Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An interesting web site

This is an interesting link to a story about Davy Crockett and why he wouldn't vote for a bill that helped a poor widow woman with Federal funds: http://freelythinking.com/davycroc.htm.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Respecting Husbands

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

People are constantly coming up to me and telling me that I’m not respecting my husband. I have two questions: First, why should I respect him when he isn’t respectable? He doesn’t deserve to be respected. And second, if I do decide to respect my husband, what does it mean to respect him? In other words, what would respecting my husband look like?

Wondering in Bremerton

Dear Wondering,

Your question is one that I hear a lot. And it isn’t any wonder, given the state of our men these days. When men abdicate their responsibilities in the home, it makes it difficult for their wives to respect them. Also, since this has been going on for many generations, it is difficult for daughters of disrespectful mothers to submit to their husbands, even when those husbands are being respectable.

God commands wives to respect their husbands in Ephesians 5:33. When we read passages like this, we need to maintain a sense of context. This passage tells us that wives are to respect their husbands as a way of respecting Christ (cf. v. 21). This means that one of the ways that a Christian woman submits herself to Christ is by respecting her husband. In this way, she is not respecting her husband because he is respectable, but because Jesus is Lord and she is obeying Him. In fact, the husband’s worthiness of respect has nothing to do with whether the wife respects him or not. It helps a lot if he is a wonderful Christian man who loves his wife as Christ loves the Church, but it is not necessary for her obedience to God. The command is for you to respect your husband whether he deserves it or not because Jesus is worthy of respect and it's he who stands behind the command.

Your second question is a bit harder to answer because if I give you a list of things to show respect, you may think that I’ve been exhaustive when I’m only scratching the surface. Let me begin by saying that you probably ought to find out what your husband thinks is respectful behavior. As long as he’s not asking you to sin in other ways, I’d say his opinion of respect is of first priority.

That being said, here are a few things that I think needs to be included when we talk about respectful behavior. First, realize that submitting to your husband is the first step in respecting him. The Bible teaches that the wife is given to her husband to be his helpmeet, not the other way around. This means that the wife is to submit to her husband’s will for the family’s life. Hence the command. The only way that I know of that will allow you to obey this command is if you submit yourself to God first. Then, you can submit yourself to your husband and begin the adventure of respecting him.

Most people recognize disrespect when they see a wife complaining about her husband (either to him directly or behind his back), when they see nagging, and when they see the wife who is supposed to be in submission telling her husband what to do. Wives who want to respect their husbands need to avoid these things like the plague. They need to submit to God, then their husbands, and let that submission overflow into the rest of their lives. This will include focusing on the positive aspects of their husbands, saying only good things to them and about them to others, and letting their husbands lead in the family relationship. A respectful wife will begin to look for ways to build up her husband in order to make him feel respected. In her zeal to serve the living God, a respectful wife will work to make sure that her husband will have only good things to say about her – that she is a great wife and blessed among women.

I hope this helps,

Pastor Lawyer

Quote of the Day

The striking thing about these passages [Deut. 7:7-8; cf. 4:37; 10:14-15] is that when Israel is contrasted with the universe or with other nations, the distinguishing feature has nothing of personal or national merit; it is nothing other than the love of God. In the very nature of the case, then, God’s love is directed toward Israel in these passages in a way in which it is not directed toward other nations. [D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Crossway Books, 2000), p. 18]

Verse of the Day

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Frustration in the work place

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

I work in a high stress job situation made worse by a co-worker who seems to be constantly at me. It seems that I can never do anything right and he picks on me whenever he gets the chance. I don’t know what to do and was wondering if you could help.


Dear Frustrated,

It would probably be safe to say that all of us have been in your situation. The Bible has a lot to say about what to do in your predicament. For example, in Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Among other things, what Jesus was saying is that we need to love our co-workers actively. (Your co-worker can’t be worse than an enemy, can he?) This means you need to go out of your way to do and be what your co-worker requires you to be, even before he asks you. When you come to work in the morning, you need to say, “Good morning” to him and mean it. Bring him coffee and cookies (not a good idea if he’s dieting). Ask him about his family and bring cards for the kids on their birthday. If you know what he expects and can anticipate how you are going to be criticized, beat him to the punch by apologizing for the mistake or by doing whatever it is you know he is going to want you to do — long before he asks. Jesus said, “Love them, bless them, do good to them.”

