Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What's In The Backpack?

A question I am often asked... Thus, on any given occasion, a perusal of said satchel may produce one or more of the titles that have been frequenting my lap over the last few months. All have been quite stimulating and thought provoking as I looked toward the Lord for His ultimate truth. Remeber, "all truth is God's truth." These are some tools to help me build the bridge along the way. At some point I hope to publish the list of books that I desire to read yet have not found the time to do so yet...maybe Christmas break...

The Autobiography of George Muller. Excellent book taken from Muller's own journal. A little slow start, but he must do this in order to lay the groundwork for his ministry. If I may say so, he's a dandy fellow and the idea of not taking a salary from his congregation is quite fascinating - given the day and time in which we live. Kimberly and I hope to gleam some faith-based truths out of this little dity.

Introducing Christian Doctrine by Dr. Millard Erickson. This is definitely an introduction to doctrine and is by no means considered to be exhaustive. It is an adaptation of his thicker model Christian Doctrine. Hence, he added the "Introducing" to the title. Catchy, eh? Reformed (for the most part) and biblically grounded (except for a few points that I think he stretches on) but still well worth the investment if you are looking for a good introduction to theology. My pastor shared with me that he thinks Dr. Erickson is one of the most brilliant men in the world. However, on one occasion, Dr. Erickson could not find his car in a tiny parking lot at Wendy's...go figure.

The Words and Works of Jesus Christ by Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost. Dr. Pentecost hails from Dallas Theological Seminary fame and I will be the first to say that he is much more interesting to read than he is to listen to. This volume is based on Christ's life (obviously) and is written in chronological order. He draws liberally from Alfred Edersheim and others and gives great insight into the historical background of the Jews during Christ's day. This isn't an easy read, but probably moreso fulfilling because of it.

Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity by Dr. Nancy Pearcey. I am reading this with another group of guys and have finally trudged through to get to the good parts. If you read this one, hang in until chapter 4. Before then you will only hear one statement: You need to have a Christian Worldview. What's a worldview? Read the book. You'll be popping through the Creation/Fall/Redemption Grid in no time.

Living By The Book by Dr. Howard Hendricks. Another DTS icon, "Howie" or "Prof" as he is affectionately referred to by fellow DTS staff and students takes you on a journey of how to truly study God's revealed truth for yourself in an inductive manor. This book will be worthless to you if you do not follow through on the exercises. Since this was a required textbook for one of my classes, I was thankfully forced to do so. I will not regret the experience and have already improved greatly my skills in observation, interpretation, consultation, and application (the four steps to inductive Bible study).

PS - All of these with exception of the Pentecost book are available at The BookStore @ Hunter Street P:205-739-5376 (admittedly a shameless plug).

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Giving Thanks

My wife and I have had the absolute best time over the last few days. With Thanksgiving comes, thankfully, a day off to rest, relax, and refocus. I don't think that we have laughed as hard as we did yesterday evening. It was the most joyous time to simply be free with the one I love and to rejoice openly that God truly has done great things for us.

I am deeply thankful for my wife, Kimberly, and the ministry that the Lord has given her for me. I am fully persuaded that the greatest ministry in the world is to our spouse and I will be the first to admit that I fail miserably every day. However, grace is apparent and I think one of the many reasons that the Lord entrusted her to my care is so that she might be a grace dispenser in my life. To tap into that only once would be worth a lifetime, but I am granted grace every day, for every moment, for every occasion, for every season, for every need. Next to Christ, she is the greatest gift that I have ever received. In her presence is fullness of joy, for being with her, is being with Christ. (Psalm 16:11)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Deal With It

"I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked and received instruction. 'A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,' then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man." --Proverbs 24:30-34 NASB

Statement of Truth: Despair does not come overnight. Despair comes as the result of a series of small choices to ignore the problem and deal with the crux of the issue.

I have never, EVER, been in close fellowship with the LORD one day and then find myself in a completely different spiritual state the next. It is ALWAYS a progression of several days of making tiny choices that impeded my time spent with Him. My best friend calls these "1 degree turns." 1 degree away from the origin is not that far, but as you venture further and further from that radius, the resulting distance could be miles upon miles. Sometimes these choices are made out of outright rebellion, but usually it is simply that I have been distracted from my mission, taken of course, and my eyes have been fixed on things other than the cross. The enemy is quite subtle in his tactics. "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest."

Father, forgive me of my laziness. Knowing there was a problem and refusing to deal with it has only pushed me further from You. Please forgive me of my delayed obedience which is just a disguise for disobedience. Thank You for Your restoring power and for remaining faithful while I am faithless. Strengthen my desire for constant communication with You, and an intimate fellowship with You, for You truly are "intimately acquainted with all my ways" (Psalm 139:3b). Though my outer man is decaying, my inner man desires to be renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16). Make this heart fresh again. Set it free indeed, enslaved to Your righteousness.

