Saturday, January 5, 2013

Deo Volante and the Edge of the Future

lightning picture

Having just written the title to my post, I realize now that it sounds like an awesome 80's hair band or perhaps some indie group from today. Definitely going to remember that title in the case that I somehow need an awesome band name.

At any rate, that is not what I am here to write about. I want to write about what I mentioned in the title: God's will and the way we plan for the future. This morning I was reading through James and James' discourse in chapter 4 on planning for the future and the necessity of acknowledging our existential contingency on God and I was struck by it (again). It was especially pertinent to my current situation because I am at the place in life where there is so much to plan for and so much to hope to be able to do in the future. By way of substantiation, here are a few examples of things I am currently planning on/for and earnestly hoping that I get to experience:
—studying abroad in the Fall at Oxford University
—getting married
—getting an internship that hopefully leads to connections that help after law school
—getting into law school in the first place

These are just a tiny sliver of the many things I hope to do/experience in the next few years. And every single one of them is entirely contingent upon God's will. It is His decision and exercise of will that will allow any of those things to happen. Neigh, it is that which allows even my next letter to be typed! At every second while I wrote this and you read this, God was entirely sustaining the universe and providing the necessities of existence. Well, I know at the very least that that is true for while I was writing this; the world may have been judged and remade by the time someone gets around to reading this (haha!). I digress. Thus, what the Holy Spirit worked upon my heart this morning was a reminder that I need to live not in the moment (which I find a rather strange expression when closely examined) or in the past or in the future, but in light of the constant and clear realization that God Himself, the Alpha and the Omega, YHWH, gives rise to my existence and to the existence of everything in the universe. Furthermore, there is not a thing my tiny spirit can do to significantly change what will happen in the future; I cannot make the future happen exactly as I want it any more than I can create a rock or move a mountain. I can only trust that the God of the universe will, God-willing (literally), give rise to it and oversee it in His perfect and powerful way. And despite all the fear and trepidation I sometimes have about the future, I am deeply confident that God's will for my life is what I want most, is what is best for me, and will bring about the greatest happiness in my life. Until next time, God willing.

James 4:13-17
Boasting About Tomorrow
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


Note: (D.V.), DV, D.V. are all shorthand for the phrase 'God-willing' (Deo-God, Volante-willing—like 'volition') in latin. I was introduced to this way of putting the phrase into latin by my Linguistics professor at APU. He was and continues to be an excellent example to my heart of someone who seeks to live by James' exhortation to us not to boast about the future.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Waiting...For A Package

Haven't written on here in quite a while; thoroughly disappointed that I have not made the time to write, but understanding that life does not permit for universal allocation of time. I can only do what I can with what The Lord has provided for me. At any rate, I wanted to write this morning after having my quiet time and noticing a particular desire that I thought was worth exploring. You see, I am waiting for a package to arrive at my house today. It is nothing incredible, just a case for an electronic device. But as I was waiting for it, I thought more about the desire and my waiting. I thought about what motivated the desire for the package, why the waiting seemed to increase the desire for the package to arrive, and finally I took a step back. I noticed that that desire was particularly pungent because I have had to wait quite a while for it to arrive (roughly 3 weeks, which is still rather short compared to many things). What struck me most was a particular conviction in my spirit. It is nothing new, really. This has been said before and will be said again, but the truth inherent to it is such that it bears repeating time and time again. Do I wait for Christ's return as I wait for infinitely more insignificant things? No. No, I do not. I ought to, but in my weakness I am prone to long for things which pass and fade away. I long for things which cannot fulfill the deep desires of my heart and will leave me only saddened and frustrated. But the truth is that Christ is in me, and His Holy Spirit is at work. He (HS) is making my heart long for Christ's return and not for the passing things of this world. When I am humble, seeing God in His right place and myself in mine, it is so clear that what we wait for in Christ's return far, far outshines everything else in our lives, especially iPad cases.

Colossians 1:28-29
28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wall-E and Heaven


Though not necessarily profound or novel, I wanted to share this thought with you all:

Tonight while watching WALL-E, a line in the movie caught my attention. At one point in the movie, the captain excitedly says, "We can go home for the first time!"

It seems to me that, as Christians, we get to do a similar thing. As resident aliens, we get to one day return to the Lord, to be with Him in the truest home we shall ever know. We get to reside in the place that we are meant to reside in, to live where we are happiest and most fully glorifying God, reveling in and at Christ's glory. We get to go home for the first time, too.



Future Glory
[18] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time [n]are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [19] For the creation waits with eager longing for [o]the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation [p]was subjected to futility, not willingly, but [q]because of him who subjected it, in hope [21] that [r]the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that [s]the whole creation [t]has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. [23] And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have [u]the firstfruits of the Spirit, [v]groan inwardly as [w]we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, [x]the redemption of our bodies. [24] For [y]in this hope we were saved. Now [z]hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, we [a]wait for it with patience.
(Romans 8:18-25 ESV; emphasis added)

[Cross References]
========================================================================
[n] 2 Cor. 4:17; [1 Pet. 1:5, 6]
[o] 1 Pet. 4:13; 5:1; 1 John 3:2; [ch. 2:7]
[p] Gen. 3:18, 19; Eccles. 1:2
[q] Gen. 3:17
[r] [Acts 3:21]
[s] Mark 16:15
[t] Jer. 12:4, 11
[u] [2 Cor. 5:5; James 1:18]
[v] 2 Cor. 5:2, 4
[w] ver. 19, 25; Isa. 25:9; Gal. 5:5
[x] See ch. 7:24; Luke 21:28
[y] [1 Thess. 1:3; 5:8]
[z] 2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 11:1
[a] [1 Thess. 1:3; 5:8]

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Does God Love Everyone?