The second thing Jesus said to do for him is to pray for him. In your praying you need to say to God exactly what you think and mean. But if your praying is less than loving, you need to keep at it until being in God’s presence softens your heart. As you stay on your knees, lifting your co-worker up to Him, your prayers will slowly change from, “Get him, Lord” to “Save him, Lord” or “Bless him, Lord.” That’s the kind of praying Jesus had in mind.

Before going, I thought I ought to mention that Jesus didn’t, nor does the Bible in general, tell us what outcome we ought to expect by loving our enemies. In my experience I’ve seen two kinds of reactions. One, and this is very rare, the co-worker gets even more antagonistic. If this occurs, stick with it. God is working in both your lives to bring Himself glory. (You might never see or understand what He’s doing.) The other reaction, which is far more common, is that both of you soften up and see that you can work together as a team. You will come to realize that your co-worker isn’t the terrible person you think he is now. You might see that he has a life outside of the office and that those concerns have leached their way into the work place. At the very least, you’ll see that your co-worker is a real person after all and that your perception was right about his picking on you, but now that you are aggressively loving him, he has changed and you are actually getting along and liking each other.

I hope this helps,

Pastor Lawyer

Quote of the Day

In short, the most energetic cultural tide, postmodernism, powerfully reinforces the most sentimental, syncretistic and often pluralistic views of the love of God, with no other authority base than the postmodern epistemology itself. But that makes the articulaiton of the biblical doctrine of God and of a biblical doctrine of the love of God an extraordinarily difficult challenge. [D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Crossway Books, 2000), p. 14]

Verse of the Day

The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

Psalm 24:1-10

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Life in the Balance Part 2

In the post we discussed the issue of whether anything we do (or think or say) can possibly make us worthy of God’s favor or can possibly make us desirable in his sight. Using the image of the balance scale, we saw that on one side are our evil deeds, infinitely evil because they are committed against a Holy God. On the other side are our good deeds, which God expects and so cannot count as a positive weight to balance out the evil ones. Therefore, we have no way to relieve the condemnation earned by our sins.

It is interesting that the Bible never uses this balance illustration. The reason for this is that the Bible teaches that all men are condemned, not because of individual sins, but because we are born under the leadership of Adam — the original sinner. We are, therefore, sinners by nature. To use the balance illustration makes no sense in the Biblical scheme because evil deeds spring from evil hearts; not the other way around.

What this means, practically, is that all a person needs, to begin sinning, is the opportunity and the ability. We observe this in every culture and in every age. People are born rebels. We don’t need to teach small children to lie, to hit, or to be selfish, for example. They come that way. We don’t need to teach teenagers to rebel against their parents or college students to drink. Left to themselves with no moral teaching or supervision, people will be as bad as they think they can get away with.

With all this being the case, the Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death – eternity in Hell. This existence or life in Hell does not begin at physical death; it begins at birth and gets worse as we grow older. There is nothing we can do to change this situation. We didn’t start it and we didn’t earn it (though we show by our lifestyles that we concur with our lot).

The system is God’s. He made the universe to be the way it is both in the downside and in the upside. The downside, as we have been talking about, is that mankind is condemned to an eternal life separated from our Creator. The up side is that he has provided a way out of this terrible dilemma. The Bible calls this good news –The Gospel.

At this point I’ll just let the Bible speak for itself:

  • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
  • For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:8–10)
  • As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (Romans 10:11)
  • Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent [change your mind from thinking that you are the center of the universe to acknowledging that God is God], because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)

I hope this helps,

Pastor Lawyer

Quote of the Day

In other words, one of the most dangerous results of the impact of contemporary sentimentalized versions of love on the church is our widespread inability to think through the fundamental questions that alone enable us to maintain a doctrine of God in a biblical proportion and balance. However glorious and privileged a task that may be, none of it is easy. We are dealing with God, and fatuous reductionisms are bound to be skewed and dangerous. [D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Crossway Books, 2000), p. 15

Verse of the Day

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Genesis 28:10-15

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Life In The Balance

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

I’ve always thought that whether God accepted me into Heaven or not was based on the things I did or didn’t do. In other words, I’ve always thought that somehow if my good deeds outweighed my bad deeds, I would be worthy or would be accepted. What do you think about this?


Dear Wondering,

Many people are struggling with just what you’ve asked here. In fact, if you were to study the religions in the world you would find your kind of thinking running through them all — except for Protestant Christianity and the Bible. Let me explain why man’s way of thinking falls short of God’s standards.

