Friday, March 30, 2007

Burgled 'Burb Brought Back Busted

Our Suburban was stolen on February 25th. We signed off on an insurance settlement on Wednesday, March 28th. This morning, the 30th, we received a call from a friendly RCMP officer who told us that they found our rig. It was right in town in the parking lot of an old apartment building.

We went to a very muddy impound yard to look at it this afternoon. It looked okay. There was a new, large crack in the windshield, but otherwise it looked sound. The insurance company said that we could either keep the Suburban (after an inspection) or take the cheque and watch it get towed away. We thought we might keep it, but after driving it home, I think not. It just doesn't feel right. They only put about 300 km on it, but they were hard kms. The seat frame is bent and there were some strange sounds. Even if it passes inspection, or requires minor repairs, it's still not the same (it's not exactly "busted" as I said in my title, but I was carried away on the wings of alliteration).

One little gripe: The towing company charged 132.50 (after tax) to tow the thing across our little town and drop it in their swampy yard. We'll get reimbursed, but that's just wrong. That's a booming economy for you. I wonder if they jack the prices up when they figure an insurance company is involved?

I'm hoping to follow up on that Wells quote soon. Maybe even tonight.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

David Wells on the Kingdom of God

The arrival of this reign of God was not nationalistically but spiritually focused, which was what caused the consternation among many of Jesus' hearers. Nevertheless, the prophetic vision began to be realized, albeit in an entirely unexpected way, that God would scatter his enemies (Mic. 4:11-13; Is. 13:19; cf. Joel 3:1-17; Zech. 12:1-9), for Satan's forces were being thrown into disarray (Matt. 12:28-29) and they recognized with fear who Jesus was (Mk. 1:24; 5:7-8). The note of judgment which fell on the cities (Lk. 21:20-24; 23:27-31; Matt. 11:20-24) fell decisively on the powers of darkness and Satan's household was plundered (Mk. 3:27).

All of this happened under God's sovereign hand. We can search for the Kingdom of God, pray for it, and look for it, but only God can bring it about (Lk. 23:51; Matt. 6:10, 33; Lk. 12:31).* The Kingdom is God's to give and to take away; it is only ours to enter and accept (Matt. 21:43; Lk. 12:32). We can inherit it, possess it, or refuse to enter it, but it is not ours to build and we can never destroy it (Matt. 25:34; Lk. 10:11). We can work for the Kingdom, but we can never act upon it; we can preach it, but it is God's to establish (Matt. 10:7; Lk. 10:9, 12:32). All of this is an expression of the eschatological framework present throughout the New Testament. It has profound ramifications for its doctrines of salvation and the way in which it speaks of hope. God's inbreaking, saving, vanquishing Rule is his from first to last. It has no human analogs, not duplicates, no surrogates, allows of no human synergism. The inbreaking of the "age to come" into the present is accomplished by God alone.

– David Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005, p. 214.


*Footnote 47 in original: George Eldon Ladd, Jesus and the Kingdom: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism (Waco: Word, 1964), 189.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Odds and Ends

With my wife, son and daughter all blogging, I'm feeling the pressure to keep up. I really am planning to get back into this seriously, but the weeks just fly by.

Tonight I listened to a message by Josh Harris on 1 Corinthians 10. The series on 1 Corinthians at Covenant Life has been great, but this message particularly is a keeper. It is very practical. I think I may burn a few CDs of this one and pass them around.

Our Suburban never turned up. Yesterday was 30 days and we were given a price by the insurance company right away. Not as high as we hoped, but such is life. Sigh. We're not going to be in a big hurry shopping, because we have a surplus car to sell. Spring is coming (here? Dare I hope?), so maybe it will go soon.

I began a sermon series on the book of Proverbs on the 18th of March - with fear and trembling, I must say. I've been enjoying the studying, but I've had a couple of people say, "This is really different for you." On of those people also said, "I don't think I like it." The challenge is having the Gospel present every week without imposing it on the text. Christ is in Proverbs, I just have to pray hard and work hard at making the connections. I may share some of the things I'm learning soon. I have been doing a ton of reading. Starting a new series always means doing lots of introductory reading in commentaries and lots of juggling to come up with outlines.

Not helping at all with the reading is the fact that my glasses were broken on Friday. I shipped them off to a repair place yesterday. I hope they're back by the end of the week. I'm not blind without my glasses, but it is somewhat off-putting to be squinting all the time. I've felt a little woozy and I'm sure it's my eyes.

That's it for now. I have to go watch the Oilers lose. Again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

May the Mind of Christ My Saviour

It has been a few weeks since I posted a Sunday hymn. I'd like to get back to this tradition. Tomorrow morning we are singing this hymn at the end of the service. I'm starting a new series tomorrow morning. I thought this hymn was fitting after introducing the book of Proverbs. I've never studied Proverbs closely before. I'm already hooked, thanks to commentaries by Bruce Ware and Tremper Longman. This is going to be fun, I think.

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Kate Barclay Wilkinson (1859-1928)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Great Time Saver: Other People's Blogs

Go read what Kirk wrote. That's close to what I was going to write tonight. I'd rather go to bed and read a book right now, so thanks, Kirk!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Amuddleniallism Defined

Today I listened to Dr. MacArthur's message "defending" Reformed theology against amillenial and postmillenial believers who claim to hold to the doctrines of grace. The title was "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist" (you have to sign up and buy the message for $2 if you want to hear it).

