Monthly Archives: November 2011

Articles I’ve Been Reading…

Interested in becoming an expert? Put in 10,000 hours and you’ve got a shot at doing so. According to Malcolm Gladwell, that’s the amount of time that it takes to master a particular subject. While it’s important that we all realize our limitations (i.e., a 5’6″ man will probably never dunk on an NBA hoop), it’s also encouraging to think that we’re capable of more than we realize–if we are willing to put in the time necessary to master something worth mastering (i.e., understanding our Bibles). This article presents some fascinating thoughts that will make you dream of things you could and would love to do, if only you had made the time.

An extremely thought-provoking article on the topic of physical attraction and how we should think about such things–it’s brief, yet biblically-insightful and rather challenging. While many of us think that we have no control over what we find attractive and unattractive, the reality is that we’re probably more culturally-conditioned than we realize. Pierre provides some helpful thoughts about how to love spouses better, as well as advice for singles in cultivating a willingness to consider those whom one is not initially attracted to in a physical sense. It’s worth the read, even if you don’t embrace every conclusion.

Context Determines Meaning. That’s a fundamental rule of proper biblical interpretation. As Chapell effectively argues, we cannot fully understand the meaning of a biblical passage without first determining its primary purpose. We determine the purpose, or burden, of a biblical text by uncovering the “fallen condition” of each passage. The Fallen Condition is the human concern or sinful condition that existed in the human author and/or audience that led the Holy Spirit to inspire each particular passage to address so that God’s grace might empower His people to more properly glorify Him through worship and obedience. The fallen conditions that plagued the original audience are often shared by the Bible’s contemporary audience. We need God’s grace to solve our fallen condition just as much as those who lived in 800 B.C., A.D. 100, or the Middle Ages. Discovering the Fallen Condition of every passage will be the best means of determining its message and meaning to a contemporary audience.

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Spiritual Knowledge

Here’s some encouragement for those of us who have weak minds. Thankfully, we have received the Holy Spirit who illuminates our hearts and minds to possess knowledge beyond our own limited abilities.

John Owen:

“The difference between the knowledge of believers and unbelievers is not so much a difference in the matter of their knowledge but in the manner of knowing. Unbelievers, some of them, know more about God, his perfections, and his will, than many believers do; but they know nothing as they ought, nothing in a right manner, nothing spiritually or savingly, nothing with a holy and heavenly light. The excellence of a believer is not that he has a large grasp of things, but that what he does grasp, which may be very little, he sees it in the light of the Spirit of God, in saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God.”[1]

Praise God for illuminating our minds to “see and savor Jesus Christ” so that we might have the eyes of our hearts enlightened. I have so little knowledge, and none of it by which I can boast in my own abilities, but what little truth I grasp is only by His grace. Oh, that I might possess more of Christ and less of myself…

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[1] Tony Reinke, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2011), 36-37.

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The King’s Face

Gazing on Christ: Choice Morsels from Sinclair Ferguson:

There is little profit in visiting Jerusalem unless we see the King’s face.[1] We must gaze on Christ in all that we do–whether in serving or reading or sipping coffee; whether eating or talking or teaching; whether fellowshiping or singing or preaching the word of God. Everything we do in our journey toward Jerusalem must be for the purpose of seeing the King’s face.

“The evangelical orientation is inward and subjective. We are far better at looking inward than we are looking outward. We need to expend our energies admiring, exploring, expositing, and extolling Jesus Christ.”[2] The world tells us that our problem lies outward and our solution lies inward–but the word of God tells us that our problem lies inward (sin) and our solution lies outward (Christ). May we treasure Christ and proclaim His worth!!

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[1] Sinclair Ferguson, “Consider Jesus” (Hebrews 2-3), a message from the 2011 Sovereign Grace Pastor’s Conference. You can listen to the entire message here.

[2] Sinclair Ferguson, “An Interview with Sinclair Ferguson” by CJ Mahaney (SGM). You can read it here.

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Unworthy

We are so UNWORTHY, Yet He is so WORTHY!!

How quickly we overlook (or forget) God’s grace toward us… We take it for granted as though we are entitled to it. Yet, God’s patience in overlooking our ingratitude and self-entitlement and self-centeredness only further declares the greatness of His glory and grace.

Psalm 106:6-8 “Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.”

God receives glory by revealing that He, not us, is worthy!! He is so incredibly worthy—-and we are so completely undeserving. That makes the gospel so sweet and glorious and mind-bogglingly beautiful. Thank You Father for loving an unworthy people… Thank You for displaying Your power in our salvation–for the sake of Your Name!!

