Monday, December 7, 2009

C.S. Lewis - Aiming at Right Things

From Mere Christianity -
"Your real, new self...will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

David Dark

I love guys who come along and make me think in fresh probe corners of my mind often left undisturbed and dusty. David Dark came and led a few sessions at Montreat College, simply tossing out some of his ideas and challenges on community, doubt, questions, culture, and the Simpsons.
His ideas make me nervous and excited...a feeling I found to be stirring, because it caused me to WANT to think and question more of my deep held assumptions.

I slip too easily into a mindless TV-viewing, trivial conversing, thought-less step above a monkey.

Check him out:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Follow Me...

We had a fascinating discussion last night in our community group. Consider Paul's boldness in saying, "Follow me, as I follow Christ." Consider yourself saying to another brother or sister the same. Could you say it without feeling awkward?...sinful?...prideful? Paul did...and apparently God approved as it's recorded in the Sacred Writings.

The discussion flowed out of a weariness in hearing 'celebrity' pastors praised. Some get tired of hearing about Piper, Driscoll, Dever...or whoever is in their camp. And it has the potential to turn you off to that person, just from getting tired of their being lauded. Some pastors certainly do feed off of this praise, and there is great danger in allowing yourself to be puffed up with others' tickling of your ego, but I think that the greater issue is this: when people praise these people, what they are really saying is, "I love John Piper, because John Piper loves and points me to Jesus." For this is what John Piper would say to the person who would say, "John Piper, I love your ministry."

Piper: "Follow me, as I follow Christ."

A couple questions arise for me:
1. Can I say without shame, pride, or duplicity, "Follow me, as I follow Christ"?
2. Is there someone in my immediate life (not a 'celebrity' kind of person) whom I follow as they follow Christ?

Do you have someone you are following...watching them relate to the opposite sex, watching them respond to conflict, watching them fail well, watching them have a godly sense of humor, watching them love their family...

Too bad that most of us would have to say, "Follow me as I dink around life foolishly."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grumpy Old Man

So I was having a great day out yesterday with my wife and a couple friends of ours. We were playing tennis and it was a gorgeous day. My wife and I are novices at best...the stage where you're still hitting the ball over the fence regularly because you haven't quite grasped not to hit it like a baseball. An older man in a bright pink shirt and red tennis shoes rode up on his Harley Davidson, and by the way he was dressed, it was obvious he hadn't ridden far, so the assumption is that he lives in Montreat (wealthy community). Putting these factors together, I have surmised that this man is a wealthy eccentric with not much to do. Even if this is not true, it makes me feel better to assume it to be so.
We had a ball outside the fence (see above), so when the gentleman (term used loosely) pulled up on his bike, I walked over to the fence and asked him if he could kindly get our ball for us. It went something like, "Hey, could you do us a favor? When you get unsaddled, could you throw our ball over?" He then said something unintelligible. To which I replied, "Huh?" He then said something again, which I did not understand. At this point (I'm sure you've been there), it's the awkward moment where you feel the dilemma rising up within you if you should ask again or just pretend like you understood. I asked again. He then said, finally without mush in his mouth, "GIVE ME A MINUTE." Hmmm. Was that not implied in my question, "When you get unsaddled..." I thought so, but apparently, a simple "yes" or "sure" would not suffice for this sour man. So I "gave him a minute" and he returned the ball. I was a bit miffed at his demeanor and wondered to myself, "Why are some people so sour, especially on a day like the tennis courts?" Had it been the DMV, or church, I may have understood. I shook it off and dismissed it quickly as I wanted to return to our match/inning.
A sidenote should be mentioned. There are 5 courts where we play. 5. We were on the side court. It is a LONG way to the 5th court...plenty of room. Being the only ones there, space abounded for any other racqueteers that might wish to play. When grumpy came, he chose the court adjacent to ours. Hmmm again. Interesting. It's like coming into a men's bathroom when multiple urinals are lined up on the wall. Men rules apply, and they are universal. Man #1 takes one on the outsides. Man #2 finds a spot at least one away. It makes sense in my mind that the urinal rule should also apply on tennis courts. Collateral damage is a possibility in both places. In the bathroom, in is mostly the mental/emotional damage of being next to a man in a confined space with man parts exposed. Why would you choose the closest spot? Men don't do this unless there is some sort of social disability involved. Physical collateral damage is possible in the urinal analogy, but only if bad aim is a real issue with one of the parties. On the tennis court, the collateral damage is mostly physical with the inconveneince of potential stray tennis balls coming over from other players' courts. My point in all this is to say: if there are four more open courts, pick a court one away. It just makes sense.
So some time passes and the foursome of older men warms up and begins playing next to our court. We did a good job of keeping our balls under control, but one happened to roll along the fence behind their court. They were not in the middle of a point, so I proceeded to walk along the fence to retrieve our ball from their area. The aforementioned man picked up my ball and beckoned me to come to him, which I then proceeded to do. I put out my hand to get the ball and thanked him at which point he withheld the ball and said succinctly, "Tennis etiquette: your ball can come over, but you cain't." My shocked and dumbfounded retort was an impotent, "Ok, thanks." About a half hour later, many other options came to mind. My favorite being, "Life etiquette: Don't be an ass."
My point; I don't want to be a grumpy old man with a pink shirt and red tennis shoes and nothing good to say. What if the tables were turned? What if some 10 year-olds came and were next to us and having more fun than serious competion? Would I look at them and have good things to think and say? Would I invest in them, even if just in minor ways withholding negativity toward them? I honestly have to answer and say, "I don't know." Maybe I am growing into the man that has the pink shirt, red shoes, and mouth full of manure (in diction and content). I hope not. In the end, I think the experience was good for me, though at the time, I did not like it. God sends lessons through asses in the Old Testament, and he sends lessons through the same on the tennis court.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Own Prison

