show or weaseling my way in. I would be honest, not exaggerating the good or down-playing the bad. It would truly be, “what you see is what you get.”
I believe God was extremely faithful in answering my third prayer. I think they know what to expect if they take me on board. I trust God will also answer my first two prayers. Today, will you pray for me to this end?