H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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The Nashville Statement
Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Pastor's Wife
The Pastor's wife...?Today's Christian culture dictates to us that the Pastor's wife must be the most spiritually mature matron in the assembly, she must be active in as many public ministries as the church is willing to support, and she must also be a counselor and teacher to all the other women in the church - not to mention she should be looking after the church bulletin, her own family, and her husband as well. There is a notion that her husband's ministry is only half the equation, and she is the other half - she must be perfect in every way, and if she isn't, clearly either her husband isn't really "called" to minister, or she should never have become a pastor's wife...

I have no idea where this comes from. Okay that's not true, I am pretty sure I have some idea of where this sort of thing originated from, and it isn't from God, but that wasn't the point - the point was to articulate my incredulity that Christians who are supposedly are looking to scripture and the Holy Spirit for guidance tend to make up all sorts of traditions for themselves, and to make matters worse, not only do they perpetuate their own ideas, but with each iteration it gets worse. Already there are some pretty big churches that have husband-and-wife pastor teams. Thabiti Anyabwile has a pretty good run down of that particular trend (H/T: David Kjos), and I must say, Thabiti is certainly right in noting how silently such a thing takes root; and if I can add to his writing - I think it begins with that very sort of Christian culture that assumes extra-biblical roles upon the pastor's wife as a matter of course.

If you have never read this Q & A session with Patricia MacArthur (Pastor John MacArthur's wife) it is a very, very good read; her answer to the question, "What is your advice on ministering and raising a family while also maintaining a role as pastor’s wife and fulfilling the needs of the ministry in the church? How do you keep that in balance?" is pure gold.

I wonder how many pulpit ministries are hindered, crippled, or even destroyed by the inflated expectations placed upon a pastor's wife, and by extension (through the fallout) upon his family and his ministry. I also wonder how many congregational cultures have been led so far down this bunny trail that they read "the two shall become one" as a validating scripture for husband/wife pastoral teams - all because people are more willing to follow a well established trend than to crack open their bible and challenge every practice that exalts itself against what they find in God's word! I believe this is the kind of baggage that ought to be tossed out.

I shouldn't have to spell it out, but allow me: It -can- happen that the pastor's wife is not the eldest matron, nor the most spiritually gifted, nor (dare I say it!) the most spiritually mature woman in the church >gasp!< It may be that she is just a common Christian who is married to a person who is a gifted leader and/or teacher. She may not even be the best Christian - the only thing we ought to be concerned about is that she, like everyone else - has her heart set on knowing the Lord, and is unwilling to abide sin, not in the church, not in her household, not in her own life - if she is fighting the good fight, that is enough. Why bind a larger burden on her than the Lord does?

What I say about the entire extra-biblical ministry we have imposed upon the pastor's wife - whether we dreamed it up ourselves or perpetuate the practice by allowing it to go on unchecked - the same applies to other vacuous religious burdens we either create or foster - the watchmen on the wall blow their horns, but who is listening?


posted by Daniel @ 1:55 PM   7 comment(s)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Wednesday Prayer Encouragement -V-

You don't know how it feels to be me.

Tom Petty wrote a tune to that effect in the middle nineties, but the thought expressed there is the one I want to talk about today. When we have had a good day, or a good week, or have been repenting consistently we feel like God is very close, and that our prayers are pleasing to Him, and conversely, when we are aware of our failure (sin) we tend to feel far away from God. Our shame is that we knew to do good but we chose to obey self over God and when we do that we feel far away until we can "get right" with God.

The trouble is, that when you feel like that even though your desire is to make everything better, and to try harder, and all that - getting over the first prayer hurdle can be quite a struggle. We are in the race, but we are so aware of our own hypocrisy coupled with the sensation that we are far away from God that we feel like we are the only Christians in the whole world who struggle with sin. We presume upon God's contempt for us - for How can our God relate to our condition? He is perfect and we are not. We feel that God's sympathy for our condition can only go so far, but that our failure goes beyond even this. That separation we feel from God is the loneliest feeling we know, and when we feel it, we want to go to God, but sometimes we run and hide like Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned.

