Friday, October 29, 2010

Pt. 3

It's a first for us...

The first Giveaway on our blog...tomorrow!

Be sure to stop by and check it out. :) 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God - Chapter 3


In Chapter 3 of The Holiness of God, Dr. Sproul begins to define holy and discusses the human experience of holy. In sum, God is set apart, above and beyond us (transcendentally separate as Sproul says on Page 55).

It wasn't until I began to reflect on the overall flow of the book that I found reason to dig deeper into the Scriptures. You see, in Chapter One, Dr. Sproul's main point was that we must grow in our understanding of what it means to be holy because God has commanded us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 20:7). However, in this Chapter, Dr. Sproul says:

"God alone is holy in Himself. Only God can sanctify something else" (pg 56, emphasis added).

Furthermore, Sproul says that it is idolatry to call created things holy:

"When we call things holy that are not holy we commit the sin of idolatry. This is the grievous error of idolatry, giving to common things the respect, awe, worship, and adoration that belong only to God. To worship the creature instead of the Creator is the essence of idolatry" (pg. 58).
"When a human being tries to consecrate what God has never consecrated, it is not a genuine act of consecration. It is an act of desecration. It is an act of idolatry" (pg. 59).

The antinomy (apparent but not actual contradiction, a term acquired and borrowed from J.I. Packer's book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, pg. 18) is that God commands us to be holy and yet, only He can make us holy. Now Scripture doesn't specifically state that we can't make something holy, however, every Biblical reference to the word "sanctify" (that I encountered) referred to God sanctifying something.

In my effort to resolve this tension, I looked up Leviticus 20:7 in my ESV Study Bible which led me to Leviticus 11:44-45. The notes for the latter say:

"Personal consecration is a response to God's gracious initiative."

In the case of these Israelites, God's gracious initiative was His having delivered them from slavery in Egypt. In our case, God has delivered those who believe from sin and death through the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 10:10, 13:12).

As I considered this further, I was reminded of two verses:

"It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure" and "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

So it isn't either/or but both/and. As I began to seek out the location of the above verses in Scripture, I had to laugh and shed tears of joy as I realized that the verses are right next to each other. In Philippians 2:12-13, it reads:

"…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (emphasis added). 

Notice that beautiful conjunction which I have taken the liberty of emphasizing; because God works in us, we can work. It is the same with our pursuit of holiness. Which reminds me, this has already been covered much more thoroughly in Jerry Bridges' book The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. How could I forget?

Isn't it neat how God uses two sentences in separate portions of one book to bring to mind several other sentences for a helpful time of review and reflection? To think, that is only the first half of the Chapter. Is anybody else's head spinning in trying to keep up with my thoughts?

We'll be discussing Chapter 4 - "The Trauma of Holiness" next week. May your reading be blessed as you seek to grow in your knowledge of holy and be transformed by this renewal of your mind!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pt. 2

Something new is coming...

What could it be???

Favorites Friday

The Doctrine of Sin: Handle with Care @ C.J.'s View from the Cheap Seats - "So which are you more aware of: the pervasiveness of sin, or the power of grace?...It requires little skill merely to expose sin. But it takes great skill to unveil grace and apply it to the wide variety of spiritual conditions represented in our churches."

Al Mohler on Reading: "We can make a virtue out of reading that can be an end in itself. Reading is not an end in itself; growth in godliness is the end and being conformed to the image of Christ. That's going to happen by Scriptures, and that's going to happen by the teaching and preaching of the Word of God, and it's going to happen by reading. And so reading is not "the thing." It's not the end in itself. It is the way God has chosen to help His people grow, and it has been that way from the beginning...We realize we're not going to grow if we're not reading and studying and that means sitting in the chair and getting it done. But quite honestly, it's appetitive; the more you do it, the more you love it."




The ART of Homeschooling @ Home Educating Family - Looks like a promising series of posts. Attitude, Relationships, and Training. Get them in the right order or you'll end up with TAR or RATS. ;)


Christian Literature for Kids 0-8 @ Passionate Homemaking - Lindsay is highlighting some great books worth reading your children. My favorite on the list is probably Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God - Chapter 2

I would summarize Chapter Two by saying, if you get a glimpse of God's holiness: 

  • you will see that sin is pervasive in yourself (pg. 44-45), 
  • you will quake in terror and mourn because of your sin, and
  • the God of grace will meet you, cleanse you, forgive you, and send you to do His work.
Although you will not yet be holy, like Moses, when you spend time looking at God's holiness, you will begin to reflect God's glory (pg. 35).

As Sproul says: 
"There is a pattern here, a pattern repeated over and over again in history. God appears, man quakes in terror, God forgives and heals, God sends. From brokenness to mission is the pattern for man" (pg. 48).

