Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Worldliness is the set of practices in a society, its values and ways of looking at life, that make sin look normal and righteousness look strange. It is the view of the world that puts the sinner at its center and God to the periphery" (David Wells, God in the Wasteland, 86).

In my humble estimation, Wells couldn't be more spot on.
Psalm 147 provides a host of reasons why believers must praise the LORD. The psalm begins and ends with the same phrase which ties the psalm together as a unit: Praise the LORD (הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֙הּ). This phrase also occurs in v.12 as well which divides the psalm into halves.

I. Your Duty Is To Praise the LORD! (vv.1, 12, 20b)

II. The Reasons Why You Must Praise the LORD! (vv.2-11; 13-20a)

The reasons include but are not limited to the following:
1. The Lord builds and gathers His people (v.2)
2. The Lord heals and binds up the wounded & brokenhearted (v.3)
3. The Lord counts the stars & gives all of them names! (v.4) [**let your mind ponder this thought for a while**]
4. The Lord's wisdom & understanding is infinite (v.5)
5. The Lord exalts the humble and humbles the prideful (v.6)
6. The Lord provides food & rain upon the earth for His creatures (vv.7ff)
7. The Lord is the one who gives snow like wool (v.16)
8. The Lord sends His word and can melt the ice and cold (vv.17-18)

These are just a *few* reasons why you and I must worship the LORD. God's Word compels us to come and consider the magnificence of God and worship Him in response to who He is!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Please remember to pray for me as I take my seven written comprehensive exams this week for my PhD program. Pray that God gives me great recollection of the books I read & the things I studied. Here is my schedule:


1. Theology
2. OT & Hebrew
3. Bible Ex
4. NT #1 - NTI, hermeneutics, crit methods & backgrounds (LXX, Fathers, intertestamental)
5. NT #2 - Greek Grammar, syntax, and NT text crit
6. NT #3 - Pauline epistles (translation, exegesis, bibl theo, intro)
7. NT #4 - Gospels, Acts, and nonPauline lit (trans, exegesis, bibl theo, intro)

Monday 9am Theology
Monday 3pm OT & Hebrew

Wednesday 9am Bible Ex
Wednesday 3pm NT #1

Friday 9am NT#2
Friday 3pm NT#3

Saturday 9am NT#4

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here is a link to free video lectures by R.C. Sproul. He apparently gave these lectures 'back in the day' (just watch them and see his hair and you'll know what I mean!). At any rate, these are superb lectures worthy of your careful consideration. I think he is right on with God's election & God's sovereignty.

Topics include:
— God's sovereignty
— What is free will?
— Man's radical fallenness
— Does God create unbelief?
— The divine initiative

Watch & be fed from solid, biblical, God-centered theology.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Biblical masculinity does not demand to be served but itself serves and sacrifices for the good of others. And, the call to lead is a call to repentance, humility, and risk taking.

So, men, be men.
Here are some good quotes I've come across in my PhD exam preparation:

"There is throughout the Bible a historical plot line and the teaching of basic truths that can be understood apart from detailed genre analysis and knowledge of literary structure [not to diminish these *important* disciplines, however]. Evangelicals must make sure to let Christians in their churches know that the Bible is a book that God has given, in one sense, directly to them. This can be done because God is not hiding from us, but has given us a Book in space and time that can be understood literally." —Michael Stallard

"Literal interpretation can be synonymous with plain, natural, normal, historical, grammatical, straight-forward, and the face-value interpretation."

You can read & understand the Bible. Read it, understand it, interpret it in its normal sense. For true believers, God's Spirit will guide His elect into the truth with diligent study and proper hermeneutical methods.

Study! Study! Study!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

From Richard Baxter as he comments on Ps 111:2 — Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them:

"To see God in his creatures, and to love him and converse with him, was the employment of man in his upright state. This is so far from ceasing to be our duty, that it is the work of Christ, by faith, to bring us back to it; and therefore the most holy men are the most excellent students of God's works; and none but the holy can rightly study or know them. Your studies of physics and other sciences are not worth a rush, if it be not God by them that you seek after. To see and admire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in God appearing to us in his works, and purposely to peruse them for the knowledge of God; this is the true and only philosophy, and the contrary is mere foolery, and so called again and again by God himself."

(from Spurgeon, Treasury of David, 2/2:7)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Psalm 111 — Study Hard!