When you think of God’s justice as a balance (good deeds weighed on one side, against evil deeds weighed on the other) you need to take into account a couple of key things. First, the bad things we do are only bad (or good) because God says they are bad (or good). If there were no God, it would not make any sense to talk about things in terms of good or evil. This is what many people who try to deny God’s existence do with moral behavior. They say, “God doesn’t exist, so we can do what we want” or “you can’t legislate morality, who’s to say what’s right or wrong”. God does exist, however, and he has told us what things are wrong and what things are right — how we are to live.

Second, we have a tendency to think that we are the measure of all there is in the world. We forget that God is in charge of the game. It’s his ball, his field, his rules and we either play the game his way or get off the field. Like little children, we think we get to make the rules and set the standards. The reality is that we are dealing with a Holy, Righteous, and Just God. When we sin against him, we deserve death. It doesn’t matter how big the sin is in our eyes. What matters is whom the sin is against, and sin is always against God. Going back to your balance image, this means that every sin we commit causes the scale to drop to the bottom and sit there.

On the “good deeds” side of the balance we run into another problem. When God tells us what to do in a positive sense, he is telling us what he expects as the normal course of our existence. God leaves nothing undone and no part of our lives are untouched by his commands. Since this is the case, there is nothing for us to do that would be “extra”. Everything we do, that we used to think of as being “good,” is really our normally expected behavior. We are either living our lives as God expects, or we are living in opposition to him. If we are using the balance picture, we see that the evil lives we lead would weigh down the negative side, but the good things we do are expected and therefore carry no weight at all. Since the “good life” is what is expected, it is of no value in bringing the ‘bad’ deeds side of the balance off the floor.

As you can see, if we use the balance view of salvation and eternity, we are all in terrible trouble. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor, or to merit his friendship. There is nothing we can do to be worthy of his attention. We are all in trouble. Next time, I’ll give you the Biblical solution. I hope this helps…for now.

Pastor Lawyer

Quote of the Day

This man or this woman seems so different from you, I know. That's why it seems so difficult to love him or her. When you think on one level, she thinks on another. When you're certain this perspective matters most, he brings in another angle entirely and you ask yourself "How can I possibly love someone who is so different from me?"…marriage is designed to call us out of ourselves and learn to love the “different.” [Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage (Zondervan, 2000), p. 50]

Verse of the Day

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:6-13

Friday, May 19, 2006

Results of World View

WSU philosophy professor Dr. Joe Campbell wrote an article called Liberals and the Paradox of Intolerance. Here's my response to it. If you'd like to see a more colorful blog than mine you can see my response and other responses to my response here: Right Mind.

Dr Campbell’s very good article has two problems: first, it contains a couple of assertions that are not factually accurate, and second he assumes things throughout that not all are willing to grant.

Dr. Campbell says, “The name ‘Intoleristas’ has been coined and used against liberal and progressive critics of conservative worldviews.” He went on to say, “It is true that some liberals are intolerant. My fear, though, is that people often slide from this fact to the stronger claim all liberals are intolerant.” But no one that Dr. Campbell is talking about does. No one claims that all liberals are intoleristas. The thing that makes anyone an intolerista is that they claim to be for tolerance and diversity, but the first chance they get to be tolerant or diverse, they try to shut down the speaker, or to have him put “out of our town.” By definition, then, an intolerista could be a liberal or a conservative.

The second factual inaccuracy is that Dr. Campbell’s misunderstands what the Christians are saying when he writes, “religious conservatives believe that slavery has a biblical justification.” The “religious conservatives” he is referring to (assuming I know who they are) say that the Bible assumes slavery, but does not promote it. In fact the Bible gives the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (not rebellion, war, or revolution) as the remedy to slavery. Slavery is always a terrible enemy and should be gotten rid of as soon as it is Biblically possible. To say that religious conservatives give justification to slavery, is simply mistaken.

Third, Dr. Campbell’s discussion of the paradox of intolerance is really very good. It is the same argument the religious conservatives use against abortion, for the death penalty, and various other apple and oranges kinds of discussions. But once again, Dr. Campbell’s example of how “the Bible has been used to support the view it is permissible to punish gay by death or exile” misses the point of what has actually been said and the context in which it was said. There is no denying that the Bible required the death penalty for homosexuality in some instances, and in others, exile. That is a fact. But in other contexts in the Bible the sin of homosexuality is talked about as a sin, but not a crime. With this in mind the Bible says that in cultural contexts where homosexuality is a crime it should be handled one way, where it is not a crime, it should be thought of a different way. In both cases it is an abomination against God, but in one case it is a crime, in another it isn’t. In our culture homosexuality is not a crime. But it remains a very shameful sin. A homosexual person should be treated in our culture is with loving care and with the command to repent. No one is advocating that homosexuals be stoned or run out of town (though Tom Hanson’s internet site does want to run certain Christians out of town, or if they say the wrong thing about the wrong people Joan Opyr wants to kick them in a certain place), but neither are we willing to allow that homosexual behavior is something that builds up our society rather than tearing it down.

