December 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday: A few lessons learned.

Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit lightly for readability, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably (at least on occasion) contain some things which even I think are crazy.

Originally posted on Facebook as, "A few lessons learned", January 1, 2011 at 5:25am
So 2010 has been one heck of a year.  I've grown, learned, been broken, been confused, laughed, cried; it has simply been a roller coaster.  I thought I would take a minute here and give you some quick snippets of what I've learned this year, some serious or profound, others not so much.  There may perhaps be a tad of elaboration at times.

1.) Such a thing as good rap exists.  Thank you Reach Records.

2.) There really is someone for everyone.  I have no idea how she tolerates me :)

3.) You can never replace a close friend.  Miss you, Relic.

4.) I am a far better preacher than teacher.  I apologize to anyone who has to listen when I'm trying to teach a lesson.

5.) I need to read more.

6.) I need to write more.  Most of my frustrations in writing come from simply not spending enough time writing.

7.) I love my little brothers.  I would have thought that and told you that before.  But over the last year I have really begun to grasp how important they are to me.  I'm proud of every single one of them.

8.) I love my sisters.  And I need to learn how to show them that in a way that they understand, and so they can see that a real man does express those things.  Cause I don't want them settling for less in a guy when they get older.

9.) I need to lead by example.

10.) I have a real burden for teaching young guys how to follow God and live a life that exemplifies that.  Not that I've figured it out.

11.) I'm not obligated to be anyone's friend.  There should only be three kinds of people in my life.  Those I'm learning from, those I'm learning with, and those I'm teaching.  No point in investing into people outside of that.

12.) I care less about sports every day.  I enjoy them every bit as much, but I just don't care about them anymore.

13.) Long distance relationships really can work.  This is a pleasant surprise :)

14.) Miracles really do happen.  Sometimes I feel like the Apostle Thomas.

15.) I really don't like the NIV.

16.) As a proclaimer of the Word, the way in which I go about studying it and interpreting it may be one of the most important things I do in life.

17.) As a leader of people, the way in which I live out what the Word says may be the single most important thing about my life.

18.) The point of everything in life is the glory of God.

19.) God is glorified by me when I find my delight in Him.

20.) That means God desires my joy!

21.) I am thankful for my family.

22.) God has surrounded my with an amazing group of people throughout my life.

23.) I love studying the Bible.

24.) Not going to Bible school was a good call.

25.) Simul Iustus Et Peccator.  Jesus work justifies me in the eyes of God even though I still sin, and that is amazing.  Praise be His name!

December 26, 2016

Commonplace Monday

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 


December 19, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost."

JRR Tolkien





Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

December 12, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"Faithful children follow a good example and refuse to follow a bad one."
Douglas Wilson


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

December 05, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"The Church will outlive the universe." C.S. Lewis


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

November 28, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"You will never exaggerate when you speak good things of God. It is not possible to do so. Try, dear brethren, and boast in the Lord."
Charles Spurgeon



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

November 23, 2016

Faith like Grandma

Listen to Faith like Grandma (poem) by Will Dole #np on #SoundCloud

November 21, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"A man asking why his days are short and full of suffering is not disposed to turn to algebraic quantum field theory for the answer. The answers that prominent scientific figures have offered are remarkable in their shallowness."
David Berlinski

Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

November 14, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"Men don't carry things because they happen to have broad shoulders. Men have broad shoulders because God created them to carry things." Douglas Wilson


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

November 07, 2016

Commonplace Monday

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable,  because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." C.S. Lewis



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

November 05, 2016

1 Peter 1:10-12

1 Peter 1:10-12
LBC ABF, 10/16/2016
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Intro: What salvation? 10a

Our passage this morning begins by referring back to “this salvation.” What is the salvation of which Peter speaks? Of course, the same one we have spent the last three weeks looking at. A salvation planned in eternity past by God the Father, purchased by the precious blood of Christ and secured by His resurrection, and applied to us by the working of His Holy Spirit within us. 