We seldom bring it out into the open, rather we keep it secret and pretend all is well, but deep down we feel isolated, alone, and phony, and trying to pray when you are in a frump like that is difficult because even though you know it can't be true - you still feel like God has nothing in common with you - you can open up to another sinner and tell them what a failure you are, and even take comfort in sharing with them, and in hearing of their failures - but when you come to God there is no fellowship on this point, you come as one who is rightly condemned having no alibi and you feel as though even though you know the judge to be a fair and compassionate man, that because you have been before him a thousand times thus - surely you have worn out his compassion, surely upon seeing your guilt he will only be disappointed in you.

Part of this is because you know the judge to be flawless, you know he has never been where you are - he doesn't know what its like to be you, so how can he sympathize?

Christian, do you feel that sting of separation from God? Do you feel that God is a zillion miles away, and that even if you wanted to bridge the distance, you are unable to? Do you feel that no one can sympathize in this horrible sense of separation? Do you feel that you cannot come to God in prayer because his sympathies are being worn out?

On Calvary our sinless Savior hung naked on a cross, humiliated, and condemned even though He was innocent. His physical suffering was profound - it is a horrible, torturous way to suffer - but that was nothing compared to the real suffering He was enduring there.

Jesus was not the son of Adam, but the second Adam - and where Adam fell in the garden, Christ did not fall. Before Adam sinned he was aware of God's presence in the garden - but after he was driven out he and all his progeny were no longer aware of God - they knew there was a God, but God's presence was no longer obvious to them. This was part of their condemnation. I believe that because Jesus was not Adam's son, but the second Adam, that Jesus did not inherit Adam's condemnation - that is, He lived his life as Adam did before the fall - in full awareness of God's presence. When Christ was anointed in the Jordon, the Holy Spirit came to indwell His human flesh and in the strength of the Holy Spirit He began His earthly ministry. Throughout his life He not only was aware of God's presence, but during his ministry he was in constant and close communion with the Holy Spirit.

But on Calvary, on account of our sin, God forsook Him.

Jesus has known even that awful feeling of separation, to be sure, there is no one in heaven or earth who can sympathize with your sense of separation more compassionately than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is nothing you can feel that he hasn't shared infinitely and intimately in. There is no well so deep in our experience as to exhaust the Lord's patience and compassion. You may fail Him ten thousand times ten thousand times, and you will not come close to exhausting His sympathy, nor will you wear out your welcome - your Lord is more fit than any to hear your weeping over your own failures, because He bore them for you in utter isolation - He -knows- how you feel, and the God of all mercy will show genuine sympathy to you every time you come.

Take heart you broken man, ...you failure, ...you far away soul, draw near, because the best salve for what ails you is spending time with the one who has born your suffering before you. Do you want to be cleansed from this malady? Run to the one who has been there in your stead - run to the one who is defined by love. You won't be disappointed, he won't turn you away - but get it out of your head this instant that God is hating you and doesn't want you around. Get it out of your head that God is disappointed in you and doesn't want you around. Cast such thoughts back to where they came from - they are fiery darts indeed, but the shield of faith can protect you - trust in the Lord, in His character, in His love - don't let your trust be all vague so that you are trying to hold onto vapor - give your faith substance when you raise that shield - my God loves me, it cannot be otherwise, my God accepts me in the beloved - his word says so, and his word is certain. Do not turn and flee when the fiery darts come - raise your shield and press on.


posted by Daniel @ 1:35 PM   2 comment(s)
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Wednesday Prayer Encouragement -IV-
Is your prayer all dried up?You may have noticed but there was no prayer encouragement last week. That was because I had written two, and wasn't sure which to go with, so I opted to go with neither.

Today I am not going to resurrect one of those, but will strike a different note altogether. In our first encouragement we remembered that God granted the lives of a bunch of unsaved condemned prisoners to Paul because Paul had asked for them. Not because they were more worthy of life than innocent people, but rather because Paul prayed for them. It encouraged us in this way - to remember that God is not a man who thinks as men do, but a God of mercy who has said that he will hear our prayers. We should pray therefore as Paul prayed - with boldness, and not according to our own understanding of what God may or may not answer.

In our second encouragement we remembered that God's covenant and his people are always connected, but that this connection can be misapplied or misunderstood. That the new covenant is about us pursuing God diligently by counting on our death in Christ rather than our own ability in order to overcome the sin that destroys our fellowship with God. Our confidence in prayer must rest in Christ's worth and not in a worth that we, through our works, develop in order to merit favor with God. We pray at the foot of a throne of grace.

