Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Transcendental Interferer

Looking back on his pre-Christian hatred for the idea of being a Christian, C.S. Lewis once wrote this:

"No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word Interference.  But Christianity placed at the center what then seemed to me a Transcendental Interferer."

Lewis found Christianity's idea of complete surrender and obedience to Christ to be obnoxiously intolerable.  Why can't Jesus just mind his own business?  Lewis continued:  

"If its picture was true, then no sort of 'treaty with reality' could ever be possible.  There was no region even in the innermost depth of one's soul (nay, there least of all) which one could surround with a barbed wire fence and guard with a notice No Admittance.  And that was what I wanted; some area, however small, of which I could say to all other beings, 'This is my business and mine only.'"

Lewis wanted to belong to himself.  He wanted to be his own.

Funny... years later when he wrote his autobiography and came to the chapter that recounted the story of his conversion, he put an epigraph / inscription at the head of the chapter.  It simply read: "The one principle of Hell is -- 'I am my own.'"

The title of the conversion chapter is "Checkmate."

Why can't Jesus just mind his own business?  The truth is he is minding his own business.  By God's grace I am his business.  And so are you.  The Father sent the Son to interfere with the certainty of our sins leading to death, judgment, and hell.

Thanks to the Transcendental Interferer, all my sins have been paid for.  I'm completely forgiven.  I am not my own.  I belong to Christ.  Body and soul.

And indeed, this is my only comfort in life and in death.

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 1:  What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.  He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.  He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.  Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
Tomorrow morning at DPC we'll be speaking more about Heaven's Transcendental Interferer and what his interference means for us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Whenever I read the last part of 2 Corinthians 11 and am reminded of the sufferings endured by the Apostle Paul for daring to proclaim the meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ, I am convicted again of that sin which is probably very near the heart of the general lameness that often plagues the life of the American church in our generation... and that is an idolatry of my personal comfort and an overall sense of entitlement.

This is "Generation ME," after all.  And the defining characteristic of Generation ME is an obsession with ourselves, our personal comfort, and a strong sense of entitlement to things we've never earned.

I'm tempted to list examples and illustrations, but just take a glance at your favorite news outlet.

But rather than take a stick to the culture of a whole generation, let's dare to look within.

"Am I a soldier of the cross,"as Isaac Watts once wrote?  Or am I just one more comfort-worshipper?  What have I voluntarily done recently that was more motivated by the fact that Christ is risen from the dead than by personal advantage?

Which do we love more -- the Savior?  Or the expectation of an easy, comfortable, non-taxing life that affords us plenty of rest, recreation, distractions, and amusements -- with an absolute minimum of responsibility or sacrifice?

Have we ever been bruised or broken on the battlefield?

Have we ever forsaken safety for following Christ?

Have we ever faced risk and loss for his Name?

Have we ever had to pray for courage?

Have we?

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.

~Isaac Watts~

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Church & You

Sometimes R.C. Sproul, Jr. will write something a little provocative... and if you're easily offended, you probably will be. But there is so much rich truth in this little piece he recently wrote about the church, that I had to post it here.

Sadly, I bet I could match his nickel & dime collection coin for coin.

If "the church as mother" is a new thought for you, take in this quote by John Calvin before getting to Sproul.

"I shall start, then, with the church, into whose bosom God is pleased to gather his sons, not only that they may be nourished by her help and ministry as long as they are infants and children, but also that they may be guided by her motherly care until they mature and at last reach the goal of faith… so that, for those to whom he is Father the church may also be Mother. And this was so not only under the law but also after Christ’s coming, as Paul testifies when he teaches that we are the children of the new and heavenly Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26)." 
      ~ John Calvin (Inst. 4.1.1).

Dissing Our Mother
by R.C. Sproul, Jr.

It wasn’t the first time a wife upstaged her husband, and the results were nearly as disastrous. In Eden Eve took the lead, conversed with the devil, bit the fruit, and then served it to her husband. By the time the Reformation came around the bride of Christ, the church, had taken it upon herself to become the mediator between God and man. An institution created to be a help suitable to the second Adam, like a second Eve the Roman church, desiring to be like God, affirmed that she was the means by which a man might have peace with God. She held the purse strings to merit, to the means of grace, and to grace itself. Rome fell when she affirmed that she saved the lost.

