Piper

I've always liked and admired John Piper, but within the past few weeks I've fallen in love with him. I love that guy. It's beginning to turn into a deep, heartfelt love, almost on the same level of my love for C.S. Lewis.

I've been listening to at least one sermon a day off of his Desiring God website. He's got such an ocean of information on there, you could spend years studying and meditating on it.

Thank you, John. You're a blessing.

Distant

Sometimes that word is what I'd use to describe God. In reality, it's more likely that the distance is something cerebral, inside of me, something that I can't quite wrap words -- or thoughts -- around. At least not precisely.

Whoever first quipped that God created man in His image and man returned the favor, had a keen (although perhaps brief) insight into the heart of man: a heart that longs, in the most inappropriate ways, to be like God (Gen. 3:5), and a heart that longs, in the most appropriate ways, to be like God (Matt. 5:48).

In the end, I think, such anthropomorphism about the nature of God has little use because He's God ... and we're human. (Of course, the caveat is He's the God who became human!) If His ways are truly higher than ours -- and, indeed, they are -- then even the God-man, JESUS the Christ, whose name means Yahweh is Salvation, should be recognized and praised as God who became man, and not man who became God. Man's never been able to figure out the trick to the latter, and, in the end, history would indicate that such a path leads to a life that offers neither God nor man, because to be truly human, I suppose, would necessitate being in communion with one's Creator -- and that doesn't work too well when you're trying to be Him.

With all that said, I don't understand God, and I never will. I read His book, and it's alive. More alive than I am. More real than I am. Only men moved (possessed?) by the Holy Spirit could write such a book.

To be literate, living in the 21st century, and to have a leather-bound Bible at one's fingertips is really a bit overwhelming. It's like playing with a Lion: it might lick you, it might make you feel safe, but it's never going to be your pet, because the reality is, it could devour you. "Our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

The conclusion, then, is that God, while full of grace and truth (John 1:14), is often a source of destruction (and I say that in the most positive way). In the end, I've found He burns and devours everything that's not of Him -- it's the painful part of being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

It hurts. Like hell.

"Hope all things about your brethren"

My friend Phil over at Thinklings posted a semi-long Spurgeon passage that I love. Go read it here.

Here's one of my favorite parts:

Love's third great labour is in "hoping all things." Love never despairs. She believes in good things yet to come in her fellow-men, even if she cannot believe in any present good in them. Hope all things about your brethren. Suppose a friend is a member of the church, and you cannot see any clear signs of grace in him, hope all things about him. Many true believers are weak in faith, and the operations of grace are dim in them; and some are placed in positions where the grace they have is much hindered and hampered: let us take these things into consideration. It is hard to tell how little grace may yet suffice for salvation: it is not ours to judge.


This reminds me of the Lewisian idea (from God in the Dock) of only God knowing how much work grace has done in someone's life. Is someone a curmudgeon? Lewis would say, then perhaps with Christ they're much less of a curmudgeon than they would have been without Christ. Sanctification is a beautiful thing. And one of the paradoxes of Christianity -- and oh how I truly love the paradoxes -- is that we are sanctified and we are holy, yet we are being sanctified and we are called to be holy.

John Wesley's Conversion

From his journal:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

Pondering Anabaptists

At work we took an order from an Old Order Amish business, and the Amish (and Anabaptists in general) have been on my mind today ever since. There's something strangely compelling to me about groups of people who eschew technology, military service, and the world in general. I don't want to become one of them, but I do find them compelling, especially when it seems to me like the evangelical church doesn't look much different than the world at times.

Counting Costs

Brandi and I are purposefully trying to move out to the country. We're moving (hopefully inexorably) toward our closing date of April 30th, at which point we'll be located in a small town about 10 miles outside of Waco. Over the years we've found ourselves more and more disenchanted with city life, and a peaceful existence on a quiet piece of acreage sounds really appealing to us right now.

Many folks I work with live out in the country, and there's a certain idea within their collective mindset that a city is no place to raise a family. I don't think they're universally right. Sure, for them, if they're following God, then the country is exactly where they need to be. But many people -- especially many people in my church -- believe that God has called them to be where the people are -- and that's in cities.

Truth be told, I'd say there's a certain tension between my church's call to be in the middle of a dirt poor, crime-ridden neighborhood, and my personal feeling that my priority before God is to my family, not the lost people who live in the neighborhood or any other group of people in my vicinity. Sure, I want my heart to break for the lost, but above that I want my heart to break for my wife and my children.

There's a human tendency to force convictions on other people. I can't tell you how many times I've heard of homeschooling believers who have frustrated and offended other Christians because they choose to put their children in public or private schools. Yes, Brandi and I home school, and we wouldn't dream of putting our kids into public or private schools, but we don't judge any parent for making the decision they feel is right for them and their children. The same can be said for the contrast between my church's general call to be among the lost, needy, desperate people in our city, and my personal compulsion to protect my family outside of that environment. While I don't think God is leading my family in that general direction, I bless the families of Antioch who lay down their lives for other people. The Body of Christ needs all types.

[About the house, we have a closing date set, but we still need to come out looking good on our inspections before we can say it's in the bag. I'm not going to exhale until we sign on the proverbial dotted line and I'm handed the keys. If the whole deal falls through, we'll gladly live wherever God wants to put us.]

Fireproofed Again

Brandi and I just saw Fireproof again with a couple of couples from our Lifegroup. Wow! I absolutely love that movie. It was just as good the second time.

Another cool thing: the movie was made by a Baptist Church but they offer an entire section of Catholic Resources on their official website. I love it when the fresh winds of ecumenism blow through our Christian faith.

A Bit More Than 12 Ounces

Meeting vendors is always a bittersweet thing for me. On the one hand, they always want to take me to lunch, and they usually spare no expense, so that typically translates into a pretty darn good free meal. On the other hand getting the free meal means sitting for 30 to 45 minutes with some guy I don't really know, trying to make small talk or talk endlessly about business. In the interest of being cordial, I usually take vendors up on their offer to "grab lunch." Today was such a day.

The owner of a box company bought me lunch at a local steak house this afternoon. When I first met the dude I made a few initial judgments about him and quickly decided that he wasn't a believer or if he was one he's probably just a Sunday morning type Christian. (Yes, I can be that much of a jerk when I'm evaluating people upon first glance. God help me. Seriously.)

Long story short, the guy asked me about God and church first, and we proceeded to get into an unbelievable conversation about faith, family, and walking with God through the business world we both live in. The guy was completely humble and laid his heart out there for me to see, and I tried to return the favor by sharing a large part of my testimony and telling him what God's been doing in my life recently.

It was great. I walked away with two things: 1) A full belly thanks to the 12-ounce sirloin I consumed, and 2) a certain sadness in my heart because the conversation couldn't go longer.

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