Welcome to the home of The Shizzle!|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 15 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Thursday, October 20th, 2005|
Here's a quote that is most relevant for our times:
"Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it's a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset." -D.A. Carson
And to further explore the concept of worshiping God rightly:
"Christ is, in reality, the one true worshiper (of the Father), and our worship is a participation in his. A focus on our worship, on what we do, is inherently Pelagian." -Robert Letham in "The Holy Trinity."
|Saturday, October 15th, 2005|
|From "Touchdown Jesus" with love
This is such a bad idea.
I don't think this church took God seriously when He said, "You shall not use the name of the Lord God in vain." And what a great witness that is as far as representing Christ. Sheez....
|Wednesday, October 5th, 2005|
Why do I like to live for the present? Because, quite frankly, I'm anxious about the future. I honestly cannot see myself living on my own, working 40 hours a week to pay my own bills, pastoring a church, or getting married and raising a family. I just can't envision any of that without trembling about the responsibility that all such things entails. I have had the blessing of having parents who have been able to pay my way through school and supply all my basic needs, but such luxury can also be a curse at times, causing me to doubt my ability to function without my parents helping me along.
As a providential answer to my anxiety and self-centered contemplation, I was confronted and comforted by the words of Psalm 116. "Because the Lord has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I shall live" (v.2). It is only because God has allowed Himself to be known by me that I can call upon Him. And because I have been made able to call upon Him through the merit of Christ, I should ever set my mind upon His sovereign goodness to His people. I must learn to live upon the Lord's providence and accept joyfully whatever He has planned for me.
The ramifications for this are manifold. On the one hand, God may grant me power and resources to invest for His glory, even though I have done nothing to deserve such abundant blessings. I already have experienced a taste of His blessings by being able to attend college and seminary in order to study the scriptures and Christian doctrine, ever increasing in knowledge and appreciation for what the Lord has done and will yet do. On the other hand, if my comforts become a hindrance to my spiritual growth, then God will most surely bring hardship upon me to force me to rely upon His gracious provision alone. Either way, it is for my eternal benefit and that His work might be made manifest in my weakness.
The Psalmist continues: "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord" (v. 12-13). My only response to God's blessings is to remember the sufficiency of my salvation, a unwarranted gift that He has already provided me. To lift up the cup of salvation is an act of thanksgiving, and, to be more specific, an act of worship for who God is and what He has done.
"I shall pay my vows to the Lord. Oh, may it be in the presence of all His people!" This exhortation is repeated by the Psalmist to ensure that his zeal does not remain unnoticed. He desires to worship in the presence of God's people, indeed "in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem!" (v. 18-19) Likewise, I hope that one day my life will be a testament to the Lord's power and grace, not because of my own merit or privileged existence, but because His power might be made explicitly clear in my insufficiency.
|Sunday, September 25th, 2005|
|Perchance to Dream
This afternoon, my friend, Joseph, had a dream about an apocryphal adventure concerning Neil Jackson and me. Apparently, Neil and I pooled our limited finances to buy a boat. A Pirate ship kinda boat. A BIG ONE. We're talking Pirates of the Caribbean big!
So, the story was that I had to go run an errand, and this could only be accomplished by means of a 48-hour trip down the river (but he was pretty sure we weren't trying to go down the Ohio River). Joseph wasn't sure where we were planning to go or why we decided to buy a boat, but Neil's mom sure wasn't happy. She called him up on the phone and chewed him out pretty good! I guess she must have thought I'd been a bad influence on old Neil. Usually the other way around, right? (Just kidding, but see previous post!)
Well, unfortunately, that was when Joseph woke up, so I can't go on any further. That's your job! I want everybody who reads this to offer your best interpretation of:
(1) What influenced Joseph's subconscious to create such a tale?
(2) Why did Neil and I buy that Pirate ship?
(3) Where where we gonna sail to, anyway?
