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Thursday, February 25, 2010


This is my frustration. Two main things. I will start first with what I learned in Job.

I know that more clarity should come from reading, but I am just telling you where I am at right now. I promised to be honest. Here it is. It was convicting to hear Elihu speak because I know that I sound an awful lot like him. Acting like I am smarter than guys 40 and 50 years older than me. I do believe that God reveals things to the foolish (young) to confound the wise (old), but it is also obvious that arrogance is something that God hates. Honestly I struggle with that. I often feel like it is wrong of me to keep my mouth shut and let people go on thinking something that I don't think is true. So I don't know how the balance works with proclaiming the truth of Christ and not acting like I know everything. I do try to go to people humbly, because I know that anything I know is only by the grace of God. None of it is my own doing. But at the same time I know that I am acting like I am right and the person I'm talking to is wrong. Where is the balance?

The other thing that has been really frustrating is how I expected the Bible to work out. When I read the Law, it seemed to promise the retribution principal- God gives good to those who obey and He gives bad to those who disobey. I was fine with that because I figured that it all changed when Jesus came. My expectation was that His only promise was that He will be with us to the end of the age. Obviously that is better than any of His blessings. That's what I expected and I anticipated the glorious truth in that. The problem is that it's not working that way. First I saw David and now Job. Both rejoiced when bad things happen to them because they still had God. David rejoices in God and says that He is his strength. And God all but shot down the retribution principal about 20 books before I expected Him to. What's up with that? What does this mean for his promises at the end of Deuteronomy. Has he already negated blessings as a form of reward and put Himself in that position? I was talking to some friends about that the other day and I just don't get it. Unless I just passed over it without knowing, I don't remember God changing His promises of blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 28.

I'm not really looking for an answer. I'm just letting you all know what I'm feeling. Not that you would care, it's just sometimes comforting for someone to be in the same spot as you and maybe some of you are where I am. If any of you wise friends out there have some light to shed on any of this please do. You don't have to post it on here. You can facebook message me if you want. Thanks for listening to me, and if you think about it please be praying for that whole arrogance thing. I'm about to be around a lot of friends who are pretty good at calling me out on it and I don't want that to taint any good that God might say through me.

All for His glory,


Yes, I finally finished Job. I know it took awhile, but give me a break. It's a hard book and I'm leaving the country in less than a week. With that said, Job was very good. Good in a way that I did not expect. I will recap what happened in the book and then say what I think about it a little bit. And then probably in another post I will tell you why I am so confused right now. But first Job.

I'm sure most of you have heard the narrative part of this story. It's very popular and people like to use it all the time to make them feel okay about their suffering. The story starts out by telling about Job, a man in the land of Uz. The first descriptions of Job are that he is upright and blameless, he feared God and turned away from evil. That's a pretty lofty description. Next the writer talks about Job's wealth. This isn't going to be word for word so don't expect it to be. Next comes the famous scene with the Lord and Satan (or the Adversary). Now I'm not going to sit here and act like I know if this is really Satan or not. All I know is that one of the most well-versed Hebrew scholars in the country told my class that the Hebrew was actually "the satân" and that simply means the adversary. So there ya go.

Nevertheless, they basically make a bet about why Job fears God. God says it is because he is righteous; satan says it is just because of God's blessings. So God allows satan to take all his things from him and eventually plague him with sickness. Then there is this whole scene of Job talking to his three friends (and one young man who comes in at the end) about whether or not Job actually sinned to receive this pain.

Those are all good things and everyone talks about them, but what hit me was the theology in question. There are two main questions on the table that they all go back in forth with. The first is the obvious one that everyone remembers from Job: does God cause evil to happen to the righteous? The answer is obviously yes. In chapter 1, verse 21 Job says, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Immediately after that in verse 22 the writer says, "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." There is your answer right there. Job said that God caused this pain. The Holy Spirit-inspired author of the text immediately says that Job doesn't sin by saying this and also does not charge God with wrong. Which means that it is not wrong of God to cause pain. Something else that becomes obvious through this is God's control over circumstances. In here it is obvious that Satan or the satân or whoever, causes these things to happen. Job says that God caused them. Obviously something is off. But no. The writer says that Job is right in saying this. Therefore, satan causing it is the same thing as God causing it. This situation is very similar to the census of David in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. Whether he is Satan or just a servant of God who causes havoc, God has control over him.

The second question is the much more interesting one to me, because obviously it is the question that God is concerned with. He doesn't answer the other question. In God's whole loud yelling and challenging in chapters 38-41, He never gives Job and his friends the answer to their question. The question he answers arises in chapter 28. "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? (Job 28:12)" The writer answers the question just a few verses later by saying this, "And He (God) said to the man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28)'" This is the answer to the question of where is wisdom found. In God's speech He doesn't tell Job whether or not he sinned. He asks him if he has any wisdom or understanding. He shows him the things of God and says, "I will question you, and you make it known to me. (Job 38:2)" It's interesting that God's answer to where wisdom and understanding are found are the exact descriptions He gives for Job in chapter one.

That is what jumped off the pages to me in this book though. That God was more concerned with them thinking that they were wise then the question that they were debating. If you read the dialogue, you will notice the arrogance with which all of them talk. Especially Elihu, the young man that comes in at the end. There is so much pride in everything that they say. It was actually really convicting. Honestly, I totally felt like I sound like Elihu so much. That I would come in and rebuke the old men and say that wisdom is given by the Spirit, not in age. It was extremely convicting. I will talk about this more in my next post but it just kind of adds to the confusion.

The last thing I want to say is very important. In chapter 42, the Lord rebukes Job's friends. This is what he says to them, "you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. (Job 42:8)" This is very important because a lot of what they say sounds right. The book I was reading said there is just enough truth in it to be dangerous. That is so true. Most of it sounds good, but it is not to be taken as theology. The dialogue is inspired and I believe it is true, but the content of the dialogue is not. God clearly states that so be careful when reading it. I know this is probably not the best description of Job that you have ever heard, but that's because I am a 20 year old college student, not a scholar. As much as was possible I tried to rely only on God's grace for the understanding of the story. The Fee and Stewart book was just to understand what was going on. I haven't watched the videos yet JR, but I plan to. I hope this was somehow encouraging, but mostly I hope it challenged you. Don't just read Job 1-2 and chapter 42. It's not the whole book. The middle matters. That's all. I love you all.

