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Thursday
May132010

Thankful Thursday

Aren't babies wonderful?

I am thankful today for the arrival of a wee little boy who came into the world yesterday morning.  As my friend and I were having our regular Wednesday bible study, the pastoral intern from my church called with the news that his son had been born that morning.  I had seen the couple only the previous night at youth group.  Who knew that the next time I would see them, they would be new parents?

Hubby and I were blessed with an invitation to go to the hospital last night, and we got to hold the little bundle and visit with the happy parents.

What a joyful thing!

Tuesday
May112010

Dying to sin

I'm buried underneath the printed word. I have a lot of reading I would like to get done today.  I am behind in my reading from A Quest for Godliness, mostly because I'm in the home stretch of Kevin DeYoung's The Good News We Almost Forgot.  Tomorrow, I'm giving it back to its owner, so I'm going to be a little tardy with my usual Tuesday church history post.

I did find this bit from DeYoung quite good.  This is from the chapter "Dying Away and Coming to Life," which addresses Lord's Day 33 from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Dying to our old self entails three things.  First, we are sorry for our sins.  We see the foolishness of our ways and regret our choices.  Second, we hate our sins more and more.  It is one thing to feel bad following the repercussions for some action.  It is another thing to actually hate our sin and hate it more each day - not just because of the bad consequences it brings but because of its offensiveness before God (Ps. 51:4).  It's not enough to grit our teeth and do "the right thing" because we fear the repercussions of doing otherwise.  We must see the vileness of sin and detest it. Third we run away from our sin.  Too often, we think that regretting a past mistake or saying we're sorry for some offense is all that repentance requires.  But true repentance involves a change, putting our old ways behind us and walking in a ifferent direction (2 Cor. 7:10).  We are frequently content with mere talk - talk about how sory we are, talk about how rotten we are, talk about how bad our sins are.  This is all well and good, but the last time I checked we are cale to "put to death the deeds of the body," not merely complain about them (Rom. 8:12-13).  We have not really repented if we are only stirred but not changed.

I like how DeYoung points out the distinction between feeling bad because of the consequences of our sin as opposed to regretting the offense it gives to God.  I look back to the days of parenting young children and I really see that I missed the boat on that one, because I did not point that out enough.  I don't think I even realized that most of the time, my kids were really sorry because of the consequences.  Then, I realized that I am probably just like that myself.  I think the key to hating our sin is to see it more for the offense it is to God than it is something that makes people unhappy with us.

Monday
May102010

Should that "L" be a "P?"

I'm almost done Kevin DeYoung's new book The Good News We Almost Forgot.  I hope to finish today.  In the chapter called "A Suffering Servant for the Sheep," DeYoung reflects on what most Calvinistic people understand as the "L" in the TULIP acronym.  DeYoung suggests that "partictular redemption" as opposed to "limited atonement" might be more helpful:

Particular redemption is actually a more helpful term than limited atonement, because the point of the doctrine is not to limit the mercy of God, but to make clear that Jesus did not die in the place of every sinner on the earth, but for His particular people.  The Good Shepherd lays His life down for the sheep (John 10:11)...

If the atonement is not particularly and only for the sheep, then either we have universalism - Christ died in everyone's place and therefore everyone is saved - or we have something less than full substitution.  If Jesus died for every person on the planet, then we no longer mean that He died in the place of sinners, taking upon Himself our shame, our sins, and our rebellion so that we have the death of death in the death of Christ.  Rather, we mean that when Jesus died He made it possible to come to Him if we will do our part and come to Him.  But this is only half a gospel.

What I really like about DeYoung is that he is not afraid to use technical terms, and when he does, he explains them in a very understandable way.  I like technical terms; I think pastors should not be afraid to use them and teach them to others.  I am acquainted with pastors who will not use technical terms, and may even apologize when they are necessary.  They do this because they think it will scare people away.  I think that really doesn't give the individual the benefit of the doubt.  People have brains, after all, and can use them even in church.

Sunday
May092010

A Mother's Day thought

I am not really a huge fan of Mother's Day.  While I love my own mother and have no problems whatsoever in honouring her or telling her I love her, I don't like what Mother's Day can become.  I see commercials urging men to buy their wives expensive jewelry to mark the occasion, and I think to myself, "She's not his mother."

For me, on a good day, I generally feel like I've not been the mother I ought to have been.  On Mother's Day, at church, when we are asked to stand and be applauded for being mothers, all I can think of is the times when I was too hard on my little ones or times when I grumbled about the responsibilities associated with motherhood.  All I want to do at that moment is go back and hug my children more.  I don't like being asked to stand on Sunday morning in church and be applauded.  I don't care if that nice gentleman across the sanctuary recognizes that I am a mother; I am more concerned with what God and my children think of me as a mother.

I think Mother's Day can be really hard for some people; for those who are struggling with the pain of infertility; for those whose children are rebellious and far from the Lord; for those whose mothers have recently died; for those whose mothers were anything but ideal, or worse, neglectful.  I find Mother's Day a little hard this year because my own mother, with whom I was quite close at one time, has rather grown away from me.  Well, in all likelihood, it's got more to do with the fact that she is not a believer in Jesus Christ, and that puts a bit of a wedge between us.  The older I get, and the more I learn about Him, the less we seem to have in common.  She and my dad have not been well of late, and I would like to visit them, but she has been discouraging me from doing so, and I don't really understand that.  Despite these issues, I know that God gave me the exact mother I needed to have to be where I am today, for good and for bad.

I don't care if my kids get together and get me something; in all probability, they didn't.  My daughter has already given me a card, but boys can be kind of dense in the area of showing appreciation to their mother.  I don't really mind.  Today, for lunch, we're having the pastoral intern and his wife, who will become a mother herself in a few weeks.  They are far from their mothers, so this is a chance for me to mother them a little bit.  But, I must confess that I don't look forward to standing and being applauded.  I have done nothing to be applauded for; I was given three healthy children by God, and I am thankful for that.  I think a good Mother's Day gift would be to have my kids come on their own and tell me they love me, not because Hallmark says they must.

The best Mother's Day gift?  To know that my children walk with God.  I don't care if they have fame or fortune; I just want them to walk with the Saviour.  That's all any mother really wants for her children.

Friday
May072010

The main cause of unhappiness

I wonder whether we have ever realized the extent to which the misery and the unhappiness and the failure and the trouble in our lives is due to one thing only, namely self.  Go back across last week, consider in your mind and recall to your conscience the moments or the periods of unhappiness and strain, your irritability, your bad temper, the things you have said and done of which you are now ashamed the things that have really distured you and put you off your balance.  Look at them one by one, and it will be surprising to discover how almost every one of them will come back to this question of self, this self-sensitivity, this watching of self.  There is no question about it.  Self is the main cause of unhappines in life.  'Ah,' you say, 'but it is not my fault; it is what somebody else has done.'  All right; analyse yourself and the other person and you will find the other person probably acted as he did because of self, and you are really feeling it for the same reason. 

That is quite convicting.