1. Begin your study with worship (1)

The psalm begins with Hallelujah—an exclamation of praise—which commands the community to sing and praise the Lord (1a). The assembly and the congregation of upright people are beckoned to worship God (1b). Thus, all study of God must begin with worshiping God rightly.

2. Study the works of God (2-6)

God is worthy of praise because the works of God are great (2a)! The works of God are sought/studied (דרשׁ) by all who delight in them. The followers of the Lord are to seek out with intense study the works of God. Enter the school of God and bathe in the bottomless ocean of God's sovereign and providential deeds!

3. Study the Word of God (7-9)

All God's statutes are faithful (7b) and supported forever (8a). Indeed, God, in his great grace and with His sovereign word has sent redemption for His people—referring back to the Exodus (Ex 12-14). How holy and awesome is His Name!

4. Study with fear and obedience (10)

All study of God which brings wisdom (חכם)—skill for living—must begin with a proper fear (awe-terror) of the Lord and His greatness. The deeds of God when rightly understood will produce a holy terror in God's people. This then has two results: (1) obedience (10b) and (2) praise (10c)

Let us sing & shout with the psalmist: how compassionate (חנון) and gracious (רחום) is the LORD (4b)!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Something I was reminded of again yesterday in my church planting class was the absolute necessity of making sure my wife is #1 in my life and that she knows that she is #1 in my life. Listen, I'm not perfect at this (not even sure if I'd be in the 'good' category) but we as men must continually work at being better husbands, leaders, lovers, and learners of our wives.


1. Spend time with them daily at a time when she wants to chat.

2. Serve them in ways around the home that will help & lighten her load.

3. Shepherd her in the Word of God as you read and study God's Word together.

4. Equip and train her with the principles and and issues to instill in the children.

5. Take her on a vacation where you hang out together and have fun together and do things together.

6. Do date night as often as possible.

1 Peter 3:7 — You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"In the home when a husband leads like Christ and a wife responds like the bride of Christ, there is a harmony and mutuality that is more beautiful and more satisfying than any pattern of marriage created by man. Biblical headship for the husband is the divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike, servant leadership, protection and provision in the home. Biblical submission for the wife is the divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. This is the way of joy. For God loves his people and he loves his glory. And therefore when we follow his idea of marriage (sketched in texts like Gen 2:18-24; Prov 5:15-19; 31:10-31; Mark 10:2-12; Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-7) we are most satisfied and he is most glorified.”

(Piper, John. "A Vision for Biblical Complementarity: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible." Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Edited by Piper, John and Wayne Grudem, eds. [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006], 52-53).

How God encouraged me on Israel this trip

(Of the many things I could write, I will limit it to only a few for the sake of time!)

1. In the Wilderness of Paran, where the Israelites wandered (Num 12:16), I meditated on Deuteronomy 8 and God reminded me of the simple but profound phrase in verse 2 that God has led His people in the wilderness all the way.

2. At the Upper Room, where Christ had his last Passover meal with His disciples the night before the cross, we arrived early in the morning and there were no other tour groups there and we had a great deal of time to carefully and slowly walk through the steps of Jesus and how he so carefully moved and timed everything—John 12-18:1.

3. One of the favorites for everyone on the trip was the Cove of the Sower which is a cove on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee in between Capernaum and Tabgha. I ran down to the shore (or as close as I could get) and I had everyone else scatter on the hillside up above (below and above the modern road) and I read Mark 4—Jesus’ parable on the sower. What an incredible passage about the seed of the Word growing and bearing fruit! Additionally, the people loved to hear the natural acoustics formed from the cove and the surrounding hillside.

4. I’d never been to Hebron before and this was a first for me! We traveled to Hebron where David reigned for the first seven and a half years of his kingship. We also read about how Abraham bought this plot of land to bury Sarah and where he himself would also be buried (and Isaac and Rebecca as well as Jacob and Leah). Quite spectacular to see this tomb that Herod the Great constructed in the first century A.D. which is quite similar in structure and look to the Temple Mount.

5. In God's providence, we were in Jerusalem for Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av), when the Jewish people remember the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70AD (as well as the Solomonic Temple which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar on this same day!). We were at the Western Wall till about 9:30pm listening to a plaza full of Jewish men chanting and lamenting the book of Lamentations amongst other things. Quite an amazing experience!

Here's a passage I read often when traveling through Israel:

Psalm 48:12-14
12 Walk about Zion and go around her; Count her towers;
13 Consider her ramparts; Go through her palaces, That you may tell it to the next generation. 14 For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and
let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the
author and
perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and
has sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God.
Last night I preached Deut 8 at the rehab center and gave four pillars to stand on so you don't forget the LORD your God. You can listen here.