All for His glory,

P.S. Besides the content of the book I have to say this. That was some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read in my life. It really was something else. Try reading it out loud. You get the flow of the poetry a lot more.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Young People

This was a good thing to watch again on the day that I turn twenty. I realized that I'm still very young. It was also good to think of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12 and how stupid he was to ignore the advice of older men. So on my birthday I'm remembering two important things. 1) I can glorify God just as much at 20 as I can at 60. 2) Don't be an idiot and forget that I've only 20 years of experiences when some of the people around me have two and three times that. I hope those things help you remember that too. All for His glory.

1 Kings 12:6-15

6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. "How would you advise me to answer these people?" he asked.

7 They replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants."

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, "What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, 'Lighten the yoke your father put on us'?"

10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, "Tell these people who have said to you, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter'-tell them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.' "

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, "Come back to me in three days." 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, "My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions." 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Esther... what the heck?

I am totally confused by the book of Esther. God's name is not mentioned one time in the whole book. The whole thing is just about the Jews being saved from destruction. The point seems to continue to be the Lord's people being a holy and chosen race (just like His anger against them for polluting their race by intermarrying with foreigners), but I just don't understand why no credit goes to God. Maybe it was written by a non-Jew just as a record of history. Maybe the Lord wanted to show that He is still in control even when it is not acknowledged. Maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Nevertheless, this is a book that I really want to take a closer look at and read some commentaries on when I finish my reading. For now though, onto Job. A quick note about Job. I have tried to read Job before and have absolutely no idea what is going on the whole time. So I'm going to be using "How to read the Bible: Book by Book" by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart. It's a very good book that gives some background and some reading advice. I may also have to use a translation other than the ESV that tries to give things in a simpler way. Possibly the New Living Translation. I'll let you know when I write the notes on it. It could be awhile though. It's a tough book.

All for His glory,


I don't have to work again today. Bittersweet. I don't have to stand in the cold and get to stay inside and read most of the day, but I also don't get paid. So that part kind of stinks. Big plus though, I got to read Nehemiah.

Nehemiah is right on the heals of Ezra and I actually read that they were originally one book (like Luke and Acts) and weren't separated until well into the Christian church. But, like I said, it follows up on the same story line as Ezra. The people of Judah are still in exile, but a group has come back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple because God put it in the heart of Cyrus to do it (Ezra 1:1). Now Nehemiah is governor of Jerusalem and the rebuilding process is continuing. They finish building the wall and all live in the city by the end of the book, which continues the theme that God has a passion for rebuilding what showed His glory. Now for a few notes.

There are quite a few good bits and pieces in Nehemiah. The first comes in chapter one, verse eleven, in Nehemiah's prayer. He calls the people "your servants who delight to fear your name." That is weird. I've understood that fearing the Lord is good, but I haven't really thought about being delighted by fear. I don't quite understand it, but it's there. Hopefully it comes up more later on so I can better understand it. The fear of the Lord comes up a few more times. In 5:15, Nehemiah says he didn't take the governor's portion of food or act as a lord over the people "because of the fear of God."

There are more instances in this book where God not only shows His control over physical things, but in the thoughts of people.

"And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me (2:8)."

"... what my God had put in my heart to do... (2:12)"

"Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and... (7:5)"

This subject is very weird to me, because if we just listen to the things that people flippantly say in the most basic, five-year-old prayers, this truth of God being in control would be obvious. Example: "Please help us to be safe on this trip." I am blatantly asking God to keep bad things from happening to me on this trip. He will do that in one of two ways. Either something will happen that could be harmful to me (a car comes flying through a red light to T-bone me) and God physically changes the circumstances and either moves my car, moves their car, pushes my brakes to stop my car, makes their car bounce off of mine or fly over mine, etc. Either He does that, or He intervenes in the decision-making of other drivers to keep the situation from ever occurring (when they person would normally not look up to see the light, God puts something in their mind that makes them look up and stop their car at the red light). These are the only two options when I ask God to keep me safe on the road. Most of the time we don't expect or ever believe that He does the first. Therefore, He must be changing the thoughts of people because of our prayers. If you say, "God doesn't actually have to intervene to keep me safe," then why in the world are you praying? If you believe that there is no actual effect to you asking God to keep you safe on the road then why do you even do it? For piece of mind? To make yourself feel better? Why would you feel any better if you don't believe that God is doing anything to help you? This is the most basic petition that anyone could bring before God and it screams, in the petition itself, that God is in control over all of creation. In Nehemiah 9:6 it says, "You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you." God does not merely make everything and sit back to watch how it unfolds. He preserves all of it.

Chapter 5 is Nehemiah dealing with the oppression of the poor. He rebukes the people who are charging interest to the poor and putting them out of their homes. Now, most of you (along with me) are probably saying the same thing we do when we talk about the poor today. "It's their own fault. If we don't make them pay for bad money management and laziness, we are just compounding the problem and they will never learn." This one is my personal favorite (not because I hear people say it all the time, but because I say it), "Well God would provide for them if they were following Him." Well guess what? Nehemiah (God's servant) doesn't say any of that. He makes all of them give property back to the poor people. Then he says, "So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied (5:13)." Basically, '"God, anyone who doesn't return the property back to the poor, make them become poor and lose all their stuff. "And all the assembly said, 'Amen' and praised the Lord (5:13)." Did you catch that? Not just the poor people praised Him. All of them. It seems like these people get happy and praise the Lord at weird times. Like, at times that I would probably be mad.

Now, chapters eight and nine are really cool. Ezra gets up and reads the Law to all the people after they finish and dedicate the wall. First, there are some things that I need to note. He's not reading James and Ephesians and all these short, compact books full of theology and ways to live. He's reading the Law. You know, like Leviticus and Numbers. The people are standing in the courts, listening to Ezra read the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant! To you and me this is boring stuff. It says that he read from the Law "from early morning until midday. (8:3)" Not only do they stand there and listen to it "attentively" (8:3), but the people are weeping as he reads (8:9). Ezra has to comfort them and tell them not to grieve "for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (8:10)" Then these people keep rejoicing as they are hearing the Law "because they understood the words that were declared to them. (8:12)" Not because they liked what they heard. Do we understand this? The Law is the biggest burden anyone could ever hear in their life and these people are rejoicing because they understand it. Their reaction to all of this is they start confessing their sins and praising the Lord.