Ever since the serpent has been slithering through a different tack.  Rome made herself to be everything, and the serpent has since made the church to be nothing. Oh, we might be willing to confess that on occasion good things can come through the evangelical church. It’s a blessing to hear good preaching. Who doesn’t enjoy time with friends? And then there’s the church softball league. The church as the church, however, what’s that about? Who needs that? I mean, I download preaching from Sermonaudio, I play rec league instead of church league softball, and hang out with the guys from Promise Keepers, instead of the guys from church. What am I missing?

What we’re missing is our mother, the church. She doesn’t nurture us from afar. She doesn’t feed us through the internet. She can’t discipline us when we won’t even acknowledge her.  Now my heart breaks for those who have made orphans of themselves. I fear for homes led by men who are so intent on leading their families that they refuse to be led by elders and so lead their own children into rebellion. But what is most frustrating, is when those who won’t acknowledge our common mother yet insist that they are my brother.

If I had a nickel for every story I’ve heard that begins with “Well, my son, uncle, father, friend, roommate, doesn’t belong to a church, but is a Christian” my nickel collection would be the envy of my neighbors. If I had a dime for every “brother” who wants me to grant him all the relational goodies of being in the family but who insists that no one will rule over him, well, my nickels would each have someone to play with.  This friend can’t understand why her “professing” son is shacking up with his girlfriend.  That other friend wants to leave the church where I serve, without transferring to another church, and yet still wants to be free to come to the Lord’s Table. And be welcome as a brother into our own tables. This third friend fences the Lord’s Table this way, “If you are a baptized believer you may come.” Okay, according to whom? Just how many baptized people are there out there that are not in the church? And they can come to the table? How can you commune if you have made yourself immune to excommunication?

Friends, I know churches can stink up the joint. Rome did, and it didn’t stop there. But just how repentant are we when we, by refusing to join a church, profess, “Well, I’m a sinner, but not a sinner that might need the grace of discipline. I’m a sinner, but not as bad as all the elders in my town. I’m a sinner, but I’m too good to join that church over there because of their sins.” This kind of repentance looks an awful lot like pride.

It’s true that the work of Christ becomes ours when we by the power of His Spirit trust in that work. It’s true that the thief on the cross never took any membership vows. It’s true if you trust in Him, and end up shipwrecked alone your soul will be safe. But it is also true that on the glorious truth that Jesus is the Son of God the Son of God has built and is building His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It is also true that the church is our Mother, and our calling is to honor her.  Our post-modern, western, evangelical low to non-existent ecclesiology isn’t a mere mistake. It isn’t merely bad systematic theology. It is instead deeply and profoundly dangerous. Love your mother. She bore you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

God is a Painter & All of History is His Canvas

Emily Quinn -- student of art & one of the "daughters" of DPC -- has just written a beautiful blog post that you really need to read.

You can do so by clicking HERE.

I started to select some good quotes from it, but there are too many. You'll especially enjoy Emily's description of what is at the center of God's painting, the ultimate purpose of the painting, the place and purpose of the "dark colors" in the painting, and the revelation of where God gets his brushes!

"So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."  Ephesians 3.10

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yes, all 15 paragraphs are worthy of your time.

I've enjoyed reading 5 or 6 of the many books that Pastor Doug Wilson has written... he'll say some things here & there I that don't fully line up with, but even then I always find his work to be very edifying and challenging and thoughtful and "sharpening." I'm very thankful for him.

He and his wife spoke in St. Louis about ten years ago, and my very young family (at the time) and I were able to host them for a meal in our home. They were wonderful -- two of the most gracious, wise, loving people I've ever met. The aroma of Christ surrounds them.

I don't get to check his blog out on anything like a regular basis (understatement alert), but someone once sent me this blog post of his, and I'm copying it in here today. It's a beautiful testimony of what a theological journey can look like, and it touches on a number of rich, practical, concrete theological points.