If anybody reads this, let me hear from you!
|Friday, September 23rd, 2005|
|The Two Hardest Things to Do in Life - from Neil Jackson
DISCLAIMER: I did not come up with the following statement. It was repeated to me by one, Neil Jackson, who heard it from his grandfather who said he heard it from a preacher (and preacher stories are notorious for being recycled over and over). I now pass it onto to you, and beg your mercy that you refrain from throwing markers in my direction in light of the fact that I didn't say it. Still, its just too funny not to tell.
The two hardest things to do in life:
(1) Climb a fence that is leaning towards you.
(2) Kiss a girl who is leaning away from you.
Neil is such a great roommate with a mix of wisdom and wit.
But sometimes I wonder about that boy...
|Saturday, September 17th, 2005|
|The Shizzle: Marker Worthy Comment
While having dinner at the home of the associate pastor of the church I will soon become a member of, I uttered a "Marker Worthy Comment." For those of you who aren't familiar with M.W.Comments, I believe the term was invented by Nellene Benhardus, who used it to describe any comment that will seriously tempt the immediate audience to throw anything available in the speaker's general direction (dry erase markers in a class room setting for instance). Well, here's the account:
Associate Pastor Mike: "Are you a cat person?"
Adam "Nuclear Knucklehead" Winters: "Well, some say I have a cat personality, but, truthfully, I don't think cats should be trusted."
Associate Pastor Mike: *Laughs*
Adam: "If they were our size they would probably try to eat us."
Mike: "Yeah, probably."
Adam: "And when you try to cuddle them, they show affection by digging into you with their claws."
Adam: "Now maybe all you married guys could help me answer this next question. Is holding a cat similar to holding a woman?"
Mike and all at the table: *Laughs*
Mike: "You'll find out when you get married!"
You gotta love a preacher with a sense of humor!
|Monday, September 12th, 2005|
|It's about time for an update, I reckon.
I was so proud of my last xanga post I decided to leave it up there for a while. Ain't I vain? Well, I decided to give all you live journal users a bonus post. To all my "LJ" homeys out there, I present you with a few random ramblings which I affectionately refer to as "The Shizzle."
Ever taken a personality test? I had to take 2 as a college freshman. Good ol' Myers Briggs told me that I was an INFJ type. Roughly translated, that means "Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging." Makes sense, right? Let's see what the test says about people like me, and then I'll offer my own input.
Myers-Briggs: "Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life."
Slimer says, "Most everybody thinks they hold weighty convictions about life, but few people do."
MB: "INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless."
Slimer says, "Well, I do enjoy my superheroes..."
MB: "There's something rotten in Denmark."
Slimer says, "What the crap?"
MB: "INFJs are selective about their friends."
Slimer says, "A generally good rule of thumb. I don't know anyone who isn't. Unless you pay money to join frat houses that is..."
MB: "INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Unlike the confining, routinizing nature of introverted sensing, introverted intuition frees this type to act insightfully and spontaneously as unique solutions arise on an event by event basis."
Slimer says, "Right... Thanks, Plato. Let's move on."
The "Functional Analysis" describes me as possessing "introverted intuition, extraverted feeling, introverted thinking, and extraverted sensing." Gee, I think that was pretty much designed to please everybody.
As for my INFJ forefathers, the list includes such notables as Geoffery Chauer, Goethe, Jimmy Carter (God help me), Mother Teresa, Fanny Crosby, Tom Selleck (too bad I didn't inherit his chest hair), Mel Gibson, Princess Leia, Martin Luther King Jr., and last by not least...
Nathan the Prophet who condemned the sin of David!
I have to admit that its not bad company. Amazing that King David had employed this same test all the way back in +900 BC, isn't it! Hmm, I wonder when all those other famous figures had time to take these tests?
