Saturday, June 30, 2007

Money? No. Faith!

It has been a long journey for me and my family since we began to seek to do God's will in our lives. If one is to follow God you can usually forget about having a "traditional" lifestyle. We have moved eleven times in the fourteen years that we have been married. When we felt as if God was done with us in one area of life and ministry we packed up and said, "where to now"?
God doesn't always give the resources that are needed to do His work in heavy volume or surplus. He likes to give just enough as we need it. In Steve Brown's latest news letter he said that all his monetary obligations were met, but it sure would make him feel better if someone would give a few million so as to relieve some stress. Well he knows as do I that God doesn't work that way--generally speaking.
When we moved from MS to FL we came over for an interview for a teaching job for Leslie. She got the job and we didn't even have time to plan a move. I was at RTS Orlando, she was teaching in a public school, our possessions were in our house in MS, and we were sleeping on air mattress in an empty apartment! This transition was a lesson of faith for us. We wanted to know where we were going, how we were going to pay for it, etc. But there we were sleeping on air mattresses. Every night I aired them up and every morning the only part of us that was off the floor was our arms and legs. The air seeped out every night. I guess God thought He would add a little humor to things.
Well we are at another transition. I am done with RTS. When I turned in the last paper, I walked down the sidewalk and it hit me. We have finished what we came to FL six years ago to do. I told Leslie we were finished here. I saw in her eyes that we were not! She had been in a ministry at a Christian school for five years now. She has friends, an income, our kids are getting a first rate Christian education, we have lived in one place longer than ever before, things can't be over--can they? It wasn't long until she was no longer at peace in her ministry and one event after another led to a confirmation that we are indeed done in FL. It is amazing how sometimes we think that everything centers around us. Can we be opposed to God using negative circumstances to act in the lives of others where He has work to do? Our lesson in being mistreated or lesson in humility may be God's occasion of teaching another something that we are completely ignorant to. Whatever may be the case, Leslie stood on solid ground through a difficult trial and is at peace now.
Of late I have been sifting through the idea that I would take a break from school and work at my trade as a painter. We like the idea of Leslie doing the stay at home mom thing. We cannot afford to send our kids to a Christian school apart from Leslie teaching at one qualifying us for a tuition discount. But many fine Christian people have not had the privilege of private school. We are thankful for the years that our children have had. I can make enough money with my trade to allow Leslie to be a stay at home mom as well as pay for private health insurance. This sort of lifestyle is very appealing to us. I would not be able to go to school and do this, however. I worked a lot while at RTS and it took me six years to do a two year degree. I have one more tour of duty in my academic training. So a decision has to be made.
I did not realize it but I had misplaced my faith and started living the American dream in my mind. We have a new car, a mortgage, and the possibility of a "normal" life. Deep down I kept thinking we are not ready to settle down to this sort of life (and may never have lives as such).
I was on the phone discussing with Leslie the fact that we do not need to worry about money, that God controls it all, and He will make a way. We went over how we liquidated all of our assets to do the degree at RTS. God has given some of that back in the equity of our house we now live in. We will do the same again. We decided we must return to an attitude of faith. We will sell all to buy that pearl of great price. Our house is on the market!
We have been raising money for an adoption. We were short $5,500 of the estimated $20,000 needed. Five minutes after our conversation about how money and a stable life had darkened our sight as to the direction of God's will, Leslie called me with the news that a family wrote a check for the balance! Our refocusing of faith was confirmed by this gift from another family of faith.
I am not bragging on my faith. It was starting to waver. It is God who is faithful. It is God who gives me faith.
I told Leslie that if God wants us to move to Africa and live in a grass hut we will. She said jokingly, "let me know how thing go for you". I know that she would do it if we believed it was God's will. (Of course I would build a two story grass hut for her.)
Well here we are wondering where we will go for me to do a PhD. We are making arrangements to loose a new car, sell our house, and live like a student for what will probably be another two or three years. When I get finished with all of this academic preparation I will be ready to retire before even getting my career off!
I have struggled with the notion of a PhD. for a while now. I sometimes feel as if it is only a sinful pursuit to satisfy the demands of the world. I have also struggled with whether or not to do it in philosophy or theology. I keep thinking that if I do philosophy I can work in a secular environment as well as a Christian setting. It will be safer career wise this way. But I believe God will have me do theology. He knows I need it to be closer to Him. Besides He can provide a job wherever He chooses. Pray for me and my family as we press onward.

Friday, June 29, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"There is a world of difference between the wisdom of a devout man enlightened by God, and the knowledge of a learned and studious man of letters. Knowledge which streams into the soul from above by the outpouring of God's grace is of a far nobler kind than that which is painfully put together by the efforts of man" (a Kempis, Imitation bk iii).