This salvation is in effect in the present time, allowing us to walk through the trials and griefs of life with a joy that is inexpressible and full of glory, but it is also a joy that looks forward to the grace to come: the eternal inheritance of life with our heavenly Father, the fully realized salvation of our souls. The words that follow in verses 10-12 are concerned with ​this salvation. 


1: Prophetic Inquiry 10b-11

a. What did they know?

We’re going to go a little out of order in how we examine this verse, which isn’t how I generally like to do things, I like to just follow the train of thought as it comes, but I think this might help us grasp what’s going on here. The first question I want to ask as we look at these verses is what ​did
​ the prophets know? Because the certainly knew quite a bit. 

God has been revealing Himself and His saving plans since the very beginning. When Adam and Eve fall, before God even pronounces the curse upon the ground and childbirth, He first curses the serpent by promising one who will crush the head of the snake. So first of all, before there were even prophets to inquire, God’s people knew one was coming whose heel would be bruised, but victorious. The first man identified in Scripture as a prophet, Abraham, is told that in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. David was promised that one would come from him whose throne and kingdom would be established forever. Our text it specifically mentions ​the grace that was to be yours,
​ which came through the sufferings of Christ and His subsequent glories. Let’s look at a few of passages which lay these things out.

Isaiah 53:3-10 (The Suffering Servant); Psalm 22:1, 12-18 (My God, my God); Zechariah 13:7 (Strike the Shepherd); Zechariah 12:10 (Him whom they Pierced); Psalm 118:22 (The Cornerstone; see 1 Peter 2:7)

So they clearly saw His sufferings. Now it might be good to make a note here. You might be saying, “psst, Will, it says the prophets inquired, not the Psalmists.” Which would be a keen observation. It’s important to remember that the folks we refer to as the major and minor prophets aren’t the only prophets that existed in Old Testament times. There are many other prophets who are mentioned that don’t write books, there were more still who are never even named, and even certain characters such as Abraham, Moses, and David whom we may not think of primarily as prophets often served a prophetic function in that the spoke the words of God. So, it’s not out of line to refer to the prophets and then quote the Psalms because, well, Jesus did that sort of thing.

But the prophets didn’t just see His sufferings, they also saw His glories: ​Psalm 8:4-6 (For a little while lower); Isaiah 9:2-6 (the people who walked in darkness); Daniel 7:13-14 (the Ancient of Days); Psalm 110 (sit at My right hand)

So all of this to say: the prophets knew clearly that Messiah was coming, that there would be suffering, and that there would be glory. 


b. What did they not know?

So the prophets knew a lot, right? But they didn’t know everything they wanted to. If you could imagine yourself in your place, you might see how when you’re sitting at the bottom of a cistern or fleeing from your country, or preaching to a hard hearted and rebellious people about this glorious salvation, you might be asking yourself, and certainly asking God ​when? When will the glory happen? When will Messiah come? Who will He be? Who will save these wicked people who keep fighting against You? These would be reasonable questions to ask. And so Peter tells us that these men ​searched and inquired carefully
​ . The didn’t just turn these things over in their head a few times, the likely looked at the things they themselves had prophesied, cross referenced them with the prophecies of others, and examined the signs of the times, as it were, and tried to make sense of it all. Is it soon? Is He here? But they couldn’t figure it out.

c. How did they know?

Before we get to why they couldn’t figure it out, let’s pause and understand for a minute ​how they came to understand what they did, how their prophecies happened. It says they were inquiring what person or time​ the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating. The prophecies of these men were not things that they themselves conjured up. If they were, they wouldn’t have to search for indications as to their meaning and fulfillment, because they would be determining these things But because these prophecies came from God, they had to search and inquire. ​2 Peter 1:19-21 ​says,

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the One who spoke through these men, and He is referred to here as “the Spirit of Christ”, which makes sense in light of the facts that 1) He is giving prophecy about Christ, 2) Jesus, along with the Father, sends the Spirit to do His work (​John 16:7​), and 3) the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (​John 16:14​). So it is the Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of the Trinity, sent by the Father and the Son, who speaks to and through these prophets.(Footnote #1)

2: Prophetic Revelation 12a

a. That they were serving not themselves, but us.