The second area of disagreement with Dr. Campbell has to do with the area of presuppositions and assumptions (not to mention the fallacy of an appeal to irrelevant or questionable authority). In the three paragraphs that start "My desktop dictionary..." Dr. Campbell's discussion has some problematic assertions. Every professor of philosophy knows that the parts of an argument have presuppositions. Morality is one of those. "In my view..." is where Dr. Campbell's train runs off the tracks. Where does his view come from? What makes him think homosexuals are in the same class as religious groups or races? Why aren't they in the same class as rapists and muggers?

The answer is usually that homosexuals don't hurt anyone else (a so called victimless crime), but this shows an incredible lack of desire to see what is going actually going on. I suppose there is an antiseptic and philosophic way Dr. Campbell can think about homosexuality, where what goes on in a man's bedroom does not enter into the equation. But when you think about what is actually happening, I can't imagine that any sane person would say that that behavior is somehow a good thing. And don’t forget that the people who do those things behind closed doors are running around in public thinking the same way that brought them to the place that allowed them to do the things they do in private. To hell with philosophy and theology. Let your imagination tell you that homosexuality is just icky.

Just my two cents.

Quote of the Day

The Moral law is simply the reflection of the character of God, and when God acts to address the outcomes to the broken moral law, he addresses these himself, himself taking the burden of his own wrath, himself absorbing in the person of Christ the judgment his righteous character cannot be demand, himself providing what no sinner can give, himself absorbing the punishment which no sinner could bear and remain in his presence. [David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Powers (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 227]

Quote of the Day

What Christ did was not simply to establish the possibility or the hope of redemption from the righteous wrath of God; what he accomplished was that redemption. [David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Powers (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 226]

Verse of the Day

And you shall not lie ually with your neighbor's wife and so make yourself unclean with her.

You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

"Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God."

Leviticus 18:20-30

The Road to Geneva

When I was in seminary I had a number of discussions with folks over the issue of God's sovereignty and our free will. There were some guys (Armininans) who said we had free will and that God had relinquished that aspect of the creation to our control. He allowed us to make up our own minds about things. There were also guys who claimed that God had predestined everything from the beginning of time (Calvinists). My opinion, which didn't fly very far with these guys, was that the Bible taught that both were occurring at the same time (cf. Gen. 50:20). It was an issue that bothered me for years. I bought a book by Donald Carson called God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility and it appeared to agree with me. Dr. Carson went through the Johannine writings and showed that God chooses and men choose in the same events at the same time. And on my own study I found that this was also true throughout the whole Bible. So theologically I was stuck. It seemed that the world was full of Arminians or Calvinists, but not much in between.

There were a number of other passages in the Bible that caused me concern. For example the passages about headship and the authority that the leaders of families and countries had over the people. This authority was not just the normal "I'm in charge" kind, but also when the leader did something, it affected everyone under his authority. For example the blessings that fathers gave their children came true for those children. And when the King took a census he wasn't supposed to, it affected the whole nation. This pattern was happening all over the Bible and it always bothered me that the world of the Bible worked this way, but not in my experience or teaching in the church.

Later, I realized that this was how I became a sinner: My leader (head) Adam sinned and thus I sinned. I was affected by his sin just as if I'd sinned myself. But the glorious part was that is how we are saved as well. Jesus our new leader (head) died and we died when he died. And thus the Father treats us just as he treated Jesus (raised him from the dead and gave him new life). It is a glorious truth and it is the only explanation of the death of Jesus that doesn't make God capricious or unjust.

But this is what, the theological world is called Covenant Theology. The world is made up of covenants and covenantal relationships and this goes down to the family where the husband is the head of his household and thus responsible for everything that occurs in his family. But I am digressing now.

