Monday, November 30, 2009

The Eternity of God

A. W. Tozer writes about God's eternity:

"From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God," said Moses in the Spirit. "From the vanishing point to the vanishing point" would be another way to say it quite in keeping with the words as Moses used them. The mind looks backward in time till the dim past vanishes, then turns and looks into the future till thought and imagination collapses from exhaustion: and God is at both points, unaffected by either.

Time marks the beginning of created existence, and because God never began to exist it can have no application to Him. "Began" is a time-word, and it can have no personal meaning for the high and lofty One that inhabited eternity....

God dwells in eternity but time dwells in God. He has already lived all our tomorrows as He has lived all our yesterdays. An illustration offered by C. S. Lewis may help us here. He suggests that we think of a sheet of paper infinitely extended. That would be eternity. Then on that paper draw a short line to represent time. As the line begins and ends on that infinite expanse, so time began in God and will end in Him.

That God appears at time’s beginning is not too difficult to comprehend, but that He appears at the beginning and end of time simultaneously is not so easy to grasp; yet it is true.

--A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, ch. 7 "The Eternity of God"

Friday, November 27, 2009

9 Recent Things for Which I’m Thankful

  1. Central District prayer meetings Wednesdays at 6:30am
  2. Fresh signs of spiritual growth in my son
  3. My son’s job at Chick-fil-A: he really enjoys the job
  4. Opportunities to encourage a few guys
  5. Two preaching opportunities while Pat was on vacation
  6. My oldest daughter’s ability to save up her money instead of spend it
  7. My son’s generosity
  8. My youngest daughter’s ever-expanding vocabulary (things like, “You’re crazy, Dad,” and, addressing her sister in the morning, "Good morning, Crunchy Cereal" )
  9. My middle daughter’s growing theological understanding (see below)

Yesterday as we went around the table ticking off things we're thankful for, Anna mentioned among other things God’s sovereignty, omnipotence, and omnipresence. When my mom asked her what each of those meant, she explained without stuttering or trying to recall. She knew what each meant. So I guess a 10th thing I’m thankful is a good Sunday School education for my kids.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Pulpit for Old Men

I listened to a discussion of pastors talking about how hard it is to be hired by a church when one is upper-middle age. Their consensus was that churches are looking for younger pastors with young families.

"You're the perfect demographic, Kent. In your 30s (at the time), 3 kids (at the time), dashing and handsome (they didn't actually say that, but I'm sure they were thinking it)."

I found the discussion frustrating at the time, because there seemed to be little trust in God's ability to place an older pastor in a new pulpit.

I realize that what these guys were talking about is probably generally true; search committees probably do look for younger guys. But I think that's a mistake.

I think, in fact, that all things being equal, older pastors probably make better pastors. This I glean from my own experience as a Christian and as a student of the Bible.
  • Is it not true that as I study passages now I understand them a lot better than when I studied the same passages several years ago?
  • Is it not true that in the intervening years since I began at Northside, the Lord has taught me a great deal? (And I am still ignorant of many things ... the Lord knows I am a slow student.)
  • Do not older pastors in general bring a great deal of wisdom into the pulpit?
I remember attending a church in Indy and listening to a septuagenarian deliver a stirring message on the last 8 verses of Galatians. The fire in his belly! The wisdom of his years with Christ!

Churches should consider all candidates apart from the age question (unless perhaps a 15-year-old is applying). What is God's will?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Book of the Dun Cow

I just finished reading Walter Wangerin, Jr.'s The Book of the Dun Cow, and what a great read it is!

It's along the lines of a beast epic (like Animal Farm). Wonderfully portrayed is the struggle between good and evil as Chauntecleer the rooster leads his domain, which includes many more animals than hens, in both peacetime, and then when an other-worldly evil breaks out, in war.

There are many biblical themes that underlie the story, particularly in the various ways the evil Wyrm and his minion Cockatrice are dealt with.

The characters are delightful or hideous, depending on which. (I thoroughly enjoyed the various names, like Pertalote the hen, Lord Russell the fox, Mundo Cani the dog, and John Wesley weasel.) And God is a part of the story. Many times does Chauntecleer talk to or refer to God, acknowleding his placement of the rooster over this segment of Earth.

For me, the best thing about this story is the way it highlights Christ and the gospel as well as the truths regarding evil and our necessary response to it. Stories like this, by coming at the eternal truths of the gospel from a different angle, have a way of shining new light on these ancient truths that make one fall in love with them afresh. Other books that have also impacted me this way include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, George MacDonald's Lilith, and Charles Williams' All Hallow's Eve.

Strictly speaking, The Book of the Dun Cow is not an allegory (anymore than Lord of the Rings). But there are actions and characterizations that highlight biblical themes, like the humiliation of Christ, and the victory of Christ over evil.

It's not a long read. My copy is 241 pages with decent-sized print.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Suffering, not Comfort, Yields Great Treasure

I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of life have come through times of ease and comfort.” But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him has come through suffering.” Samuel Rutherford said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there. Charles Spurgeon said that those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.