So what else did the Spirit reveal to these men? That they weren’t going to fully understand the time and person questions. Why? Because their prophecies concerning Messiah were less about them, and more about you. They wrote to serve those who were not themselves. How could their prophecies serve those to whom Peter wrote, let alone those of us serving in the 21st century?

One way is to establish and strengthen our faith. I will beat this drum probably until I am dead, so here we go again: our faith is not a blind faith. Do I trust in things I can’t see, like a future eternity with God? Absolutely. But in doing so, I’m banking on a God who 700 years prior to Christ birth told Isaiah it would happen, and that His mother would be a virgin. And that He would suffer, die, be stricken for our transgressions. And that He would reign, and that one day the lion would lay down with the lamb. I’d say the batting average on the first part is pretty good, therefore it’s reasonable to trust that the rest of it is coming. 

Remember what Jesus says to the disciples on the road to Emmaus? ​Luke 24:25, ​“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”
​ Jesus basically calls them out for only believing the glory stuff and not paying enough attention to the suffering aspect. He calls their attention to the fact that the suffering was necessary, as is the glory. In fact, it precedes the glory. 

Now think about what Peter has just been teaching us about salvation? That now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials. That our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, and...kept in heaven. We taste it in part, but we don’t have it all yet. But take heart! Because in examining the prophets and subsequently the life of Christ, we see that His sufferings must precede His glory. They couldn’t fully understand this, but we on the other side of the cross can see it and take joy, courage, and hope from it.(Footnote #2) The message of the cross gives us hope not simply because of the raw facts (Christ paid for my sins!), but also because of its shape: the cross comes before the crown.

b. How do we know?

How do we know? So the prophets came to know what they knew through Divine Revelation, through the Holy Spirit speaking to and through them. The have been announced to us by those who preached the good news. Week in and week out as we come to hear God’s word ministered, His good news preached to us, we come into contact again with the message of the prophets and their fulfillment (either accomplished or coming) in the ultimate Prophet: our Lord Jesus Christ. As men preach God’s word, the Spirit moves on hearts. Certainly things like this class, private Bible reading, Flock groups, etc play important, even vital roles in our formation as believers. But I do believe there is something particular about the preaching, the ​heralding of God’s word as happens here for instance during a typical Sunday morning or evening service, that God uses to convict, train, equip, encourage, comfort, afflict, and save. ​How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14.

And how does this preaching happen? By the Holy Spirit. I think this is due partly to the fact that it is the Book which He inspired that the preaching is to come from. But I also believe from the emphasis in Scripture laid upon preaching that there is a particular ministry of the Spirit that comes upon the hearts of God’s people in faithful preaching. Perhaps something to think about next time you feel like the sermon is taking too long. 


Conclusion: The Angels’ Longing 12c

These things which the prophets desired to see, which have been revealed to us by the preaching of God’s word, are things into which angels long to look. This is a difficult phrase, because, well, angels have
​ been looking all along. God isn’t hiding His saving work from them, they can see it. So here’s what I think Peter is driving at: the angels can’t stop looking at what God is doing, and while they have perfect minds, unstained by sin, they have neither the experience of being saved (as we do) to understand what it is like to be a forgiven sinner, nor do they have the same mercy or compassion as God to understand ​why
​ One so holy would love creatures so unlovely as we. This has to be an absolutely mind-blowing movie that they have been watching (and occasionally participating in) for the last 6,000 years or so. The grace of God to sinners boggles the human mind, it must truly amaze angels. Paul says in ​1 Corinthians 4:9​ that the apostles were made a spectacle before the world, angels, and men. In ​Ephesians 3:10 ​he says that through the church the manifold wisdom of God is made manifest to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. What is the point of telling us all of this? To remind us, once again, of the greatness of our salvation. To help us realize anew all that our God has done for us. The God of all the universe has loved a sinful creature such as me. He sent His own Son to absorb and absolve my debt, that He might bring me to God. This is a song the angels never tire of hearing, of singing, or seeing. Amen.