Then Ezra goes into this long prayer/praise of God, basically recapping every thing God has done for Israel all the way back to Abram. As he's reminding God and the people of all these things, he keeps praising God for them. For His "steadfast love" through it all. He finishes it off by stating their current situation: in slavery to another nation. So all of this leads up to 9:38-10:39 (which apparently is just chapter 10 in the Hebrew Bible). They make a covenant with the Lord to "walk in God's law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord (literally, Yahweh our Lord) and His rules and His statutes. (10:29)" So their response to all this crap that has happened is not asking God to make things better. Their response is to tell Him "we're going to follow you now." Wow!

After this, there seems to be a little break. It looks like Nehemiah goes back into the service of King Artaxerxes for awhile. When he comes back to Jerusalem, everything is a mess. Some guy is living in the temple; they stopped giving the Levites their portions; people were working and buying and selling on the Sabbath; they intermarried with other nations again. But Nehemiah fixes it all and restores order back to Jerusalem.

We've got to go back to the intermarriage thing again though. First, listen to what he says to them when he hears about their repeated sin of intermarriage. "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him kind over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women? (13:26-27)" He pretty much says "Even the great Solomon was caused to sin by foreign women. Do you really think we should listen to you?" Now hear what Nehemiah did when he heard of this. He went out and found them "and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. (13:25)" I wonder if this is a big issue in God's eyes.

That's it for Nehemiah. Yes, I realize that the summary I wrote is longer than the book itself, but it's a good book. I hope this encourages you, but it seems like Nehemiah brings about more challenge than encouragement.

All for His glory,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ezra is basically another book of history. It focuses in on the history of the rebuilding of the temple of the Lord. It actually stretches over a really long period of time even though it is only ten chapters. Besides the obvious passion that it shows God to have for the remaking of the glory of His house, Ezra has quite a few things to note.

There are a few interesting points in Ezra that have to do with God's sovereignty. (1:1,5; 6:22; 7:27) In all these passages, the writer says that God caused the king to do what he did.
"The spirit of the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus (1:1)."

"The Lord... had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them (6:22)."

"Blessed be the Lord... who put such a thing as this into the hear of the king (7:27)."

All of these explicitly state that God changed their hearts or spirits or whatever to do what He wanted them to do.

Another thing that I noted was in chapter nine, verse thirteen. "... you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved..." This brings me back to Deuteronomy 28 and the connection in Romans 3:21-26. Except now, instead of me assuming that the Lord doesn't pour out His wrath on them like He promised, Ezra explicitly confirms that. You have punished us less than our iniquities deserved. That is crystal clear. Therefore, the Lord is unjust and unrighteous. That is why Romans 3:21-26 is so important. Actually, that is exactly why the cross is so important.

The last note is what I believe to be the main point of the book. Ezra confronts the exiles about their sin of intermarriage. This is clear in Deuteronomy 7:3-4 that the Lord has commanded them not to take daughters for their sons from among the nations around them. Do you remember why He commands this though? "... for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods (Deut. 7:4)." This is not something that is up in the air. It's not like, "Ah maybe they will turn from me, maybe they won't." They will. It's a certainty. We have examples: Numbers 25; 1 Kings 11. Just saying, it's in there.

I hope this was encouraging. These should be coming pretty fast now for awhile (especially if my boss keeps telling me he doesn't need me for work), because the next few books are only around ten chapters. As always, if you disagree, great. Don't disagree because your sunday school teacher told you though. Disagree because you've read the Word of God and have come to a different conclusion. I'm going to steal this from my favorite radio show (White Horse Inn). Know what you believe and why you believe it. And always remember that this is not just knowledge. It's not to win an argument or get better grades in your Bible class. The Word of God is so that we know the character of God. It cuts to the heart and helps to discern. It helps us to keep from sinning against Him. It creates a fear for the Lord in us. There is emotion involved. It's not all X's and O's. Love you guys.

All for His glory,

2 Chronicles

Even though I loved learning the history of Israel and how God worked in the grand scheme of things, let me just say that I am very excited to move on to the smaller books that are more focused on one piece of that history. I feel like they will be a lot easier to understand. But here are a few notes on differences found in 2 Chronicles.

Chapter 6 is not new; I just hadn't noticed some of the stuff in it before. It is Solomon's prayer to the Lord after the Ark was brought into the temple. (That was my favorite part of David's reign too, his prayer after the Ark was brought into the temple. I wonder if the presence of Yahweh is something to get excited about.) In this prayer, Solomon prays for all these situations that might come about, and he prays that when they do happen, the Lord will hear the prayers of His people and forgive them. Make sure you catch the reason though. Verse 32 captures it, "for the sake of your great name." That's the reason God will forgive His people. Like He reminded them in Deuteronomy 9, it's not because of their righteousness, but for the sake of His name. "In order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you (2 Chr. 6:33)."

Chapter 14 is kind of weird and I didn't really know how to take it, so I'm just going to tell you what happens. Asa is at battle and cries out to the Lord. In this cry, he praises God and asks that He helps them in the battle. So God defeats their enemies for them. While that will never lose its awesomeness, it is pretty clear cut and basic for these last few books. Verse 14 is what is weird. "And they (this is the army of Judah) attacked all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord was upon them. They plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them." Doesn't that seem weird? Because they feared the Lord, they attacked all these cities and plundered them. I don't know what it means. I just thought it was interesting. This next part is interesting as well. When the army returns to Jerusalem, Asa and all of Judah enter into a covenant with the Lord, that they will seek Him with all their heart and kill anyone among them who doesn't. So their reaction is "all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sought Him with their whole desire." That is cool.

Chapter 20 is a story during the reign of Jehoshaphat in Judah. I don't know how this could be left out of Kings, but I'll just sum it up so you get the gist of it. All the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites come up against Judah. So Jehoshaphat cries out this awesome, God-glorifying prayer to the Lord and asks Him to fight for them. So Judah stands on this hill singing praises to the Lord, and they watch as God makes all their enemies turn on each other and kill each other until none are left alive. Wow!

Everything else was pretty much the same. I still love reading about Hezekiah and Josiah. Now onto the smaller books.

All for His glory,

Monday, February 15, 2010

1 Chronicles

I called my boss last night and I've got no work for the next two days. It kind of stinks because I need some money still for Chile, but it is nice because I can catch up on the reading that I should have done over the weekend. I've been thinking a lot about Chile lately, and I'd just like to ask that anyone reading this would be in prayer that I won't be distracted with a new, busier setting; that I would still give my time to the Lord and constantly surround myself with His Word. It's going to get more difficult starting in about two weeks so I'd appreciate if you could pray for that. Thanks.

