Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Love is shooting the raccoon

I am often reminded of the the fact that my marriage bears witness to the gospel of Christ.  The command in Ephesians is straightforward: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Eph 5:25).  It is one thing for me to know that, preach that and have that as the standard of a gospel centered marriage.  But how does it look practically in the grit of life?  A situation I encountered last week was remarkable and a demonstration of how it looks lived out.
Me and a couple of friends planned on having a breakfast meeting.  Our intention was to use this opportunity for evangelism and share Christ with someone that morning.  My one friend got a call from his wife as he was on the way to breakfast informing him that a raccoon was in front of the door of their home as she left for work.  She was concerned that it may attack some of their pets outside. Now as the husband that I am, I would have told her not to worry, that she is overreacting and everything will be fine--the raccoon will eventually leave.  My friend did the opposite: he said that he needed to go back home and "take care" (euphemism for take his 12 gauge) of the raccoon.  This was 1 Peter 3:7 lived out, living with your wife in and understanding way.  The Lord will hear this man's prayers since he shot the raccoon.  Understanding love is often washing the dishes when I don't want to, watching the kids at times so my wife can have a break, listening to her instead of watching two football games equaling six hours of my time, or even shooting the raccoon when it is at the front door.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011: Thankful for the Ultimate Jonah

As I wake up this morning, I have much to be thankful for.  I am thankful for being married to such and amazing and godly wife for almost 10 years.  I am thankful for three healthy and rambunctious children who are a constant joy to have around.  I am thankful for the health that I have in my early 30’s. I am thankful that the Steelers are hanging in there this season.  I am thankful for the house we live in, the food we have, the freedoms we enjoy right now.  I am thankful that immediately after seminary God gave me a church pastor.  I am thankful that our church has people who love God and His Word. 
Something I read from Tim Keller this morning helped me see that while all of these things are great, what I am most thankful for is the Ultimate Jonah, Jesus Christ.  Here is Keller’s meditation on how Christ is much greater than Jonah and what he has done in his death on the Cross:

“Consider another way in which Jesus was the ultimate Jonah.  In Mark 4 we have an account from Jesus’ life that deliberately evoked the Old Testament story.  There was a terrible storm and, like Jonah, Jesus was asleep in the midst of it.  Like the sailors, Jesus’ disciples were terrified and woke him up to day that they were going to perish.  In both cases the storm was miraculously calmed and those in the boat were saved by the power of God. 
But here is the great difference.  Jonah was thrown only into a storm of wind and water.  Jesus on the Cross, however, was thrown into the ultimate storm—of all the divine justice and punishment that we deserve for our wrongdoing.  When I struggle with my idols, I think of Jesus, voluntarily bowing his head into that ultimate storm, taking it on frontally, for me.  He sank in that storm of terror so I would not fear any other storm in my life.  If he did that for me, then I know my value, confidence, and mission in life all rest in him.”
Timothy Keller Counterfeit Gods pgs 151-52.

So this Thanksgiving Day 2011, I am thankful for the Ultimate Jonah, Christ who gives me my value, confidence and mission in life.  And I can rest in that. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Covenant Theology: Moo on The Law in the Gospels

Just finished reading an article on the Law in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels by Doug Moo.  Although a vast subject, I thought his conclusion was helpful in understanding the Law as it relates to the Old and New Covenants.

“In different ways and with different emphases, all four Gospels reflect a dominant theme in the teaching of Jesus: his divine authority with reference to the Law.  Jesus was quick to clarify that his authority did not negate the role of the Law in salvation history.  But he also made it clear that this authority involved the right not only to exposit, add to or deepen the Law, but to make demands of his people independent of that Law. This being the case, it is quite inadequate, and potentially misleading, to think of Jesus as “the last great expositor of the Law.”  The Law, God’s great gift to Israel, anticipated and looked forward to the eschatological teaching of God’s will that Jesus brought.  This teaching, not the Law, is the focus of the Gospels, and the Law remains authoritative for the disciple of Jesus only insofar as it is taken up into his own teaching.” (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 461)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Evangelical Feminism by Wayne Grudem

Evangelical Feminism by Wayne Grudem: a review
At the outset, I am a complementarian when it comes to gender roles in the home and the church.  It is my biblical conviction that men are called by Christ to the roles of leadership in both the home (Eph 5:23-33) and in the church (1 Tim 2:12; 3:2).  So going into the book I knew that I was going to agree with what Grudem proposes.  
His thesis is that, what he labels as Evangelical Feminism, (egalitarianism) will eventually lead to liberalism.  Grudem lists the examples of several mainline denominations to prove this.  While he is careful not to label all egalitarians as liberal, he does argue that the trend usually leads one to more liberal thinking.  Grudem gives many examples of the arguments that egalitarians use to make their case.  What becomes apparent is that all of the arguments either downplay Scripture or distort Scripture.  Thus, at the end of the day, the issue is one of submitting to the authority of Scripture.  In order to submit to Scripture, we need to understand it rightly.  Egalitarians fail to do both and so do liberals.   
The path to liberalism, according to Grudem, is the downplay of the authority of Scripture and the distortion of certain passages.  He is calling for both careful exegesis of evangelicals and also humble obedience to what God has revealed in His word.  As a pastor this book was both refreshing and serves as a warning to me.  It is refreshing to see men who are totally committed to the Word of God, even when the culture is going against it.  Furthermore, as a pastor I am entrusted with guarding the truth, shepherding the flock, so that the Church will bring glory to the Lord Jesus.  This can only happen as I submit myself to God’s Word humbly.  It is a warning for me not to take lightly His Word but to seek obedience to it, with utter dependence upon His grace.    