#1:Also, the terms “Spirit”, “Spirit of God”, and “Spirit of Christ” are used synonymously in Romans 8:9.
#2: A great rabbit trail to go down here would be how the prophets are incomplete without those of us in the New Covenant, in relation to Hebrews 11. But I don’t think there’s time to cover that here.

October 31, 2016

Commonplace Monday #58

"There is a simple cure for people who doubt God's love and question God's grace: to turn to the Bible and examine the kind of people God loves."
Phillip Yancey


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 


October 29, 2016

1 Peter 1:6-9

This is the outline to a lesson I taught a while back. Numbers of these thoughts are not very well developed, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.

1 Peter 1:6-9
LBC ABF, 10/9/2016
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Where is your Joy? (v6a)

Where is your joy? That is, what makes you happy? I’m not asking what do you think should make you happy (we’ll get there), but just try and think about the word joy or  the word happiness, and what comes to mind? A person, a place, event? Perhaps a particular memory that always takes you back to the “good old days.” We find joy in a lot of things, don’t we? When our football team wins, when it’s a good day for funny quotes on pinterest, when dinner turns out the way we hoped it would, when the sun shines (or when it rains…), when we view a mountain sunset, when someone significant in our life tells us that they are proud of us, when our kids learn to walk or to pray.

Most of the things we find joy in are good things. Indeed, many of them have been given to us by God that we might enjoy them. Our God is the Father of lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). So we don’t want to minimize these things, these joys. Nor do we even want to draw a dichotomy between the joy that these bring and the joy that we will discuss momentarily. While there are differences in surety, in strength, of these joys, as well as differences in their foundational causes, they are not altogether different things. People who are not brought joy by the things in life that bring joy, don’t enjoy God. “For apart from him, who can eat or have enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:25)

But this world isn’t a very good place to rest our hopes and joys, is it? Because for all of the goodness of the gifts which God gives to us, these things are all transient, slipping through our fingers, passing away. “Vanity of vanities”, says the Preacher, “all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). So when Peter says, “in this you rejoice”, to what does he refer? Well, he is looking back to the things he said in verses 3-5, that we have a living hope, an eternal inheritance, and a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I liked the way Edmund Clowney put it in his commentary, “As those who are given birth by God, we also receive our inheritance from him. That inheritance is kept for us, and we are kept for it...Indeed, our final inheritance is not merely kept by God; it actually is the Lord himself.”

So where ought our hope to rest, in a final sense? In the salvation that God has given us, that He is working in us, and that He is preparing for us. Ultimately, our hope and our joy flow from and are aimed toward, God Himself. This is important. Really important.

What is your life? (v6b)


What is He doing? (v7)


What is the point? (v8-9)

October 28, 2016

Who are you voting for?

Here is a link to Brigade, a tool that allows you to pledge your vote for different candidates and share those pledges via social media.

October 27, 2016

Can You Vote for Evan McMullin?

The following is most of an email I sent to a friend. We had talked recently about my support for Evan McMullin in his run for President (check out evanmcmullin.com) and had a couple questions about how I process his positions on abortion and Same-Sex marriage. Here's what I said:


______,

good questions.

Here is what his website says on Life:
"Our respect for life is the most important measure of our humanity. From conception to death - and any time in between - life is precious and we have a responsibility to protect it. A culture that subsidizes abortion on demand runs counter to the fundamental American belief in the potential of every person - it undermines the dignity of mother and child alike. Americans can and should work together to increase support and resources to reduce unintended pregnancies and encourage adoption, even if they may have different opinions on abortion rights."

There are a few things of note here. The first is what seems clear is a respect for life. "Our respect for life...From conception to death..." That is important, because on the Democratic side Hillary supports full fledged, no holds barred, abortion on demand. Gary Johnson holds a fairly similar stance. Donald Trump, though, isn't better. He has no real position on the issue, which is why it boggles my mind when people call him pro-life (see this piece).