I'm going to keep my comments brief (I don't want to write anything that I'll regret later), but let me say that the message was worse than the descriptions of it that I have read. I am disappointed.

John MacArthur did not do anyone any favors with this message - least of all himself. What will be the fallout from this message? There is already a lot of discussion on the 'net:
  • Some thoughtful Christians who are searching for an eschotological home will study the options more carefully after hearing this message. Some of these will end up in the amillenial camp.
  • Postmil and amil folks that were at the conference were offended at the misrepresentation of their position. Some of the guest speakers at this conference are postmil and amil. What a way to welcome your guests.
  • I have read that some historical premillenialists are crying foul because their position has not been well represented (I don't have a link yet).
  • Some Reformed Christians are pointing out the disconnect between the Reformation heritage and revisionist claims made by people like Dr. MacArthur. We don't need a searchlight pointed on our differences. We should be together for the Gospel, not opening unnecessary wounds.

Dr. MacArthur is entitled to his opinion. However, to say that amillenialism should only be the position of Arminians, evolutionists, process theologians and semi-Pelagians is offensive. His characterizations of amillenialists were muddled with criticisms of some of the wacky elements of pop-dispensationalism and radical spiritualization. He made it sound like any Reformed leaning believer that didn't completely endorse his version of eschatology denied any continuity between the covenants and rejected God's faithfulness to His promises. There were more strawmen in that message than you'd find in all of Oklahoma in August.

Okay, I'm getting carried away - I'd better quit soon.

I have friends that are premillenial and dispensational in their eschatology. We can agree to disagree without attacking one another. I don't beat people over the head with my eschatological perspective. Many people in my church couldn't tell you the name of the millenial position that I hold (though they might remember the message on Matthew 24 that I preached recently). I can appreciate that Dr. MacArthur holds his position passionately. I only wish that he had defended it with more tact, grace and care.

At the beginning of the message, Dr. MacArthur said that he was concerned that Reformed people did not give enough attention to eschatology. It's getting some attention now, but I don't think it's going to help his cause at all.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Blah Day

I'm feeling a little guilty about my title. With all of God's good gifts in my life, I should be the most thankful guy around instead of grumbling about a blah day.

It's a gray day – snowing and just below freezing. Don't I have a right to complain? No, not really. But, hey, blogging is all about being "authentic," right?


I do suffer from Monday morning blahs sometimes. It's an occupational hazard for preachers. Yesterday was a good day, but some Monday mornings I have a hard time doing anything productive. I don't know how other preachers get away with not taking Monday off.

Josh and Emily were at a quiz meet in Red Deer on Friday night and Saturday with their mom/coach and two teammates and their mom. This was their best meet yet. They finished first in division 2. They've been working hard. Josh has memorized several verses in the next chapter (Acts 17) already. I'm very proud of them and delighted with this quizzing program. Over 200 kids met in Red Deer to compete this time.

No word on the Suburban yet. I'm ready to start shopping, but we have to wait for a couple more weeks. There is no point in shopping until we know, a). if it's going to turn up in 30 days, and b). what the insurance settlement will be.

I'm thinking about writing a little more about eschatology, but my heart isn't in it. I may do another quote from Above All Earthly Pow'rs. Wells has an amazing section on the nature of the Kingdom of God that I have been thinking about in the weeks since I read it. A lot of bloggers have said this, but let me add to the chorus of voices urging you to read this book. It's worth the work.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

End Times Tension

I have read some interesting eschatological blog posts lately – sort of eschatological, anyway.

The first one I saw wasn't eschatological at all, but it got me thinking about end-times views (not enough to leave a comment, though). Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs wrote a post that included praise for Dr. D.A. Carson. Good on ya, Dan. I couldn't agree more. Brilliant is a great word in the case of Dr. Carson. I was not at all surprised, but it made me think about the not insubstantial differences in Kingdom perspectives between Dan and Dr. Carson. Dan's a sharp guy, so I know he appreciates great scholarship from people that he wouldn't agree with on all issues. I hope I'm wise enough to do the same. Interesting, though.

The second one was a little pot-stirring from that very likable, prolific blogger Justin Taylor. He did a sly little comment connected to a conference link. I got a smile out of that one. He did get a reaction in the comments – more than the post warranted. He toned down the title from "you've been warned" to "eschatology" (though the original title is still in the address bar).

The third and last post was by Kirk Wellum expressing concern over some news that he received from The Shepherds' Conference. You'll have to read it. I'll be interested in reading more about this, though I hope everyone involved can keep things gracious. I don't think Dr. MacArthur is doing anyone a service by going after amillenialism.

I hope we're not going to see eschatology wars among Reformed evangelicals. That would be a real waste of time.

Update: I just read Tim Challies' live-blog of the first John MacArthur message. Sheesh. It's his church and all, but what an unfortunate presentation. Kirk was rather tame in his response.

A New Kind of Blogging

This post is a test. I upgraded to Office 2007 (a long story), and I see that they have a "New Blog Post" option when you click on "Blank Document." I filled in my blogger info. when prompted, and here I am trying out this new feature. I'd better go take a look at what this looks like before I spend more time typing here.