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Golf Digest got biblical masculinity right

As I was reading this month’s Golf Digest (September issue), I came across the article 10 Rules On Being An Athlete.  The author makes a comment about obesity that stood out:

            “Every week, I make a point of finding an overweight youngster in the gallery
            and taking his father asideI tell these fellows, privately and very politely, ‘My
            son is a diabetic, and my father was a diabetic.  When you get diabetes, you take
            insulin twice a day, and that doesn’t stop it from affecting your eyes, your liver,
            your limbs and everything else.  Please get your son on a good diet now.’”

Now it is not the concern for obesity that stood out to me as much as this author’s approach: the father has a God-given responsibility over his son that he needs to exercise.  In a time when fathers evade their responsibility and often children are raised without a masculine influence, this is a much needed challenge.  Our culture also promotes such an idea of femininity that men are often totally emasculated in their role as leader.   I’m not sure if the author is a Christian or has a biblical worldview behind his approach but it was quite refreshing to read.

I think of Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians:  “And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).  If a man writing for Golf Digest has the courage to confront other men when they are slacking in fatherly responsibility, how much more should we men in the church do the same and take biblical masculinity seriously?  How much more should we take our privilege as a Christian father seriously?  If we neglect this, we are encouraging our son’s spiritual obesity.   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A dad's prayer for his son's first day at school

This morning my oldest son Elijah begins a new chapter in life, which will consume much of his energy for the years to come: going to school.  I remember back to my days as a child and my mentality toward school.  I was not very fond of school and my main goal was to have each day end as quickly as possible.
As a parent now, and as one who has spent twenty-five years of my life in school, I approach this from a different perspective.  In addition to that, as a Christian, I believe that as image-bearers of God, education plays a vital role in the formation of my child.  So I am happy to send him off to his first day of school.  But I do so with a heavy heart knowing that starting school can also be a difficult transition, the cause of much anxiety and the temptation to follow evil instead of obey God.  With that I offer my prayer for him:

Lord, I thank you for giving me my son and the privilege I have of raising him.  As he embarks on this new task today, I pray that Your grace would be with him.  May his education always be used for Your glory and never as an end in itself.  Please keep my son from anxiety, keep him from fearing man; instead it is my prayer that he would always fear You and desire to obey You.  So please keep him from evil and temptation.  I pray that he would bow before Christ as Lord at an early age and be a light for the gospel in the public school system.  I entrust my son to you Father and pray that Your will be done in his life.
In Jesus Name, Amen.    

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why I decided to start a blog...

For some time I have not been that fond of blogs, even some of the Christian ones written by solid guys.  The reason has been mainly because blogs can be both consuming and not edifying at times in my opinion.  They can consume precious amounts of time that could be spent with people (like my wife and children).  Or that time could have been spent cultivating communion with God in prayer and His Word, which I already struggle enough with trying to find sufficient time for.  I have also seen blogs, and especially comments on blogs that tend to utterly lack kindness (which is a fruit of the Spirit to cultivate) and cause more controversy than anything.  Controversy is understandable, provided that it is over a central doctrine of the faith that cannot be compromised.
So over the past several years, especially in my busy seminary days, I have avoided having a blog and read them only on occasion and a select few.  Now as a pastor I have decided to begin a blog for several reasons and with a distinct purpose.
1.    To keep the discipline of writing.  In my seminary and college days I was forced to write and I did write a ton.  Now, outside of sermon and Bible teaching prep, I write relatively little.  So this will help me keep the discipline of thinking and writing.  The blog for the most part will be devotional and made up of Scripture, Theology and Christian living thoughts. 
2.    To have a record of what is on my heart both for myself and also for my people.  Although I pastor a smaller congregation, I think it is helpful for the congregation to get a glimpse of what is going on in the pastor’s devotional life and what he is thinking about.  I doubt that vast numbers will read much of what I post, but at least people can access some of my thoughts on various issues. 
3.    For reviews.  I absolutely love reading and have ever since becoming a Christian.  As an early Christian in my teenage years, I had little guidance on what was good to read as a new believer.  My goal is to provide a brief book review and recommendation on all of the books I read.  Hopefully this will be helpful to others.  This also keeps me accountable to keep reading and growing as a Christian.
4.    With all that said, I make a commitment to myself not to allow blogging (both writing and reading other blogs) to consume me.  If it does then I will no longer post.  I also commit as David prayed “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps 19:14).  May everything I post be well thought of and acceptable in the sight of my Lord.