However, the position laid out, while obviously better than the other candidates, isn't where I would obviously want it to be, i.e., defining abortion as murder and applying strict penalties to abortion providers. But there is a note of pragmatism in his position that I do appreciate. Part of why anti-abortion things haven't gone our way as much as we would like is due, in part, (and in my opinion) to the fact that we have an all-or-nothing approach. My opinion is all or nothing, I don't believe a cogent argument can be made for abortion under any circumstances, but I also think pro-lifers have to start working with people who have different opinions on abortion itself and put less emphasis on laws (though the laws remain important, and frankly I think the fact that murder is illegal should make abortion de facto illegal) and more on crisis centers and adoption. Obviously over the years people, mainly Christians, have done this, and I think the results have been fantastic. It simply needs to expand, and if possible this should become the face of Pro-Life, rather than angry activists. All of that to say, I wish his position were stronger, but it's better than where any current candidate (with the exception, I think, of Darryl Castle) stands, and it is a position that can be worked with. Of course it could also simply be sly policy talk, which would be typical of Republicans. But he seems to be a pretty committed Mormon, so I'm guessing he legit does disapprove of killing babies.


On the topic of SSM, I pulled this from an article in the Santa Monica Observer,
'McMullin has stated that although he believes in "traditional marriage between a man and a woman", he "respects" the United States Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and thinks it is "time to move on" from the issue of same-sex marriage. He also stated that he would not make appointments to the Supreme Court with the intent of overturning Obergefell.'

And this from his website on the topic of Religious Liberty:
"Religious liberty is freedom of conscience, inherently connected to actions and expression; it’s the grace to let others pursue their convictions and the willingness to welcome a marketplace of diverse ideas. This freedom is central to the American experiment, and it should be protected, not disparaged. At a time when global religious persecution is at record highs, America must prioritize the defense of this core human right in our diplomatic efforts. Our moral authority to defend religious freedom abroad relies on the vitality of religious freedom here at home. Our government should not target religious groups for discrimination or marginalization based on the obligations of their faith, but instead recognize that religious diversity and robust pluralism are foundational sources of strength for our nation."

I actually agree largely with his position here. I don't think pushing for the overturn of Obergefell is going to get anywhere, even if the court's decision ere overturned, Americans now largely accept and endorse SSM, so it wouldn't do anything except put states back in a position to decide for themselves. And they would simply, then, pass laws in alignment with the Obergefell decision. [I do think that would be good, on a Constitutional basis, but as far as the marriage effect, I think it's pointless.] Christians, mainly Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, lost the cultural battle, and badly. I think the path forward for the church is to actually rebuild our own understanding of marriage, which is incredibly weak and anemic, which is why the world found it so uncompelling. Most Christians function with the same concept of marriage as simply a contract or agreement made by two people who love each other to live together and share certain physical, financial, and perhaps emotional parts of their lives. And why should those outside of heterosexuality be denied that?

Without Christians understanding and practicing a type marriage that functions as a compelling picture of Christ and the Church, we can't expect our own children to see marriage aright, let alone a wider culture, including it's judges and lawmakers.

So basically, he's where I am at politically. I don't think same sex marriage is even a spiritual reality the way one man and one woman is, but I also don't think that is a political battle worth fighting until some major things change in our culture. I think that most likely things will have to get a lot worse, we will have to see all of the negative effects of our sexual insanity, before the culture writ large begins to seriously consider whether what they're chasing makes sense.

So to sum it up: on abortion I wish he were better, but I can deal with him because he is better than the others. On SSM, I basically agree with him.

And overall, I'm essentially pessimistic on the future of America, and optimistic for the church. Anyhow. I'll be done now.

Will

October 24, 2016

Commonplace Monday #57

"It's harder to discover our desire for God when things go well."
Larry Crabb



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

October 22, 2016

1 Peter 1:3-5

This is the outline to a lesson I taught a while back. Numbers of these thoughts are not very well developed, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.


