February 29, 2016

Commonplace Monday #23

"Untold numbers of professing Christians waste their lives trying to escape the cost of love. They do not see that it is always worth it. There is more of God's glory to be seen through suffering than through self-serving escape."
John Piper

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. Anyhow. Hope you enjoyed week's installment.

February 23, 2016

Review: The Weight of Glory

The Weight of Glory The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A collection of some of Lewis' greatest essays. Many of the quotes you'll see floating around the internet with Lewis' name attached come from this collection. But as wonderful, quotable, and thought-provoking as his sentences can be, Lewis shines in building an argument and making a case in which those same quotes land with significantly greater force. While The Weight of Glory remains one of the finest (or at least most significant) essays I've read, others also stood out as well. Is Theology Poetry?, Membership, and Learning in Wartime were all edifying, challenging, and superb. While I have been culling books of late, I don't foresee any circumstance under which I would remove this volume from my collection.

View all my reviews

February 22, 2016

Commonplace Monday #22

"God is not interesting. He is deeply upsetting."
John Stott

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. Anyhow. Hope you enjoyed week's installment.

February 20, 2016

Review: The House at Pooh Corner

The House at Pooh Corner The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading this to my children last night. It left me with one burning question: why isn't every children's book written to this level of excellence? Milne's insight into people is astounding. How we act, how we talk, how we think. He is skilled, not only at seeing and describing these things, but in displaying how frequently absurd they are. This is a fun and delightful book, which will be revisited often in the Dole home.

View all my reviews

February 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Pondering Treason

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 contain some things which even I think are crazy.


Pondering Treason
Originally Posted on Facebook, December 22, 2009

This is something I wrote in my journal the other night. I’ve been kind of wandering in my devotions lately, so in attempt to regain a bit of focus I pulled out an old notebook with some sermon notes from a few years ago, which proved rather fruitful in provoking thought. It’s written from the perspective of me talking to myself in the third person because, well, I think better that way…anyhow, hope it provides a little food for thought.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with anxiousness about several “circumstances” in my life. And I choose the word anxiousness instead of worry, because it’s not necessarily a conscious thing, so much as it is a subliminal or mindset based problem. I don’t necessarily waste my day worrying about how this thing or that is going to turn out. It’s something that has taken up residence, “set up shop”, if you will, in my mind. And it shows up in everything. From what I think about, to how I think about it, and eventually flowing into my actions. And all of this ultimately goes back to a lack of trust in God and His faithfulness. But perhaps…as I thought reading these notes, pondered this passage, and reflecting on a message Wayne gave at the last WWR-is the problem really that I’m not trying to trust God…or that I don’t truly understand how to trust Him?


I think we look here at verse 28, and ones similar to it in Scripture and say to ourselves “just go to God and trust”…but He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell us to take on His yoke and learn from Him how to bear it. As humans, particularly in the 21st Century, we look for rest in the absence of responsibility. But that’s not what Christ lays before us. He says “Come and take on My yoke.”

And I believe the reasoning for this to be two-fold (not to limit it to that, but these are the two most clear in my mind, and what God has really convicted me about).

First and foremost, is to take the focus off of ourselves. We are ultimately selfish creatures. We run from responsibility, why? To do what I want to do. To do what makes me happy. To find satisfaction for myself. In our sinful state we look inside of ourselves to find that ultimate peace, satisfaction, and joy, only to find that there is none in us to be found. In Matthew 6:33 He tells us to seek first His kingdom, only then will “all these things” be added unto us. True peace, which passes understanding. Eternal joy, that which is without ceasing. The ultimate satisfaction that only comes from being truly loved with a perfect love. All things that only come in Christ. And we act like it is some giant burden to take on this yoke, to pick up our cross and follow. When really, it is just another example of His abundant grace to us. The ultimate feeling of and experience of freedom comes from serving our Savior. This leads to the second reason.

He tells us that His burden is light. Some people take that as a promise of sunshine and candy canes…and the rest of us live in the real world. Life is hard. It gives us things we don’t know how to handle, that we have no idea how to cope with, or resolve in our own hearts. And this I believe is where the “yoke” analogy comes in. The Greek term literally means to be enslaved. And the question is not “will we be enslaved”, but rather, “to what master”? And here is where our free will as Christians to choose comes into play, because two options are laid before us.

The first option is to “go it alone”. In doing so we will be faced with trails we cannot handle. And we will be forced to try to maneuver through and escape these trails while carrying a load…a yoke, which is truly beyond what we can carry. There really are no benefits to this option, unless you consider depression, anxiety, anger, or bitterness to be benefits. In which case, you have bigger issues.