Deuteronomy 8:1-2
"All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. 2 "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It has just occurred to me, that the reason why the Lord has of late allowed me to be so severely tried--is that I have been very little at His throne of grace. Nor have His promises appeared so precious, pleadable, and suited to my case.

Jesus is determined to have me often at His throne, and if the invitations and promises of His Word will not draw me there--then He will send trials to drive me there! Blessed Jesus, are you not saying to me by every trial, "Call upon Me! Make use of Me! See what I will do for you!"

What a proof of the deep depravity and base ingratitude of my heart is this--that You are obliged to send trials and troubles to bring me to Your feet! Yet it is so! For unless drawn by the cords of Your loving-kindness, or driven by painful trials--I seldom come to You with earnestness, fervor, and life!

(from the diary of James Smith, 1862)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Luke 2:52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Καὶ Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτεν ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι παρὰ θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις.)

What an amazing thought to consider that Jesus—in the fullness of His humanness—grew in both wisdom & stature and in favor with both God & men.

The word "grew" (προέκοπτεν) is in a Greek verbal form that brings the action to the forefront. There is some emphasis in the way the author, Luke, chooses to portray the action.

Food for thought today. Your Savior had to grow in wisdom & stature just like you and I have to grow every day. Let's make today a special day where we grow with our eyes focused on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

[photo: Iron Age gate at Tel Dan; courtesy of BiblePlaces]

Here are a few things I learned in leading this, my fourth, trip to Israel.

1. Be passionate & excited and that will contagiously affect the tourists.

Not that I have to confess that I am not passionate about going to Israel; I am! But I heard people say that because the guide enjoys the land so much and gets so excited over some 'rocks' and 'hills' (if you have been to Israel you know what I'm talking about), then it excites the travelers as well.

2. Be willing to say: "I don't know."

I'm not a professional tour guide. Nor do I claim to be. I have studied and I have lived in Israel but there are still (many!) things I just still don't know. And when folks ask questions that I don't know the answer to, it is better to confess my ignorance and say: "I don't know" rather than to pontificate on something I don't have any idea about and then be proven wrong later.

3. Gift shops are overrated and the shopping can be done on the last day of the trip.

Many tours spend time—a lot of time—in gift shops. But not ours. In fact, I deliberately tell my people that I will give them plenty of time to shop in Jerusalem at the conclusion of the trip. But till then, we run from site to site rather than *waste* time in every gift shop along the way.

4. Take the Bible and read from the Bible at *every* site possible.

It is amazing how many so-called Christian tours travel through the land of Israel and never open their Bibles and read through the Scriptures at the sites. Some merely talk about it or make reference to the Scriptures. But one thing that I have found to be so necessary is to take our Bibles and read the accounts at each site (even if they are long accounts!). The people love it and it is a great witness to others who come and listen to us read various passages (e.g., the entire Sermon on the Mount—Matt 5-7—from the Mt. of Beatitudes).

5. Be Gospel-centered and Christ-exalting at all times.

It is hot, dry, and tiring to travel through Israel. This is why the fruit of the Spirit is so necessary—especially amongst an evangelical group! Furthermore, there are those on the tour and those who sit & listen from other groups who can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and the biblical significance at each site. Therefore, take advantage of every opportunity to *preach Christ* from the entirety of Scripture. Exalt Him!

Soon I'll post a few highlights of the trip for me. But now, off to sermon prep for Deut 8.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pray for me as I prepare & preach this week:

Sat, Aug 13th — Street preaching @ Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica
Tues, Aug 16th — Preaching Deut 8 at the Bible Tabernacle
Fri, Aug 19th — Street preaching @ Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica

Thanks for your prayers!
I returned from Israel yesterday and my wife asked me:

"Honey, how was the trip?"

I responded:

"Great. It was very restful and a needed time of refreshment."

Then she replied:

"Interesting that you just finished leading an eleven day tour through the land of Israel and you found that restful. Interesting that your pace of life here is so busy that you found leading a trip to Israel restful."

Point well taken & words of wisdom from my wife.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God richly blessed our trip to Israel. We had 11 fabulous days in Israel cramming dozens of sites in and then some (and some new ones for me!). I hope to post in the next few days some reflections on what God taught me on this trip.

Thanks for your prayers.
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