Our third encouragement was to remember that God is not absent from us in our sin, but uses it to draw us to himself - and that understanding that God is not against us because of our failures, but for us at all times, we were encouraged to have a right mind set in prayer - that we are as soldiers who are engaged in taking the promised land, and that our victory is assured in that our ever-victorious General is on the field with us, and that a besetting sin is like a prolonged battle that we have yet to win - but for which the victory is guaranteed by our General. We ought not therefore, to let besetting sin make us feel like God wants nothing to do with us - that is, we must never give into the desire to flee from God on account of our continual failure - we must flee towards him.

By putting such encouragements into practice we are setting aside the dictates of our flesh when we pray. That is, we are not listening to the way the flesh directs us - telling us that God hates us, that our prayers are useless, and that we merit nothing before God, and instead we fortify ourselves in the truth and allow not the flesh to govern our prayers, but the Spirit. Prayer is an act of worship so profound that I am going to have to spell it out soon (no time right now). When we set aside the flesh in this way, according to what is truth - we are worshiping God in our spirit and in truth. Rest in the certain knowledge that when you pray in this way you are being pleasing to God.


posted by Daniel @ 6:52 AM   5 comment(s)
Monday, August 20, 2007
Ravi Zacharias - The Grand Weaver - Book Review -Part One-

If you haven't already, you can read David Kjos' review of the same book.

If you have never heard Ravi Zacharias speak, you should go and hear him at "Let my people think", as his writing shares a similar savor as his public speaking - that is, he is an engaging writer who communicates well.

The first thing that struck me as I begin to read the book - and paused to ponder its merits, was that I knew it was not a book that was edited to cater to people who "get it" so much as it was geared towards those for whom the subject matter would be novel or veiled. If one already sees God's hand in providence, one may well be inclined towards impatience as one reads. I found myself agreeing with the principle but in a ho-hum sort of way - that is, not being drawn into the reality of God's providence in any deeper way.

I note also that Ravi is approaching God's providence from an experiential perspective - demonstrating that the sovereignty of God is not some theological formula that lacks teeth in practice, but rather that any rational person with eyes to see can use what is available to them to indeed see that God is sovereign, and working in all things. This approach works best outside the church rather than within it, and it isn't a criticism of the work, but rather an indication of who the intended audience should be - those who don't see it, those who don't get it. If you are reading scripture everyday, and have your theological ducks lined up, this book will not be as satisfying to you as it would be to one who is still working these things out.

I am not finished the text yet, and when I am I shall comment more on it. but for now I give you my initial reactions.


posted by Daniel @ 9:38 AM   2 comment(s)
Friday, August 17, 2007
Moor Blogging...
Jonathan Moorhead tagged me recently with an interesting meme, and I am well pleased, and even honored to be included in that tag, so without much adieu, here it is.

Here was his preamble, and I think it works best unchanged...
Are you able to look at your blog, shake your head, and identify your worst post? Maybe it would be more difficult to identify your best. And how about that post that you have changed your mind about, or the one that yielded the most comments?

Worst Post: Without hesitation, I think my worst post was a post that I hastily put up on "Free Grace" theology. I say worst because I was being needlessly insulting in the post, and I hate when I give into the flesh like that. My carnal inclination is always to cover up my errors so that I look like I have none. But I left the post up even though it reveals so much that is wrong with me that it does anyone else. Never the less, I regret having written it.

Best Post: I am too critical and biased to know what my best post was. I do like posts where I take history, and talk about it as it relates to doctrine, but I couldn't say this is my best post - I leave that to others.

Changed His Mind Post: Well, I was wrong to ever post about my Nautilus machine. Wrong I say, because this one post is perhaps the biggest reason people come to my blog. Not for anything I have to say, but because they are consumers looking for information about this machine. Clearly, I am missing my calling, I should be selling sports equipment...

Most Comments Post: Though paltry by most standards, a post I made on the topic of the Mosaic Law, and how it cannot produce righteousness in us, topped the count at 68 posts.

