Owen for 08

I have decided to elect John Owen for 08. A year and a half ago I decided to study one theologian for 30 minutes a day for a year. In addition I would read many biographies and studies of their theologies. For the past year and a half I have been learning from and about Jonathan Edwards. We have had wonderful conversations. A February sermon and post will be dedicated to his impact upon me.So a new year was upon me. Surgeon and Owen were the contenders. I kept wavering back and forth between the two. Finally after reading Owen’s work on the person of Christ in November I made my decision. It was thoughts like these that decided my vote:

There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by sin and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than that – whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein do seek for satisfaction unto our souls where it is not to be obtained – it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only suitable and satisfactory object of our love.

It was required that there should be an obedience yielded unto God, bringing more glory unto him than dishonor did arise and accrue from the disobedience of man.

Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always hath been, precious – the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls – every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woeful apostasy from God, which is accompanied with – which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously – whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of, and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him. For in him “shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory;” (Isa. xlv. 25;) for “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation;” they “shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end:” verse 17.

My choice was gladdened when I read a book on his theology and life where I read an excerpt from a letter written to a friend when he knew his death was near.

I am going to him whom my soul hath loved, or rather hath loved me with an everlasting love; which is the whole ground of my consolation. The passage [passing away in death] is very irksome and werrisome through strong pain of various sorts which are issued in and intermitting feaver. All things were provided to carry me to London today attending to the advise of my physician, but we were unable to undertake the journey. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but while the great Pilot is in it the loss of a poore under-rower will be inconsideralbe. Live and pray and hope and waite patiently and doe not dispair; the promise stands invincible that he will never leave thee nor forsake thee.

Finally as I began his discourse on the glory of Christ I read:

It will herein, and in the discharge of this duty, be made evident how slight and inconsiderable all these things are from whence our troubles and distresses do arise. For they all grow on this root of an over-valuation of temporal things. And unless we can arrive unto a fixed judgment that all things here below are transitory and perishing, reaching only unto the outward man, or the body, (perhaps unto the killing of it), – that the best of them have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them, – that there are other things, wherein we have an assured interest, that are incomparably better than they, and above them, – it is impossible but that we must spend our lives in fears, sorrows, and distractions. One real view of the glory of Christ, and of our own concernment therein, will give us a full relief in this matter. For what are all the things of this life? What is the good or evil of them in comparison of an interest in this transcendent glory? When we have due apprehensions hereof, – when our minds are possessed with thoughts of it, – when our affections reach out after its enjoyments, – let pain, and sickness, and sorrows, and fears, and dangers, and death, say what they will, we shall have in readiness wherewith to combat with them and overcome them; and that on this consideration, that they are all outward, transitory, and passing away, whereas our minds are fixed on those things which are eternal, and filled with incomprehensible glory.

I predict that Owen will trump Edwards in his impact upon my theology. I am excited to learn from him and look forward to sharing his view of God with you.

Isaiah 1:10-20 & Dad and Christmas

How many of you have got all of your Christmas shopping done except for the hardest person…

dad.

He is the hardest person to buy for, he has everything.

Food – at least he looks like he is getting enough of that, and mom always make sure he is abundantly filled during the holiday season. Underwear – nobody wants to… nobody should they have to buy underwear for their dad. Clothes – where do you even find clothes that look like that? Do they still make them? Jewelry or a watch – no that would cost too much, dad should spend more money on you than you do on him. You know you were thinking it. It’s the only way to come out ahead during Christmas.* you have to spend less on your parents than they do on you otherwise you lose. A pocket knife – no he is getting too old to use such harmful objects.

What about God?

What could you possibly give to God? He doesn’t simply have everything. He made it. He owns it. He holds it together. All of our sacrifices and gifts are insufficient. It is not God who is lacking, we are. When a family brought a lamb to the temple they came to receive from God, not to get. God provided a means for atonement, and they needed it.

So celebrate Christmas by receiving. Come to Christ and receive the greatest gift of the gospel – Himself. Become so overwhelmed by the treasure that you receive that all else sparkles far less in the radiance of His beauty. Be so satisfied with the treasure of Jesus that you want to give, you want to imitate and be like Jesus so that others may know Him.

So what do we give God? We come pleading nothing but that which He has given us. We come to Him clinging to Jesus. We come to Him with the blood of Christ. Nothing will delight His heart more.

* In my family we all draw gifts now. We are supposed to spend $50 on each person. We make out a list and draw each other’s list. In a few years we will cease this process, all bring $50 bills and exchange them. Give that a few years and we will simply bring a gift we have bought ourselves in the name of our family to display.

Isaiah 1:2-9 & “Hear O’ Heavens”

“Hear o’ heavens”

 

If there is an ignored part of scripture in today’s preaching in my opinion it is the prophets. They are not positive enough for our modern society. We want something chipper, light, humorous, funny, motivational, inspiring, uplifting, encouraging – the prophets just don’t seem to do that for us. I am also convinced that if there is a message that we desperately need, if there is an area of Scripture that current American preachers need to herald to their churches – it is the message of the prophets.

 

Derek Webb can be one of those prophets you don’t want to hear. He sounds to “prophet” like.