Well, all my sarcasm aside, I think that while these tests can be fun and helpful, I just have to question their fundamental assumptions. This kind of test is one where God/religion is understood as a variable in the equation. This is pretty much opposed to the core of my faith. How can I evaluate myself by any other standard than my identity in Christ? Maybe I'm being too harsh on modern psychology, but I think that Biblical profiling is far more valuable than any multiple choice test thought up by some guys in white suits.
|Wednesday, August 31st, 2005|
|A Lament Over our Miserable Condition
It has always been difficult for me to care about people I don't know. When hurricane Katrian hit the Gulf Coast on Tuesday morning, I didn't spend too much time thinking about anything other than the inconvenience that the extra rain would cause me as I walked to class. Hurricanes happen about 2-3 times a year. People die everyday (about 150,000 on average). What does a national disaster mean to me?
But today, I heard that the New Orleans is now under a few feet of water. This was a major city, now it is desolate. There are bodies floating around the sewage. Human bodies. They include mothers, grandparents, and babies. The homeless who piled into the football stadium were cramped up like sardines. Some of the sick and elderly perished because their medical treatments failed in light of the conditions. You can log onto any news website and see pictures of bodybags, and a boy weeping over the death of his grandmother.
I think for a moment that I might have been living in New Orleans this year. I chose to go to Louisville instead, but because of the possibility of a close connection, it hits home a little harder. All I could really think about today was the face of that little boy who lost his grandmother. I wonder what if that had happened to me when I was his age. It doesn't bring tears to my eyes, but it does numb my soul and conscience. I wonder if there is anything I can do to help these people. My seminary might try to mount an aid mission, but how much can any of us well meaning laymen do about an underwater city. This situation boarders on hopeless. And just to spite human dignity, looting rages on even under martial law.
How can anyone believe that all is right with the world? And why is it that we feeble humans only cry out to God for deliverance in times like these? I've been reading through the Psalms this past week. The laments over desolation and cries for deliverance didn't mean much to me last week. They mean everything today.
|Wednesday, August 24th, 2005|
It's been about a day since I typed up those Resolutions. I had to create a list by which an accountability partner could hold me to (the class is called "Spiritual Disciplines"). I really have been inspired by Jon Edwards of late (probably because it seems that the reading assignments for that particular class far outweigh all my others), and even though I think he had some shortcomings (long-winded, obsessive to the point of paranoia, etc.) I really do think people could learn a lot from his life and writings. That's why I have taken his example and contemporized it to my life.
One thing that most Christians would probably tell you is that after a peak in their spiritual sensitivity, their enthusiasm tends to level off rather quickly. I'm no exception. While I don't believe I've committed any obvious sins today, I just don't have the motivation to be as productive as I'm capable of being. Perhaps, that's why I'm typing on this blog at 12:20 AM in attempt to feel my day has been productive. Don't you hate it when you've finished all your work and you still feel like you've hardly accomplished anything? I feel that way quite often, but hopefully I'm just being too self-conscious.
I think the times that I'm most confused about life are the times when I don't know what to pray for. I've been reading through the first 20 Psalms, which are all about God's deliverence of His people from their oppressors as a means to vindicate His glory. That's good news, of course, but when you don't really feel like people are out to get you it lessens the impact of the text upon the soul. Therein must lie my problem: I don't seek God when I don't feel that I need His help.
Introspection aside, it is nice to have a slow night after a long day of classes and ceremony (we had Convocation in chapel). I suppose I should appreciate these melancholy moments instead of feeling like I'm stuck in a rut.
