Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

Discerning Repentance

One’s attitude does not produce discernment, like sadness can’t diagnose disease. On the other hand, the right attitude should be one of the results of discernment, like an accurate diagnosis may cause sorrow. As always, discernment flourishes only when energized by the light of doctrine.

Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.

Quoted from John Piper’s post, Test Revival with Doctrine.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

How Do You Respond

One week ago I was minding my own business, working on something in my office when I received a text message on my iPhone. I suspected it was a one28 staff person letting me know they were unable to make it to our meeting later that evening, but when I looked at the snippet I didn’t recognize the number. I was even more surprised upon opening the entire message, and though they said they didn’t want a response, I sent one anyway. The following image is a screen capture of the original (in grey) and my response (in green). The only photo edit was to mask the final four digits of the phone number.

Categories
He Will Build His Church

Making Disciples Booklet

I’ve blogged through a series on Making Disciples, and here is the whole thing put together in a couple formats by my friend Jesse.

Here’s a PDF in portrait view:

And here’s a landscape format that works well as a booklet.

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

You Can’t Pay for This Kind of Promotion

Ryan Hall is eager for the upcoming seminar on Bible study. We should all have this attitude and perspective toward our copies of God’s Word:

I want to become a kid in the candy store when it comes to reading through the pages of Scripture. You can never out-study the truths of the Bible.

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

Pastoral Wisdom

According to 50 former pastors, faithful pastoral ministry requires initiative and discipline, with a vivid sense of divine calling, from a constantly refurbished theological commitment, and personal, growing affection for the sheep.

HT: B2W

Categories
Rightly Dividing

Rightly Dividing Your Copy of God’s Word

Today we announced a new seminar at church:

Rightly | Dividing aims to move believers beyond personal Bible reading to Bible study. There are many useful Bible reading plans, and for that matter, much excellent material is available from good Bible teachers. But this seminar hopes to train people how to understand and depend on the Book, not only on teachers of the Book.

I’ll be teaching this seminar on Saturday, October 11. (Don’t tell anyone, but October 11 also happens to be Mo’s due date with Hallie.) It will include over six hours of teaching, covering topics like how to prepare for study, basic principles (hermeneutics) for Bible study, how to find the point of a paragraph, and recommended tools.

Anyone in the area is welcome to attend. If you’re interested, jump over to the Rightly | Dividing website for more details and online registration.

Categories
Whispers and Flames

Fools Play with Fire

Avoiding drama doesn’t mean we never say tough things, it means we don’t add theatrics. It also means that we say tough things to the person, not about the person. Being kind to someone’s face doesn’t always equal love, and saying difficult things to someone’s face doesn’t always equal not love.

On the other hand, whisperers are invariably haters. They talk a love game in certain settings but, as Proverbs 26:23-28 describes, they are hiding an evil heart and harboring deceit. It is never loving or kind to whisper; it is dishonest, insincere, two-faced talk. Whisperers, quarrelers, deceivers, and haters are destroyers.

The whisperers in Proverbs 26:20-22 are fools. Of course, the entire book of Proverbs identifies the contrast between wisdom and foolishness, and a man’s speech tells on him. Wise men quiet contention; fools start fires. Fools whisper and start fights. Fools take a bad situation and stir it up. Other fools listen to and eat up drama.

While these related proverbs comment on the effect or results of drama, the apostle Paul reveals the cause of drama. Whispering and fighting are works of the flesh.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. (Galatians 5:19-20)

Some of these sins fly under the banner of drama. The point is, drama–especially drama in whispers–starts in the heart. These sins are also a sign of God’s abandoning men to their unrighteousness.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1:28-31)

It’s no wonder tongues cause such turmoil since “the tongue stains the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). We inflame and sustain fire with our mouths, because our tongues are hellish. It may not be a surprise, but it is no less wrong.

Spirit-filled Christians should not whisper or quarrel. Drama is fleshly. Galatians 5 says that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. We will stop the drama. Those who increase drama, therefore, are those not walking in the Spirit.

This has application for everyone, but young ladies appear especially susceptible to being busybodies, buttinskies, and backbiters.

But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. (1 Timothy 5:11-15)

Apparently because they don’t have enough to do and aren’t looking for responsibility, they go about writing on other’s Facebook walls, text messaging, and getting each other in corners to talk about what Miss So-and-so did. But the devil watches young women. He takes their drama and uses it to slander Christ. Ladies must keep their tongues from wagging after Satan.