But then we have the second option. And this option is to cast down our yoke of sin. Cast it down at the foot of the cross, realizing the reality that Jesus already paid for it. He already carried that load for you, why do you feel the need to pack it around with you wherever you go? Throw it down. And pick up His yoke. Because life will not be easy. We live in a fallen world full of sin, and therefore life will always be filled with things we find complicated and hard. In and of ourselves, we can’t cope with it. We can tell ourselves that we have, and live a lie. But it will always be there, that underlying desire to be free, to get out from underneath the burden that we were not intended to bear. And instead of doing these ourselves, He calls us to give it to Him. The One who paid for your sin, the One who made you-the One who loves you. He calls for a total and complete surrender-but not a passive surrender. Rather, He calls for us to not only stop our sin, but to turn and live for Him. To commit a treason to self, a full out assault on the life we lived in the flesh.

So my point is that…what if, instead of the complacent live of surrender we hear so often preached, God’s call to surrender is in fact a call to action. Not that we in our own power can do anything, but a realization that as Paul tells us in Philippians, in Christ we can do all things. Rise up, O people of God. 

February 17, 2016

Reading Logs

I am an avid, if not particularly prolific, reader. Folks sometimes get the impression that I've read more than I have, partially because I retain fairly well, and I like to use quotations. 

I suppose I could read more if I were to read faster (that seems logical enough), but I don't seem to enjoy the reading experience nearly so much when I do so, and the last thing I want is for my favorite leisure activity to become drudgery. 

One thing that I have always lacked in my reading, besides speed, is any sort of tracking mechanism. I decided to change that this year, just to keep tabs on what sort of things I'm reading, if there are any books I need to focus more heavily on, and to keep track of what I've finished. I've included my first three entries for the year down below. I don't try to be weekly or anything like that with my entries, updating only when I finish a book, upon which I will leave a few thoughts. I believe the rest of it is fairly self-explanatory.


1/14/16:  
Reading- The Weight of Glory (Lewis), Shattered Dreams (Crabb), Black Elk Speaks (Neihardt), What Are You Afraid Of? (Jeremiah), The Epistles of John (Vine) 
Studying in Scripture- 1 John 
Reading in Scripture- 1 Samuel (intermittently, AM), Acts (Family), Isaiah (kids) 
Just Finished- The Great Divorce (Lewis). This is the 2nd (or 3rd?) time I have read this book. Each return brings a new appreciation for the depth at which Lewis understands the human soul. In a fictional vision of the heaven, he arrives with other passengers on a bus from Hell. He and the other ghosts are terrified, first by the realness of the terrain, and then by the glorified creatures who come to meet them. Through it all Lewis illustrates the choices we make each and every day between Heaven and Hell, Joy and lust, Love and numbness. As he says elsewhere, we prefer our mud pies. When presented with the opportunity of everlasting joy in the presence of Joy Himself, most of us will say, "no, thanks." What a sobering reality. 
BFI16- 1 John, The Great Divorce (Lewis) 

2/3/16: 
Reading- The Weight of Glory (Lewis), Shattered Dreams (Crabb), Black Elk Speaks (Neihardt), The House at Pooh Corner (Milne, with the kids) 
Studying in Scripture- 1 John 
Reading in Scripture- Nehemiah, 1 Sam (intermittently, AM), Zechariah (Family), Isaiah (kids) 
Just Finished- Life Under Compulsion (Anthony Esolen). Purchased this book based on quotations I saw on Twitter. Excellent decision. He slips at times into a kind of "good-old-days" "wish-it-were-yesteryear" nostalgia that is tedious and doesn't serve the point, and the sarcasm is dripping at points. But the overall gist of the book is a critique of our compulsion, productivity, technology driven culture, and in this I rejoice. There are many helpful thoughts and reflections to be found here. 
BFI16- 1 John, Acts, The Great Divorce (Lewis), Life Under Compulsion (Esolen) 