As long as the Seminary allows me to log on to Xanga from my dorm, I think I'll do my once-a-week, crazy, fun posts over there, and try to use this site for more personal ramblings. Since very few people read this site (outside of a few good friends and the occasional lunatic who posts something really random), it might be a good fit. I don't ever intend to make this into a "my life is terrible, blah blah blah, yakity smackity" soapbox, so feel free to call me out if I get a little too sappy.
|Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005|
|My Resolutions for the Present Day
I hope you all enjoyed the 1st installment of "The Adventures of Neil Jackson," but this time I'm gonna switch to a moral serious subject matter. Newsweek did a recent article on the American people's search for spirituality. You can read a section of their findings here. I haven't actually read it yet, because this sort of topic is always coming up from time to time. Yes, people are searching to fulfill their sense of religious longing. But are they searching in vain? I assume that all one's striving to be made wise and morally pure will prove fruitless unless the truth is revealed to them by the One true God. Self-sufficient efforts to appease God are merely self-righteous affirmation of self-gratification. To know God, one must be know by God. As long as people try to define their own standards of righteousness, they will never yield to the will of God revealed in the Bible, nor will they ever experience true repentance of their sin.
Lately, I've been coming to a realization of how far I fall short of holiness. I trust in the power of Jesus Christ alone to satisfy the wrath of God concerning my sin, but I also know that a person who is "born again" by the Holy Spirit must bear spiritual fruit to indicate that he/she has really repented from a life of rebellion against God. Jonathan Edwards (remember him from a few posts back?) was so conscious of his duty to bear fruit that he composed a list of 70+ resolutions in order to help him evaluate whether he was living in sin or living for the glory of God. From what I know of Edwards' life, he was both a genius and somewhat of an obsessed fanatic when it came to discipline. But, nevertheless, though I may be unable to live in a disciplined manner so consistently as he did, I have no excuse not to be inspired by his lofty example.
So, with a tip of the cap to Edwards, I've begun a list of my own resolutions, which I given the working title: "Resolutions for the Present Day." Read over them and let me know if you think I've neglected any essential areas. Perhaps they will persuade you to think about areas of your own life where you consistently fall short of holiness:
1. Resolved, that whatever I do may be done with the intention of bringing glory to God. This resolution applies to both the commands of Scripture that I must joyfully obey and in every area of life that Scripture does not specify.
2. Resolved, to set my affections upon the glory of God revealed most fully in Christ through Scripture. Unless my soul pants for God as the deer pants for the water brooks (Ps 42:1), then my satisfaction in my state as God’s child will be found lacking. My desire to give love and to be loved must flow from my reliance upon the Fount of Every Blessing for my daily bread (Mt 6:11) and living water (Jn 4:10), which springs up to eternal life (Jn 10:13-14).
3. Resolved, that I shall not meditate excessively upon who I am or who I was, but that I shall ever draw encouragement by remembering who I am elected to be. The biblical hope of God’s deliverance and transformation of His people must be most dominant in my mind when my situation is most dire. When I distress over who I think I should be, may God then reveal to me that I should strive to be nothing else than the imitation of Christ, which is made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
4. Resolved, that I shall be a faithful steward of the time God has graciously allowed me to go about achieving His work. To be a wise steward, I acknowledge that I must prioritize according to my given situations. I must not only fulfill my daily duties, but also to be diligent in my personal worship of the Lord, intentionally setting aside time for prayer motivated by Scripture meditation.
5. As one called specifically to be a minister of the gospel, I must rigorously and sacrificially pursue holiness by becoming informed by the Word and then yield to the Holy Spirit. I must turn away from the things that entice me toward both physical and emotional self-gratification to the abominable insult of God’s glory.
(Applications of Resolution #5)
•To daily strengthen the bonds of trust with my family, friends, and potential friends...
for the purpose of our mutual holiness.
for the purpose of our mutual joy.
for the purpose of God being glorified through us both corporately and individually.
•To avoid even the appearance of pornographic images.
•To avoid the even more dangerous temptation of pornographic thoughts.
•To repent whenever I attempt to manipulate another for my own selfish pleasure.
•To avoid adultery in my love for God, so that I might be adequately prepared should God some day bless me with the joyful burden of true love.
6. Resolved, to remember the weight of the fullness of the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20) and to be about making disciples of Him who sent me. As one called specifically to be a minister of the gospel, I must be intentional about seeking out individuals with whom to share the good news of salvation. In addition, I realize that God expects to use me to edify fellow believers in their spiritual maturity.