And if you don't know that "the precious" is a reference to Gollum's ring, come by my house tonight. The two little guys & I are reading through Tolkien together. The more the merrier...

****** Pastor Doug Wilson ******

Surrendering the Precious

Familial - Autobiographical Fragments
Written by Douglas Wilson   
Monday, 30 January 2012 08:16

I just finished reading (again) John Bunyan's great book Grace Abounding, and it made me think of the Lord's kindness to me over the years. Bunyan recounts in great detail the morbid pathologies that had him by the throat for some years when he first came under conviction of sin. The thing that struck me this time through was how dependent on detailed argument everything was -- reminding me of Chesterton's observation that a madman is not someone who has lost his reason, but rather someone who has lost everything but his reason.

My temptations over the years have been in different areas, but they have been dependent upon certain premises, doctrines, and arguments. And, like Bunyan, the deliverance came by that means also.

I grew up in a post-WW2 vertebrate evangelical home. And then, a few decades later, when the rest of evangelicalism went to mush, my family, like dinosaurs in a valley that time forgot, continued to live in exactly the same way they had been.

The emphases of the home I grew up in -- for which I continue to thank God -- were absolute faith in the Scriptures, an emphasis on practical obedience, a commitment to the foundational necessity of the new birth, and a contrarian bent. It didn't matter what everybody was saying, it mattered what God was saying.

All the things that we weren't -- Calvinist, postmillennial, and paedobaptist -- changed for me over the years. But they all grew out of the good soil that God gave to me in a wonderful family. And that good soil has not changed -- Scripture is absolute, we should do what God says to do, the new birth is not optional, and it doesn't matter what "they" say.

So there were great blessings that came with these emphases, but as I encountered them there were also some real problems. One of the central ones was a kind of perfectionism -- here's the verse, what's the problem? -- a moral perfectionism that collided with the ongoing realities of sin and temptation. John Owen, it turns out, knew a lot more about the human heart than did glib devotional writers. If you believe that the Bible teaches that every Christian can (easily) dunk a basketball, then it causes a certain amount of consternation when you can't get anywhere near the rim. What usually happens is that a bunch of thoughtful church leaders (for everybody is in the same tough spot) decide to lower the net. But in my family, there was too much intellectual honesty to lower the net -- the Bible said what it did, and so do it already. This had a tendency to drive all the consternation inward, which is fertile ground for hypocrisy. You can't talk about the nature of temptation honestly, but you can talk honestly about what the Bible requires. In effect, this sets up a vise, enough to crack any heart.

All the doctrinal shifts that happened to me came (as I have now come to believe) out of this tension. I wanted my life to line up with what the Bible taught, and not just in the realm of ethics. I wanted what was happening to me, and what was happening in the world around me, to be what the Bible was talking about. I wanted everything to be integrated, and internally consistent, and I wanted it to happen without forcing the Bible to say things it didn't say. That meant, in effect, that I had to stop saying certain things that I was saying.

There were three great doctrinal shifts. I didn't see the coherence of them at the time, but later I could see exactly how God had blessed me. The first great shift happened in the mid-eighties, when I became postmillennial. The second occurred in the late eighties, when I became a Calvinist. And the third happened in the early nineties, when I became a paedobaptist. In between the second and third one, I came to a Calvinist understanding of sanctification, in distinction from my earlier perfectionism.

First, postmillennialism. I had some time before abandoned any kind of detailed eschatological understanding. I had been some sort of historic pre-mill guy before. This is a bad spot for a pastor to be in. I remember telling somebody that Jesus was coming again sometime, and not to push me. That was all I knew. So I was a non-millennialist. I was aware of some of the glorious promises in Psalms and Isaiah, but I had no shelf to put them on. One day I was reading a postmill book (which was interesting, but which I did not find really all that persuasive), and he quoted 1 Cor. 15:25-26 -- for He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. In every other eschatological system I knew of, the first enemy to be destroyed is death. But He must reign, at the right hand of the Father, until all His enemies are subdued. And then He will return personally, and destroy the last enemy standing -- death. Something snapped in my head and heart, and within a very short space of time, an optimistic eschatology fluttered together in my head. All the verses I had no shelves for were suddenly shelved, stored and labeled. This was the only paradigm shift that I went through that was any fun at all -- and it was a lot of fun. Whee! about sums it up.