Quote taken from Reformers in the Wings by David C. Steinmetz - on a chapter highlighting Johannes Von Staupitz (1460/9 - 1524)

"The problem is not that sinners have lost sight of the demand of God that is laid on them or are slothful and unwilling to make use of their ability to obey the will of God. If that were so, then moral education and exhortation could awaken sinners to their predicament and enable them to assume their responsibilities towards God and the nighbor. The problem is, rather, that the human will is the prisoner of its own self-love and cannot release itself from that bondage. This misdirected love has worked havoc in the human soul. There is no inner citadel of the soul that has fought the enemy to a standstill and escaped the effects of the fall. On the contrary, sinners are not only unable to earn merits, they are even, as Augustine had rightly argued, unable to act virtuously. When the nominalists urged sinners to do their very best and assured them that God would reward their very best with his grace, they were reading a sentence of death over the human race. Fallen men and women cannot love God supremely even if they try--and there is no reason to be sanguine about the possibility that they will try."

Pursue good thoughts...pursue sound theology.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quote to Ponder

In my previous blog, I mentioned my current reading of Far As the Curse is Found by Michael D. Williams. This morning in my reading of his chapter entitled "The Law," I read

"Never knowing how to satisfy someone produces slavery."

His purpose was to show God's law as given at Sinai as an avenue of freedom for God's redeemed people. Our view of law is usually the opposite...stifling, rigid, suffocating. But I think his point is excellent. If we don't know what satisfies someone, we're left wondering how to please...a slave to the 'figuring out' of what it takes to walk in accordance with their desires. How often does this happen with spouses? "What do I have to do to make them happy?" "I thought that they would appreciate this..."

God has graciously laid out what satisfies to walk in His ways. Law truly makes free.