"[I] am not presenting [my] supplications before You on account of any merits of [my] own, but on account of Your great compassion. O LORD! O LORD, forgive! O LORD, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name." (Daniel 9:18b-19)

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Word From The LORD Was Rare

This is something that I wrote on May 12, 2004. Strangely, it is mightily applicable today.

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And the word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.” 1 Samuel 3:1 NASB

I believe whole heartedly that the Lord led me to read this passage this morning. As you all know, the last several weeks (over a month now) I have been in somewhat of a spiritual slump where I am simply not hearing His voice (“the word of the LORD [is] rare in [these] days.”) As I was praying last night, I told the Lord that I don’t understand this funk but I know that there must be a purpose for it. I know there are many things that he wants to show me and when I am on the other side of this mountain and look back I will see how He was at work. But I’m not there yet.

In Samuel’s day, God just wasn’t speaking to many people. Throughout history, God has chosen time and time again to not speak, to not reveal Himself, or to delay His plan to wait on His timing, for His glory. Apparently, Samuel was serving with Eli during one of those seasons, but what was his reaction? Samuel “was ministering to the LORD.” Samuel was not concerned with his feelings of security or “sensing” the presence of the LORD, he was only concerned with being faithful to what he was set apart to do. Even though Samuel could not audibly hear the direction that God was giving him, he continued along a path of righteousness until the Lord decided to reveal Himself again.

Later in this passage it says that the Lord came and “stood” in the presence of Samuel and called his name. What was Samuel’s response? Hopefully, by his grace, my response will be the same, “Speak, for Your servant is listening” (3:10).

Father, I want to get to a point in my life where I am seeking Your face and not just Your hand. Although I want to see Your hand moving in my life and in the lives of others, there is nothing that will ever compare to standing face to face with You in the light of Your glory. Help me to desire that. Your word tells me that if I delight myself in You, You will give me the desires of my heart, and God I confess that my desire to seek You has been minimal at best. I read, I get nothing. I pray, it bounces off the ceiling. Intellectually I know that these statements are both untrue as Your word promises that Your word will never go out and return void and You are always inclined to hear my prayer, but that is the way I feel. Help me to be faithful to what it is that You have called me to do, minister to You and Your people, even in the times of silence. Jesus, I want to be Your servant, and I want to listen to You. You say “he who has ears, let him hear.” May You be my hearing aid and act as a funnel for Your voice. In Your name, Amen.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Would the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?

I think secretly, somewhere in my past between Transformers and Transformation, I really wanted to be a rapper. Although no groove to save my ever-lovin blue suede shoes and no rhythm to bust a rhyme with, I still think I had the dream. If Vanilla Ice could do it, why couldn't I? To boot, I already had the stand up hair and racing stripes to go along with my collosally cool sixth grade attitude.
The first two CD's that I could call my own were acquired in the sixth grade, following of course, my first possession of a CD player. The two I touted proudly from that Sam Goody of yesteryear were Wreck's-N-Effects "Rump Shaker" and U2's "Achtung Baby." I'll let you guess which one made it past the first fifteen minutes. You know, you really can move in "mysterious ways" when you "shake your rump!" I'm not sure about you, but all I wanna do is zoom-a zoom zoom zoom...and you kids were duped into thinking that Nissan came up with that one first...oh the horror.

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First Time For Everything

Sometimes I wish that my first time were indeed my last time. Maybe this time ought not be the case, but who can know? "Can we know?" is a question that has been kicked around by epistemoligists before there was the word for knowledge finding, and at times, I think there is only a snowball's chance in Birmingham that we can (know, that is). However, my theological constructs run contrary to this belief and I must admit, yes we can know, but only through a Divine power working externally upon us. Smarter folks then I dub this term to be General or Specific Revelation, illumination of the Spirit, or the like. I call it, "waking the dead man up and teaching him to breathe." You call it what you may, but the reality is, not all things are instinctual. None of us woke up one day and decided (on our own) that it was now time to explore to answer the questions "Who is this King of Glory?" (Psalm 24:7 ESV). The Sovereignty of God is the only explanation for the ability for men and women to have the ability to know Him. For Christ Himself declared, "No one can come to me unless the father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44a ESV).

Father, might You draw me close today? Might I seek to be brought close today? At a time when I am surrounded by You but are so far from You, can You yet again revive me so that I may rejoice in You (Psalm 85:6). Can You restore to me the joy of Your salvation (Ps 51:12)? I guess "can you?" is not the proper approach, but are you willing (Matt 8:2). I request that the knock of my heart be heard on the door of Yours. That I may truly seek to be one of Your attendants, not merely waiting, but crying out for You. For only in Your presence is their fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

In the matchless Name of Christ I come. So let it be.

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