Saturday, August 28, 2010

So what's it all about?

From a talk by Tim Keller care of Justin Taylor's Blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Whitefield preaches the Gospel

It's longer than most quotes I post but I think it's worth reading...

Abraham was God's creature (and God was Abraham's friend) and therefore under the highest obligation to surrender up his Isaac. But O stupendous love! Whilst we were his enemies, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might become a curse for us. O the freeness, as well as the infinity, of the love of God our Father! It is unsearchable: I am lost in contemplating it; it is past finding out. Think, O believers, think of the love of God, in giving Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for our sins. And when you hear how Abraham built an altar, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood; think how your heavenly Father bound Jesus Christ his only Son, and offered him upon the altar of his justice, and laid upon him the iniquities of us all.

When you read of Abraham's stretching forth his hand to slay his son, Think, O think, how God actually suffered his Son to be slain, that we might live for evermore. Do you read of Isaac carrying the wood upon his shoulders, upon which he was to be offered? Let this lead you to mount Calvary (this very mount of Moriah where Isaac was offered, as some think) and take a view of the antitype Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bearing and ready to sink under the weight of that cross, on which he was to hang for us. Do you admire Isaac so freely consenting to die, though a creature, and therefore obliged to go when God called? O do not forget to admire infinitely more the dear Lord Jesus, that promised seed, who willingly said, “Lo, I come,” though under no obligation so to do, “to do thy will,” to obey and die for men, “O God!” Did you weep just now, when I bid you fancy you saw the altar, and the wood laid in order, and Isaac laid bound on the altar? Look by faith, behold the blessed Jesus, our all-glorious Emmanuel, not bound, but nailed on an accursed tree: see how he hangs crowned with thorns, and had in derision of all that are round about him: see how the thorns pierce him, and how the blood in purple streams trickle down his sacred temples! Hark how the God of nature groans! See how he bows his head, and at length humanity gives up the ghost! Isaac is saved, but Jesus, the God of Isaac, dies; A ram is offered up in Isaac's room, but Jesus has no substitute; Jesus must bleed, Jesus must die; God the Father provided this Lamb for himself from all eternity. He must be offered in time, or man must be damned for evermore. And now, where are your tears? Shall I say, refrain your voice from weeping? No; rather let me exhort you to look to him whom you have pierced, and mourn, as a woman mourneth for her first-born: for we have been the betrayers, we have been the murderers of this Lord of glory; and shall we not bewail those sins, which brought the blessed Jesus to the accursed tree? Having so much done, so much suffered for us, so much forgiven, shall we not love much! O! let us love Him with all our hearts, and minds, and strength, and glorify him in our souls and bodies, for they are his.

- George Whitefield from his sermon Abraham's Offering Up His Son Isaac

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Be content with your wages

A couple of days ago I had a barbecue with an old friend from high school who has served his country with three tours of duty in Iraq. I hadn't seen him for over a decade and in the course of those years we've both come, by God's grace, to faith in Christ. He's also gotten married and his first daughter was recently born. After catching up for a while the topic of conversation turned to theology. We ended up talking about some of the many distortions we've run into when it comes to being a Christian and a soldier. My friend told me of an unfortunate encounter he had with some of Fred Phelps' followers who were protesting an army funeral he spoke at. We also talked about the pacifists, one of whom called him a "baby-killer." In my opinion, these pacifists are simply self-righteous pharisees who try to apply their legalism to other Christians.

A couple of nights before this barbecue I had read the third chapter of the Gospel of Luke. I've read this many times but something stood out to me which hadn't really hit me before, maybe because I'm living on an army base right now. In Luke 3 we read of John the Baptist's ministry. People are coming to John to be baptized and asking him, "what shall we do?" One of the groups of people being baptized were soldiers. Luke 3:14 reads, "Soldiers also asked him, 'And we, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.'" Nowhere is there any hint that John advised these soldiers to quit being soldiers or to quit obeying the orders of their superiors. And these were Roman soldiers, serving a pagan emperor.

John the Baptist wasn't the only one who interacted with soldiers. A Roman centurion encountered the Lord in Capernaum. The centurion, a Roman military officer, asks for the healing of his servant and when Jesus offers to come to his house to heal his servant the centurion expresses his unworthiness to have the Lord enter his house. The centurion says, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it (Matt. 8:8-9)." The text says that Christ marveled at the the centurion's response saying, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:10b-12)." Christ heals the centurion's servant and the text gives no hint that the Lord expressed any disapproval of the centurion's profession.

Another reference to soldiers is in the tenth chapter of Acts. Here we read of Cornelius, another Roman centurion, who after receiving a command in a vision, sends some servants and a "devout soldier" to fetch the Apostle Peter. When Peter comes to Cornelius he preaches the gospel to his household. While Peter was preaching to this Gentile, military family, the Holy Spirit falls on them and they begin "speaking in tongues and extolling God." Once again, no hint of any apostolic command to quit being soldiers or to quit obeying commands.