Last point to remember...the Israelites at Sinai were redeemed and chosen by God before the Law was given. After the redemption came the Law. Following the Law does not make us God's people. God makes us His people, then graciously frees us to please Him and walk with Him by showing us His law.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obligation to God

This title is a bit misleading for it is only a minor part of the whole. I'm reading a fantastic book, which is an introduction to Covenant Theology. I am incredibly thankful for it as I've longed for a good introduction to this particular theological framework. The book is Far as the Curse is Found by Michael Williams. The thought that has been thrilling my a very simple yet profound way: Covenant relationship always precedes obligation. God calls us into relationship with Him before obligations are required. He wants relationship, then obligation flows out from the joy of being in relationship with Him. Not very profound as I type and re-read...but profound when I actually stop and meditate on the wonder of it. He's called me in to a relationship with Himself. Creator desiring the created. Thanks Father.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Paul sings Nessun Dorma high quality video/sound widescreen 16:9

This video has the ability to produce tears. I don't even know why it makes me weepy really...just does.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Loving God with All Your Mind

Working in an institution of higher ed. is sometimes extremely encouraging. At times, the 'headiness' can be a subtle environment for pride to sneak in a destroy, but overall, I'm pleased to be in an envoronment where thinking is encouraged. Christ himself encourages this when he calls us to "love the Lord your God...with all your mind." In many of your conversations, does it not seem that it is unpopular to think? In a recent e-mail from a professor on campus, I've been reminded that many times, people simply interact with issues on the emotional it makes them feel...not fully engaging logic and reason. Don't get me wrong: I think we all long for our emotional fulfillment as well, but for our worship to be holistic, I believe that our emotion should flow from engaging our minds with truth.
It's the times in worship that I engage my mind with the truth of what I'm singing that I find myself in tears.
My challenge today...find people who stir your mind...even if you don't agree with them. Talk with intentional about having heady conversations...but then...don't let it stop there...worship the God who gave you the ability to think.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pulling Rank

An interesting thing occurred last night. I received a disturbing line of communication in e-mail format. I don't know if it had poor motives behind it, but is was enough to prompt me to think about pulling rank. It's abusive to pull rank, and I think we're all prone to it on some level. I'm not a parent yet, but I imagine it would be easy to pull the 'because I'm dad' card. I AM a husband, and in years past, I borderlined on pulling the leadership card. I've seen pastors pull the 'submit' card in order to quell 'divisiveness' that really was dialogue for the purpose of growth, personal and corporate.
Don't get me wrong, I think rank has its place, just the abuse of it is where the rub comes.
I'm glad God doesn't pull rank...we'd all be crushed without hope.
"He who knew no sin became sin for us......"
He is good.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Submitting to Sovereignty

25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”

This passage from 2 Samuel 15 caused me to, once again, rejoice in God's sovereignty through David's statement. Am I confident enough in God's good purposes even to say to Him, "Do what seems good to You," even if it means that I am the object of his displeasure? This statement of David's is packed with trust in God's sovereign purposes. How many TV preachers proclaim this gospel: God does what pleases Him, and that might mean my harm, not my prosperity....and He's still good.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This calls for introspection

Last night, listening to a speaker, I found myself challenged and enthralled by this statement:

"Shame blinds your ability to differentiate between a statement of value and an observation."

I found this to be the one statement that I walked away mulling over in my mind. He went on to explain what he meant. If you are doing laundry and your spouse (or fill in whatever relationship applies here) says to you, "Don't put the colors with the whites," and you hear, "You are an awful embarassment of a husband. Why are you so idiotic that you don't know this?" rather than hearing the simple assesment and observation, there are some issues there to deal with. You will be a difficult person to live with. Because then, of course, the resulting train of turn inward, look hurt, spouse says, "What's wrong?", you say "Nothing.", you learn to mask more behavior, conform to avoid shame...cycle continues, issues get pushed deeper.

I just found it to be fascinating. If you have a shame history in your upbringing, maybe you can identify?

The speaker was William Paul Young, author of The Shack. This book has generated some theological controversy, and I have some of my own minor issues, but if I can say...he was one of the most honest men that I have ever seen on a stage. Hands down. His love for Jesus is real and intense. His humility is the most genuine I have seen, with no attempts to 'be humble.' His sensitivity to God and people is near angelic. The Church would look vastly different were it filled with men like him...but I'm aware that God is growing His church in His own way...and I'm satisfied with that.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nathan's Crushing Blow

In the tagline of this blog, it says it's better to be crushed by truth than to be coddled by error. This can only be true if our desires are really set on growing. Must of us really want to be coddled in some sense by error. I want people to stroke my ego and tell me I'm great more than I want them to tell me my speech borders on gossip. I want people to be wowed by my teaching more than I want to be told I've taken some Scripture out of context...but if I want to grow, I need to be lovingly crushed by truth. So often, God brings that through His agents, our brothers and sisters.
In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan tells David a parable that makes David livid with anger at a certain man. Nathan then drops the bomb, "David, you are the man!" Most of us guys love hearing, "You're the man!" but in this context, it would have been a crushing blow--that David just admitted his own sentence in his eyes: he deserved to be put to death.