7. Resolved, to neither divorce my academic progress from my personal worship nor to confuse one for another. My theological and exegetical training enables me to delve deeply into a specific portion of biblical text or doctrine. Thus, by the grace of God, I am more likely to appreciate the fine details that the Spirit inspired to God’s authors than would be discerned from a skimming. One benefit of my personal worship allows me to gain an overview of the whole of Scripture, through a rapid and more diverse searching.
End for now.
I'm sure it won't be too hard to add to this list in the foreseeable future. Sorry if you came here expecting something crazy, but I promise I'll return to my regularly scheduled witticisms soon enough. I just thought some of you might benefit from what God has been teaching me of late.
|Friday, August 19th, 2005|
|Enter the Weed Wacker
"It's legal, I reckon."
The following is the strange but true account of the vocational adventures of Neil Jackson, my roommate in SBTS's Fuller Hall:
"I was working for this old gentlemen, Mel Greer, and the task of the hour was pulling weeds in his flowerbeds. He wanted some varieties of flowers to be pulled up so I got to this one type and it reminded me of a minty weed that I had encountered in my youth. When you crush the weeds you can smell a minty flavor I wasn't sure if it was peppermint or spearment. I pulled a few of these weeds and when he wasn't looking I stuffed them in my left front pocket. There they remained for the rest of the afternon during my employment. When I got back to the room, I placed them on a paper towel and let them dry until the next morning. I then put them in a pot of boiling water, thus making some tea out of the organic extraction from the leaves."
Yeah, it looked as nasty in person as it does on picture.
I need to introduce him to pizza rolls.
|Sunday, August 14th, 2005|
|Gaming for the Glory of God!
A response to the concerns of my friend and brother in Christ, Dr. Al Mohler,
Dr. Mohler, a great Christian man who nearly a decade ago, reformed the flagship Southern Baptist Seminary from the perils of biblical liberalism and theological apathy, has written boldly on many a relevant cultural issue. Sometimes at the expense of his physical health, his untiring labor has allowed him to become the primary voice of Reformed Evangelical Baptists in a culture that is rapidly slipping down the steep slope of moral relativism and rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ. His labors are more than I will ever acheive as a theologian because his diligent personality and unshakeable conviction to the faith "once and for all handed down to the saints" comes along perhaps only twice in a generation.
Why then, do I choose to critique a recent statement by so great a man of God as Dr. Mohler? Because I have to be faithful to an old friend of mine from childhood: Mario of the Super Mario Bros. video game series.
In a recent update to his daily blog (which I might add is an amazing testament to his ability to produce such high quality work at such a brisk pace), Dr. Mohler raises a question as to the benefits of video games on our society. In a past conversation with some college students, Dr. Mohler learned that these young men struggle with a variety of temptations concerning wise use of their time and their spiritual maturity. As you might expect, internet pornography was one of the major temptations admitted, but surprisingly (at least for Dr. Mohler) was that these boys almost unanimously agreed that video games are often responsible for eating away much of their study time.
This is probably surprising to a man like Dr. Mohler whose adolescence probably didn't expose him to games that were any more complex than floating dots like Asteriods or Pong, but to today's generation of rising pastors and theologians, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog were just as much a part of pop-culture as Star Wars or Seinfield. Instead of growing out games, my generation grew more attracted to them because of the technological explosion which introduced 3D gameplay, role-playing adventures, complex fighting competitions that required timing and actual combat skill, and military or athletic based simulations. There has also been an increase in the ability of game programmers to cater to the carnal side of human nature through games that showcase violent crime (Grand Theft Auto series), explicit sexual inuendos and over-endowed character designs, and other mature themes as entertainment selling points.