2/14/16 
Reading- Shattered Dreams (Crabb), Black Elk Speaks (Neihardt), Tell it Slant (Peterson), Commentary on John (Calvin), Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Owen), The House at Pooh Corner (Milne, with the kids) 
Studying in Scripture- 1 John 
Reading in Scripture- Nehemiah, 1 Sam (intermittently, AM), Zechariah (family), Isaiah (kids) 
Just Finished- The Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis). A collection of some of Lewis' greatest essays. Many of the quotes you'll see floating around the internet with Lewis' name attached come from this collection. But as wonderful, quotable, and thought-provoking as his sentences can be, Lewis shines in building an argument and making a case in which those same quotes land with significantly greater force. While The Weight of Glory remains one of the finest (or at least most significant) essays I've read, others also stood out as well. Is Theology Poetry?, Membership, and Learning in Wartime were all edifying, challenging, and superb. While I have been culling books of late, I don't foresee any circumstance under which I would remove this volume from my collection.  
BFI16- 1 John, Acts, The Great Divorce, (Lewis), Life Under Compulsion (Esolen), The Weight of Glory (Lewis) 

My pace for finishing a book is about par for me at this point, about one every 2-2 1/2 weeks. 

As you can see, I have also included my Scripture reading here. I haven't included any thoughts from that reading, because I primarily do that long-hand in journals or on the pages of whatever Bible I happen to be reading. You'll also notice that books sometimes appear on one list as being read, and not the next, but without being finished. That is very typical of how I read. I pick up and put down books constantly, which is another of the reasons I don't finish as many as I probably ought to. 

Anyhow, I've found this tracking to be both an interesting and helpful exercise for me, and I commend it (or something similar) to you!


February 15, 2016

Remembering Justice Scalia

As most of you know, Justice Antonin Scalia died two days ago. Ross Douthat has a nice piece on him, and the impact of his death, over at the New York Times. While I have not always followed the proceedings of our nation's high court as closely as would probably be wise, I have enjoyed and appreciated nearly everything I have read from the pen of Justice Scalia. His dissent in the Obergefell was of particular brilliance (it begins on page 69, here), and I thought I would post a few quotes from it for your mulling, enjoyment, learning, and remembrance of perhaps the greatest Justice of my lifetime.

The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance. Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.
 Further:
Until the courts put a stop to it, public debate over same-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best. Individuals on both sides of the issue passionately, but respectfully, attempted to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views. Americans considered the arguments and put the question to a vote. The electorates of 11 States, either directly or through their representatives, chose to expand the traditional definition of marriage. Many more decided not to.1 Win or lose, advocates for both sides continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss can be negated by a later electoral win. That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.
And:
 When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so. That resolves these cases. When it comes to determining the meaning of a vague constitutional provision—such as “due process of law” or “equal protection of the laws”—it is unquestionable that the People who ratified that provision did not understand it to prohibit a practice that remained both universal and uncontroversial in the years after ratification. We have no basis for striking down a practice that is not expressly prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment’s text, and that bears the endorsement of a long tradition of open, widespread, and unchallenged use dating back to the Amendment’s ratification. Since there is no doubt whatever that the People never decided to prohibit the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples, the public debate over same-sex marriage must be allowed to continue. 
But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even a thin veneer of law. Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to protect. That is so because “[t]he generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions . . . . ” One would think that sentence would continue: “. . . and therefore they provided for a means by which the People could amend the Constitution,” or perhaps “. . . and therefore they left the creation of additional liberties, such as the freedom to marry someone of the same sex, to the People, through the never-ending process of legislation.” But no. What logically follows, in the majority’s judge-empowering estimation, is: “and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.” The “we,” needless to say, is the nine of us. “History and tradition guide and discipline [our] inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.” Thus, rather than focusing on the People’s understanding of “liberty”—at the time of ratification or even today—the majority focuses on four “principles and traditions” that, in the majority’s view, prohibit States from defining marriage as an institution consisting of one man and one woman. 
This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Do yourself a favor, and read the whole thing. RIP, Justice Scalia.

Commonplace Monday #21

"Life is wasted [by] waiting to make decisions."
Andie Dole

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. Anyhow. Hope you enjoyed week's installment.

February 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday: On Lukewarm Christianity

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 slightly for readability and grammar, 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 contain some things that even I think are crazy.




Notes from Fuel 2/13/2010, with some elaboration.
Originally posted on Facebook, February 14, 2010


Well, I was gonna post the notes I had for my message, but I meandered a bit from them, so I re-worked them and elaborated on them a bit. A lot a bit. In fact this is taking that message as a basis and basically going into what God has taught me in the last two days.