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Glory Follows Suffering

David Mathis:

“Suffering is not only the consequence of completing the Commission, but it is God’s appointed means by which he will show the superior worth of his Son to all the peoples. Just as it was ‘fitting that he… should make the founder of [our] salvation perfect through suffering’ (Heb. 2:10), so it is fitting that God save a people from all the peoples from eternal suffering through the redemptive suffering of Jesus displayed in the temporal sufferings of his missionaries.”[1]

God will extend His fame to all nations–saving men and women from every tribe and tongue and nation–through the suffering of His people. He will redeem the world through casting down His own in order that they might model Christ’s self-giving love to the nations!! May God prepare us to suffer well for His kingdom, that we would give our hearts, our lives, our all for the sake of preaching and living out “Christ crucified”!!

[1] David Mathis, “Missions: The Worship of Jesus and the Joy of All Peoples,” a chapter taken from John Piper, A Holy Ambition: To Preach Christ Where Christ Has Not Been Named (Minneapolis: Desiring God, 2011), 31.

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Polishing Stones

Hardship Prepares Us to Shine Forth His Glory in Life and Eternity

“Not one ounce, not one grain-weight more is laid on me than he hath enabled me to bear… Faith hath cause to take courage from our very afflictions; the devil is but a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saint. I know he but heweth and polisheth stones for the new Jerusalem.” Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ (Banner of Truth, 2008)72.

May the Lord redirect our wandering gaze, so that we might “fix our eyes on Jesus” as He carries us through the purging fire!! The Spirit of Christ will comfort us as He cuts and carves us into conformity with the Suffering Savior!!

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Setting the House on Fire

I appreciated this post from Dane Ortlund so much that I’m shamelessly reposting it here:

Fires in Our Basements

Jack Miller writes in the 1990s to a church he had recently spoken at–

Jesus knocks at the front door of our heart (Rev. 3:20). In response we do not immediately open the door via our free will. Instead, we quickly put locks on the door and push furniture against it. The Lord then sends the Holy Spirit to slip in the back door. He goes down into the basement, where He turns up the heat and sets fires until the rising heat forces us to remove the barriers and open the front door and let Christ in. I believe that the Lord keeps right on using this backdoor approach in our growth in grace.

He sets fires in our basements by putting us in limiting and painful circumstances.

The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R, 2004), 90

HT: Dane Ortlund

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He is My Righteousness

Each week, Matt Harmon posts a delectable excerpt from Off the Record with Martin LutherIn this week’s installment, Luther describes the great exchange of the gospel:
5598. In regard to how a faithful soul should talk with Christ, Martin Luther said: I am Your sins, You are my salvation. Therefore I am joyful and without worry. For my sins have no power over your redemption, nor will Your salvation allow me to remain a sinner long. Praise be to God! Amen!  (p. 376).
“He is my righteousness and I am His sin” (2Cor 5:21) is a succinct way of preaching the gospel to ourselves, and yet it captures the essence of gospel truth and the transforming power that it holds. It reminds us of the sin-shattering role of Christ as our Substitute and Savior. May we never lose sight of this “great exchange”!!! (If you’re interested, here are two similar posts: “Harlots at Heart” and “The Heart of the Gospel”.)

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Bringing the Gospel Home

Bringing the Gospel Home: Evangelizing Family, Friends, & Co-workers

Here’s the audio for a 2-part seminar that Randy Newman delivered to the people of Christ’s Covenant Church. Randy was very engaging and handled a difficult topic with insight, humor, and grace. This is definitely worth your time!! He provided several helpful examples that will aid us in sharing Christ with loved ones who might be apathetic, stand-offish, or hard to reach.

(1) Evangelizing Family (Part 1)

(2) Evangelizing Family (Part 2)

Using Colossians 4:1-6, Randy unpacked several implications for evangelism:

  • Perseverance in Prayer and Proclamation
  • Be Watchful and Thankful
  • Christ-reflecting Words & Actions
  • Lives Flavored with Grace & Salt
  • Reception and Rejection (from the larger context)

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Biblical Manhood, Womanhood, & Parenting

Gospel-Centered Families: Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and Parenting Conference

Here are the audio files from a conference that Christ’s Covenant Church hosted with Dr. Bruce Ware (SBTS) and his wife Jodi.

1. “Biblical Roles of Men and Women in the Home and in Ministry”  (Audio)

2. “What Can We Learn About Marriage From the Trinity?” (Audio)

3. “God as Father: Model for Human Parenting” (Audio)

4. “Participatory Parenting: God Through Us Raising His/Our Children” (Audio)

5. “Men: Principles for Fathers Raising Their Children” (Audio)

6. “Women: Principles for Mothers in Raising Children” (Audio)

7. “Teaching Kids to Know and Love God by Knowing and Loving Theology” (Audio)

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