1 Peter 1:3-5
LBC ABF, 10/1/2016
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Introduction:

So, if you were here and/or remember last week, you will likely recall that we made it all the way through the first two verses of 1 Peter; along with dealing with some of the background issues. But in those first two verses, Peter jumps right into high theology. He gives his readers an explanation of who they truly are: God’s elect exiles, known by him from before the world, set apart and made holy by the Holy Spirit, and obedient to and sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. That is to say, in calling his readers God’s elect exiles, he is saying that there home is not this world, but rather, their true home is with the Trinitarian God who loved them, made them, and saved them.

Peter will continue in a similar vein today.

The Point:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! (3a)
Peter begins this paragraph by exhorting his audience to bless God. I think that this is the main point of what we will discuss the next two weeks. Peter is saying Bless the Lord!, and he spend the next six and a half verses laying out reasons why this is exactly what we ought to be doing. See Psalm 103:1-2

Identity:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
This is something of a side note similar to what we did last week, but I think it is important enough to bring to the forefront, because it has been so absolutely front-burner in my mind the last couple of months. If we are going to bless God, worship God, adore God, we must know who He is. How can we know God? We cannot know God truly apart from His self-revelation. Theologian Michael Horton, in his book Pilgrim Theology, says the following, “God makes himself known on his own terms, when, where, and how he chooses. God can be an object of our knowledge only if he has revealed himself to us. Consequently, theology can exist as a legitimate enterprise only when it begins with God's self-revelation.

We find from the beginning of Scripture, or creation itself, that God is a speaking God, and thus a revealing God. Though He is transcendent over all creation, He mercifully condescends to speak to, to draw near to, His creatures. Why? That we might know Him. What is the chief example of this? Hebrews 1:1-3a, John 1:1, 14, 18

The Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the eternal Word of God, came to make the Father known, to reveal to us His glory. And it is only by Him, through Him, that we may know and bless the Father (John 14:6). Commenting on our passage here in 1 Peter, John Calvin say the following,

“Understand the words thus, -- "Blessed be God who is the Father of Jesus Christ." For, as formerly, by calling himself the God of Abraham, he designed to mark the difference between him and all fictitious gods; so after he has manifested himself in his own Son, his will is, not to be known otherwise than in him [that is, His son]. Hence they who form their ideas of God in his naked majesty apart from Christ, have an idol instead of the true God, as the case is with the Jews and the Turks. Whosoever, then, seeks really to know the only true God, must regard him as the Father of Christ; for, whenever our mind seeks God, except Christ be thought of, it will wander and be confused, until it be wholly lost. Peter meant at the same time to intimate how God is so bountiful and kind towards us; for, except Christ stood as the middle person, his goodness could never be really known by us.”

We bless the Lord, first of all, for revealing Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. Any concept of God which diminishes Christ or which tries to have an unmediated notion of the Father, one apart from the knowledge of Christ, blasphemes. We bless the Lord because we see Him as He has revealed Himself to us.

His Benefits.

A quick note on how I broke this down: The next verse and a half are all one run-on sentence, so I don’t think we actually have 7 completely separate points here, but I seperated them out this way so that we could hopefully see how these things build within the sentence and understand the different parts, so that at the end we wouldn’t miss all of the enormous truth packed into this tiny space.

A.
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again
We discussed this some last week, so we won’t delay long here, but again we see the sovereign goodness of God in salvation. According to His great mercy He has caused us to be born again. There was nothing in us that would compel God to love us, and there was no outside force which constrained him to act a certain way toward us. It is His great mercy, His sovereign love, that is the root cause of our salvation. Have you been born again? It is not because of your genius or goodness, it is because of the mercy of God.

B.
to a living hope
What have we been born again to? A living hope, Peter says. Our hope is not like the hope of pagans where it is wishful thinking, or “hoping against hope.” Our hope lives. I think Peter uses this phrase as at least a close parallel if not a straight up synonym with the words he uses later in the sentence, inheritance, and salvation. He’s talking about the same thing all the way through, but in explaining he uses diverse words to connect with us. Repetition is one of the keys to effective communication, but sometimes when you are seeking to convey a particular idea or thought rather than merely accomplish rote memory, you use multiple words to describe the same thing, or to detail different aspects of the same object, which allows you to be repetitive without it feeling redundant.