--John Piper

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pulling "My Blog List" Down

I have wanted to advertise my friends' blogs, but blogspot's mechanism that allows me to do that has something wrong with it, and I cannot figure out how to rectify it.

Currently, most of the blogs listed on "My Blog List" are not showing the most recent activity on those blogs, thus giving the impression that those blogs are not active. Therefore, I'm pulling it off my blog.

Maybe we'll try it again later.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Caused Me to Fall in Love with the Bible

I prayed today that my children would fall in love with the Word of God. As I was doing so, I was reflecting back on my own journey into that particular love. While there were probably many proddings along the way, I identify 3 primary ones:

1. My dad's example
He got up early every morning (like 3:30 a.m.) to study the Bible. Anything else he read was in order to help him understand the Bible better.

2. My youth pastor's preaching
The first time I was exposed to (or perhaps the first time I had paid attention to) expository preaching (as opposed to topical preaching) was sitting under the Sunday night preaching ministry of Gary Aupperle at Avalon Missionary Church. Sunday night after Sunday night he would hold up a particular text of Scripture for us to see, and what we saw was that Scripture is beautiful and wonderful.

3. My Bible college education
I took many Bible courses at Fort Wayne Bible College (like The Pentateuch, The Historical Books, The Poetical Books, Isaiah, The Life of Christ, Acts, and Romans) as well as related courses (like Hermeneutics, Homiletics, etc.). And in all of them I sat under professors who loved the Word and lived by it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Religion the Biggest Cause of Wars and Deaths? I Don't Think So

It is taken as common knowledge by some that religion has been the cause of most wars and their consequent deaths. But this is far from true.

The three men who have murdered the most were pagans/atheists.

Hitler was responsible for the deaths of 21,000,000 people (6 million Jews).
Stalin was responsible for the deaths of 43,000,000.
Chairman Mao Zedong? 77,000,000.

"But Hitler was a Christian" is an argument amazingly propagated. Well, he's not like any Christian I know. I don't know how his actions could be considered biblical. Hitler was raised Roman Catholic, but he abandoned his religion and described himself as "a total pagan."

Stalin was raised Russian Orthodox and studied for the priesthood, but "he utterly apostatized, hating Christianity and God and closing 90 percent of the churches in the Soviet Union" (D. James Kennedy, Skeptics Answered 118).

And Mao was just plain wacky ... and evil.

What about the Inquisition? 12,000 people in Spain and 30,000 altogether (according to Kennedy). Not a good thing, but at the same time, it's not quite as big as the 141,000,000 killed under "the big 3" mentioned above. In fact it's only .02% of their tally.

Don't be deceived. Communism (Stalin and Mao) has killed far more people than religion.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Watching the World Series

I enjoy watching the World Series.

I watch very little sports on TV--very little. But when the World Series rolls around, I usually make an effort to watch a few games.

Why?

It's not because I have a dog in the fight (to borrow a Michael Vick metaphor). I'm not a Phillies fan or a Yankees fan (though this year I'm rooting for the Phillies). In fact, I don't really have a favorite team (though for many years the White Sox was "my team").

Baseball's probably my favorite sport (though volleyball and tennis hover around that spot, too). There's the physical side, the athletic acumen required of the various positions. But over the last many years I've come to appreciate and understand more and more the mental side of baseball as well.

"Baseball's boring," many say. "It's too slow." Those are comments of people who don't understand baseball's intricacies. It's more than just hitting a ball and running (though there's a great deal of expertise and practice required just to execute those two elements well).

[Note: If you want to gain appreciation for baseball, read George Will's Men at Work.]

If I played baseball today, I'd be a much better player mentally (but far worse physically). Alas that the physical and mental did not traverse the same path together.

I think another reason I enjoy the World Series is there's something nostalgic about it. I loved watching TV baseball games as a kid and a teen. It was no effort for me to watch a couple regular season games a week. (That's how I fell in love with the White Sox, because I saw a lot of their games.) I didn't necessarily watch with anyone. My dad and brother weren't sports fans. But I watched and enjoyed.

There's something relaxing about watching the World Series as well. I've always got something to do around the house--this task, and then this task, and then this needs to be done. But then I sit down and for a few moments forget the pressures and watch men in uniform colors desperately trying to control the geography of a small white ball.

Watching the World Series brings back many warm memories and infuses them into the present, and I come away from a game refreshed, ready for bed, and ready to tackle a new day tomorrow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Being a Taxi Driver Isn't Conducive to Blogging

I've hit a blogging slump. Can you tell?

It primarily has to do with the time factor. I believe Sara and I have officially hit the taxi phase of parenting. Caty's volleyball has ended, but Andrew's basketball is now picking up, plus he's working about 3 days a week. That adds up to a lot of drive time.

I hope to pick up blogging again soon.