My observations:
Philosophers many times pridefully think that they are the best of the best when it comes to knowledge. They show their ignorance and even foolishness, however, when they brag of knowing religion without knowing God." The scripture is not "out of date" as we see the verse still applies: "God has made foolish the wise!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

Having been made weary of manual labor and spiritual melancholy my entries have been somewhat lacking of late, but this is nothing a little Spurgeon or a Kempis quotation can't solve until I regroup.

"A lead sword in an ivory scabbard is still lead."
"You cannot make a man of one who is no man, though you may make him a magistrate, or a minister, or an emperor" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars, vol. I).

This may not be entirely true, but it is very accurately applied to those that make no progress into maturity of life. Office and standing in life does not necessarily go hand in hand with wisdom.

Monday, June 25, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"The man who is neither bent upon pleasing his fellows nor afraid of offending them will enjoy great peace" (a Kempis, bk. iii).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Many times living well only comes after living poorly. However, a fool never learns from his mistakes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Hypocrisy is the worse state one can be in. One that does not profess to be a Christian can have "peace" in the fact that they can be what they will apart from any pretense. There are secular hypocrites but they really do not have to be such. By contrast there are religious hypocrites. These are not true believers. They take on a nominal title but are not true believers at heart. These are not sinful or backsliden believers. They are outward by show as if playing on an actor's stage. They desire the praise of men. True spiritual fruit is nonexistent. They are easily persuaded by influential people because they want a pat on the back by them. They dance the dance of life as if at a masked ball. They are eager to dance to whatever tune is set by the orchestra of the evening. When it comes to making decisions that will cost them in life but will glorify God they hide behind their mask. They are always ready to cast stones or crucify the one that would follow the will of God. Holding to what is true and just in life is not as important to them as their social status. They sound a loud trumpet of Christian profession (Mat. 6:2) but make a louder blast to get the praise of their friends. They disfigure their faces as if they would be appalled at the thought of not doing the Christian thing (Mat. 6:16). Their heart is far from God (Mat. 15:8). Hypocrites love to be a follower of men but it is not long until they want to make disciples of their own to turn them into two times the child of hell that they are (Mat. 23:15). "They make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion" (Mat. 23:25). "they are like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones" (Mat. 23:27). "They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mk. 7:6). They shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. They will not go in themselves neither will they allow those that would enter to go in (Mat. 23:13).

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Sovereignty of God Pt. V (Calamity/"Evil")

The book of Job chapter one gives us an insight into the workings of God's sovereignty--behind the scenes--as Satan is permitted by God to bring calamity on Job and his house.
Satan is permitted to bring Job to poverty. He is allowed to kill Job's servants. And he is allowed to kill his seven sons and three daughters! Later he is allowed to attack Job's health.
Why did God allow this to happen? For His glory and Job's spiritual maturity. He was accounted as righteous, but we are never really quite there are we?
I realize that Satan is usually presented as being "on the run" in contemporary theology. But to be balanced on the matter let us not forget his real presence in this world.
Let me ask this question: Are we so in tune with God's sovereignty that it would not raise one ounce of prideful fur on our tails for us to consider the thought that our purpose in life could be to serve God by being one of "Job's servants" or one of "Job's children--figuratively speaking?" Could you stand the thought, and even glory in the notion, that you are to fulfil God's will in a way that is not the most pleasant to think about? Satan desires to sift us as wheat. He is a roaring lion roaming about seeking whom he may devour. And sometimes he is allowed to! Would you willing acquiesce to God's will as a victim of Satan if it will bring God glory or be beneficial to another? This is a hard concept and it cuts to the core of man's pride, laying him open to his true inner spiritual condition.
"Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil" (Job 2:10)?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Sovereignty of God (Reprobation)

God saves many. He does not have to save any! There is no injustice on his part if he leaves sinners to their just reward--eternal punishment--for sinning against his holiness.
Those that are non elect are left reprobate in their sins.
This is a hard doctrine for prideful man to accept. Man would have his part in salvation and imposing his ethics on God will cry unfair when he will not be heard by God on the matter.
It cannot be denied that there are some that are "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction"
(Rom 9:22). Judas is the supreme example of one that was reprobate. Jesus said that he "has lost none but the son of perdition," i.e. the one destined to be lost (Jn. 17:12).
Those that have assurance of their election have much to be humble about, much to glorify God for, and much to hope for in this life and the life to come.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

1Thes. 5:15

"See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all" (1Thes.5:15).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Sovereignty of God III (In Salvation)

