Latest Entries »

The Prodigal God

I just finished The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. I really enjoyed the book. I read most of it in a day or two and then was away from it for over a month. Some of the good aspects of the book is the correction of my understanding of prodigal. Based on the parable, I assumed it meant sinful. Keller adjusts that view and explains that prodigal means abundantly giving, which actually makes sense with the actions of the younger brother. He was abundantly giving with his resources when pursuing sin, but the point of the parable is the abundance given from God. Though the father had no relationship with either son because of the disinterest of the sons, the father gave and gave when his son returned, desiring to do the same for the older son.

What Keller tries to get at is that the two sons represent two different kinds of people in the world. The older brother represents the legalistic, self-righteous and religious people. The younger brother represents the outwardly sinful. Both are separated from God and have no relationship with him. The father though wants to have a relationship with his sons, so as the father is representing God, we see how God made that possible through Christ. The sin of both kinds of people separates them from God and God wants to bring us back to himself because we were created for fellowship with Him. He accomplished that by clearing the sin away through Christ’s death on the cross, making it so nothing stands in the way so we could have fellowship with Him, like we were created for.

Keller ends his story with the feast. Jesus talks about a feast. The Old Testament ends with a feast. Why a feast? “There is no better way to convey vividly what it means to live out a life based on [Christ’s] saving work.” (p. 106) The feast in the new Jerusalem on the new earth, depicted by the parable, is where we get to “taste” an understanding of the grace of God purchased through the gospel of Christ.

I commend this book to people. I’ve read another review saying the opposite because he believes that Keller gets the emphasis of the parable wrong. What do I commend then? I commend using discernment. Have your Bible open with you when you read this book, when you read any book. Paul commends that.


Lord of the Storm

Right now there is a huge storm where I live. The power has threatened to go out quite a few times by flickering as I sat in my house doing homework. I can hear the powerful wind blowing through the trees, and the spray of the rain against my window. I’ve been outside a few times tonight, and well, walking around isn’t very easy or fun to do right now.

All this power, all this might, made me think of the story of Jesus when He calmed the Sea of Galilee. This story is found in the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 8:18,23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25. I’m going to use the one from Mark though.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The issue of this story is a matter of faith. That is what Jesus confronts the disciples on in each of the Gospels. As the boat is filling up with water, the disciples start to fear. They get so fearful that they run to Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew they say, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” (v25) They clearly went to him to have him do something, though I don’t think they were expecting what they saw based on the way they responded. Mark said they were filled with great fear, while Matthew and Luke say they marveled. Those ways of describing the response are similar but different. Marvel implies Wow!, while fear implies Woah!

What caused that wow and woah? Jesus calming the storm. Mark’s gospel is the only one that records what he said to the storm. “Peace! Be still!” (v39) Another thing I find interesting is that Mark and Luke record Jesus confronting the storm first, then the disciples while Matthew records Jesus confronting the lack of faith of the disciples first. Does it matter which came first? Nope. I believe there was more words exchanged than are recorded, but the gospel writers gave us the essentials.

What’s the whole point of this story? I think it’s to show that Jesus has power over the wind and water. That is how the disciples response is recorded in Luke. “And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?'” (v25) Wind and water, like the storm I”m being sheltered from in my room in my house. I don’t have a sea, but there is rain. Jesus commanded the storm “And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” There was a great calm. Not just a calm, a great calm. Jesus has the power with mere words to command the storm I’m in. Just like the Father used words to bring about the existence of the universe, Jesus used words to control that universe. Both God as presented in Genesis and Jesus have power, with words, over the universe. My Jesus, my Savior, my King, my Lord has the power to stop any storm, and at times doesn’t. This makes me think of Japan, the earthquake and Tsunami that happened. Jesus could have stopped it, but didn’t. In His wisdom he knows why He didn’t. I just know that my Jesus is more powerful than His creation and I can rest in that.

Here is a video of what happened in Japan. It’s a silent video. A very powerful storm.

Another Video (of ground footage). Yet Another.