The result is that today many high schoolers, college/seminary students, and men in their late 20s spend much more time playing a diverse selection a game genres than could have been imagined 12 years ago. Dr. Mohler raises the concern that excessive game playing may lead the player to confuse fantasy from reality, meaning a loss of identity resulting from the creation of matrix of virtual reality. I must admit that I have know people who have wasted precious hours on video games when they should have been focusing on other priorities. I have also read of the numerous reports of disturbed individuals who attribute violent behaviour to the habits they developed through video gaming. The merciless slaughter of innocent children and teachers at Columbine is one example. And just this week, a 28-year-old South Korean man died of a heart attack after a 3-day online gaming marathon in an internet cafe.
As for my own game playing habits, I admit that I probably spend more time playing them than I should. What is more, I confess that hardly ever do I meditate upon the glory of God while gaming. I wish I could be spiritually mature so as to glorify God in all things, even the drinking of Orange Juice as John Piper boldly proposes. However, I attribute this sin not to the video game, but to my own human depravity. It is not that the games are so amazing that they overshadow the glory of God in my life, it is that my soul does not long for the richness of the joy of my salvation that is available to me as a child of God. Whether I read, drink, or play, my spiritual sensitivity will be determined by the health of my heart.
But as for the original concern of the ramifications of games on my spiritual life, I can surprisingly say that I believe God has used my fascination with such devices as a means for spiritual growth and for building the ties of true friendship. As a sheltered 8-year-old, my daily routine hardly consisted of adventure or great acts of heroism. My world extended no farther than the towering oaks behind my house, the tree house my father built for me out of love, and the Wal-Mart in front of my local Baptist church. The exception to the rule, of course, were the times when I answered the call of Princess Toadstool and guided Mario through 8 colorful zones filled with both dangers and daring escapades, all for the sake of delivering an oppressed people from the totalitarian reign of terror known as King Bowser Koopa. These missions were never easy (particularly upon first playing) and the patience of an 8-year-old can hardly ever be considered a mastered discipline. Yet, through perseverance, I learned from my mistakes and gradually found a way to not only liberate the Mushroom Kingdom, but also to take the time to uncover the secrets that made the adventure both fun as well as heroic. As I reflected upon my accomplishment of beating game after game, I realized that mastery of a discipline comes only through patience and an appreciation that the task before you is not a curse, but an honor. This mentality would serve as a helpful metaphor in years to come, as I learned that duty should not always be void of cheerfulness. And above all else, it is the anticipated reward for mastering a discipline that should motivate one to press on towards the desired goal even when present circumstances frustrate the temper.
I mentioned above that video games played a role in building strong bonds of friendship. In college, I developed a special bond with many of the 12 roommates I had the pleasure of knowing during my 4-year residence. We shared an appreciation for game playing. Whenever a conversation starter was needed, it was often an hour or two of gaming that served to ignite the flame of social interaction. Though an observer would assume we did little more than beat each other's digitalized image silly, I can testify that often our thoughts eventually turned away from the game towards topics like the "Marriage as a Metaphor for Christ and the Church" or "The Extent of Human Depravity which Prevents a Man from Seeking the Glory of God Apart from Grace." These friendships might have developed regardless of gaming, but whose to say such important conversations would have gotten off on the right foot without them?
Although I can speak much about how God has used my interests to benefit me to do things that would glorify Him, I experienced another benefit of gaming just a few hours ago. As I was attempting to be a good steward of my time, I decided to get ahead on my semester reading on D. A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies. For any of you who are familiar with this book, you know that certain sections of it are by no means easy reading, dealing with such techinical matters as the syntax of biblical greek grammar. Before I began reading, I was tempted to spend a few minutes playing Super Mario, but I then reasoned that I would feel much more satisfied with myself if I made progress with my reading first. As I reached the halfway point of chapter 2, I sensed my mind growing numb and my eyes feeling strained to read the pages, so I then decided that it may be better to spend some time in the living area fellowshipping with my rommate (which I certainly wouldn't have done while reading in my room) while enjoying some casual gaming. Continuing to force myself to read at that point would likely mean that my retention skills would have declined, whereas a refreshed reading might yield more fruitful results.