Well I finished 1 Chronicles yesterday. What is weird about this book is that this book is refereed to as the Chronicles of King David. Well, I thought I already read the Chronicles of King David in 2 Samuel. The next book seems like it a joining of what is refereed to in 1 & 2 Kings as the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. I thought I already read about them in 1 & 2 Kings. My point is that 1 & 2 Chronicles are repeats of the last three books I read. At first that kind of ticked me off because it's like reading the same book twice; it's tough for it to hold you attention the second time because it's not new stuff. But, after thinking about it and getting into it a little bit this is exciting. Any differences that I see in the stories will jump out at me. And quite a few of them did in 1 Chronicles. That's a long disclaimer, but I just wanted to say what was going through my head.

Since you already know the story of David, I'll spare you the second go-round and just note the differences. The first nine chapters of this book are all genealogies. We see the family line from Adam all the way to David's descendants, the Kings of Judah. Also the descendants of all of the tribes of Israel and Saul are mapped out in those first nine chapters.

There weren't many changes in the story until I got to chapter sixteen. David sings a song of thanks to the Lord that was not in 1 Samuel. It is one of the most God-glorifying things I have ever read in my life. It seems like every other line talks about remembering His great works or telling the nations of His great works. Verse 29 starts out, "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name." That pretty much sums this up. There is also a whole lot of rejoicing and being glad. All of this happens because God is brought into their presence. David finally brings the Ark to Jerusalem.

Chapter 17 is the Lord's covenant with David, and apparently I was wrong about it having to do with Jesus, because in chapter 22, David tells Solomon that it was about him. So that was a pretty obvious mistake after I read that.

Chapter 21 is extremely interesting in the difference between its words and the words in 2 Samuel. It's an account of David's census of Israel. I wasn't really sure why a census would make God mad, and I'm actually still not. But in 2 Samuel, the first sentence says, "Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He incited David against them." In 1 Chronicles, this is how it starts, "Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel." What's up with this? This is the exact same story, only in one book God causes it, but in the other Satan causes it. Seems like a pretty big difference to me. It made me think of Job when at the beginning of the Satan is doing all of this stuff to Job and then Job says, "'Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?' In all of this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10)." Again, same issue. Satan obviously was the one that did these things to Job, then Job says "Should I not accept this evil that God is doing to me?" and it immediately says that he didn't sin in saying this. We talked about this issue a lot in my Israelite Poetry class this past semester. My teacher was a renown Hebrew scholar, so he was pretty sure he was right on the issue. What we talked about is that "Satan" is actually "the satán," which is Hebrew for "the adversary." He said that the satán is merely an officer of the Lord who does what He tells him to do. We had long discussions about that, and I still am not quite sure what he was saying about a lot of it, especially Satan in the New Testament. Anyway, I thought you should know what he told us since he is really smart. Now here is what I believe from what I have read so far. It reminds me of the situation with Pharaoh in Exodus. God hardened his heart, then in the next verse, Pharaoh hardened his heart. Who actually did it? Here's what I believe. God is in control of all, even Pharaoh, even Satan. He is sovereign over everything. So when it says in one instance that Satan caused something or Pharaoh caused something, and then in the next, that God caused them, it is right. God ultimately is the one that caused Pharaoh's heart to be hardened, and David to take a census, and Job to have all that bad stuff happen to him. He might have done it through Satan or Pharaoh or whoever, but in the end He is the cause of it all because He is over it all. I know that is a lot and it is still confusing, but I believe it is important. And I believe it is important because it has come up so many times in the first what, 20 books of the Bible? You may not agree with my opinion, but I think you should care enough to have an opinion. Those of you who would say, "It's not a salvation issue so who really cares?" frustrate me so much. It's an issue of who God is, how could you not care? Anyway, that's my rant for the day.

Chapter 28 is very clear that God chose David, Judah, and Solomon from among many. David says, "and among my father's sons He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel (28:4)."

Chapter 29 is David giving instruction about the building of the temple. In the midst of the instruction, he has a time of giving. This is such an awesome picture of "giving" that I think it is worth talking about. David, the king, leads by example by giving an insane amount of money to the house of God (225,000 pounds of gold and 525,000 pounds of silver). Then in his prayer (29:10-22), he praises God's greatness and then says this, "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer thus willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you." Notice the rejoicing in verses 9, 17, and 22. There is more rejoicing in this passage than anywhere else in the book, after victories in battle or David being exulted as king. And they just gave away a ton of money. Why are they all so happy? That is not normally what I see when the offering plate comes around. One time have I seen giving like that. That was at Passion 2010 when 22,000 college kids gave away like 1.3 million dollars. But to see joy when people are giving things away is pretty rare.

One more note about 1 Chronicles, the sin of David is not mentioned in this book. I was very surprised by that. It seems like that would be a point of emphasis to show the disasters that come with sin, but it is not mentioned.

Be challenged by this. I know it was a lot and there was a lot of stuff in here that you might not agree with. Don't go away and go, "Well I just don't agree." Actually find out why you don't agree. Then tell me so that you can show me the truth. I'm not interested in what your pastor told you or what mom or dad says. Find out what you believe and why you believe it, then tell everyone. I think that's how it should work. Not being taught something by some book or some class and then holding firm to what someone told you. When you put your faith in things that fail, you will be disappointed. Put your faith in God and His Word. I promise He doesn't fail. Alright enough ranting for the day. I've got to read. Continue to pray for me as I search God's word.

All for His glory,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2 Kings

After reading the last two books I actually enjoyed 2 Kings. Through all the bad stuff that is happening there are drops of hope every once in a while, and those seem to make the rest worth reading.

This is a book where patterns show up like crazy. In both Israel and Judah this is basically how it goes: a king comes to power, does what is evil in the sight of the Lord, dies, then another follows the same mold. Like I said though, there are breaths of fresh air who follow the Lord. The book actually starts with Elisha. If you liked the little acts of God in 1 Kings (again by little I just mean, said in passing), you'll love the first few chapters of 2 Kings. Elijah doesn't die, he goes to heaven on chariots of fire; the Lord causes two bears to maul 42 small boys for making fun of Elisha for being bald; the widow's oil in one jar fills every jar in the neighborhood and she sells all of it to repay her debts; Elisha promises the Shunammite woman a son in her husband's old age, then he raises the kid from the dead when he dies; then he purifies poisoned stew; he heals Naaman of leprosy; then makes an iron axe head float by throwing a stick at it. That's some pretty cool stuff. I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of all of it is. Whether it's to show that God cares about the little things or what, I don't know. I just know it's all pretty amazing.