Now I tag others:
Frank Turk
Phil Johnson
Daniel J. Phillips
Fred Butler
Tim Challies, and
James White.
posted by Daniel @ 3:01 PM   11 comment(s)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
An Interview With My Daughter...
Me: Okay, I am going to ask you some questions, and you can answer them if you want to, and I will type what we say to each other. People on the Internet will read our conversation, and learn a little bit about us. How's that sound?

Her: I would still be on the second line if I was typing...

Me: Umm, yes, but you are supposed to answer my questions not kinda free-associate like that...

Her: What's your question?

Me: I said, How's that sound - referring back to people on the Internet reading our conversation...

Her: oh. Wow, you wrote that quickly daddy.

Me: Yep. Now, Why did you want to learn Biblical Greek?

Her: Because - I found it fun!

Me: How so?

Her: what does that mean?

Me: It means, what did you find fun about Greek?

Her: You mean BIBLICAL Greek?

Me: Yes, Biblical Greek, what did you find fun about it?

Her: I just thought it would be cool to learn a different language so I could talk a different language. Whoa - that was a big sentence.

Me: Yep, that it was. I think I would like to speak in biblical Greek with you kids - I think it would help all of us to understand the language better - I think there are some nuances that you don't really notice until you actually speak a language.

Her: What does "Her" mean?

Me: Well, it is you. I am not using your name on purpose.

Her: Why?

Me: Because the Internet is full of crazy people as well as nice people, and we don't want the crazy people bothering you. I should ask you another question.

Her: Yeah, another question. Which question?

Me: Ah, let's see... How about, what is your favorite television program?

Her: Does that mean what is my favorite movie?

Me: Nope, it means what television show do you like to watch the most?

Her: That sounds like which movie though?

Me: It's kind of a trick question because we don't watch television. Hehe.. Okay, seriously, what was your favorite part of our morning devotion today?

Her: What does that mean?

Me: It means that when we opened the bible together this morning, and prayed and read some - what was your favorite part of all that.

Her: ooooh. heheh..

Me: Well?

Her: .... I am trying to think of what my favorite part was...

Me: Do you remember what we read or did?

Her: I remember what we did, but I am trying to think... were we in Samuel? Did David become that king guy?

Me: No, Saul was anointed king, then appointed king...

Her: I know that guy isn't going to stay the king.

Me: Okay, yeah, that is what we read, sort of... but what was your favorite part about that?

Her: Oooohh. hahahee. (farting followed by lots of giggling)

Me: phew. Cabbage... okay, enough of that. What were your jobs today?

Her: errr, brush my teeth, put on my medicine, make my bed, ...tidy up.

Me: did you do all that?

Her: I don't know.

Me: How could you not know? Who would know if you don't know what you did today?

Her: I don't know...

Me: okay, now you are just being silly.

Her: this is a weird conversation.

Me: well, that has pretty much eaten up ten minutes. I think our interview is over. Is there anything you want to say to the people who read my blog? It would be nice to wish them well, or perhaps even pray for them.

Her: okay, can you write that?

Me: Yup, you pray, I will type...

Her: Dear God, please help the people on Daddy's blog to know you ... amen.

Me: Amen... okay off you go.

Labels: ,

posted by Daniel @ 7:08 PM   9 comment(s)
Friday, August 10, 2007
I loved watching this
Have you got six minutes to spare? Use it to watch this, I wept, but was entirely encouraged in our Lord.

H/T: Lisa @ Deo Volente


posted by Daniel @ 5:13 AM   1 comment(s)
Thursday, August 09, 2007
"Just Enough" Christianity.
They make the church a joke.My time is limited, so I will be direct and brief.

I have seen this in some Christians - the desire to see how close they can get to sinning without actually doing so - all in the name of liberty. Their desire is ostensibly to be free from legalism and the trappings of religion, but in practice what they are really doing is pursuing sin under the guise of pursuing a more perfect orthopraxy.

The Lord gives us a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, but these would never give back to the Lord in kind - what they want is to give the Lord only exactly the barest minimum requirement; they have their tweezers out and are removing grain out of the measure kernel by kernel in order to be sure that they aren't wasting too much effort on their God - effort that they can put into themselves - which is their very desire, and the reason they pursue a minimalist version of Christianity.

Listen: If the spirit of God gives good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over - you ought to know that if you give back something less - it isn't God at work in you.