But after I was postmill, I had a problem. I now believed that the Great Commission was going to be successfully fulfilled, and yet the condition of the modern church was (as it seemed to me) pretty pathetic. The earth was going to be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea -- but not at this rate. Some time before I had read Finney's Lectures on Revival, and had been turned off -- not only from Finney, but from the whole idea of revival. If that was what revival was, I didn't want any. But now I knew that if the world was to be converted in the way that I now believed it was going to be, that historians would describe it as a great revival. This caused me to check out a non-Finneyite understanding of revival, meaning that I started to look at the earlier Calvinistic revival preachers -- Edwards, Whitefield, et al. It was around this time that I read Iain Murray's great book, The Puritan Hope.

I was deeply prejudiced against Calvinism. I liked reading Calvinistic authors on anything but Calvinism. I really liked the Kuyperian tendency to apply the Bible to everything. That was great. What I didn't like was how they applied the Bible to the center of my pride -- my free will, my precious. But by various means, my prejudices were battered down, and I became willing to consider it. I recall praying one time, telling the Lord that I was willing for this to be true (awfully big of me, I know). But it was a big deal, because before that I time, I had simply not been willing. I wasn't a Calvinist at that time, but I had surrendered the point. There were many things that went into this, but I was preaching through Romans at the time. When I began the series, I wasn't, and when I ended, I was. I remember telling one of our elders that I didn't know what I was going to say when I got to "those chapters." But when I got there, I recall thinking to myself something like "what the hell," and just saying what Paul said. Not very saintly, I know, but that's what happened.

Coming to a Calvinistic soteriology was humbling, and that humbling soon extended to my understanding of sanctification. My perfectionism was crucified with the Lord Jesus, and I was free. The tension was removed, but without watering down what Scripture calls us to, and expects from us.

I was now (technically) a Reformed Baptist, but didn't get plugged into that circle for various reasons. One of them was that (while I was still struggling with Calvinism), I got a flyer in the mail about a Reformed Baptist conference in western Washington. I was going to be teaching in Seattle at around the same time, so I decided to hit this conference very briefly on my way home. I did so, listened to part of one talk, got a book or two at their book table, and hit the road for home. Shortly after this, all the Reformed Baptist pastors in the Northwest got an anonymous letter from a concerned brother, warning them about me, and about how I was spying out their liberty. This was pure Calvinism indeed . . . afraid of persuading anybody of anything.

I had been brought up (in a baptistic home) believing in covenantal succession -- because Scriptures were absolute, and God made promises to a thousand generations. That's what it said. So I was an odd kind of baptist. I had read various things by paedobaptists, but they had all bounced off. But then someone mentioned an essay by Rob Rayburn on covenant succession, and what he did was connect the water to what I already understood the Bible to teach. Put your water where your mouth is, Pastor Rayburn seemed to be saying. That rocked me, and knocked me clean over.

At every stage, there were a number of other factors, but a constant throughout has been the kindness of God. And one thing, consistently, has been how one thing leads to another. He who says A must say B, if he is willing, and that only happens if God makes him willing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hopeless and Sad

Patricia Sheridan recently interviewed Larry King. Read this last question & answer... it's got to be about the saddest thing I've ever heard another human being say.

