Friday, October 12, 2007

A Nearly Suspense-Free "Who Said It?"

Other bloggers do "Who Said It?" posts from time-to-time and I never get them. In fact, I sometimes fail to see who got the reference right in the comments because the blogger doesn't ever spill the beans. I won't cause you much anxiety. Below is a quote from a famous person. In this very post, I will reveal where the quote comes from. Before that, however, let me do a little back-story.

I brought this quote to a Bible-study several years ago. We had been "beating up" on the Pentecostals a little too much, I thought, so I brought this quote as a bit of balance. I handed it out and read it and asked, "Who said it?" The answers were interesting. Someone said that it sounded like some subjective mystic, but language was old, so it probably wasn't a modern Pentecostal. They were surprised when I told them who wrote this.

The quote:

“And here again we ought to observe that we are called to a knowledge of God: not that knowledge which, content with empty speculation, merely flits in the brain, but that which will be sound and fruitful if we duly perceive it, and if it takes root in the heart. Consequently, we know the most perfect way of seeking God, and the most suitable order, is not for us to attempt with bold curiosity to penetrate to the investigation of his essence, which we ought more to adore than meticulously to search out, but for us to contemplate him in his works whereby he renders himself near and familiar to us, and in some manner communicates himself. For each man’s mind is a labyrinth.”

I think this is a great quote. Adoration is indeed the right response to God as we receive what He has revealed about Himself in His Word and in creation. Getting God's truth into our hearts is also absolutely essential so that we may be fruitful, worshipping Christians. Sure, the Emergents and the Charismatics often go too far, but there is much mystery in God and His ways!

So ...











-- John Calvin (Institutes, 1.5.9,12)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I found this quote in David Powlison's, Speaking Truth in Love (highly recommended!):

"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity."

Friday, October 05, 2007

It's just .. like ... WOW

Inexpressible, indescribable -- utterly amazing.

In an age of hyperbole -- especially in advertising (car commercials on the radio, anyone?) -- it is difficult to use words to express the glories revealed in God's Word. Actually, it has always been impossible to contain the glories of God and His works in words, but we should always be striving to do that very thing! Theologians teach that God's Word, though holy and perfect, is a condescension to our weakness. I'm reminded of the line in the hymn, "Stoop to our weakness, mighty as thou art." I wonder how our communication will develop over the timeless ages of eternity? We will always have the joy of trying to express the wonders of our Creator and Redeemer. That will be the chief occupation and pleasure of Heaven.

This fall I began a new sermon series on Ephesians. I knew Ephesians was a wonderful book (it has always been one of my favorites), but until I began a close study for preaching, I had no idea how, well, indescribable it was. I am overwhelmed, and I am just beginning.

It struck me this week that if we could even really get Ephesians 1 - even Ephesians 1:1-13 - the church would be done with foolish compromises (worldliness), petty fights, discrimination and partiality, pride in our works, and scores of other sins and faults. This is very practical theology, because we are brought into the very purposes of God, and not just for us, for the universe.

Ephesians is about God and His work for His people. The closer you look, the bigger God's purposes in His Son for His glory in the church become. You cannot overstate how BIG this all is! I'm going to title my October 14th message on 1:7-12, "How to Fix the World" (wouldn't the modern Postmodern don't-be-too-certain-now types love that "arrogance"!). Meditate for a moment on 1:9-10:

... making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Put that together with God's purposes for the church that Paul states in chapter 3 (... so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places ...) and your vision for what Christians are to be and do should grow immeasurably.

I was also humbled again this week by the sobering privilege of preaching. I can read and re-read a passage, do the text work and read commentaries. By that point, I understand the passage. Sort of. There is something else that happens, though, when I write out what I'm going to say to the congregation and then preach it. It is then that a passage often comes alive and I really get it in my heart as well as my head. This might sound rather esoteric, but I know other preachers will know what I'm talking about (if they're expositional preachers, that is!).

Lest you think too highly of me, let me admit that when I feel overwhelmed by what I discover, I am more likely to go get another cup of coffee or go online and check my blogs than I am to fall on my knees in worship, though there has been some of that as well. There is still a sense of Exodus 20:18-19 in my still sinful heart. When the light gets extreme, I often shrink away. I wish I could consistently want to bask in that light - to stay on the mountaintop, but I am so often weak. The more I realize the magnificence of God as He is revealed in His Word, the smaller I feel.

I know that there are some people from my congregation that read my blog (or at least did until I quit for a month), so I might be sticking my neck out with that last paragraph. I'm putting it there intentionally because I want to ask you, again, to pray for me. When I am weak, then I am strong. I want to grow in the grace of the Gospel. I want to be a doer of the word as well as a hearer (and preacher). I know it is only grace that gives me delight in God's Word, and I am thankful for this great honour preaching and preparing to preach.

Who is sufficient for these things?

Monday, October 01, 2007

I Missed September Entirely

I don't have anything against my little ol' blog, but I just haven't had the wits lately to post anything. My new Sunday morning series on Ephesians and our new James Bible study have eaten up all my brainpower. It has been busy, what with a new season of church programs and whatnot, but I can't use that as an excuse because we all make time for the things we value, don't we? I'm not going to make any promises or plans (those haven't worked out so well), but I might be more regular now that things have settled down a bit.

Thanks Steve for asking about my blog last night, and thanks Paul for the comment! Those inquiries are the reason for this post. I hope it's not the only one in October!