With every response we show what is important, either drama, or the Lord. We’ve got to guard our hearts, guard our lips, and guard our ears. Especially for leaders, those who typically know more information about others, and those on whom more eyes and ears concentrate, drama must not be entertained or tolerated in our reactions. We need to make disciples, not drama.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

I Didn’t Pick My Eyes Out

Mo and I returned Monday afternoon from the Olympic Swim Trials. We spent a week together in Omaha, NE, in celebration of our 10th Anniversary and Mo’s forthcoming 30th birthday in November.

Qwest Center pool in Omaha – see all our trip pictures

I know, Omaha doesn’t make anyone’s top 10 list of romantic destinations, but Mo has dreamt about attending the Olympic trials meet since she was 10. In fact, she told me that had I taken her back to Hawaii instead, she would have been a little bit disappointed.

Though I’m not a swimmer, a swim coach, or an otherwise interested spectator of swimming, I think I was a good sport all week. Not only did I enjoy the time with Mo–away from interruptions and regular responsibilities–not once did I feel like picking my eyes out. Almost every session saw a record broken, whether it was a meet record, American record, or World record. Michael Phelps really is dominant (in US swim team marketing as well as in the pool), and Dara Torres was that old–and dominant. I would not appreciate sitting all day watching nine year olds swim, but the Olympic trials obviously highlight the best our country has to offer. Friday and Saturday night in particular saw the largest crowds ever to watch a swim meet in the US, Saturday the largest at over 13,770. Any former or current athlete couldn’t help but get goose bumps as the crowd stood and cheered a close race over the last 50m.

We didn’t do much other than attend the trials, eat, and hang out in our hotel since Mo still isn’t feeling fantastic (though at least we didn’t make any visits to the hospital). It is good to be home after being gone most of the last three weeks. Perhaps now I’ll return to normal intermittent posting.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Happy 10th Anniversary, Mo!

Mo married me 10 years ago today, June 19, 1998. Wow.

happy in Hawaii last November

Back then I was looking for someone who wouldn’t be satisfied with the status quo. I prayed for a person that would encourage and push for our marriage to be full and intimate and fun and show off the relationship between Christ and His Bride, for our parenting to be consistent and kind and diligent and nurturing in the Lord, and our ministry to be vigorous and faithful and biblical and a fragrant aroma to God. I didn’t realize how big a request that was.

I knew that this woman would need to love God more than me, that she needed an understanding of–and eagerness to learn more–theology, that she needed a passion for discipleship, as well as an appreciation for her family and in particular submission to her dad, and that she needed affection for the local Body. I also knew she needed a healthy sense of humor, an understanding about coffee and red meat (even if she didn’t partake herself), and she had to be hot. I didn’t realize how rare a woman like that is.

Mo surfing in Hawaii

What I didn’t recognize is how poor my communication skills were, how little practice I had at enjoying things, how utterly insensitive I could be, how narrow and limited my perspective was (and is), how superficial and deficient my understanding of–and ability to–love, and how prone I was to take myself too seriously. I didn’t realize how prodigious a sinner she’d be dealing with.

Mo possesses all of those attributes and deals graciously with all of my failings. I knew I needed her; I didn’t realize how much! After 10 years I’ve at least started to scratch the surface of how important she is to me and how thankful I am for her. These have been my favorite 10 years thanks to Mo. She is my portion in life (Ecclesiastes 9:9), the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18), an excellent wife who does me good all my days (Proverbs 31:10-12), God’s gracious and favorable gift (Proverbs 18:22) to me. Thanks for marrying me, Mo.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Enjoying the Travel

In a few minutes Maggie and I are leaving for a two week trip to Ohio. Mo and Calvin are staying home this year, but I’m off to preach five messages at a church conference on the Five Points of Calvinism and then nine messages from Ecclesiastes for the same church’s youth camp.

Somehow it happened that we’re flying United again, but we’re avoiding Chicago with a layover in Philadelphia and jump to Pittsburgh. (Yes, we are actually going to Ohio). It’s still faster than driving across country.

Though I typically reserve my Twitter for meditating thoughts I’ll add some traveling updates for the interested.

UPDATE [9:10PM June 13]: The Twitter followers know we made it safely and with minimal wear and tear. I believe that’s partly due to God’s providence in not having us fly United, but a US Airways flight operated on behalf of United.