So, last question. Do you still want to be cryogenically preserved?
Yeah, I do. The reason is, I don't believe in any afterlife. I'm not religious at all. I'm a cultural Jew. I'm lucky to be in this race because I think my race teaches me to learn and to read and to constantly question. The rabbis always taught me to question. I never got good answers.
As much as I was friendly with religious leaders -- Billy Graham was wonderful to me -- I never bought the idea there's a heaven. It's all superstition to me. I'm married into a Mormon family. They totally believe. I don't go to church. I don't share the belief. I allow my boys to be raised that way because I made that up with my wife when we got married. I thought that was fair, since I didn't believe. But I do tell them, "When you come of age, you can choose on your own."
I'm an agnostic, almost an atheist. So there's either going to be an afterlife -- right? Or there isn't. Or the only shot you got is to be frozen. Then if you're frozen and they cure it, you might come back. That's at least a glimmer of hope. I don't think there's any other glimmer of hope the other way. By the way, if you do come into another life, so then they're right. Fine [laughing]. This way, I can't lose. I regard all of that as kind of malarkey. I respect it, but I sure don't believe it. So yeah, I want to be frozen.
Well, all your bases are covered.
Yep, you're damn right. At least you got a hope.

Sunday morning at DPC we'll be looking at Matthew's account of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. I wish Larry could join us and hear something of the real hope that God has given us in Christ his Son.

And note that when the Bible speaks of the "hope" we have in Christ, it's not the wishy-washy kind of hope that we often speak of - "I hope your poison ivy gets better soon." It's a strong & solid & sure confidence we have in a revealed truth that changes everything. It's the landscape in which the Christian lives - Hope, with a capital H.

Read what the Bible says the theological / practical implications of Christ's resurrection are for the believer... it sure beats being frozen & hoping that "they cure it."

Romans 4.24-25; 6.4; 8.34; 10.9; 1 Corinthians 15;  2 Corinthians 5.1-10;  Philippians 3.10-11;  Colossians 2.12-13; 3.1-4;  1 Thessalonians 4.14...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jesus & Elijah: Who Saves Whom?

On the cross Jesus cried out to his Father, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46).

Some of the bystanders misunderstand "Eli, Eli" (understandably - since it was spoken from the lips of an agonized, dying man) and think that Jesus is calling on the great prophet Elijah to come and save him from the cross.

This fit in with some of the Hallmark-style religious speculation of the time, which nurtured the superstition that Elijah (the prophet who did not die, but was taken alive into heaven in a whirlwind & flaming chariot - see 2 Kings 2) come could come back and rescue God's people in their distress.

But the truth is Elijah has already appeared (twice - in a sense) in Matthew's gospel -- see 17.1-9 & 17.10-13.

Elijah doesn't show up in the gospels to rescue Jesus from his sufferings on the cross.  Rather, Elijah shows up precisely to point Jesus towards the cross.

Elijah doesn't come to save & rescue & deliver Jesus.  Jesus came to save & rescue & deliver Elijah.

For -- just like you and me -- Elijah needed a Savior to come and deal with his sins.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On This Date In The Year 2000

Pastor James Boice died on this date in the year 2000.  Who was Boice & what does that matter, you ask?  Here's a brief writeup someone published this morning to honor him...

Upon hearing of the sudden death of James M. Boice on June 15, 2000, another pastor prayed in his pastoral prayer the following week in his congregation  that he wished the Lord had called him home instead.  That stark comment illustrates the appreciation which his fellow pastors and Reformed people everywhere had for the man and ministry.
Dr. James Boice was first and foremost a pastor-teacher.  For 32 years, he had fed the people of God at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  When countless churches were moving out of the inner city for the suburbs, Dr. Boice and his congregation stayed right where they were to be a witness to downtown Philadelphia.  Far from the congregation dwindling, it grew from 350 people in regular attendance to more than 1200 persons in three services.  Under his spiritual leadership, and the local Session of Elders, the light of the gospel was extended beyond the congregation,  to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV positive clients, and the homeless.
His ministry also went beyond the four walls of the church.  For a decade, he served as Chairman of the International Council of Biblical Inerrancy.  He founded the Alliance of Confession Evangelicals in 1994, calling for a new Reformation among American churches, its pastors and people.
America did not solely have his gifts of teaching either.  More than thirty countries of the world had his teaching ministry delivered to them.  Yet for many of us, it was his forty books on both Bible books as well as biblical themes which brought the gifts of this man to us.  We who were pastors had the privilege of using his biblical commentaries as core books for pulpit series.  We knew that there would not be doctrines or practices which would be contrary to either our biblical faith or for that matter, our creedal summaries of doctrine.  We could quote from his many pages with complete confidence.    Lay people could read for their devotions or Christian sabbath reading his books for their edification.  That reading would suppliment what their pastors said to them from the pulpit.  It was thus a memorable  ministry to the people of God in this generation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Words on Reading, Part II

In the post below I introduced you to Sean's blog & pasted in one of his posts about reading.