I Repent by Derek Webb

I repent, I repent of my pursuit of America’s dream
I repent, I repent of living like I deserve anything
Of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
In our suburb where we’re safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent, I repent of parading my liberty
I repent, I repent of paying for what I get for free
And for the way I believe that I am living right
By trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent of judging by a law that even I can’t keep
Of wearing righteousness like a disguise
To see through the planks of my own eyes

I repent, I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent, I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
By caring more of what they think than what I know of what we need
By domesticating you until you look just like me
I am wrong and of these things
I am wrong and of these things
Oh I am wrong and of these things I repent

Thanksgiving Wonder

We drive through Pittsburgh, Texas every time we go to visit Bethany’s parents. It is there that we pass this spectacle.

In case you are unaware this is Bo Pilgrim of Pilgrim’s Pride. I personally think it is horrible advertising. His big head is on everything, even the tractor trailers have his huge noggin painted on them. Why does he think that this will make people want to eat his chicken—any chicken?


Tulsa, before you think bad of Pittsburgh, remember the praying hands?

 

I never connected the two before but now I have come to realize…there is a giant praying pilgrim trapped inside the earth. I bet there are a giant pilgrim feet somewhere in Kazakhstan.

 

In case you are terrified…relax.

  1. He is a pilgrim—they really are excellent folk.
  2. He is praying all the time.

[Bo photo by Olaf
Hands photo by Dustin M. Ramsey]

Galatians 6:11-18 & The End

Our journey has come to an end.

In conclusion:

Does a wheel work if the hub is moved from the center to the side?
What if it is removed?

How much fun would a teeter-totter be if the fulcrum was moved from the center closer to one of the edges?
What if the fulcrum was removed altogether?

What would happen to our solar system if the sun was moved so that it is no longer in the center while everything else hypothetically remained in the same orbit?
What if our sun was removed completely?

The cross is central.

It is crucial.

It is the crux (crux and crucial are both derivatives from the Latin crux for cross).

If it is not the center our steering is out of alignment and we run into dangerous heresy. If we remove the cross from our theology the wheel does not turn at all, we cease to be Christian. We become lopsided, unbalanced, and no fun when the cross is not central. Our entire worldview as Christians hinges on the cross. If it is moved from its central position things are so radically changed that the solar system of our faith suffers violently and fatally.

I hope you have grasped this vision of the cross as we have journeyed through Galatians. I have enjoyed our trek. I thank God that He has been faithful to give us a glimpse of Christ crucified, risen, and reigning. I pray He continues to open our eyes to behold the wonder of the cross.

Why I Read Dead Men

Because people don’t write like this anymore:

If God glorified one attribute, and not another, such manifestation of his glory would be defective; and the representation would not be complete. If all God’s attributes are not manifested, the glory of none of them is manifested as it is: for the divine attributes reflect glory on one another. Thus if God’s wisdom be manifested, and not his holiness, the glory of his wisdom would not be manifested as it is; for one part of the glory of the attribute of divine wisdom is, that it is a holy wisdom. So if his holiness were manifested, and not his wisdom, the glory of his holiness would not be manifested as it is; for one thing which belongs to the glory of God’s holiness is, that it is a wise holiness. So it is with respect to the attributes of mercy and justice. The glory of God’s mercy does not appear as it is, unless it is manifested as a just mercy, or as a mercy consistent with justice. And so with respect to God’s sovereignty, it reflects glory on all his other attributes. It is part of the glory of God’s mercy, that it is sovereign mercy. So all the attributes of God reflect glory on one another. The glory of one attribute cannot be manifested, as it is, without the manifestation of another. One attribute is defective without another, and therefore the manifestation will be defective. Hence it was the will of God to manifest all his attributes.  – Jonathan Edwards

I pray this blesses you as you reflect on your glorious God who greatly manifests Himself!

Galatians 6:11-18 & My House

First time: the closet smelled. The carpet was soaked. The bathroom ceiling was bubbling up. Mold had grown. Driers, flans, dehumidifiers were moved in for weeks. The house was intensely loud. Then came the day for them all to move out, but…

Second time: I flushed the toilet. Water erupted from said toilet as if I had struck oil. I grabbed the wet dry vac immediate, but alas immediately was too late. The toilet evidently was ingeniously placed right above the kitchen light fixture by an assassin plumber. The ceiling was wet and the driers, dehumidifiers, and fans came to reside in our home again. Then all was quiet. Repairs were being done. The house was quite. The ceiling was due to be painted the next day then…

Third time: I skipped church because all the plumbing in my head decided to mutiny against me. Water was shooting out my eyes in a manner to similar toilet incident mentioned above. I prepared for some much needed sleep. But a potty break was necessitated before such rest could commence. I left the restroom only to immediately turn around at the sound of running water. The toilet strikes again. I immediately grab towels, five of them, they are soon soaked. I run for the wet/dry vac only to see the kitchen light fixture dripping with water.

Despair struck my heart.

I will not glory in my house. It will fail me. Plumbing will need replacing. Paint will chip. Carpet will wear. Wood will rot. Foundations will crack.

To boast in such temporalities is to open yourself to heartache. They will all fail you.

There is only one boast worth having. Only one real foundation upon which to build you joy. Only one joy eternal. Only one glory unfading. This boast is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.