Saturday, September 20, 2014

What is Marriage? by Ryan Anderson

Dr. J. Budziszewski - The Meaning of the Sexual Powers

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Godliness of Monotony

I have long thought that the modern craving for everything "new" and constantly changing is a sign of our spiritual decadence. I found a friend recently in G.K. Chesterton who seems to agree with me on this.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repitition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. ~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Character of William Wilberforce

In reading "Hero for Humanity" there were many things about the beliefs and character of W. Wilberforce that impressed me. Here are a few of them:

1. His conversion to Christ was sincere and impacted every aspect of his life. He genuniely sought to bring every thought captive to Christ. He meditated on Scripture daily and memorized and recited long passages on a regular basis. He saw his entire life in the context of his faith in Christ.

2. He had a resolute confidence in the sovereignty and providence of God and applied this to his life by finding humility in his successes and encouragement in his setbacks and failures. He was "easily" encouraged. Late in his life, when his son lost nearly the whole family fortune (about $2,000,000 in our money) in a bad business dealing Wilberforce willingly sold his home to pay the bills and rejoiced in the opportunity to live more simply and to be able to live with his children and grandchildren.

3. He was deeply committed to an industrious and profitable life and to using his God-given gifts for the benefit of mankind and to the best of his abilities. He was diligent, ambitious for God and others, and persevering. He hated to waste time and yet knew the importance of quietness, reflection and communion with God. Early in his career he set out to accomplish two great objectives, (1) the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, (2) the improvement of public morality and manners. His steadfast determination endured his whole life and his accomplishments were spectacular.

4. He worked tirelessly for the sake of the oppressed when the majority of his generation (at first) thought it wrong or impossible. He was never satisfied that he had made significant progress in helping others, but it is difficult to know how he could have done more. Selflessness is frequently unaware of its own goodness and impact.

5. He was known as the best conversationalist and most personable figure of his generation. He focused his life on being interested in others and being interesting to them. He was genorous and sincere in his hospitality and entertained in his home regularly.

6. He focused and used his uncommon gift of public speaking as a powerful weapon of righteousness. His colleagues in parliament marveled at his felicity with words and speech, and that was in a day of many great orators.

7. He married only because he found a woman whose beliefs and character matched his own. He had no intention of marrying without such qualities. He genuinely loved his wife and never wavered in that devotion (although there is not nearly enough said about her in this biography).

8. He was known as a loving, playful father who cared deeply for his children. His children grew to speak of him in glowing terms. This was and is a contrast to a multitude of public figures.

9. He was an avid reader and dedicated himself to reading the best literature, philosophy and theology available - both ancient and recent. He even taught his family to read "demanding" books and constantly discussed books with his children.

10. He loved nature and studied the glory of God in nature in daily walks.

11. He loved great music, art and beauty and brought into into his home. He considered development in appreciation for fine arts was an essential part of forming good character and sensitivity.

12. He was exceedingly difficult to dislike and attack. Those who attacked him, and many did, found themselves in a difficult public situation since nearly everyone thought, even many of those who disagreed with him, that he was one of the kindest, fairest minded men of their time.

13. He consistently used his wealth to help promising young men rise to their potential, often paying their debts and school bills.

14. It was striking how many of his contemporaries commented on how much larger his mind and soul were than his body. People were struck by how such a small man could have had such a large impact.

His biography is well worth reading.

Friday, January 13, 2006

MacArthur & Piper on Manhood & Womanhood & the Gospel

2 of the 13 challenges I wrote about in my post (here) about crucial issues in our time concerned gender roles. This was the important topic of discussion on Albert Mohler's radio broadcast on Thursday featuring John Piper and John MacArthur and is well worth listening to, as was their previous broadcast on the upcoming conference "Together for the Gospel." These two pastors are noteworthy leaders who have greatly challenged our generation with the truth of Scripture. Both of these men have taken strong Biblical stands on gender issues and have been key leaders in the Biblical "complementarian" position. Below are links to the two programs.

Manhood and Womanhood Discussion with Piper & MacArthur

Together for the Gospel and Church Issues Discussion with Piper & MacArthur

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pastors Over-estimate the Spirituality of their People

I am frequently opposed to George Barna's proposals but not necessarily the facts he reports. I think Barna is right ( when he indicates that Pastors tend to over-estimate the spiritual commitment of their people. A recent Barna survey (here) showed that Pastors rate the commitments of their people dramatically (embarrassingly) higher than the people rate themselves.

The root of the misperception comes from the fact that Pastors tend to rate mere church attendance and casual interest as far more spiritually significant than they really are. Pastors as "church leaders" tend to be concerned too much about keeping the "programs of the church" running rather than their real business of shepherding souls. Therefore if people are making the programs look "heathy" they wrongly conclude that the people in them must be spiritually healthy.

This reminds me of issues that have been apparent to and stirring in me for quite some time. Issues that my mentor, the late Dr. Rembert Carter, continually sought to drive into me. Unfortunately it still has not totally sunk in. I hope to keep working on it.

First, pastors must get more deeply involved with people and ask spiritually penetrating questions about their lives and faith. It also should encourage pastors to get into the homes of the people. The ministry of Richard Baxter is a rebuke to us. Baxter visited and personally "catechized" every family in his church every year (and their were literally hundreds of them!). The question is how to make time for such an endeavor. For me this signifies the importance of Wednesday evening prayer meeting when I have the opportunity to pray one on one with individual men in our church. It is much easier to do this when people are willing to be open and when they come to more than one service. Of course this may also be when it is less needed!

Second, home life should be a regular focus of attention of pastors and churches. What people are in their families and family relationships is much more indicative of what they truly are then what they may seem to be on Sunday morning.

Third, pastors need to preach in such a way to not only stimulate interest and agreement, but to, more importantly, bring conviction. The problem is that conviction can be painful, both to the people and the pastor. Hurting people almost always strike back at the one they perceive is causing the hurt. Pastors need the love and the courage to absorb this pain in order to be true doctors of souls.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Prayer and God's Glory - John Piper's Cancer

John Piper reported to his church last week that he has been diagnosed with prostrate cancer. The plan is for surgery in February to remove the prostrate. As we might have expected his interpretation and response looks to be God-exalting and full of a sense of the victory of God in Christ.

Piper's ministry has been extremely valuable to me and to many others. His God-centered theology and excellent spirit has endeared him to us. His overarching theme "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" has opened many eyes to aspects of the glory of God we had not seen before, at least not as clearly and as powerfully presented. His theology and teaching resonate with confidence in God. He weds deep theological truth with rich piety and emotional response in ways few have been able to do. His obvious industriousness and creativity humble and challenge all of us in the pastorate to give all the strength we have into our ministries.

His book "Desiring God" is his seminal work and is very helpful, but his books "The Pleasures of God" and "Let the Nations Be Glad" should be put in consideration as Christian classics.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Improve Quality of Life: Cut Down on Sugar Intake

In my last post I mentioned rising health problems due to poor diets. Today a NY Times article features what NYC health officials are calling an 'epidemic' claiming that more than 1 in 8 people in New York have diabetes.

It is not far fetched to believe that spiritual and physical problems can be related to one another. It is entirely plausible that we eat so poorly because we have so little health in our souls that satisfies and sustains us. Having needs not met by soul nourishment we run to the 'frig for a quick fix rather than being nurished with the substance of God's Word and Truth.

NY Times Quote of the Day:
"I will go out on a limb and say 20 years from now people will look back and say: 'What were they thinking? They're in the middle of an epidemic and kids are watching 20,000 hours of commercials for junk food.'"DR. THOMAS R. FRIEDEN, New York City health commissioner, on diabetes.