Nathan crushes David with truth.

1. Do you have people in your life that are honest and loving enough to crush you with truth?
2. How do you respond when someone that loves you crushes you with truth?

I'm thankful to have people in my life that are willing to crush me with truth.

In the same breath, I am sorrowful that often my response to being crushed by truth is not so thankful...or even receptive.

If you have people you'd like to 'publicly' thank...leave a comment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Enigma of David's Sin

Oh how the story of David's sin always makes me so wary of my own weaknesses. David, dubbed by God as "a man after God's own heart" walks with God through so many intimate years of dependence, love, sorrow, and victory. Yet when he sees a beautiful woman bathing on a rooftop, the impending turn of events is staggering: adultery, lies, cover-ups, plot of indirect murder, inciting drunkenness, carrying out of a murder plot...all this after years of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.
Then to witness, through Nathan's counsel, his (key:honest) repentance and sorrow over what he has done and the restoration of joy in his fellowship with God.

How easily we fall even after being on mountaintops with God.

By grace and by mercy may we be kept from falling...let us never think ourselves to be so spiritual that we are 'beyond' our stumbling, but let us cling ever so tightly to His grace which sustains us.

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it--prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O, take and seal it. Seal if for Thy courts above"

Friday, February 20, 2009

What's Your Story?

C'mon folks...let's make this a little more interactive... :)

1. How would you define your spritiual environment upbringing?
2. How has that shaped your thinking on spiritual issues today?

Let's get this blog party started.

The process or the Prize

I had a great conversation that led to a good reminder for me. It was a good reminder because I'm so tempted as a self-righteous reward seeker to place my satisfaction and delight in the completion of an exercise over my satisfaction and delight in the Person of Christ. It is baffling how easily we are deceived, once we've tasted and seemingly almost tangibly experienced His Personhood, to return to a merit-based system of 'gaining' His approval, as if we can gain anything by our efforts.
Simply put...programs fail if they lead you to an achievement rather than a person. 40 days of...anything... may make you 'feel' like you have more direction, but if you do not truly savor Christ more with a voracious appetite as a result, it is fleeting and ultimately worthless. Fasting from food may make you feel like you've achieved discipline, but if it did not fiercely channel your appetite toward a hunger for Christ, you're still hungry for more. Are you catching my drift? These things are not bad in and of themselves. In fact, they can be holy and wonderful. But if our disciplines (even if started with pure motives) subtly get turned toward the 'goal' and 'accomplishing,' our god becomes our achievement, and our pleasure is our own strength.

Think with me. If I set out to fast for 3 days, and the first day my fellowship with the Almighty Christ is consuming, sweet, and soul-stirring...what happens if the 2nd day is a floundering desert, so I eat the third day because my focus just won't return...have I failed? If my goal is completion, and my god is my effort--yes, I have failed, and I will feel like a failure. If my goal is Christ, I have much delight that He graced me with His presence that first day...He has succeeded in me.

I admit, I would struggle feeling like a failure, because my battle is with self-righteousness.

Oh, that our goal and aim would be Christ and Christ alone, the gift from the Father. I find Him richly dwelling in His Word and in His Church, the Saints. When I delight in the process more than the Prize, I rob myself.

May you find Him dwelling richly in His Word and in those saints you fellowship with.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thoughtful Input Desired

I read a quote a moment ago:
"If there was anything upon which the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis preferred not to dwell, it was the divisions that existed in the Christian Church."

Within the realm of theological reflection and Christendom, if there is anything that you prefer not to dwell on, what would it be?