Anyway, from that point it continues on the same pattern- bad kings in Israel and Judah. In chapter 17 the Lord finally just ends it with Israel. He gives them over to the Assyrians. Starting in verse 7, He tells them why. It is because of their idolatry. It is because the Lord is jealous for the glory He and He alone deserves. When He doesn't get that glory, it makes Him angry (17:11). Then the end of that chapter is this weird thing where the Assyrians are trying to figure out how to fear the Lord. They do, but it's along with a bunch of other gods. To which the Lord says this, "You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm (17:35-36)." That is very clear that fear of the Lord is not to be coupled with the fear of anything else. You do not fear man; you do not fear other gods, or idols, but Yahweh and Him alone.

Immediately after that is one of my two favorite parts in the book. Hezekiah starts his reign in Judah. Let me just tell you that Hezekiah is the man! Even all the other kings that did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, didn't remove the high places. Hezekiah did. "For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following Him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses." Hezekiah had to deal with Sennacherib, the ruthless king of Assyria. He gave glory to the Lord the whole way. Even when he fell sick, Isaiah told him that he would die. Then the Lord heard Hezekiah's prayer and added fifteen years to his life. That is cool. But in this see what the Lord says. 20:6, "and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my sake and for my servant David's sake." How clear can you get. He gives this gift to Hezekiah, but then tells him why He gives it to him. "For my sake." He does it all for His glory.

Josiah is my next favorite part in the book. He was eight when he became king. Eight years old. You know what his first recorded act as king was? To repair the temple. To repair the house of Yahweh. So I'm reading along and guess what he finds in the temple? The book of the Law. I didn't think it was any big deal, but I guess it was. Apparently, during all this time, they didn't have the book of the law to read. When Josiah read it, he tore his clothes because he realized all that they had done and what the punishment was. He immediately said "Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all this is written concerning us (22:13)." So that is what his reaction is. Oh no, look at what's going to happen to us because we haven't followed the Law in this book. That should be our reaction. Too bad it never is. It's always, "Well I don't agree with what God did here or there. I don't think a loving God would do that." No. God is God. His character is not in question, ours is. That was what Josiah knew as soon as he read. Anyway so he restores the Sabbath and tries to bring the people back to the Lord, but as soon as he dies they go right back to where they were. In chapter 25, Judah is taken into captivity by Babylon. So now both kingdoms of Israel are in exile. That is where we are left at the end of 2 Kings.

I'm swimming through this mess just like you guys are. I don't understand everything the Lord is doing, but I pray that He gives me insight into His Word. So that I may understand, as much as He allows, His glory shown in this book. I hope that this is an encouragement to you and challenges you to go read and grow in your love for and awe of Yahweh.

All for His glory,

1 Kings

1 Kings is somewhat similar to 2 Samuel in that I was so hopeful at the beginning and then Solomon turns about halfway through the book. So once again it made the book hard to read. The glory of God shines bright in the last several chapters though, through his prophets.

The book begins with Solomon becoming king of Israel. The first big thing that happens is that the Lord offers Solomon anything that he wants, and Solomon asks for wisdom. The Lord is so pleased that He says He will give him riches as well. I think we've all heard that part of the story. Shortly after, Solomon builds the temple of God. This is so great to read. To see all of God's glory finally being praised in a house fit for Him. Solomon says something very cool in 8:27 though. He has just built this amazing, magnificent house for God and then says this, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!" That is a glorious God! In chapter 11 the heading reads, "Solomon Turns from the Lord." Do you know why it says he did? Because of his wives. Because of the foreign women he loved who did not love the Lord. His heart was turned to them and their gods. That was the fall of Solomon.

The next five chapters are God's punishment because Solomon and Israel turned from Him. The biggest and most important punishment comes in chapter 12, when the kingdom is divided into two parts- Israel and Judah. This is the way it stays for the rest of the history of the people. You will see how it turns out but I'll just tell you that it isn't good.

Then Elijah comes on the scene in chapter 17. God shows His glory all over through Elijah and Elisha. The most prominent time is when Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal. In 18:37 he prays as he is asking God to show up the prophets of Baal, "Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, 'The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.'" That is the God we serve! That is an awesome God who is jealous for His glory. Oh I love that. There are some little things that God does through the prophets that I just love to read (by little I mean not really expounded upon, just mentioned in passing). My favorite is 18:46. Ahab takes off in his chariot to Jezreel and then it says this, "And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel." Ha! God made it so he outran the chariot. That is awesome! The end of the book continues to talk about the bad kings that follow Solomon in both Judah and Israel.

I have already finished 2 Kings so I will write the notes I have for that today if I can get to it. Please don't just read what I write and think that you are reading and understanding the Bible. As you all know I am not perfect. I do not get all of this right all the time. I'm a 19-year-old kid who is trying to learn more about the God that I serve. I'm not a scholar. So read these things for yourselves as well. Let God reveal to you what He wants to reveal. I hope that this is merely a challenge and an encouragement. It's all by the grace of God.

All for His glory,

2 Samuel

These next six or seven books are all historical books, so I will probably write my notes the way that I did 1 Samuel- the flow of the book and patterns that I see, and then things I have noted throughout the book.

This will be a brief description for a few reasons. One, there is not a whole lot besides history in this book. Two, I read it like five days ago. Three, the whole book was just hard to get through. It was gut-wrenching to watch David's life fall apart before my eyes and I really just don't want to dwell on it that much. But it is still the Word of God so it demands my attention. So here I go.

The book begins with David finally taking over as king on the heals of Saul's death at the end of 1 Samuel. It takes him about 5 chapters before he is actually anointed king. Immediately you can tell that God is working through him. He defeats the Philistines and brings the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Chapter 7 is God's covenant with David and David's response to that. The next few chapters tell of all the victories that the Lord gave David over his enemies. Then, comes chapter 11, Davids sin with Bathsheba. Immediately after, Nathan rebukes him and tells him the Lord's punishment because of his sin, namely the unrest and evil out of his own house and the death of the son that was conceived in the sin. After that everything turns south. The next twelve chapters were hard to read. It was like watching a house burn and not being able to do anything about it. The book ends with David's last words and the Lord's anger then being kindled against Israel.

The most important thing I saw was the Davidic covenant in chapter 7. I believe that verses 12-16 are supposed to be about Jesus. His kingdom will last forever. Oh how I love when there are hints of the Gospel in the Old Testament.