I found this on Kevin DeYoung's blog and was very encouraged, impressed, and helped in my thinking about this question. I found his and Carson's way of thinking about this difficult question so well-said and thought through that I had to share it with you on here. Please read and enjoy this piece from KDY and DA Carson!

Shalom,

Mark


Original post at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/09/06/does-god-love-everyone/



Does God Love Everyone?
Yes.

And no.

The question is deceptively difficult. The Bible speaks of God’s love in several different ways. D.A. Carson, in his excellent book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, mentions five (16-19):

1. The peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father.
2. God’s providential love over all that he has made.
3. God’s salvific stance toward his fallen world.
4. God’s particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect.
5. God’s love toward his own people in a provisional way, conditioned upon obedience.

After giving a brief biblical explanation for each way, Carson explains the danger of emphasizing one aspect of the love of God over the others.

If God’s love is defined exclusively by his intra-Trinitarian love, which is perfect and unblemished by sin, we won’t grasp the glory of God in loving rebels like us.

If God’s love is nothing but his providential care over all things, we’ll struggle to see how the gospel is any good news at all because, after all, doesn’t he love everyone already?

If God’s love is seen solely as his desire to save the world, we’ll end up with an emotionally charged God who doesn’t display the same sense of sovereignty we see in the pages of Scripture.

If God’s love is only understood as his electing love, we’ll too see easily say God hates all sorts of people, when that truth requires a good deal more nuance.

And if God’s love is bound up entirely in warnings like “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21), we’ll fall into legalism and lots of unwarranted self-doubt.

Talking about God’s love sounds like a simple theological task, but it’s actually one of the trickiest. I’ve heard of churches debating whether their kids should be taught “Jesus Loves Me” (some of the children might be reprobate, you never know). I know many more churches which so emphasize God’s all-encompassing love for everyone everywhere, that it’s hard to figure out why anyone should bother to become a Christian. The fact is that God loves everyone and he doesn’t. He hates the world and he loves the world. He can’t possibly love his adopted children any more than he does, and he is profoundly grieved by our sin. The challenge of good theology is to explain how the Bible provides warrant for all those statements and how they all fit together.

Any one truth about the love of God pressed to the exclusion of the others will make for a distorted deity and deadly discipleship. “In short,” Carson counsels, “we need all of what Scripture says on this subject, or the doctrinal and pastoral ramifications will prove disastrous” (23).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Savoring the Gospel—(from the Resurgence)



(original link here)
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” 1 Timothy 1:8

It seems that every few years there is a fight over keeping the Ten Commandments in the public square (a courthouse, a public school, etc.). I’m not interested in getting into the merits of the arguement for either position here, but I do find it sadly ironic that many Christians are ready to fight for the Ten Commandments to be lifted up in the public square, but are much less motivated to see the gospel take center stage. It is as if some think that the law of God is a cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law things will change: our cities, our citizens, our culture. And, this is not only a social/political issue. Many of us are also tempted to think this way as it relates to our own growth in the grace of godliness. It is as if we think that the law of God is our cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law we will change: our thoughts, our hearts, our lives.

THE NEED FOR JUSTIFICATION
But law does not save you. The law cannot save you. This does not mean the law is bad. The law is holy, just, and good. It is still the gift of God, but the law cannot save you. It is a gift that shows us his way, our rebellion, and our great need for the gospel. The law deals a crushing blow to our sense of self-righteousness, but also prepares us for the good news of God’s forgiving and restoring grace. In the law we see God’s standard of righteousness, but in the gospel we see Jesus fulfilling all righteousness for us. Here are the two gifts: one that exposes our guilt, and another than unleashes God’s grace; one that crushes, and another that revives and renews. The law is good when used rightly–not to justify–but to show our need for justification that must come from outside of ourselves.

No, the law does not save, but it does help us to savor the gospel.





Originally posted on Joe Thorn's site

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Working Hard, Resting Well





A prayer by Scotty Smith that I was encouraged by and prayed earnestly:

"Heavenly Father, what a most glorious paradox and beautiful irony this portion of your Word presents. You’re calling us to work diligently, to invest great effort, to strive with all our might to rest from our works that we might enter the rest of your work. Work hard to rest well. Work hard to cease working.

Once again I’m confronted with how the gospel contradicts the fundamental way I’ve been trained to approach every sphere of life—athletics, education, finances, career, reputation. “Do it the good ole’ fashioned way—earn it.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “You’ll always get what’s coming to you.” “You can do anything you set your mind to do.” These mantras have been my motivation for much of life; but they also been my madness, because performance-based living never really brings rest, just more restlessness.

Father, because the gospel is true, fortunately, I didn’t get what’s coming to me. You gave that to Jesus at the cross. You put my sin on him. You punished him with the punishment I deserve. And in exchange, you’ve given me what I never could’ve earned: complete forgiveness, the righteousness of Jesus, and your permanent favor resting on me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Price of a Feel-Good Faith from Kevin DeYoung

From Kevin DeYoung

Original post:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/

The Price of a Feel-Good Faith

Thomas E. Bergler in The Juvenilization of American Christianity:

"Many larger American churches have remained vibrant by adapting to the preferences of younger generations. Many of those adaptations have enriched the church. In 1950, many people who went to church did so out of a sense of social obligation. While at church, they didn’t expect either to have fun or to be challenged to work for social justice. Just as many people go to church today, but now, by and large, they want to be there be there because their faith is providing them with strong feelings of connection to God, to others, and to a spiritual mission. As a result of juvenilization, they are more likely to have intense experiences of God, participate in a service or mission trip, and engage in Christian political activism. Evangelical youth ministries made religious conservatives less dour and legalistic. Progressive Protestant, Catholic, and African American youth leaders eventually won the battle to get Christians to see social and political concerns as legitimate elements of their faith.