Theology for your edification

Here's a great website for your soul's feeding. Of particular interest on the left hand information bar...blogging through the Institutes. I have been reading the Institutes and find them to be refreshing nourishment for the soul in an overwhelmingly parched theological literary world.
Please enjoy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is Tank

Tank says hi. Tank wants to lick your face.
Come on, you know you want to make it your wallpaper...

Stop Doing and Start Enjoying

I've been reading through the Samuels in the Old Testament. I tend to pore over single passages for long periods of time, gleaning every bit that I can, and I love this kind of study. But in the Samuels, I've just been reading them like a novel...big picture storyline from a wide-angle view. It has been great. It is amazing to me that God worked in David's heart in such a way that he did not seek revenge on Saul with repeated opportunities...he did not seek the throne before his time though he knew he was chosen...he was a musician and a warrior (nice...reminds me of my brother-in-law). The thing that struck me this morning was the whole "I want to build you a house, God" interaction in 2 Samuel. In short, David was struck that God did not have a permanent dwelling, so he was telling God of his desires to build Him a house. One would think that God would be pleased, honored, and revel in the praise. God said no. David's son would have the job instead. I don't claim to know God's reasons for things. It would be nice sometimes, so I think.
David had been a busy man up until this point. If you read from 1 Samuel straight through to this point, you would see how many wars he has fought, personal and national. It's as if God was giving him liberty to rest. Stop doing and start enjoying.
Do I have the ability to stop trying to accomplish things for God and just enjoy Him? Do I think my enjoyment of Him (or His enjoyment of me) is contigent upon my accomplishments for Him? Bigger yet, what can I really accomplish for God? His involving me in His stuff is completely by grace and I believe is really designed for me to see more of His glory and goodness rather than me 'accomplishing' anything at all.
Today, at least for a time...stop doing and start enjoying...He can 'do' without you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good Preaching

Relationships, Marriage, Sex, Roles...I have been thoroughly convicted and encouraged by my pastor's series on the topics. Check them out here:
I attend Missio Dei church in Asheville, NC. Missio Dei is an Acts 29 Network church committed to advancing God's Kingdom through the gospel of Jesus Christ. My wife and I are privileged to attend as they hold to reformed orthodoxy without being stuffy, removed, trendy, or just plain dorky.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I was thinking this morning that we are to be imitators of Christ. Most of the time, I think in the philosophical realm...such as how he treated females, how he was associated with drunkards, or what the implications of his scathing words to Pharisees mean to us...but I shifted this morning to thinking about simple the kind kids do. Mimicking, more like. Like what does he DO. He gets up a couple hours before the sunrise to meet with the Father. He goes away from people that want to be with Him desperately to sit on a mountain to pray. He drinks alcohol with no peeking over his shoulder. He eats frequently with people. He enjoys large parties.
The first couple really convicted me...I want to stray far from legalism. Legalism would demand that I do these things to 'increase' my righteousness and would impose this on others as well. I'm NOT saying in posting these things that you must get up at 4 am to please God and have a 'fuller' relationship with Him...but I am wondering...did Christ have something wonderful when He knew 4 am brings no distractions...that quiet places in nature away from people seem to prompt worship...something for me to consider...taking into account that I have not mimicked these in quite some time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Unlikely Couple

Take 3 minutes...we have One who is not like us Who anxiously awaits the day when our healing will be consummated by His hand.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Me in short

I'm a thirty year-old redeemed thankful one married to a wonderfully patient and lovely wife. The only possession that I prize higher than my wife is my relationship with God, and that has been wonderfully granted to me by Grace, not by my merit. I am struggling to learn how to love God with all my heart, strength, soul, and mind. Under that broad category, I am also struggling to learn how to love:

1. My wife
2. My (C)church
3. My family
4. My friends
5. My enemies

I name those very specifically and pointedly. I believe the toughest command to carry out in life is to really love people. It's often very easy to be nice to people, but to really love people? Difficult beyond my wisdom. Please ponder with me...have you loved much this week? ...or simply been nice?
Biblical love goes so much farther than niceness...and often culturally probably doesn't even look nice...but oh how enticing it is when you actually encounter it. I seriously lack in this area and I want it to grieve me much more than it does.