One thing that challenges me is the truth that before we can effectively minister to others, we must be putting to death pride in our lives. The only way to do this is to measure ourselves by the ultimate standard, the perfect, holy God.
"As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed--morally and spiritually annihilated" (pg. 44).
 When I focus on God's holiness, I, like Isaiah, am undone. However, I, too, am not without hope. Christ died to pay the penalty for my pervasive sin that I might be cleansed from all of my unrighteousness. This truth should change how I relate to every person and situation that I encounter.

Don't forget...Next week: Chapter 3

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Church History ABCs Giveaway!

The Church History ABCs cover

Visit Home With Purpose if you'd like more information about how to win a copy of this helpful resource! You may also download some free activity pages from The Church History ABCs Website. This book is a great introduction to important folks in church history for young children.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Favorites Friday

A few of the posts that have ministered to me lately. Do you see a trend?

You Might Have Kids If... @ The Blazing Center - Another funny and encouraging post from the Altrogee blog. What would you add to the list?

Let Your Work Be Worship @ Passionate Homemaking - "To be a godly woman means we worship the Creator in all the duties of life – everything from diapers, to dishes, to scrubbing toilets, to preparing meals, to decorating our homes. Each task is an act of worship to our Creator, because we are faithfully walking in His beautiful design. Worship is not limited to Sundays, or to actual singing, but it is doing all that we do for the glory of God, with a heart that desires to please Him."

5 Ways to Increase Your Effectiveness in the Office Pt 1 @ Church Planting for the Rest of Us - Investigate, Evaluate, Delegate, Automate, & Assassinate "Time Thieves" - Helpful advice for us all.

Avoiding the Enemies of Compassion @ Crossway.blog - Some of the enemies of a compassion-filled ministry...because all of us Christians are to be about ministering to fellow believers...

Pt. 1

We have an announcement to make this month...

Any guesses???

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Classics Together: The Holiness of God



As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm participating in Reading the Classics Together with Tim Challies, Leslie Wiggins, and others. Although Challies has hosted a number of these community reading/discussion groups, this is the first in which I am participating.

The first thing that struck me while reading The Holiness of God is Sproul's rich, descriptive language. It is not hard to find yourself in his shoes: feeling what he feels, hearing what he hears, seeing what he sees. I found it easy to experience what Sproul had experienced and to resonate with his thirst, zeal, and passion for the things of God. In this opening chapter, Sproul writes about how he came to desire to know God more fully, and how he came to realize that the holiness of God "is basic to our whole understanding of God and of Christianity" (pg. 24).

I found Sproul's thoughts regarding the Lord's Prayer intriguing. He noted that "The first line of the prayer is not a petition. It is a form of personal address" (pg. 24). He then goes on to remark that the first petition in the prayer is "…hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come…" Here's what I found thought-provoking:

"There is a kind of sequence within the prayer. God's kingdom will never come where His name is not hallowed. His will is not done on earth as it is in heaven if His name is desecrated here…It is foolish to look for the kingdom anywhere God is not revered" (pg. 25).

However, I wonder if this is fully accurate. Can God's kingdom not come or will it not come if none of us were to regard Him as holy? Indeed, it already has come and is coming through and because of Christ in spite of the fact that God's name is not regarded as holy among the masses. (Matthew 12:28, Luke 10:9-11) Nothing can stop His plan. Though, 'tis true that one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:10-11, Philippians 2:9-11), this is not presently the case.

One thing is true:

"How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives…we must seek to understand what the holy is...There can be no worship, no spiritual growth, no true obedience without it. It defines our goal as Christians. God has declared, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' [Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16] To reach that goal we must understand what holiness is" (pg. 25-26).

Will you join me in seeking to grow in your understanding of the holiness of God? If so, read Chapter 2 in The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul, and prepare to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lessons from Motherhood


I am regularly amused at how God uses my little blessings to reveal truth and evoke worship in my life. Such was the case as I weaned my fourth child. During the day, she rarely thought of nursing and easily settled for a cup when offered. However, the wee morning hours presented a much greater challenge. One night, I let her cry. Upon realizing that she was not merely going to cry herself back to sleep, I went to her room to console her, offer her a cup of water, sing her a song, and tuck her back into her bed. She was inconsolable. I sat on the stairs and listened to her cry, wondering how long it would last and crying along with her. I knew that weaning her was what was best for her, but I grieved with her for the loss of that special time that we shared. God in His kindness opened my eyes to see that I, too, often hold on to things or "cry" when I don't get my way. Yet He is in each of those moments working all things together for good because I am called according to His purpose and love Him. He is wise and knows better than I; I can trust Him to do and allow what is best. What an awesome God we serve!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
     In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
     Be not wise in your own eyes;
        fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
     It will be healing to your flesh
        and refreshment to your bones.
 (Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Favorites Friday

Here are some posts that have blessed me recently. May they bless you as well!

The Power of the Gospel – Listening Well @ Shepherd Press Blog - "Providing an environment where questions are easily asked and carefully considered is crucial.  Too often information is force-fed to children in general and to teenagers in particular. Life-changing information is better received when it is eagerly desired and asked for.  That is why the gospel is needed;  a parent cannot be truly other-centered unless he is first Christ-centered."