Here's his follow-up post about reading.  Good counsel!

Redeem the time, Paul says.  Teach us to number our days, Moses prays.

Thank you for this challenge, Sean!


by Sean Demars

Readers, friends, countrymen, I’ve got an exercise for you. An exercise in foresight, education, and discipline. Now, if you’ve read the previous sentence and you are still interested, let the exercise BEGIN!
Let’s Get to It
I’m just going to assume that the majority of my readers/followers are between the ages of 18 and 30. Another way of saying that is thus: you are just old enough to be responsible, not old enough to be wise. Now, let’s just assume that, thanks to modern pharmacology, you will live to the almost ripe old age of 65. That’s a nice round number, I think. That’s not quite ‘diaper’ old, but it’s not exactly young, either. It’s post andropause, pre dementia. (you won’t read that in a Life Psychology handbook)
Now, let’s take the median age of 18-30: 25(ish). So, the ages we’ll be working with for our little exercise will be 25 and 65. I never made it past high school, so, correct me if I’m wrong…but that’s about a forty year difference. No? Yes? Good…
Now, again, using our incredible mathematical giftings, let us multiply 40 x 2. You can do it several ways, just follow along: 40x2=80, 2x40=80, 20x4=80, or even 40/4=10…10x8=80. Aren’t Platonic forms wonderful?
Now that we’ve used our genius to subtract 25 from 65 (leaving forty), and multiplied that 40 times 2, we have the number 80. Why does any of this matter? Well, if you’ll remember your geometry, you’ll also remember that the shortest distance from point A to point B is a strait line. Right? Well, I hate geometry (notice the little ‘g’). It’s fun(er), and more aggravating to take the scenic route. Seriously though, I’m just having fun with anyone who’s had the testicular or ovarian fortitude to read this far. Let me stop…

If you live for another forty years (remember: 25-65), and you read two books a year, every year, until you die, you will have read 80 books. Not a whole lot. I mean, eighty is  significantly more books than many people who may have lived in pre-literate cultures would have read in their lifetime, but in our epoch, well, it’s not very impressive. Now, let’s say you read five books a year. What is that…200? Yes, I just double checked my math. If you read five books a year, and we’re assuming that you’ll live another forty years, that’s 200 books you will have read by the time the Grim Reaper starts doorbell-ditching you with heart attacks.
Do you see the increase? That’s 120 more books in a lifetime! Now, let’s take it a step further. Imagine you read 12 WHOLE BOOKS A YEAR!!!! That’s one book a month (I had to take my socks off to do the math on that one). One book a month; that’s not a giant workload, is it? Using the formula above, the number would jump all the way to 482!!! That’s almost five-hundred books in 40 years. That’s a lot of knowledge. Well, that’s a lot of words…maybe not knowledge. I don’t know that reading 500 Twilight Sagas will make you the next Einstein. Maybe the next Joel Osteen. But anyways, I’m getting off track…

If you pick your books wisely, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, by the end of your life (500 books into the book-time continuum), you will have come to know the world around you, the ideas that dominate it, and, hopefully, the God of the Bible, much, much better. Alright, I’m about to blow your mind now:
What if you really hunkered down, exercised some discipline, cultivated a passion for knowledge, and devoted yourself to thinking (2 Timothy 2:7), and you committed yourself to reading two books a week, every week, until you hit 65? What if…? Using our formula above, that would be 4,160 books. That’s a lot of books. That’s 104 books a year! (in case you weren’t counting) 
Is two books a week a daunting task? It shouldn’t be. Be wise in your book choices. Read  classics that have proven themselves worthy of your time. Exercise discipline. Turn off the T.V…or break the darn thing as far as I’m concerned. Read a book with your wife. Keep a book on you, or in your car, so that you can redeem the incessant waiting time that is covalently bonded to the American lifestyle. Brothers, two books a week is not an unreasonable goal. It’s not for everyone, I’m sure. But even one book a week, on top of your normal study of the scriptures, will be tremendously beneficial. Why don’t you try it for a month? Let me know how it goes…

Note: I write the numbers in some places and enumerate them in others. Why? Just to make you mad Mr. Grammar man. Just to make you mad.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Good Words on Reading

This is from a new friend, Sean DeMars.  You can find his great website by clicking HERE.  And you should do so now.