God is sovereign in the providential ordering of our lives. God is sovereign over our natural world. God is sovereign in the saving of men. It is at this point that much controversy is stirred. To say that man has nothing to do in our salvation is to humble him at the lowest. Pride would have us contribute something. God would have us bring nothing. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. God supplies all three.
Let it be stated emphatically that man has no free will when it comes to salvation. He will gnash his teeth to the gums at this point and exclaim "I do have my part!" But God has his say in the matter: "It is not of him who wills"(Rom. 9:16).
There is one objection that I Will answer. It is objected that "whosoever will." It is easy to answer this in that whosoever will is the one that God has enabled to will. None of the dead can come out of the grave and join us in the ranks of Christ if we call them in terms of whosoever will. But those that have been made alive may freely come and join us. No more proof is required for this is a matter of pride and humility. It is not of him who wills!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Sovereignty of God Pt. II (God as Sovereign over Nature)

As noted in the first post on God"s sovereignty, he is sovereign over the affairs of men. I used some of my life experiences to illustrate how he works out his will for our lives even in opposition from the unregenerate as well as some "well meaning" Christians. It is my next point to note the sovereignty of God over the ordering of nature.
"By him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth. All things were created through him and by him. He is before all things, and in him all things consist (Col. 1:16,17). He "upholds all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3).
He is not sovereign "in" nature but "over" nature. Some would have us believe that all of nature is God and all of God is in nature but pantheism and panentheism are heterodox teachings.
God created the world creatio ex nihilo--out of nothing. The natural world obeys his divine directives. Even after the fall all things remain under his dominion.
How many accounts of God's controlling nature do we have? Many! The scripture repeatedly shows God's hand over the elements and creatures both animate and nonanimate of this world. They obey his every whim. All is made subject to him: from the parting of a sea to the calming of the storm; from the consuming judgment of fire on Sodom and the plagues on the king and land of Egypt to filling the people of God with quail and mana; from the saving of a man by a great sea creature to removing his comfort in the shade of a plant caused to grow solely for that purpose and removed by an obedient worm. Even when it comes to natural disaster (a consequence of mans cursed sin), we see that God nevertheless has his hand on it.
Though the evolutionist would have us believe we are the product of chance, God would have us believe otherwise. He is the only "scientific" explanation for intelligent design--an undeniable mark of the natural order. Many scientist miss the simplicity of ex nihilo nihil fit--out of nothing nothing comes! There are many scientists that would have us believe this absurdity and teach it to our children as truth in the schools. It is a lie.
It is God that created the world giving it the characteristic of design and it is God that orders its workings.
The next post will discuss god as sovereign in salvation.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Sovereignty of God Pt. I (At Work in My Personal Life)

"All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; he does according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'" (Dan. 4:35)
It is a marvel that man thinks God to be his subject rather than the other way around. God is not created in man's image to be his puppet (a common accusation by man against God's sovereignty over him). God will have all of heaven and earth subject to him--and indeed it is! This is the case with or without man's consent. God will have his will done and no one can impede it.

My grades were not that great in college but God brought me down the road that I was to travel. He wanted me to succeed. Even in the face of liberal (theological) adversity I stood on what I thought to be the truth no matter what the consequence was. My grades suffered for my position and not necessarily my performance and not denying that my grades were not always up to par even apart from debating theology. But I made it. Even in doing graduate work there were those that would not have me awarded my degree. Now I hold two masters! I wonder what my high school teachers would think if they saw me now? Wait I mean my junior high teachers for I never went to High school! They would be proud no doubt. God makes man subject to himself! He opened the way.
I was fearful of written comps but God leveled the element of discrimination by making the comps anonymous to the grading professors that would have me fail. I passed all three sections on the first attempt. This was not the case for every student. And I have had employers try to interrupt my future only to be an instrument of usefulness for his purpose for the next stage of my future.
To kick against God's will is to be as insane as Nebuchadnezzar had become when he attempted to do so.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Humility and Pride

When one thinks himself humble he is most likely prideful. Conversely one is is most likely humble when he thinks himself prideful.
Just because many are able to keep themselves in an outward appearance of righteousness is no evidence that internally they are not dead. There is no more sadder state to be in than to be sinful and not know it. The one thing that us real sinners can be thankful for as regards our sin (I realize that this is strange talk) is that we are aware of it.
It is like Daniel Boon grinning down a bear to be in the company of the self righteous. The prideful "bear" a face of viciousness that that does not recognize reason. A bear will not be humbled much less slain by the face of the humble.
Though positive outward appearances make one look as if all is well one may still be dead internally. There have been many people die of heart failure that did not have a single sign of outward distress on their body. Many have also been through much outward trauma yet they live.
The sinful have the virtue of humility! What a paradox! It is one of God's dealings with man in that he humbles his pride.
Do I contradict my opening statement? Does Daniel boon grin down a bear with a humble grin? Doubtful!