What a magnificent tragedy that people go to such lengths to be lukewarm and half hearted. I have serious doubts about a faith that is characterized in any part by this mono-focus on its own liberty. I fully expect this problem to get worse as this mindset increasingly infatuates the nominal church. May God raise up a standard against this.


posted by Daniel @ 9:08 AM   12 comment(s)
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Wednesday Prayer Encouragement -III-
Today I would like to address the "God must hate me because I can't overcome the sin of [fill in the blank]" syndrome, specifically with regards to how it can cripple prayer life.

We go to the book of Joshua for our encouragement today. Specifically we want to read the whole of the eleventh chapter, paying attention to how many times we read something like this:
...and struck them with the edge of the sword, devoting them to destruction.
God commanded Joshua to go in and to destroy it all, and that is what Joshua did. But I want you to understand something about that destruction, something that is recorded in verses 19 and twenty:
19There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. 20For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.
That is our encouragement for today.

Why is it that you are so confounded by that habit that you cannot let go of? The taking of the promised land pictures how a Christian enters into rest - it is recorded for our benefit so that we can take comfort and certainty in the victory. The reason we struggle with some sins is not to discourage us, but rather it is so that we do not make peace with them, but battle them until they are utterly destroyed.

So take heart in that struggle, don't grow slack, but know that God isn't hating you for your failure, rather He may well be allowing/using this failure to strengthen your resolve to utterly deal with some sin rather than to deal with it in a superficial or temporal manner. Our encouragement is this - He shall be called Emmanuel, God with us. Our Lord is not absent in our struggles, don't get all half hearted in your prayers because you feel like a failure - that just shows that you are coming to God in your own merit - no, instead you must cast aside this "I am all alone in this" kind of deception, and recognize that your Grand General, the Lord of armies has sent you to take a hill that has been slotted for destruction - and he knows it isn't going to be a cakewalk - but He is the one who sent you into it, and He will lead you through the victory.

So if you have a habit of letting besetting sin cripple your prayers, it is because you imagine that God runs away from you during your struggles instead of runs towards you during them. You have a wrong understanding of God. God doesn't abandon us when struggles come, that is when He is most near. The tension you feel over unconquered sin is intended to drive you on to victory, and not to lull you into defeat.

Do not be fooled by the whispers of the enemy - God is not against you, he is for you. Take your shield out soldier, and with it quench those fiery darts - and get in the fray.


posted by Daniel @ 6:15 AM   6 comment(s)
Saturday, August 04, 2007
God My Teacher, The "Unlovable", Parenting Tips and Truth.
My youngest son...My eldest son has been the source of profound joy in my life. I love him profoundly. He is bright, funny, sensitive, and he genuinely loves me - even unashamedly. In parenting him God has taught me many things - and if you are a parent who is genuinely seeking the Lord, this will be no news to you, for I am certain that God is doing the same to you in many ways. Our God is the greatest teacher a willing student can have.

My son, for all his excellent qualities loses all trace of masculine toughness the moment he has the smallest dermal abrasion. A skinned knee will produce a hair raising and overly hysterical shrieking fit - such that any person with ears within a 100 yards would think that someone had just severed an arm, or perhaps punctured an internal organ.

The first time this happened, after the original scare (a child shrieking in hysterical pain is a little unsettling for the parent) I was a little amused, and a little put out at the same time. "Son" I said, "this little scrape is hardly worth noticing, let alone carrying on the way you have." I suggested that he toughen up, and save the freaking out for -real- injuries. But the same scenario has now played itself out several time, and each it seems for smaller, and less significant injuries.

Clearly my boy - this great little hope of ours - is a complete sissy. Or at least that is what I would be calling him if I were still his age and on a school playground. I suppose you think that is harsh? Well, it -is- harsh, but I make no apologies when I am portraying what I would do as a school kid. I started school as a rather slight four year old, and being about a year behind the rest of the children in age, I was the easy target of many bullies myself. Being a clever kid however I learned to use a caustic wit to my advantage; I avoided being bullied, for the most part, by being funny at the expense of others. That is I was especially capable when it came to poking fun at the expense of other people. I would find a person who was a little different than everyone else, and make him or her the butt of my cruel jokes - and in this way exhort everyone to hate someone else and not me.