Then when we were in Dexter, MO I ran out of good Christian books that were written by pastors or actual theologians. It seemed that everything was written by counselors or psychologists or women who were "sharing" their ignorance (I know that's a bit of an overstatement, but that was what I was feeling). So I started looking at older books. I thought if it is still around it must be a good book. So I started reading books by old dead guys (Calvin, Luther, church fathers, etc.) and they turned out to be saying things I already thought and more. So I started looking at newer books by guys like RC Sproul, JI Packer, Loraine Bettner, and especially my old friend Doug Wilson. I realized as I read that being a Calvinist didnt' mean that you threw out free will when you saw God's predestination, they both worked together. It was a straw man that it had to be either free will or sovereignty.

Then the problem was that all the Reformed guys I knew were arrogant snobs. I got on a list serve on the internet that was specifically Reformed and found that the guys were good at theology, but they didn't know their Bibles worth beans. So since I wasn't fully Reformed yet, I tied them up in knots asking them where in the bible it said what they espoused. But through my own study I realized that what they were saying was generally true, but I was proving it in the Bible, not by reading the Reformers.

When we first came back from the Islands a pastor friend told me that I was Reformed, I just didn't know it yet. Finally, after actually being Reformed for several years, I had enough ballast to admit it to everyone. I determined that I could be Reformed (Calvinist) without necessarily identifying with those guys I thought were really arrogant.

I don't know where you are theologically, but if you want to read some stuff that begins in the shallow end, I'd suggest Easy Chairs, Hard Words by Doug Wilson. Also, if you're interested in something you can read with France pertaining to marriage, his Reforming Marriage is really good. Eileen and I read it when we first got back to the States and it really helped to establish the direction of our family ever since. And it is a book written by a pastor, a man, a man who has grand children who love the Lord (cf. Heb 13:7).

I know you're a busy man, so I don't expect you to write back volumes. Just write when you can. Part of my job is to answer questions, so if you have them, ask away.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Verse of the Day

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Philemon 1:7-16

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Quote of the Day

Calvin frequently reminds us that we all have within us a "lust to devise new and strange religions". We tend to seek for what does not exist, and thus fail to find what does exist. Most dangerous of all is our tendency to drag God down to the level of our own minds, and our logic, and to imprison him within our own subjectivity. [Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin, Geneva & the Reformation (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), p. 225]

Verse of the Day

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God."

John 3:16-21

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quote of the Day: The Bread of Heaven

To the degree that you have based your life on something other than the Lord, to that degree God’s love and the hope of the gospel will not comfort you. You will not be comforted because you are hungry for another kind of bread. You long for a king who will give you the bread you crave. That bread might be a relationship, circumstance, or position. It might be human love and respect, the desire for vengeance, or a certain economic state. It literally can be anything in creation! But there are only two types of bread: Christ, the Living Bread, and everything else. We set our hearts either on him or on something else. [Paul David Tripp, War of Words (P & R Publishers, 2000), p. 98]

Verse of the Day

And Job again took up his discourse, and said: "Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were all around me, when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil! When I went out to the gate of the city, when I prepared my seat in the square, the young men saw me and withdrew, and the aged rose and stood; the princes refrained from talking and laid their hand on their mouth; the voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth. When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it approved, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him. The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.

Job 29:1-13

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Yesterday my computer was found to be with virus. My computer guy thinks it may have done damage to my hard drive and I will need to have a new hard drive installed in my computer. I hope to have the computer back within the week.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Quote of the Day: It's not about you

In 1978 I did one of the most courageous things in my life: I became a kindergarten teacher! Along with a few other brave souls, I had founded a Christian school and began functioning as its principle. Since our budget and staff were limited, I agreed to temporarily function as a kindergarten teacher.

One Monday morning, the mother of one of my novice academics asked if she could have a birthday party for her daughter in the classroom on the following Friday. The day came, and after the mother’s frenetic preparation, we all entered the room. She had turned our little classroom into a birthday kingdom! The walls and table were lavishly decorated; multicolored streamers on from the ceiling, and a balloon within a balloon was tied to the back of each chair. At each seat was a ribbon tied cellophane bag of party favors. The only exception was the birthday girl, who was surrounded by a huge pile of beautifully wrapped gifts.