Fear of the Lord and the Lord's control show up here and there. The Lord's control is most obvious (and confusing) in chapter 17. Absalom seeks the advice of Ahithophel, of whom it is said, "the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God (16:23)." Basically, to make a long story short, Absalom doesn't follow his advice but does what Hushai, David's friend, tells him to do. Absalom ends up dying because he followed Hushai's advice. The kicker, though is what it says in 17:14, "For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom." So the Lord made Absalom trust Hushai, so that He could kill him. That is not what I would have expected.

The fear of the Lord shows up in David's last words in chapter 23. Verses 3-4, "The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, He dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth." Basically, when you rule over men in the fear of God, He smiles on them.

Like I said there wasn't a whole lot. There was some good stuff about God's glory in David's song in chapter 22. It just gave me a taste of what the Psalms will be like (2 Samuel 22 is a paraphrase of some of Psalm 18). I'll gladly move on from 2 Samuel. While I know it is the word of God, it still is painful to watch him punish someone. Maybe God is teaching me something about His wrath. Let me know if you have anything about this book.

All for His glory,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

1 Samuel

Okay, I finally got around to posting about first and second Samuel. I think you will see what I mean about how confusing they are, and how I don't understand the implications of a lot of things that I saw. I'll tell you about them anyway though, because they're worth mentioning. First, I will just give you the basic story line since there is so much story and it fits right into the flow of God showing Himself through history. Then, I'll talk about all the awesome and confusing stuff (sometimes those coincide).

1 Samuel is the first of the historical books (I think), so there is a whole lot of story to it with bits and pieces of implications scattered everywhere. It starts out with the birth of Samuel, who becomes God's instrument, as a judge, for quite awhile in Israel. The next big thing that happens is Israel demands a king for their nation. Samuel warns them about all the things that will happen, but they still want one and God tells Samuel to go ahead and do it. So God anoints Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul is a man's man. The way they describe him makes him sound very kingly. Saul sticks with God for a little bit, but after awhile you can see that he starts to do things his own way. Finally, Saul messes up again and God tells Samuel it is the last straw. God rejects Saul as the king. Right after that you have the anointment of David as the new king, which is interesting because Saul continues on the throne for a long time after that and it kind of sound like Samuel didn't tell anyone that David was actually anointed as the next king. David works for Saul though and then starts to do some great things. Very soon you have the story of David and Goliath, which I will talk about later, but that kind of jump-starts Saul's jealousy of David. Basically all the rest of the book is David running from Saul as he tries to kill him. Two times when Saul is pursuing David for his life, David has the chance to kill Saul, but he doesn't take it because Saul is the anointed of the Lord. In the last chapter, Saul dies, which leads right into 2 Samuel.

Now for all of the implications of things that I read. There are quite a few so follow closely. The first and most obvious thing was this repeat of God using the weak to show His strength. Hannah's (Samuel's mom's), prayer in chapter 2 is all about that very thing. She is praising God that He makes what the world think is strong, fail and uses what the world thinks is weak, succeed. It got me thinking about how obvious this theme has been in the Bible so far. We see barren women (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Samson's mother, and Hannah) give birth to the patriarchs and judges of Israel. Jacob was the weaker, younger brother; Joseph was the 11th out of 12 boys born to Jacob; even Seth was chosen after Cain killed Able; Gideon was scared, weak, and doubtful; and finally David in chapter 16. David was the youngest of eight brothers. The Bible describes him as ruddy. Yet, the Lord chose him. He also chose him over Saul, who was the "perfect" king. Do you think God purposely made the one who looked like the best king fail immediately and the scrawny little guy succeed? I do. I also think that this theme continues in scripture so we will be talking about it later on.

The next thing is the confusing one. It is some of the things that the write attests to the Spirit of the Lord. I'm just going to list the things that the book says. In chapter 10, He rushes upon Saul and it says he will be "turned into another man." In 11:6, Saul hears the news of Jabesh being captured and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, "and his anger was greatly kindled." Then he tool a yoke of oxen and cut them up and sent them to all of Israel. After David was annointed it says, "the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward,' like it was continually happening after that. The very next verse says the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, "and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him." Three more times in that chapter it mentions this harmful spirit and says it is from God every time. Again, in 19, this harmful spirit from God came upon Saul. In the same chapter, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul's messengers, so they prophesied, and then on him, so he prophesied! In chapter 28, this witch brings up Samuel's spirit from the dead and he talks to Saul. WHAT?! I thought that only happened in movies. This is the Bible. All of this is extremely weird because they are things that I've never heard before. God doesn't put spirits on people to torment them; the Holy Spirit doesn't cause people to get angry and kill animals just to gross people out; and spirits definitely can't come back from the dead to talk to people. Obviously I've been mistaken in what I believe about God and His Spirit.

What I cannot afford to miss is the most important thing in this book, chapter 12. In Samuel's farewell speech, he rebukes the Israelites for asking for a king. He goes through and mentions fearing the Lord a few times, but then he says this in 12:22, "For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself." It's all to make His Name great! It's obvious that the people deserve for God to forsake them, but He won't. Why? So His Name is glorified. Also I see God's pleasure and his election both right here. It has pleased Him to make this a people for Himself. They are a people set aside by Him for Him. And that gives Him pleasure. Now 12:24 "Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you." Do you see how the two are connected? Fearing God comes from remembering the great things He has done and remembering that He was the one who did them. Oh I love this!

Two more quick notes. One is the whole time I was reading about David running from Saul, I couldn't help but think of the Psalms. It's like reading David's biography and then going and reading his journal after. I can't wait. The other thing is that I went through and counted just for fun. Since the exodus from Egypt, God has reminded Israel of it 52 times now (through 1 Samuel). Do you think He cares that His people remember His great works?

Ok I realize that was a lot, but it is totally worth it. It's the Bible. It's God's word. Of course it's worth it. Hopefully this has challenged you and made you realize that you don't understand God or His Spirit, because I know that's what it did for me. So go and read more so that you can understand Him better. I'll try to get to 2 Samuel today. It's a mouthful and difficult to get through so I'll try.

All for His glory,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Good Stuff from a Friend

What I am about to post is a link to my friend and former (sometimes current) teacher, Steve Webster's blog. What he has posted is a great video from John Piper at the Desiring God Pastor's Conference (at which he was in attendance). It is hard to follow, but I ask that you focus through the six minutes. It is an awesome message that I struggle to comprehend and remember day in and day out. Here is the link: The Gospel saves from morality


It's been a long week of great reading and learning. I finished Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel this week. I'll start with notes on Joshua.