Yeah. I was pure evil even as a kid.

So seeing this trait in my son stirred something ugly in me, but it was only when I was open in prayer before the Lord about it that I was able to see what it was. The reason I was so repulsed by this behavior in my son was because I was worried that others would seize upon it and make fun of him.

Now, that might seem noble if I left it at that - and to be sure, I suppose had I not been in prayer I may well have, but God wanted to show me a thing about who I am. So he asked me why it was that I was so worried. No, not in some audible voice, and no not in some mystical sense - but rather that in prayer I was willing to ask myself these questions, and allow God to show me something of who I am, and when that happens and some spiritual truth is revealed to me, I don't for a second imagine that I am the one who generated it, but that my sovereign God was putting the road beneath my feet as I walked on - a road that led to exactly where I found myself. So I went "deeper" as they say, and found that the reason I was worried wasn't because I didn't my son to be emotionally put out by people thinking he is a sissy - it was because -I- didn't want people to judge me and my parenting on account of this trait in my son.

Don't marvel that I am sinner. Marvel that God is able to show me my sin, for at the root of this, just as it always is - is the "old man" - that body of sin that is characterized best by saying "the thing that I really love the most".

You see, as Christians we are supposed to love God the most, and while we have a good supply of affection towards God, the carnal Christian still loves self more than anything else - that is why we continue in sinful habits, that is why we never get close to God - because the love with which we are loving one another (even our children and our spouses) is at the base of it carnal and self serving. I "love" me, and that love for myself finds expression in other people. Whatever love I have for my family or my church family, or anyone - that love always serves me first, and them second, and if extending my affection to a person isn't going to serve me - I say that person is "hard to love".

We do that. Old Mr. So-and-so, he is hard to love. Yeah, it would take a real special person to love him. He is just so hard to love.

Nonsense. No one is hard to love, the truth is that some of the people we know seem like a bad "love investment" to us - that is, we see no benefit to loving that person, and so we call them "hard to love" - which distilled means that loving them serves no useful purpose to us, such that it would be quite an act of selflessness to bother.

Oh, Don't get me wrong, we may grit our teeth and go through the wooden motions of obedient "I-have-been-told-that-love-is-an-action-not-an-emotion" love; complete with the echoes of poorly exegeted and entirely arbitrary distinctions between agape and phileo love ringing in our ears - and even though we secretly despise doing so, and even though we are convinced in our soul that we are the greatest deceivers and play actors who are merely pretending to be what we present our self to be - we may well go and suffer through a conversation or even a meal with the "unlovable" and do so in the meritorious hope that God is glorified by our charlatanry, as though against our true colors in secret hatred, was the Christian loves the unlovable. I don't doubt that there are some in our ranks who love the unlovable in this way so often that they have become numb to their own dissatisfaction and blind to their own hypocrisy, if ever they saw it. Surely it is taught by many as the very height of Christian love.

But I say, this kind of love is foolish, and following after it more tomfoolery.

You see, we are not supposed to take that same self serving "love" with which we have learned all our lives to "love" other people with - the love that is really a love for self bouncing off of willing people and back at us for our own glory - and learn to ply it upon people who (by our own account) are not likely to reflect it back at us in any profitable way - no. That is not Christian love, it is the very epitome of a bad investment, and that is why we recoil at it.

Instead, God's solution is that the "love" by which you love others right now - the one that makes distinctions between good and bad investments? That one has to be taken to the cross and die there. There is nothing spiritual in it. It may be all we know, but it must die. Don't try applying this kind of "self-o-centric love" to the unlovable; good gravy no! Drag it out into the light of God's truth, and look at it. Look at it! Why don't you love the unlovable? Because you get nothing out of it. Don't be aloof here, dig into this. If the love that you love others with cannot effortlessly love everyone equally, let me tell you - it ain't love, it is self-love. It is that thing that you do to make people like you. It is the thing you are willing to put out there because it gives you what you desire - friendship, camaraderie, humor, joy, pleasure - whatever: but it ain't love.

You aren't born loving - you are born selfish, and the love that you need for others doesn't come with practice, it comes through the cross, and only through the cross. It doesn't come with trying, it doesn't come with crying, it doesn't come by prying - listen: it doesn't come to you except through dying.