I agree with Dr. Mohler that people should be very careful how they use their time and what habits they allow themselves to develop, but I also know that a lifestyle is governed by one's own nature. Whatever his concept of the greatest good, then that his treasure shall be. Parents should take responsibility for teaching their children what virtues they should pursue at a young age. Hopefully, when the child leaves home, those lessons will govern his character. A parent would be foolish to hand their child a loaded firearm without training him how to master the powerful weapon he has been entrusted with. Likewise, parents should be mindful of both the content of their children's entertainment and the amount of time spent on such things. A twisted and immature mind will corrupt anything it is given and use it for ill purposes. But with the proper discipline, the wise will be able to distinguish metaphor from actuality.
With this I conclude: "If we be gamers, then let us game for the glory of God!"
|Tuesday, August 9th, 2005|
I’m trying to get ahead with my semester reading. Tonight was Jonathan Edwards. No, not the politician or the creepy “Crossing Over” wacko, but the eighteenth century preacher whose mantle is now being carried by John Piper. Hey... wait a sec.... John Piper, Jon Edwards, John Owen, John Bunyan, John Wesley, John Calvin (or was it Jean?), John Ronald Reul Tolkien, John the Baptist, John the Apostle of Jesus and brother of James... Man, there sure are a lot of significant Johnnie boys in history of Christianity! It’s too bad that for all the combined reputation of these fellows listed above, there is a significantly longer list of Johns who have a different sort of reputation: Johnny Bravo, John Doe, John Locke, John Stewart Mill (the founder of utilitarianism) England’s first and thankfully only King John, John Kerry (#1 on the “John” google search), Long John Silver, Jon Jonzz the Martian Manhunter, Elton John, and, of course, The John (the nickname for indoor plumbing’s greatest contribution to the world).
Any ways, like I was saying...
Err... I lost my train of thought.
Lost... but now I’m found. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!” (John Newton 1779) Sorry, I couldn’t resist one more. :-)
All I was really trying to say is that the life and writings of Jonathan Edwards are a lot more relevant to the average Joe (why not average John?) of today that most people could fathom. I just recently finished reading a copy of his “Personal Narrative” (thanks, Matthew and here’s a plug for the Jon Edwards xanga blogring) and realized how closely his spiritual pilgrimage parallels my own. Trained in biblical doctrine as a child, Edwards experienced a spiritual awakening during his pre-college days but that enthusiasm soon dulled into a sense of duty. Only after meditating on the extensive sovereignty and greatness of God did he regain his sense of joy about his relationship to Jesus. That’s a mentality any Christian should yearn for, and even a non-Christian probably knows what it means to desire to experience a never-ending love based on assurance. It’s what makes the gospel, the “good news” of salvation. Current Mood: contemplative
|Monday, August 8th, 2005|
I visited a really great Reformed Baptist church in Louisville today. The intriguing thing is that very few people (including seminary students) know about it because its 25 minutes away from the school and has been going through serious reform in the past 2 years. The pastor was mentored by Mark Dever in D.C. and he was pretty familiar with Union University. It could offer some ministry opportunities if I don't get wooed away to any place else.
In other news, I got a new profile pic today. I made it myself, if you couldn't guess. You like it? Current Mood: chipper
|Saturday, August 6th, 2005|
|The More Things Change...
Today I finished moving into my dorm/apartment in Louisville. One week from Monday I will attend my first class at The(gotta capitalize it or they get annoyed:-)) Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have to admit that I'm a little in awe of its highly regarded reputation and its rich tradition of producing the finest Southern Baptist preachers and thinkers. I assume that people who know me think of me as a "thinker," but that was not the label I wanted to earn when I enrolled in college 4 years ago. Believe it or not, I intended to be a preacher, and I still haven't given up that inkling.