At the far end of the table sat Johnny. Johnny kept doing the same thing over and over. He would look at his little bag of party favors, then at the birthday ’s mound of gifts, fold his arms, stick out his lower lip, and let out an audible humph! Each time, the look on his face got more ugly and his humphing got more audible. Before long he had become the center of attention and was well on his way to spoiling the party. Then one of the mothers walked over and knelt beside him. She turned his chair so Johnny was looking directly into her face, and she spoke these profound words: “Johnny, it’s not your party!”
[Paul David Tripp, Instruments In the Redeemer's Hands (P & R Publishers, 2002), p. 34]

Verse of the Day

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Counseling: Faith and Canon

Dear Pastor Lawyer,

Since the church 'recognized' the canon it seems that the canon is not necessarily fixed by God. It seems, as you say, if writings were found in the future they may be included and excluded based on a church council. If this is true and the only requirements are that it be written by an apostle or his companion and be congruent with the 'canon', man is deciding what 'rules' Christians live by. Really, a heretic's 'canon' rejected 2,000 years ago could hold the same argument you put forth couldn't he? He could simply say that all your 'canonical' books are heretical b/c they contain teachings which contradict his 'canon'.

He could say the same exact things you say. Would this make him correct? It makes me feel as if we place a lot of 'faith' in what someone else decided is authoritative. And yes, it brings us back to the same place you began: faith.

Thank you for the help. Rob

Yes, Rob, faith, but it is not faith in faith. In other words, I do not trust in my faith for my salvation or life, but trust in God who is faithful, or, to put it another way, I have faith in a faithful God. I believe that the God who has acted in history countless numbers of times will be faithful to his promises to me and to those around me.

When I view history, I see something remarkable, namely, that not only is God faithful to individuals, but he is also faithful to a community of faith. Those who put their trust in him for their lives gather, and, by proximity to Him, live out a community life together. This is what we call the church; Christ living in individuals who are joined together in him are his body. Consequently, as the church, we are more accurate in our understanding of God and ourselves than we would be if we were a bunch of individuals on our own. The church, not individual scholars, agreed on the canon of Scripture.

Because knowing God produces humility, if a lone man were to come to the church with his own set of “scriptures,” he would submit himself to the church’s understanding of what the Scriptures contain. This is so because the church is not simply a collection of individuals, who are no different from anyone else, but the church is the body of Christ and therefore has the authority of Christ. Christ, through the Church, therefore, has proclaimed which texts are to be included in the canon, and, therefore, everything else is not. The lone man who continues to proclaim something else the word of God is in violation of what has previously been deemed by the church body to be Scripture and is, therefore, a heretic, and should be dealt with as such.

There is a sense in which this always goes back to faith, but again, not faith in faith, but faith in God who has revealed himself, faith lived out, faith coming out our fingertips, what the Bible calls living by faith.

Something else needs to be mentioned here, namely, the factor of truth, for faith in faith is silly and perhaps dangerous, but faith in one who is true and truth is not only not dangerous, but it is right. Is God God? Is Jesus real? Did Jesus live? Did he die? Did he really rise from the dead? Is he truth personified? The answer to all these questions is—Yes!

Since these answers are all in the affirmative, then we are left with dealing with what he said about life and salvation and Hell and death, and that is where we are. Is it all true? Can you place your trust in God? Is he faithful for you? Will he sustain you, protect you, lift you up? Yes!

On the other hand, the Bible has much to say about the consequences of not following/believing/putting your trust in God. Look around you. Are the people you know who are turning their backs on God happy (when they sit alone in their houses)? Is there joy in their families? After going down the road they chose, are they all that they thought they would be? Would you somehow be different? Would turning away from what you know is true in Christ somehow turn out differently in your case? Are you above God? Will you be the only person on the face of the earth or in history whom the truths of the Bible don’t affect (in both directions)?

I know these appear to be rhetorical questions, but they aren’t really because they are questions you need to answer for yourself, for your family, and friends.

My advice to you is to have faith in God, fall into his arms, submit your desires and your feelings to the authority of the one who sent his only son to die for you, live in him who has risen from the dead, let him lift you up, trust in him for your life, and swap burdens with him – give him yours and take his on your shoulders.

I hope this helps,

Quote of the Day: Openness is so open

The thought [according to Clark Pinnock and Openness Theology] is that God is constantly rethinking his actions, reassessing life as he sees it unfold [because God has given men free will, he cannot know the future], and repositioning himself in order to become more deeply involved with his people. The divine/human relationship is a two-way street, and God’s will itself is evolving in concert with his creatures, for this is what the divine love means. Here is a God who could override his creatures but chooses not to, who could see all of the future but does not want to, and who could be entirely unchanging in his being but wants to change consonant with his relationship with his creatures. [David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Powers (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 246]

Verse of the Day

I Am For Peace
In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
A warrior's sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!
Psalm 120:1-7