Joshua was short and sweet. It seemed to be all about God fulfilling His promises to Israel. The conquest was Him giving Israel the land that He promised them, all the way back to Abraham in Genesis 12:14-17. Eighteen times in this book, God reminds Israel that it is Him who is giving them the land. Also, He told them eighteen times that He was the one fighting for them as they were conquering all these nations. He was the one delivering the enemy into their hand. The Lord is very clear to the whole nation about who is responsible for these victories. In Joshua 11:20 God even says it was Him who hardened the hearts of the enemies so they would come against them in battle, so they would be defeated.

If God's purpose in this book was to show that He keeps His promises, apparently He wanted to remind everyone of His awesomeness in the process. He made the Jordan river pile up into a wall of water so Israel could cross it (Joshua 3); He made a huge cities walls fall to the ground by blowing trumpets and shouting, after they had done nothing but walked around it for a week (Joshua 6); He threw hailstones from heaven that killed more men than the Israelite army did with swords (Joshua 10:11); He made the sun stop in the sky for an extra day so the army had time to defeat the Amorites (Joshua 10:12-14). In chapter 4 (the Jordan river scene), God tells Israel why He did such an awesome thing. He told them to build an alter by where they crossed so that when their children saw it and asked about it they would tell them what God did there "that you may fear the Lord your God forever." Crystal clear. God does these things so we remember His greatness. This brings us an interesting thing that I have noticed. The Bible seems to follow a pattern in the way God deals with people. The pattern is: He says He is going to do something great and awesome, He does that great and awesome thing, then He commands that they remember that great and awesome thing that He did. With the flood the reminder was a rainbow; with the Exodus it was feasts, days, and traditions set aside for remembrance; with the Law it was written word to remind them; now in the conquest (and I think quite a bit in times to come) it is alters that are meant to refresh their memory. That obviously makes me think of communion. God commanded that we do that "in remembrance of Him." So that we would remember the greatest and most awesome thing He ever did. More on this to come later.

In Joshua 1:8, the end of chapter 8, and 23:6-8, God stresses how important the reading and speaking of scripture is (the Law at this point). This is so that they don't forget what God has done for them. In 23:6-8 it says they should keep to what is written that they may not mix with the gods of the other nations, "but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day." These things make sense. If these people remembered constantly how great God was, they would not ever think about "whoring" (God's word not mine) after these worthless gods made of wood and stone.

Sadly, Joshua does not end on a good note. As they talk about who will get what land, we are told that each of them disobeyed and did not drive out all the nations from their land, but let them stay. They failed to do what God commanded them to do.

Now onto Judges...


Now we are to Judges. Judges ran by pretty quickly because it is a book basically of a compilation of stories about Israel in their new land. My overall feeling after reading it was just sadness. I actually started to see God fulfill some of the curses He promised in Deuteronomy 28. Basically what happens is that Israel forsakes God, they do what they want, then God, because of His jealousy for their love and loyalty, gives them over to the nations around them. Then, when they cry out for help, God provides someone to save them from their enemies. They have short memories though and immediately forget what God did for them, and the process repeats itself.

This is where that remembering God's greatness thing comes back in. There is a new step in the process- the people forget. God has given them all these reminders of His glory. So when the people forget, they turn from God, and He punishes them. It flows right in with His jealousy for them and His passion for His own name to be glorified.

The power of the Holy Spirit shows up in a bold way in this book. Men do some amazing things when the Spirit of God comes upon them. Othneil defeated the Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia in battle (3:10); weak, scared Gideon led an army of 300 to victory over one of 135,000; Jephthah made his awful vow right when the Spirit of the Lord came on him (11:29-40); Samson tears a lion apart with his bare hands, kills 30 men and steals their clothes, tears ropes of that bound him and makes bonds melt off his hands. Jephthah brings up something interesting because obviously it is not a good thing that he kills his own daughter. But the Spirit of the Lord was on him when he made the vow. The way it's worded makes it look like the Spirit of the Lord was the cause for him making this vow. Very interesting.

Two times in this book people see God (the angel of the Lord) and their first reaction if fear that they are about to die. Gideon in 6:22-23 and Manoah and his wife (Samson's parents) in 13:21-22. The glory of God produces extreme fear in the people who see it.

Just another note, six times in Judges God or one of the people reminds the Israelites of God's greatness and faithfulness by saving them in Egypt and going before them in the conquest.

Now to Ruth...

P.S. If anyone has any knowledge of this would you enlighten me and anyone else reading? I don't know what the deal is with "the angel of the Lord." When he is mentioned people say they have seen God. Are they interchangeable? Are the people just confused and thought the angel was God? Is the angel of the Lord Jesus? What is the deal here, because I can't figure it out from the English text.


Ruth has very little about God in it, which is kind of weird. They give God credit for a of things, but it almost seems like it's just lip service. I don't know why I felt that way when I read it, but I did. Anyway, just what I thought.

That isn't the point though I don't think. I think the main character in this story is Jesus. Yes I said Jesus. No He isn't mentioned in the book at all. I think it is pretty obvious though and I don't think I'm reading anything in that isn't already there. God kind of lobs one up here for us. Ruth is a foreigner who has no inheritance and no means by which to live. So comes and basically begs in Boaz's field for scraps and Boaz gives her more than she could want. In the end, Boaz redeems her (yes the writer uses the word redeems, I didn't just write it for my purposes) and marries her. He reward is now great in that she has a husband and wealth. Not only that, but she now becomes apart of the line of Christ. So basically we have a foreign woman (who were thought of as property at the time if I'm right) who has no inheritance or even way to get enough to live. This guy comes along and protects her, saves her from this life, brings her into be his wife, and she ends up becoming apart of the family of God. Sound familiar? It's the Gospel. It should sound familiar.

There is a whole lot that I didn't understand. The whole way that she got him to marry her with sleeping next to his feet and all that confused me. I'm sure it even adds to the greatness of the story. Again, if anyone knows what that stuff means, please enlighten us. I will at some point learn about it, but I don't want to ruin the flow of the Bible that I am trying to take in.

I'm going to hold off for 1 & 2 Samuel for a bit. There are so many confusing and weird things in those books that it will take me awhile to sort through them. Plus I am just tired. Hopefully those will go up today though. Until then, be encouraged or challenged. Don't just accept what I think about these things as truth. God could easily have kept obvious things from my understanding for His purposes. Nevertheless I am greatly encouraged by what I am reading. God is greater and more faithful than I ever thought. Honestly it just is getting me excited to read the Gospel.