The Home Repair Skills of a Monkey @ The Blazing Center -  This is merely humorous, but we all need a good laugh once in a while.

The Heart of Frugality @ Challies - Why live simply? As some have noted, being frugal can be an evidence of greed or of wise stewardship. There are many in the former camp, but also many in the latter who live simply in order to give generously for the glory of God. Here are some great (albeit lengthy) thoughts from Challies. Where do you find your heart in the matter?

How to Provoke Your Children @ Grace to You - "Parents provoke their children to wrath by various means too. Over my years as a pastor, I have observed many different ways parents have done this. Avoid all of them. Here are just a few examples:"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review: Gospel-Centred Family

Gospel-Centered Family
Image taken from thegoodbook.com

This is an AWESOME book!!! However, there are several really awesome parenting books on the market. So, what sets this one apart? Should you really add another book to your shelf?

  • Concise. - Just five pages per chapter! Twelve chapters. Which brings this book to a little under one hundred pages that pack a punch. Don't believe me? Read on.

  • Gospel-centered. - Yes, that's included in the title, but it really does live up to its name. Check out these quotes:
"Learning to enjoy your parents' authority is the first step towards welcoming God's authority" (pg. 13).

"Your number one aim as a parent is to show how great it is to live under God's reign of love" (pg. 14).

"We're not calling our children to a life of obligation and hardship that they must tough out. We're calling them to treasure! We're calling them to treasure Christ. Sacrifice there may be, but we count it joy because of the treasure that is ours in Christ…(Philippians 3:8). Our job is not to pressure our children into a life of begrudged duty. Our role is to extol the surpassing greatness of Christ. We're to extol Christ so much that everything else feels like rubbish in comparison" (pg. 19-20).
  • Heart-focused.
"…when my heart is undivided in its allegiance to God, I respond with calm and loving discipline. But if my selfish desires are ruling my heart, then I'll respond wrongly. My discipline gets distorted by my selfishness" (pg. 27).

"…more often than not, our anger is a sign that one of these desires (1) matters more to us than God's glory; and (2) is now being thwarted or threatened. If this selfish anger drives our discipline, the fruit will be bad" (pg. 27).

"This is the most important thing I've learnt in my years as a parent. The biggest obstacle to good discipline is my own selfish heart" (pg. 28).
  • Grace-filled.
"Let's face it, you and I are pretty lousy parents. Welcome to guilt! What we do with that guilt tells us what we really believe about the gospel" (pg. 32).

"If we feel condemned, we won't communicate grace, making us fell still more condemned. If we want our families to be gospel-centred, then we must ring the gospel to bear on our own failures. If we can't bring our parenting sins to the cross, then we don't have any good news to celebrate. We can't communicate grace to our children if we're not communicating it to our own hearts" (pg. 33).

"Our children are greatly helped by good parenting. But they're saved by divine grace…But what if you've been a bad witness? God's grace doesn't let us off the hook as parents. Our sin is still sin. It still affect our children and spoils our testimony to the reality and beauty of God's work in us…But it's not unforgiveable. Our parenting sins are addressed by God in the same way as all our sin - by grace" (pg. 34).
Wait! There's more. While this book is a good condensation of books that have gone before (like Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and Everyday Talk by Jay Younts), it also brings at least three  unique and important points to the parenting book table.

  • Encouragement to view children as a gift. The reality is that children "...can sometimes feel more like work than pleasure!" (pg. 55) This book contains many suggestions for creating memories and enjoying your children.

  • Encouragement (and helpful suggestions) to live and pray God's Word with your children.

  • Encouragement (and ideas) to be a mission-centred and serving family.
"…God is to be the cetre of your family's world. And closely linked to that is a commitment to serving others. A gospel-centred family is a family that serves others to the glory of God" (pg. 88).

"…those who have received divine mercy show that same love to others. Those who once served only themselves are freed to serve others in love" (pg. 89).

"A family that's turned inwards is not a gospel-centred family" (pg. 89).
  • Interactive. - Most of the other parenting books that I own have application questions at the end of each chapter, but this book goes even further.  It has more of a workbook flavor. The beginning of each chapter has a Bible background box with a passage to read and questions to answer. The end of each chapter has a "Questions for reflection" box and a paragraph of "Ideas for action".

One thing that I did disagree with was the ideas suggested for disciplining a child. Chapter 7 in Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and/or Chapter 9 in "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman are a great introduction to why methods like the ones in Gospel-Centred Family aren't Biblical and are detrimental to  your child's heart.

Overall, an exceptional parenting resource!! Easy to read, harder to apply. Although the book is short, I'd read it through slowly, savor each chapter, and really take the time to apply the material here.

Visit thegoodbook.com for more information or to read the first chapter of the book.