My base text was Revelation 3:12-22 (NIV)

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
This is the final of a series of seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and penned by the apostle John. This one in particular is penned to a church who is called "lukewarm". The first thing I think of when I think lukewarm is coffee. Now, idk about you, but lukewarm coffee triggers my gag reflex. It's disgusting, nasty, and not worthy of consumption. And that's what God is saying here of these people who take on His name. You call yourself a Christian and yet your fruit isn't there. You don't deny God, yet you don't life your life for Him. This makes you the equivalent of coffee that's been sitting on the counter for an hour, take a drink and the only thing you want to do is spit it out. That's us to God when we aren't on fire for Him. We call on Him, we claim the promises He makes, but we don't really love Him or live our lives for Him. Instead of recognizing our worthlessness as humans, we get that complacent attitude.

But He doesn't just let us sit there. Verse nineteen tells us that He chastens and rebukes those He loves, and then gives us a call to repentance. The New King James says be zealous and repent. Zealous. Sitting in church for an hour and a half on Sunday is not zealous. Going to a Wednesday night Bible study is not zealous. Not that those are bad things, in fact they are necessary (Hebrews 10:25) for the building up and edification of the body. But if it stops there, our faith is dead and useless. We have to be in the Word constantly, in prayer, learning and yearning for a deeper relationship with Christ.

Hebrews 12:3-11 (NIV)

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
In our striving against sin and our struggle to live godly lives that are so contrary to anything this world offers us, we have to remember Jesus. In fact, I would say more than just remember, this has to be our focus. That's why we struggle against sin, that's why we seek to live lives that honor God, that's why we need to share that love with other.

I've really been convicted of late that I'm a fake. Probably not in the way that it sounds in the last sentence, but that's really the best word for it. I live my life talking about God's grace and how it's a gift I will never earn, and then I go and try to do stuff to please Him, and try to earn His favor. Time for a wake up call. Will sucks. My very being is sinful and evil; I can do nothing to please God, at all. But I don't have to. Jesus paid it all. God looks down and is pleased, because He sees not my sin, but the redeeming work of Christ. I can't do anything to pay that back. I can't try to earn any little bit of my salvation, because I'm a worthless little toothpick (thought I'd throw that in there, thank you to those who got it, haha) who has no worth or value or goodness of my own. But God loves me in spite of that. I'm not un-deserving of His favor, I'm ill-deserving. That is, I don't start at zero on a scale of 1-10, I start somewhere around -76. But God looked past that, sent His Son Jesus, who willingly died for my sin and conquered that, paying a price I never could, enduring pain I could never understand to have a relationship with me. With me. Wow. No, I can't earn God's love. All I can do is love Him with all my heart, and as an expression of that strive to live and walk closer to Him everyday in everything I do. I dunno how much it's gonna change on the outside of me, cause I'm a pretty good fake. But God in the last two days has beat me down, ripped me apart, and took my heart and soul to the cleaners. I set out the other night to attempt a call to Christians to quit being lukewarm. Then God told me that it was me I was preaching to. Cause I'm the one God wants to spit out. My heart has been in the wrong place for way too long. And it's time to start living in love, not in effort.

February 08, 2016

Commonplace Monday #20

Commonplace Monday is a series of post 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. Anyhow. Here's this week's installment:


Analyzing childhood responses remains a valuable channel toward getting a grip on the stories of the Bible. 

Philip and Leland Ryken


February 01, 2016

Caucusing for Carly

This time four years ago my wife and I still resided in the great state of Idaho. And while I often miss mountains, trout fishing, and elk, come campaign time for the Presidential nominating process, Iowa is the place to be. You can see almost any candidate you want, up close and personal. You can shake hands, go to town hall meetings, ask questions, and expect responses. Because everyone wants to win the first-in-the-nation caucus. Well, not Jim Gilmore, but who knew he was still running until last Thursday?

The first thing I want you to do is, if you are in Iowa, urge you to caucus tonight. Hopefully you have done your research on the candidates, know where they stand, and know whom you wish to support. This is such a small, yet important, part of what it means to exercise our rights as citizens. Please don't let something small like a sports event, or TV show, or the inconvenience of a few lost hours keep you from participating in this process.

Second, if you don't live in Iowa, you need to have your rear in gear when it comes to learning about the candidates. Have a list of top five or six, so that, even if several drop out before it's your turn to vote, you aren't confused about who to cast your ballot in favor of.

Finally, I want to put up a few links and videos to give you some food for thought; by which I mean, push you towards a vote for Carly Fiorina!




Watch the rest of the Why Carly Videos Here

A Letter from Carly

Carly's Blueprint for America




Happy Caucusing!

Commonplace Monday #19

Commonplace Monday is a series of post 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. Anyhow. Here's this week's installment:


Compassion trumps consumption.

Unknown


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