All for His glory,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

C.S. Lewis quote

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory, 26)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Planning To Be What You Want to Be

Before I start in with my notes from the last couple books of the Bible, I have one more thing that I thought a lot about this week that I want to mention. I thought about planning. I thought about the person that I want to be when I get back from overseas, when I get back to school in the fall, even just when I leave for Chile in a month. It made me excited when I thought about all the awesome things that God could do and how I just want to be someone that hungers and thirsts for my God and that it's obvious to the people around me.

Then I thought about how that is going to happen. First off, I know that I can't do it. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can put that desire in me and mold me into that kind of a man. But I do have to act. I thought, 'If I continue to do what I'm doing everyday until I go back to school, will that get me to where I want to be.' My answer was "Kind of." I've got some things I need to change in the way I live my day to day live. One thing is meditating on different passages at work instead of just wasting the whole day. Actually there are a lot of things.

But I also thought, 'How many times have I decided I want to be a certain way and then not thought about doing anything about it?' That's a problem. Think about it. Why would you expect to be a different way if you aren't going to do anything to get that way on a daily basis. I bring it back to a basketball example because I enjoy it and it applies. I spent years saying, "I want to be a starter on the varsity team." Well I never did anything. Even when I did, I would go into the gym once in a blue moon and shoot 2,000 shots or whatever. Let me just tell you, that doesn't work. You know what does work? I'll tell you. Look at Russell Byrd, a friend of mine that is going to play basketball at Michigan State next year. The kid works harder than anyone I've ever met in my life. But he doesn't just shoot 2,000 shots once a week. He does this stuff everyday. It creates a habit. It's a part of him now, because that has been a constant for so long. It would probably feel weird for him to go a couple of days without being in the gym working out.

The point is that you can't go to some conference like Passion or Raft Trip once or twice a year and expect to be closer to God. It has to become your life. It's not a part of your life. It is your life. Obviously I still do things outside of reading and praying, but I'm getting to the point where I do nothing apart from God. He is ingrained in everything from playing basketball to driving to work. And let me tell you it's awesome! There is nothing better than having God with you and His greatness on your mind all the time. That is "truly life" like Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:19. So just a little challenge/encouragement for you. Think about who you want to be in a few years. How much you want God to be apart of your life. Then think about if the way you live your life everyday will produce someone like that. If so, great. If not, change it.

All for His glory,

My Week without the Computer

Before I say anything, I'd just like to make sure I'm not lying in the title. I did use email to make sure I didn't miss anything and I checked whether and sports and stuff. The point was I didn't waste hours seeing what was going on in my friends lives and talking to them. That's it. Just wanted to make sure I was clear on that.

My thoughts after the week are a bit on the fence. It was a great week and I really enjoyed the amount of time I got to spend not only in the Word and in prayer, but with my family as well. It opened up a lot of time for me to talk to my mom in the mornings and just hang out with my mom and dad at night. I think one of the outcomes from this week is that I won't spend a whole lot of time "creeping" on facebook and such. Not a whole lot of time reading things and searching to see how my friends are doing. (Basically I might miss a few hundred of the HUF photo albums) I just miss too much time that I could spend with my family or God. And I think not having the computer to go to showed me how much of my time I waste.

On the other hand, I really did miss a lot of the encouragement I normally get. There are friends at school that I send facebook messages to because seven texts in a row to say one thing is kind of annoying. And apparently a phone call is kind of weird if you aren't super close. But I missed being able to talk to them. One thing I contemplated though was that they don't need it. It was a good thought to have because a lot of the time I feel like my friends are dependent on me to keep them accountable and keep their minds on God since they are in such a busy place and I don't really have any distractions right now. But a lot of times that's me thinking that I'm more important than I am. That time would probably be better spent on my knees, praying that God would bring them closer to Him and would create a hunger for Him in their lives. Actually I know that I need to do that more.

All in all, it was a good week because it showed me some things. I saw how much time I was wasting and put into perspective different ways that I can help my friends. I still miss all of them, but one of them sent me a text this week that had crossed my mind but I had never really thought about before. She said times of seclusion can be a great way for God to prepare you for something. That made me think a lot about this next month and the way that I'm going to spend it. I'll be doing the same stuff, but it's got a different thought behind it. I'm growing closer to God, but it has a kind of warlike atmosphere to it. Like I am preparing for battle. In that battle I am learning exactly what to do- look to the throne and revel in His amazing grace among other things.

All for His glory,

My Bible Reading Plan

One thing that I thought about this week is that I've been writing what I've noticed in my readings, but haven't really told you all what I'm looking for. So I'll give you a little overview of what I am doing in my reading plan.

The first and most important thing is that I'm reading the whole Bible. I'm reading all of it all the way through so that I can get a big picture view of it. Along the way, I am marking and noting certain things (with different colored pencils). These are the things that I am marking:

-God's purposes and reasons for doing things (His end goal)
This one has essentially become anywhere that I see God's glory being stressed because it became pretty obvious early on that His glory was His end goal.
-God's promises (covenants)
-God's commands
-God's control/sovereignty
-God's wrath/punishment/curses
-Jesus in the Old Testament
-the Holy Spirit
-fear of the Lord
-my free will
-Joy/happiness/pleasure (mine and God's)
-the Gospel
-Heaven (descriptions)
-God's grace
-The Word of God/Scripture
-what I must do to be saved

That's the list. There are a few that I haven't even seen yet (what I must do to be saved, Heaven, God's grace), but I have seen most of them quite a bit. My pencils for God's sovereignty, God's glory, and God's wrath are all about two inches long now and need to be replaced. I just kind of made up the list. I used things that I thought I would find and things that I have questions about. The colored pencil idea was a great idea that Mac Sandlin, my Acts of the Apostles teacher gave me. It's worked out really well. They don't bleed through, and when I have gone back to look for certain things, they jump right off the page at me. That's about it. My plan is to finish with one month left in Chile. That's roughly 13 pages every weekday. I'm pretty much ahead of that, but I figure I'll get behind while I'm there so this is good. I've actually thought about what I want to do when I am finished. I've thought about some of the New Testament books and how small, but important they are. I still want to go through them and just not things so I don't miss the big picture of the Bible, but when I'm done I think I am going to go through the New Testament and write out some doctrinal statements of what I believe and why. That's just a thought right now though.

I just figured I'd fill anyone who reads this in on the way I'm going about it. I don't think it's necessarily right, but I'm really liking what I am learning from it. If anyone has any suggestions on some other things I might pick up on that'd be great.

All for His glory,