Monday, May 31, 2010

On Ignorance And The "Laredo Accent"

Laredo Day 1: today I learned that "Mier Street" (the street our church is located) is not pronounced "My-er" but "Mi-er." This has revealed 6 months of ignorant pronunciation. Hopefully I soon will gain a Laredo accent (a Spanish accent) and gain some street cred.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Suffering, Sovereignty And Worship

In heaven will we sing songs about suffering and pain? Piper argues that suffering and sovereignty are at the very essence of worship because they are at the very essence of the cross. Therefore, indeed, there will songs about suffering and pain -especially in heaven.
"Good Friday did not happen to be forgotten..."
- John Piper, "The Supremacy of Christ in Suffering" May 8, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

On Suffering, Sovereignty, And Glory

"If the leaves had not been let go to fall and wither, if the tree had not consented to be a skeleton for many months, there would be no new life rising, no bud, no flower, no fruit, no seed, no new generation"

- Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity (Grand Rapids: Flemming H. Revell, 2002).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Reality Checks, Detachment, And Snitches

"Well thank you for that. I saw all your hard drives and guess what? You're not a photographer. And you definitely can't fit into a size two. Darryl, man, you're on Facebook. Why you been telling people you not on Facebook? People want to be your friend man. Alright? And you, this guy, you're the one who told the press. You wrote an email to an editor; I saw it. And I also saw a quicktime movie of your little printer file test on your hard drive. but this guys the snitch -he's the snitch. So, that's it. Check it out."

- Nick the IT guy, The Office, Season 6, Ep. 26.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Modern "Expectations"

Cher! You're being another woman behind my back…. Spare me the lame excuses. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but when a girl dates a straight man who impersonates her on stage for mostly gay audiences -she has certain expectations. Fidelity, Paul, it's not just the name of a bank that sued me.

- Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock, Season 4: Ep. 22.

On The Logician, Myopic Intellectual Pride And Poetry

The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1936).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Holiness, Glory And The Trinity

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!
- Reginald Heber, "Holy, Holy, Holy," 1826.

On Grace, Sovereignty, And Grace

Therefore this alien righteousness, instilled in us without our works by grace alone-while the Father, to be sure, inwardly draws us to Christ- is set opposite original sin, likewise alien, which we acquire without our works by birth alone. Christ daily drives out the old Adam more and more in accordance with the extent to which faith and knowledge of Christ grow. For alien righteousness is not instilled all at once, but it begins, makes progress, and is finally perfected at the end through death.
- Martin Luther, Two Kinds of Righteousness, in Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, ed. Timothy Lull (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Salvation, Union With Christ, And Imputation

Through faith in Christ, therefore, Christ's righteousness becomes our righteousness and all that he has becomes ours; rather, he himself becomes ours. Therefore the Apostle calls it "the righteousness of God" in Rom. 1:17: For in the gospel "the righteousness of god is revealed...; as it is written, "the righteous shall live by his faith.'" Finally, in the same epistle, chapter 3:28, such a faith is called "righteousness of God": "We hold that man is justified by faith." This is an infinite righteousness, and one that swallows up all sins in a moment, for it is impossible that sin should exist in Christ. On the contrary, he who trusts in Christ exists in Christ; he is one with Christ, having the same righteousness as he. It is therefore impossible that sin should remain in him. This righteousness is primary; it is the basis, the cause, the source of all our own actual righteousness. For this is the righteousness given in place of the original righteousness lost in Adam. It accomplishes the same as that original righteousness would have accomplished; rather, it accomplishes more.
- Martin Luther, Two Kinds of Righteousness, in Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, ed. Timothy Lull (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989).

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Gospel, Blood, And Macbeth

Reflecting on the Cross of Christ and Salvation, I would be remiss not consider themes of blood. Consider: the hope of the world compared to the hope in Christ by faith?
“Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnating making the green one red.”
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act II, Scene II, 71-75.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

- Romans 5:6-11

On Sudan, Miracles, And The Gospel

Tonight, I had a really edifying conversation about the impact and influence of Christianity in Sudan. I walked away with much to reflect on and much to consider. Here are some of the topics of conversation:

1. Due to the unstable political climate there is a melting pot of languages. As a result, the question must be asked, "what language do you preach the gospel?" Next time I think it is hard to preach a message, I should be thankful everyone speaks English.

2. Furthermore, there is a lack of educated ministers. As a result, there are many who must teach and preach who have not even a high school degree. With that said, God works in spite of this. And, often due to the passion and faithfulness of the heart of those called, many repent and forgive -not even waiting until the sermon is over to change their lives! Thus, How important it is to have men who are passionate and wholly devoted to the Lord. Or all the more, it is not enough to have knowledge and facts -godliness and faithfulness to the Lord cannot be substituted with education and degrees.

3. To be sure, there is also uncertain political realities that are looming. For instance, should Sudan remain united? Aside from all the war that separates families, the North is occupied by Muslims. As a result, many of the people in the south are resistant and would actually like to be free of their oppression. Yet, unfortunately it is in the south where there is all the oil. Without a doubt, the conversations in their churches are far different and faith requires more than a simple acknowledgement of a concept followed by a superficial change of life. There is no such thing in this climate. You are either are Christian who is persecuted or you are not. There is no room for casual Christianity.

4. Finally, death is not foreign to everyday life. Not only is war a common reality of their history, many die of illness and specifically aids. To be sure, the gospel cannot and must not be tamed. Faith must call one not simply to notional assent but a faith that transcends the reality of sickness and death. What is more, it begs the question -if God can forgive sin -can God not also heal your body? Indeed, if God creates you and can resurrect you -can he not heal your body from aids? Our faith must move beyond a common comprehension of the Christian life understood through the distorted lens of the "American Dream." Instead, the gospel must call people to die. To have radical faith that trusts Jesus as Paul, Peter and John portray. We must ask different questions. What is the fullness of the atonement? What does Jesus mean for the salvation and redemption of those who need more than your middle class American?

As the conversation went on, the Holy Spirit began to evoke the question in my heart: what would you give for the blind to see, the lame to walk, and for the gospel to regenerate dead souls to life? How difficult is it for my heart to ascend to the higher places of life and contemplate and live out the gospel and redemption of Christ radiating His glory to the world. Will I not have a deeper faith in Christ who has already forgiven me?

“Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

- Mark 2:8b-11

Lord give me a passion for Your glory!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

On Christus Salvator

quid est veritas?
- Iohnnaes 18:28a

On Sovereignty, Penal Substitution, And Love

I have been preaching through the gospel of Mark for over 4 months, and we have been pushing through the Passion narrative for almost half that period. We have finally arrived at the Trial before Pilate (C.f. Mark 15:1-15). As we have been pushing these texts, the LORD has shown me more and more the bitter-sweet intention of God in Cross.

Indeed, the intentional act of the Cross has shown to me that all the more, the love of the Cross (C.f. Mk. 8:31, 9:31, 10:33f, 10:41-45; 13:27f, 14:8, 14:13-21, 14:48f). Moreover, it has made the words of Isaiah all the richer. Indeed, the intention and purpose of the death of Christ remains literally and clearly and predicted even 750 years earlier:

"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scouring we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that i led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth."

- Isaiah 53:4-7