C.
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Why is our hope living? Because it is tied to a person who lives, namely, Jesus Christ.
D.
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
E.
kept in heaven
F.
you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith
God uses means. We are guarded by God’s power through faith. We are not inactive in our perseverance. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and as we discussed last week, obedience to Christ in faith is what we have been called to. But while we are active in our perseverance, we are not effective. We are called to faith, we exercise faith, but as we are guarded through our faith what is seen as the reason for its effectiveness? The power of God. This calls our minds to places such as Philippians 2:12-13.

G.
for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Conclusion:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because He is merciful, He has planned and effected our salvation, He currently guards and keeps us, and wi one day bring us to His side, where He has stored up pleasures forevermore.

October 17, 2016

Why I'm Leaving the Republican Party


What follows is the letter I wrote a couple of days ago to the chairmen of the Republican Party Central Committee in my county, on which I served until, well...when I sent this letter.

Co-chairs ___ and ____,

I write what follows most regretfully, and not without much thought and prayer. I am resigning my place on the Central Committee and plan to change my voter registration from Republican to Independent. 

I determined many months ago that I would not, and in good conscience could not, vote for Donald Trump for President. I was content to keep that opinion largely personal unless asked for it, and hoped to see Trump mature, while surrounding himself with quality individuals as others in the party simultaneously worked to move the party writ large in a more conservative and constitutional direction. 

What has happened has been precisely the opposite. Trump has continued to show himself for exactly who he has always been: a bombastic, small minded, morally repugnant, deeply corrupt, endlessly narcissistic con-man. His policies are, in many cases, far ​more
​ progressive and liberal than those of Hillary Clinton, and his character is about what one expects from a reality TV star. This is no great surprise. However, what has surprised and saddened me is the widespread continued support for his candidacy from Republican leaders and politicians, and, more disturbingly, from the average Republican voter. 

I have always known myself to be something of an outlier in Republican circles. I don’t think Big Business is always right, I think cutting spending is more important than cutting taxes, and I don’t like Neo-Con interventionist strategies. But where I once thought I found myself solidly allied with the party, namely, matters of Religious Liberty, the Sanctity of Human Life, and the necessity of moral character from our leaders, are areas which I find myself on the outside looking in at a party who, ​by virtue of its nominating action,
​ apparently values none of these things. Party platforms are meaningless when we nominate candidates who are diametrically opposed to the words in such platforms.

How can it be the the party, the people, who so rightly held Bill Clinton’s feet to the fire simple turn a blind eye, or shrug off, or excuse ​the same type of actions
​ from its own nominee? The only answer can be that politics have replaced principle as the rule of the day.

I understand fully the threat a Hillary Clinton presidency poses to the future of this nation we all hold dear. If folks want to roll the dice and hope that Trump will be better, that is between them, God, and the ballot box. I can’t judge an individual for trying to make the best of a bad situation. But for the party as a whole to continue supporting any candidate so abhorrent as Donald J. Trump, tells me that I can no longer in good conscience participate. 

I continue to hold the members of the committee in the highest regard, and am grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know some of you, and to learn a great deal. 

Best regards,

Charles W. Dole

Commonplace Monday #56

"I think the art of life consists of tackling each immediate evil as well as we can."
CS Lewis




Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

October 15, 2016

1 Peter 1:1-2

This is the outline to a lesson I taught a while back. Numbers of these thoughts are not very well developed, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.