I love what he says about reading in this post I'm quoting below.  I'm the kind of reader who is always tempted to feel guilty if I'm "breaking up" with a book before I've read it all.  Trying to outgrow that...

Here's Sean...


  • Get a whole bunch of books that you are really interested in. 
  • Start reading a chapter from each one of them. 
  • Decide, after 2 or 3 chapters, which books aren’t worth your time (as of right now). 
  • Differentiate between the books you actually enjoy reading, and the books you know you “ought” to enjoy reading, but don’t. 

Now, follow along:

Take the books that, for the time being, aren’t worth your valuable time. Put them back on the bookshelf. Don’t forget about them, they may come in handy, but don’t let your conscience sear you, either. Make a clean break. If you have to, tell them that it’s not their fault, it’s yours. You’re just in a weird place in your life right now, a place where you just need to explore and be available for other books. Not better books, necessarily *wink*, just different books.

Now, for the second category: the books that you “ought” to enjoy reading -but you don’t- put them in a pile. These books can be unenjoyable for any number of reasons. I most often find myself feeling this way about books that have great content, particularly theological, but are dry, lifeless and just plain ol’ egg-shell white, make you wanna hit your head on a pole, boring. Again, for me personally, the Vern Poythress’ and John Owens of the world fall into this category. Both write extremely helpful, insightful, and rich books, but their excitement factor is roughly equivalent to an afternoon of toenail clipping or a women’s bowling marathon.

When you sit down to read, always start with one of these kinds of books. Commit to reading a chapter.  Get the bland out of the way as quickly as possible, before the fog of your autumn mind closes in on you, forcing you to hit the high-beams, resulting in reading fatigue and all around blah-crap-blah feelings. You chose these books for a reason. You know they have a purpose. You don’t have to read them all the way through, just read a chapter. You’re not any smarter when your eyes go cross and you haven’t actually read anything of the last four pages. Scanning from left to right with your eyes doesn’t beget information. Reading does.

Read a couple of those kinds of books. Now, obviously, not all books will be that bland. Some will be moderately fun to read. They can go in the aforementioned category. I’m not a category dictator. The Gestapo aren’t watching…waiting…waiting for you to make a mistake. After you’ve read two or three of the books in this second category (from “blah” to “meh”), read a book from our third category (the ones that you really enjoy!). Read as much of it as you like. If you enjoy it, read it until you have to force yourself to put it down.

Once you’ve done that, make it a point to read a few more chapters from a few more of the books in the second category. At the end of the day, you will have read books that range from aggrivatingly boring, to moderately entertaining, to really fuh-reakin! enjoyable. And, you were able to do it all without that blah-crap-blah feeling that can so often accompany large chunks of reading.

This can be a helpful strategy for college students, seminarians, or the average housewife and mom. Also, please feel free to make any adjustments. This isn’t “set in stone”, it’s just something that has worked for me. I’m weird. Maybe you’re not. Maybe normal people think this whole plan is whacky-doodle-doo. Do what works for you. (that rhymed)

I typically do this throughout the day. I don’t ever read 12 chapters at once. I’ll read a chapter or two (or, if it’s a really hard read, just one), and then I’ll take a break; go hug my wife; hold my baby. Hug myself. Whatever…

I hope this has been helpful. Part 2 will be coming soon…

Friday, June 1, 2012

DPC Missions Work in the Dominican Republic

DPC has a number of folks in the Dominican Republic this week / month on a missions trip.  May the Lord continue to call the sin-sick, death-weary nations of this world to the promise of healing and resurrection found in Christ...