The reason I decided to be a Biblical Studies major at Union University (later switched to Biblical Languages) was that I wanted to be better equipped to share and proclaim the gospel to non-Christians. I felt compelled to devote myself to the study of the Bible, theology, and religious/philosophical thinking (related to apologetics: a word I didn't know at the time). I didn't originally care much for Calvinism debates, research papers, or Greek, but over the years I came to understand how the disciplines that I assumed to be optional were really essential to my growth. By the time I graduated, I had just finished my 85 page thesis on an aspect of the thought of Desiderius Erasmus, a sixteenth century monk with a love for satire whose name I didn't even recognize until my sophomore year, but whose reputation I have since become associated with by my friends and acquaintances.
My broad range of learning has served me well and better prepared me for the future, but there are times when I wonder if my original motivation for saving souls was thrown on the back burner. This may have been a conscious decision on my part. You see, in high school I always believed that I was the one who was responsible for saving souls. I thought that the destiny of someone's soul rested mostly on my ability to present a persuasive message. When unbelievers turned me down, I thought that I just had to keep trying to win them over with logic or rhetoric. When that didn't work, I thought that if I continued to be prayerful then God must surely yield to my wishes and bring conviction to the sinner's heart. However, my collegiate reading and study of biblical theology gradually changed my perception.
I came to realize that the destiny of the unbeliever depends on the will and work of God. Only God provides the way of salvation through the death of Jesus Christ for sins. Only God knows and ordains who will be saved. And only God can act to change a heart dead in sin and free the will to desire to reap the benefits of knowing His glory. So where do I and all other evangelical Christians fit into this apparently one-sided affair? I believe that as the one true people of the one true God, we must do our best to boldly and reverently proclaim the message that God has called us to deliver.
That message is that: (1) Humanity was created by God for the ultimate purpose of acknowledging the glory of God and being all satisfied in a relationship of love with Him. (2) Because of our present state as sinners, we pervert our purpose by loving other things to the insult of God. (3) Because of all offense against God, His just nature demands that our sentence of guilt must be paid either by us in eternal suffering or ... (4) By the punishment for sin which Jesus Christ endured we have the means to being resurrected from our sinful nature and brought back into union with God. (5) Though it is God who works in our hearts to convict us of sin and draw us to Himself, it is the responsibility of every man/woman/boy/girl to decide whether to embrace Jesus' gift of salvation or turn away from God's lordship. (6) Those who embrace Jesus through repentance receive faith to experience the love of God and endure the hardships of life and death, one day receiving their final reward of realizing what it means to be a child of God for eternity.
The message itself is not long or considerably complex, but it is hard to accept as truth, because the only thing more offensive to a decent human being than being told he is guilty of sin and is destined for eternal punishment is the uncanny concept that one who is completely innocent would die for those who are utterly wicked. Also difficult to reconcile are the divine ideas of judgment and love, destiny and freedom, bondage and accountability. It is because of these difficulties that I have studied hard and continue to read widely. I want to better understand the depth of God's love for my own benefit and then be capable of sharing the truth with others.
As I begin my seminary career, I reflect on the past, but set my face towards my destiny. A life that I chose for myself without any real knowledge of the consequences involved, but a path that had been prepared for me long before I was old enough to ever dream of a reality outside action figures and Nintendo. I don't think I'm prepared for life as an adult, but I don't really fear it either. I was called by my Father to proclaim His gospel. The style in which I do that may often be effected by context, but I can't change the substance of the message that I was entrusted with. I've always loved to watch races, but I'm about to get started on the race against time. I've only got a certain number of years to make an impression on the people I meet, and I had better not waste any second if I want to stay on course.
On that note, I think I will play a video game.
Then get started on Don Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I wonder if he has a chapter on mentally recreation using Super Mario Bros. as a medium :-) Current Mood: excited