Preface:

A Trinitarian Greeting. I think it is important to note here, before we dive into the nitty gritty of looking at 1 Peter, that the actions of God in salvation are laid out in Trinitarian terms. Why is this important? Because the doctrine of the Trinity, our understanding of God's Threeness and Oneness, is the most distinctive doctrine of orthodox Christianity. It is not the mono-personal understanding of other monotheistic religions, such as Islam or Judaism, but it is also not polytheistic in the way that Buddhism or Hinduism or Mormonism are. To believe, as Wayne Grudem summarizes it, that

1) God is Three Persons,
2) Each of these Three Persons is fully God, and
3) There is One God

is a distinctly Christian way of understanding the universe and to conceive of God. It underpins our salvation, it makes sense of a world in which both unity and diversity exist, and it makes possible the eternal reality of love, in ways that no other understanding of God can do justice to.

So while Peter does not give a full discourse on the doctrine, I do believe it important to note from the outset that Peter operates with a Trinitarian concept of God that is implicit in the way he greets these believers. 

Introduction:

Who is writing? The Apostle Peter, one of our Lord's closest associates during His earthly ministry. Peter is one of the 12 who Jesus named Apostles and promised to build His church upon. Within the 12, he is one of the three closest to Christ, along with James and John. These three are given privileges the other disciples are not, seeing Jairus's daughter raised, seeing Jesus transfiguration, etc. But even among these three, Peter stands out. He is the most vocal of the apostles, is the first mentioned in each of the four lists of the 12, and seems to vacillate between heavenly insight and human blindness, Godly boldness and mortal cowardice. He is, perhaps, the most relatable disciple.

More pertinent to our look at this book, Peter is also one of the key figures in the early church, the preacher at Pentecost, a leader in the church in Rome near the end of his life, and a prolific evangelist. And, as we see here, a letter writer.

To whom is he writing? Peter identifies his audience as those living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These were all Roman provinces in what we now call Turkey. His audience is likely a mixture of Jewish and Gentile believers, in churches scattered across this region. The ordering of the provinces leads us to believe that perhaps Silvanus, who carried the letter, may have followed a trade loop which went through these areas in this order. But that is speculation, an not of much importance in our understanding of the letter's content.

What is the background?

Point 1:

How does Peter address these believers? What does he mean by elect exiles? See Hebrews 11

Point 2:

Elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. What is meant by foreknowledge? See verse 20. Is it a simple knowledge of the future or is something deeper implied? Amos 3:1-2, Romans 8:29-30, Genesis 4:1

God has known us from before the foundation of the world. He has loved us deeply since we were.

Point 3:

Elect exiles in the sanctification of the Spirit. Is this a current event or a past one? Commentators differ. See 2 Thessalonians 2:13

I think it makes more sense to take this as referring to a past setting us apart. That is, I think this sanctification is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that precedes and enables faith. I take it partly this way because I think our next clause only makes sense as referring to a past event, and so it makes sense to take this one the same way. Also, to understand it this way would be to understand Peter as laying out our salvation in how it has already been accomplished for us, and how we are then to live, hope, and suffer, in light of this reality. Essentially his greeting is to preface and prepare them for the body of the letter.

Point 4:

Elect exiles for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. What is meant by obedience? I believe, chiefly, our faith. See Romans 1:5, 16:25, John 3:16, 18, 36. The first and primary act of obedience required of us is obedience to the Gospel itself. Jesus come on the seen in Mark 1:15 saying, “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” All other obedience flows from this obedience.

What about sprinkling with his blood? Again, some commentators try to make this a continual thing, like in the OT when the people had to be made ceremonially clean by repeated sprinklings of blood. Basically they see this as what happens when we sin, come and ask for forgiveness and are received back into intimate fellowship with the Father. But I just don’t think that holds water. Let’s look at Hebrews 9, a rather extended portion, verses 11-28.

The OT system is a copy, Christ’s sacrifice is the real deal. We don’t need continual sprinkling with His blood, we have been sprinkled with His blood. Period. Full stop.

Point 5:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Or, be yours in abundance. If we rightly understand our salvation, is this not the natural result? What could cause us to be filled with more peace, what truth could grace our hearts and cause us to be gracious more than this understanding of our pursuing God acting sovereignly on our behalf?

About Me

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com