Archive for March, 2010

Tim Keller on Proverbs

March 19, 2010

Here’s a post from Tim Keller that I need to read and re-read. If you don’t have his blog marked, you’re missing out.

In my regular, daily Bible reading over the past year I read through Proverbs 3, a passage I’ve studied and preached through many times. But during this reading, I realized that in verses 3 through 12 we have all the themes of the rest of the book, and therefore a kind of mini-guide to faithful living. There are five things that comprise a wise, godly life. They function both as means to becoming wise and godly as well as signs that you are growing into such a life:

1. Put your heart’s deepest trust in God and his grace. Every day remind yourself of his unconditioned, covenantal love for you. Do not instead put your hopes in idols or in your own performance.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Prov 3:3-5a)

2. Submit your whole mind to the Scripture. Don’t think you know better than God’s word. Bring it to bear on every area of life. Become a person under authority.

Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5b-6)

3. Be humble and teachable toward others. Be forgiving and understanding when you want to be critical of them; be ready to learn from others when they come to be critical of you.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Prov 3:7-8)

4. Be generous with all your possessions, and passionate about justice. Share your time, talent, and treasure with those who have less.

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Prov 3:9-10)

5. Accept and learn from difficulties and suffering. Through the gospel, recognize them as not punishment, but a way of refining you.

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Prov 3:11-12)

As I meditated on these five elements–rooted in his grace, obeying and delighting in his Word, humble before other people, sacrificially generous toward our neighbor, and steadfast in trials–I thought of Jesus. The New Testament tells us that the personified ‘divine wisdom’ of the Old Testament is actually Jesus (Mt 11:19.) And I realized that a) he showed the ultimate trust and faithfulness to God and to us by going to the cross, b) he was saturated with and shaped by Scripture, c) he was meek and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:28-30), d) he, though rich, became poor for us, e) and he bore his suffering, for us, without complaint. We can only grow in these five areas if you know you are saved by costly grace. That keeps you from idols, from self-sufficiency and pride, from selfishness with your things, and from crumbling under troubles. Jesus is wisdom personified, and believing his gospel brings these character qualities into your life.

For a number of weeks I have been spending time praying for these five things for my family and my church leaders. There’s no better way to instill these great things in your own heart, than to pray intensely for them in the lives of those you love.

A prayer for my children

March 11, 2010

For this reason I bow my knees before You, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of your glory you may grant them to be strengthened with power through your Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith—that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all your fullness. Now to ​you who are able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to you be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:14-21)

Brant Hansen: Letter to Me at 16

March 10, 2010

I love this post from Brant Hansen. If you aren’t familiar with Brant, you ought to be. Look here, and here, and listen here.

Dear Me at 16,

You’re going to live to 40. Seriously — in October, 2009. And your parents will still be alive, too. And your brother. All that: Wonderful, sweet news.

Bad news: Rusty doesn’t make it. He dies after you leave for college. And you weren’t crushed to see him go, since he had lost all his fur and was kinda grossing everybody out.

About college — more good news: You totally go to college. The state decides you are, officially, “handicapped”, and pays for the whole thing. Your eye problems finally pay off, big-time.

More good news: You have two very, very awesome children.

Even better news: You’re married.

Even better-than-better news: That means you got to kiss a girl.

…a total babe, too. I realize, given your, ah — awkwardness, let’s say — around girls, this is beyond imagining. But it happens, honest. God answers your prayer. The profile exists: A hot girl who likes awkward guys.

Oh, yeah — on the “God” thing: You still think He exists. More than ever, really. This is for a couple reasons: The darkness in the world, as you’ve always been able to perceive it, seems only answered by Jesus. You become fascinated by him.

And, too, you look into the alternatives to Jesus. And you find them sadly wanting. As frustrated as you become with Christian CultureTM, you become that much more relieved to find out that if you’ve seen Jesus? — well, that’s what God is like. And he’s really, really good.

The Cardinals win the Series again! — in 2006. I know. It’s a long way off. The Fighting Illini never really win anything. Oh yeah — the Berlin Wall falls down. There’s that.

So you turn forty, and please believe me: You’re not going to believe how blessed you are. The highlights: Your wife, of course, and children, but your biggest fantasy comes true: You get to travel the world, to places you can’t imagine, and see what love is. I know, that’s just a Foreigner song to you right now.

Oh — good news: U2 is STILL together. And they’re still selling places out. They learn to play their instruments better and stuff. You’re going to love their next album, by the way.

You pick up guitar and join your own band. The band isn’t bad at all. You start to take off, but don’t pursue it, because when you’re 23, you think you’re way too old for rock and roll. You’ve always thought you were too old for everything.

Now, well, you kinda are.

You now have a surfboard in your garage. Make no mistake (“Make no mistake” becomes a cliche, by the way. You know “Iraq”? We invade it a couple times, and — never mind.) anyway, you can’t surf very well, but you try. I realize this makes no sense to a boy in Illinois, but it will.

By the way: Jesus didn’t come back. That’s a relief to you, now, of course, since you wanted to — you know — be married first. So that works out.

Dear Brant at 16: You’re not a loser. You won’t believe this, I know. But you’re not. Yes, you’re naturally a pessimist, and you will always see absurdity wherever it lay. But things get better. Your next family? It stays together. You laugh together, you sing, you laugh some more, your wife lets you smooch her, and while you’re typing this, your boy (he’s taller than you!) plays violin behind you.

You don’t starve to death. Nobody kills you. You don’t die in an accident. You get a job. You have friends, here and there. You’re not exposed as a complete fraud. Things are okay.

Turns out, you don’t fail at everything. You fail at some things, but most “things” become a lot more laughable. Seriously — life is funnier all the time. All that stuff you already know, deep down, is darkly odd about your life? It’s downright hilarious, later. I know you won’t, but you can afford to lighten up a bit.

You know how you want to be significant, more than anything? You kinda let that go. Not all the way, but a lot, and man, it makes life a lot better.

And the stuff you’re ashamed of, that stuff at 16, that only I know about…? God uses you anyway. Somehow. You won’t figure it out, but he does. He loves you, in the midst of it.

That C.S. Lewis book has it right, about the lion: He really IS good. You’ll read that book again, and the next time, you’ll smile, because it will ring true.

John Piper on Life

March 9, 2010

Dear people, life is short and life is precious. Don’t waste it on superficial things. Grow deep. Get ready to die well. Give yourself unreservedly to what matters. Fling away sham. Be real with God and real with man. Cherish the eternal in everything. Take hold of life which is life indeed. Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Why should mere man choreograph your emotions? O, for more deep individuals and fewer herd people! Go deep with God. Be alone. Come forth like humble steel. There is no other way to die well. Nothing is more lonely than dying. If your life is not deep in Christ alone, death will be a terrible thing. Get ready. And in getting ready you will be the deep aroma of God in a tragically superficial world.

First and Foremost, As Those Loved

March 4, 2010

“Lazarus’s sisters refer to their brother as “the one you love” (John 11:3), an expression that hints of all kinds of human relationships that Jesus had of which we know rather little. I do think, though, that it is one of the common features of those who become intimate with Jesus that they think of themselves not as those who love him particularly well but those who are particularly well loved by him. Thus, John, the writer of this Gospel, refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 21:7, 20; cf. 20:2). Or Paul, referring to Jesus in an atonement passage, adds the clause “who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have the power, together with the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). Those who draw really close to Jesus think of themselves, first and foremost, as those loved by him rather than those who profess their love for him.” – D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (RE: Lit)

(HT- Zach Nielsen)