Now when I say dying, I mean coming to Christ daily - let me make it more practical - coming to Christ in every waking moment - leaving nothing of our lives outside his dominion, but leaning obediently, moment by prayerful moment, on the risen Lord. Look, you -must- cut sin out of your life for good.

Do you have only one sinful habit that you can't seem to break? Let me tell you, if you have one, you likely have hundreds. If you have even one you are a slave of sin - and your "fellowship" with God is likely characterized by horrible tension, frustration, guilt, and an unyielding sense of hypocrisy - that isn't fellowship brother, that is a heart that is writhing under the burden of condemnation. You -can- stop sinning, you just don't want to.

That's my ten cent counseling by the way. For 25 cents, I will throw in a shoe shine.

Seriously, the reason you are so far away from God is not because you haven't read enough books on how to get close, or enough blog posts about how to be spiritual, it isn't because you haven't heard enough sermons, it is because you are willing to do everything else in the world but the one thing you NEED to do right now, and that is to submit yourself utterly to God. The reason you don't do that is that you do not want God to rule over you.

Oh, I hear you complaining - "But I doooo want God to reign over me, that is why I am in such a horrible place of tension and despair - because I want it with all my heart, but I can't make myself surrender no matter how hard I try!!"

I say, I hear you complaining, because I know that voice, I wept myself hoarse with that voice for years. How long are you going to drag your cross around Christian? Take it to Calvary and die - that's what the cross is there for. There comes a day when you must stop your whining, and start the dying. Is it going to be today?

Hear me, if you are still reading - my youngest daughter is four years old. She is number three of the four we presently have. My eldest son took to obedience like a duck to water - he has seldom needed correction, and is such a kind and thoughtful helper, that I love to be around him. My eldest daughter is a sensitive soul, full of grace and love - she was strong willed for a time, but when that was over come she became the sweetest of angels - she is my little prayer princess - she prays for me all the time, and I am so touched by her tender love for me, and her soft concern for others. I pity the man that ever harms her, for he will be touching the very softest chords of my heart. But our third child, my youngest daughter - she did -not- take to discipline like the others. I could discipline her every half hour for months on end for a single thing, and her will would in no way break - she is like a stone to me.

I prayed for her so many times, "Lord, please, please, please, change her - please break that stone will of hers, please give us strength to deal with her, help us not to despise her, give us more love for her, etc. etc." All my prayers were that God would make me stronger so that I could break her. But that isn't what God did. Instead she got stronger willed.

But here is where our Lord, our Teacher blessed us. My eldest took to discipline because he was an only child and he had our attention completely. The investment we made in his life can be measured in hours we spent giving him personal one-on-one attention. That investment paid off in that when he was old enough to be disciplined, our opinion meant something to him. My eldest daughter didn't get as much one-on-one. She was rebellious for a time because our investment in her was not as encompassing as our investment in our older child. Yet eventually she came around, and took to discipline because she too had come to know us, to know that we were worthy of the respect that she gave us - she trusted us and discipline became fruitful. But number three?

Listen: we weren't parenting out of some manual that tells you all the mistakes you are making. We made them all in the blind. I can tell you today exactly why number three went "awry", and it has everything to do with my shortsighted leadership, and our poor parenting - the two who were already obedient children - their very obedience became the reason we would desire to spend time with them, number three's constant stubborn rebellion? Hey, I don't have the patience to correct you twenty times in a row, get to your room. Get to your room. Stop that. Stop. Go over there. Stop. I don't want to be around you when you are like this.... Do you see the pattern?

She didn't take to discipline because she didn't receive enough of us to "know" us - she couldn't accept our authority because although we were looking after feeding her, clothing her, and giving her plenty of room to participate in our family as "just another number" - she didn't receive the investment that the others had - and it is this one on one time that opens the door to her accepting us as authorities in her life. Do you understand this? Do you see it? She didn't accept our authority, she couldn't love our laws because she didn't know us enough to do so... Do you see where I am going yet? Praise the Lord that he has opened our eyes to this now before it is too late...

Look, you dear reader, are not going to love and obey a God that you don't really know. Try all you want, your record of consistent failure will eventually convince you that something is wrong. Let me tell you again, the problem is that you don't know God personally - you just know about him - you have knowledge of good and evil, but you do not know life, you are eating from the wrong tree my friend.