One last military reference I will cite comes from the Apostle Paul. In Second Timothy 2:3-4 we read, "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him." Paul uses the soldier as an example of how we should serve Christ. And once again, the soldiers Paul would have been thinking of as he wrote this passage were not the soldiers of a "Christian nation" but the soldiers of a pagan empire.

As I talked with my friend one thing we agreed upon is that the solution to all these distortions, whether the rank heresy of Fred Phelps or the legalistic agendas of pacifists, is to know God's word. I'm proud of my friend's service and I look forward to serving soldiers like him wherever I'm stationed in the medical corps.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Batter my heart

Surfing the blogosphere this morning I saw a familiar poem posted over at Titusonenine. When I lived in the dorms at Asbury Seminary a roommate of mine had this poem tacked up above his bed. I was impressed by its wisdom then and am still impressed by it today...

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,

Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,

But am betroth'd unto your enemy;

Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

-John Donne

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Today I used my second day off while at Fort Lewis to head up to Olympic National Park and go for a short hike before spending the afternoon studying. The Olympic Mountains are one of the few places in Washington and Oregon that I had never been to - until today. This morning I headed up to the southeastern edge of the park - the Staircase entrance west of Hoosdsport.

As I drove up the 101 along Hood Canal I was struck by the Ocean scent. I've always heard that a scent was one of the strongest reminders of past places and events and this proved true today. As I drove along the canal I was taken back to the numerous holidays I spent with my family at my grandparent's house in Ocean Park, Washington. It took me back to going clamming early in the morning on the beach, taking a walk into town with my family, and waiting for the fresh clam chowder my grandma would be making for dinner that night. I think the reminiscing from the sea-scent set me up for an even more powerful association shortly thereafter.
I made it to Hoodsport and turned inland into the Olympic Peninsula. It was a drizzly, cloudy day but I paid the entrance fee at the park gate and set out on the Staircase Trail. Shortly after beginning the hike, after crossing over a foot-bridge into the woods, I was struck by an exhilarating scent which took me back to innumerable lazy days of childhood spent with my brothers exploring the woods and creeks around my home in Southwest Washington. It was that fresh, sweet, slightly musty scent produced by thousands of tons of decaying wood overlayed with a carpet of deep, lush moss and ferns damp from the light rain and mist. It took me back to those days of building forts, catching frogs, salamanders and crawdads and fishing for native rainbow trout that we would fry up later that day.
As I hiked along the North Fork of the Skokomish River this morning, taking in my surroundings with much joy, I was reminded that any beauty or glory here only points to an infinitely greater, stronger and eternal beauty and glory, the glory of the One who made this place. The lyrics which came to mind as I hiked this morning are below:

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav'n can boast.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I was recently reading John H. Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch when I came across a quote which I found to be a fairly simple statement yet also profound. Sailhamer quotes apologist and theologian Edward J. Carnell:
Truth, then, in its simplest dimension, is a judgment which corresponds to things as they actually are. . . . This definition of truth, however, is deficient from the Christian point of view, for it does not link truth with the mind of God sharply enough. For the Christian, God is truth because He is the Author of all facts and meaning. There is no reality apart from the eternal nature of God Himself and the universe which He has created to display His glory. . . . Since the mind of God perfectly knows reality, truth is a property of that judgment which coincides with the mind of God. . . . Truth for the Christian, then, is defined as correspondence with the mind of God. On any level of judgment, therefore, man has truth only as long as he says about facts what God says about these facts.

-Edward J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics: A Philosophic Defense of the Trinitarian-Theistic Faith
I think this is a simple statement to which no Christian should have difficulty assenting. And yet when I think of my own mind I can't help but see that I often see this or that sin as an attractive thing instead of believing what God says about it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mars Hill

I had my first day off from my rotation today so I took advantage of it and drove up to Seattle to check out a church up there. The church I checked out was the Ballard campus of Mars Hill Church, pastored by Mark Driscoll. I showed up early for the 11:15 service and sat up near the front. Pastor Driscoll preached a very Christ-centered, convicting and encouraging sermon from Luke 9:37-45, the healing of a demon-possessed boy. The worship was also great, a high point of which was a sung version of the 51st Psalm, a psalm which God used to change my life and call me back to Him. While the preaching and worship were excellent I was also surprised by the friendliness of the people I sat around at this large church. I thank God for my experience at Mars Hill but if I get another Sunday off I might check out a small Anglican church-plant near the base in Lacey. The rotation is going well, Fort Lewis is a great place to be.

In the afternoon I went down by Pike's Place in downtown Seattle. It had been a few years since I was last down there so it was interesting to see again.