This is what you must do. Today, settle it with God that you are going to begin to obey Him. Do it. If you can't then you aren't very serious yet, and maybe you should print this off and come back to it in a couple of years after you have made yourself sick of failure enough. But if you are ready - talk to God and begin to obey. Why? Because you must obey God to get to know God - and once you get to know God you will want to obey him. You don't really want to right now - don't pretend otherwise - but hear me - you *will* want to. God is the pearl of great price, you just haven't got eyes to see that yet. You've eaten the fruit of knowledge - your mind may know this is true - but now you need to eat from the tree of life - you need to put into practice what you know or even what is only your greatest hopeful suspicion - you need to start obeying so that you can start knowing - and once you start to know God you will begin to desire what God desires.

But you will never know God by living in disobedience, by living in half-way Christianity, by practicing a religious form, or even by (gasp) having the most theologically correct doctrine on the planet - listen, don't chase the clouds when your feet are still on the ground - learn to fly first. Your wings are obedience. Finney was a heretic, but I tell you what - I bet he was more Christian than you are, not because his doctrine was better than yours, but because he actually surrendered himself to God. Don't imagine that surrendered living is going to make your doctrine perfect - or you perfect for that matter, but it will make you love God, and it will open the door to obedience that comes from the heart and not the head.

Can I pray for you reader? I am talking to God, as I type this, Lord let these who are meant to grow by this grow. Let them love you let them know you. Help my words to be understood in their spirit. Give them grace to grab the plow. Amen.

Reader, Christian - the reason we obey is not to pacify a task-master God. It is because the way of holiness leads to fellowship in the Spirit. Don't suffer anything less no matter how shiny the label.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:26 PM   11 comment(s)
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Wednesday Prayer Encouragement -II-
When the wayward sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, took the ark of the covenant into battle against the Philistines, they were expecting victory. The Israelites had been slaughtered days earlier - four thousand of their brothers fell in that battle - and they were wondering why it was that the Lord had allowed his enemies to beat them so. The plan? Take the ark of the covenant down into battle with them... In that battle 30,000 Israelites died and the ark was lost to the Philistines - and both Hophni and Phinehas died - establishing God's word to Eli that he had rejected Eli's household...

What does that have to do with prayer?

The ark of the covenant was the gold box that held the physical tablets with the commandments that were associated with the Mosaic covenant. The lid of that box was called the mercy seat; above the cherubim of the mercy seat God's presence was understood to be manifested above the Cherubim.

The mistake the Israelites made was that they thought that God was a tool they could use to make their own will happen. They believed that since the Philistines were God's enemies, they could bring God down, and God would smite them good and proper. They misunderstood much.

You see, they missed the relationship between God's presence and his covenant. They didn't understand that God is present with the covenenant keepers, and absent from those who break his covenant, and because they disregarded God's covenant and sought to use Him as a means to their own ends, they not only didn't benefit, they were sorely rebuked.

There is a spiritual lesson here, and I hope I can articulate it well enough for it to be understood - or at least well enough to give God's spirit something to work with by way of getting you thinking on it. We in the new covenant must act and do all our spiritual endeavors (including prayer) according to the way the covenant works, or God isn't going to be a part of our effort.

The new covenant is not like the old - not a set of rules that we must abide by - it is the trust that God has done in Christ was we could never do - and the turning away from all our own efforts to please God, and resting entirely in the finished work of Christ.

You see, bearing your cross daily doesn't mean dragging a cross around with you all day long - it means that you, Like Christ - begin in the morning - and take your life to Calvary - and spend all day dying there - that is what bearing your cross means - it means the you that is trying to please God must die, and the Christ that is living in you must live.

When you pray, pray according to Christ's worth and not your own. Pray according to Christ's finished work and not your own. Pray as one who understands what the throne of grace is - it is the place where Christ sits at the right hand of God interceding for you. Pray not as a beggar with your hat in your hand hoping that maybe God might do such and such - no, pray boldly in Christ. But don't be as Hophni and Phinehas - don't drag God's promise around and think it is going to do your bidding - that is not the way - no, you need God to help you do His bidding, then the promises will have teeth.

Think on this.


posted by Daniel @ 7:36 AM   3 comment(s)
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