A Hymn on this Passage:
Master, the Tempest Is Raging (Peace Be Still)
Author: Mary A. Baker, 1831-1921
Musician: Horatio R. Palmer, 1834-1907

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace be still!
Whether the wrath of the stormtossed sea,
Or demons, or men, or whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will;
Peace, be still! Peace be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will;
Peace, peace, be still!

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled;
O waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul!
And I perish! I perish, dear Master;
O hasten, and take control!

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer,
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

Blogging is Back

So I can say that the blog is back. It needs some touch ups but that will happen as I go along. I’m going to start blogging again, lets see how long it goes this time. Hopefully I can carry on with it.

So, my commitment at the beginning of this year, my new years resolution (haha, what are those) was to grow in Christ. It takes God’s grace. I can’t do it alone. So far it’s been ok. Not as good as I would have hoped, but God acts with me, not without me so I’m responsible to hold up my side of sanctification.

This summer I hope to do a lot of reading. I have over 300 books that I own and have not read. I don’t want to read them to just read them. I do want to glean from them. That though takes work from me and from the Holy Spirit. I will review each book to try to use that as a means to glean from the book.

All the books that I own are cataloged on LibraryThing. If anyone would like to borrow one, just let me know. Here is the link to my catalog:

Pray for my growth please.

In Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung goes over the idea of finding God’s Will. I read this book on the way back from the Resolved Conference 2010. Since I had a long ride, I figured I could read this book. It’s pretty short. About 110 pages of reading. The audience of the book is for high school aged to about 30’s. He does a pretty conclusive look at God’s Will, explaining what it is and what it’s not.

In the first chapter he pretty up opens the book. Introduces it, gets the topic going over making decisions and looking at statistics. He looks at why younger people are so passive.

In the second chapter he takes a look at what it means to say God’s Will. He covers three ideas. God’s will of decree or his sovereign, predetermined, planned will. The second will that is covered is God’s will of desire. This is God’s revealed will in scripture, His commands and such. The third is where people get hung up. He calls it God’s will of direction. This is where people are trying to figure out which way God wants them to go in life. Trying to figure out what God’s sovereign will is. God does not want us to figure out his sovereign will. He will give us wisdom in choosing, but he does not expect us to figure out what He wants us to do for the next step.

In chapter three he covers why he believes people have issues with trying to find God’s will. He lists 5 things: We want to please God, Some of us are timid, we want perfect fulfillment (in this life in the stuff), we have too many choices, and that we are cowards.

In chapter 4 DeYoung covers why approaching God’s will in this way is wrong. Worth reading.

Chapter 5 covers looking at waling in God’s will from a Biblical way perspective. He use quite a few passages from scripture and explains them well.

In chapter 6 he compares God’s guidance to other supernatural ways God guides in the bible.

Chapter 7 and are back to back comparison passages on how not to find Gods will and ways to, as well as having wisdom and how to get wisdom from God.

Chapter 9 covers two specific topics, finding a job and getting married which are two of the biggest topics people want God’s will for. He covers the topics well.

In chapter 10 he closes the book in giving an example in the life of one of his grandfathers.

This was a good book. I’d recommend it to anyone. Joshua Harris is pretty much sums my opinion up in the forward if the book with this quote: “And the highest praise I can give this book is that this book is my new go-to book on decision making and ‘finding God’s will.'” If someone asked me about finding God’s will, I’d recommend that they read this book.

Many thanks to my pastor for giving me this book. Todd, this review is in honor of you.

Here are a couple of links to the books on a couple of sites. These are some ministries I’d like to support. Check to see which price is cheaper.

Session 11 was the last session of the conference. C.J. Mahaney got to finish off the conference this year. Even though C.J. is very humble in his ability to preach, he is a very good preacher. God has given him a very good gift.

C.J.’s sermon choice was to help prepare us for the real world. The world outside the conference. He chose the book of Jude. He pretty much gave us an outline of the book because he wanted us to be able to understand the verses he got more detailed on. His emphasis was on verses 1-4 and 20-25.

He enjoyed 1-4 because of it’s emphasis on the sovereign grace of God. God calls. God loves. God keeps.

v 20-23 he wanted to remind us to contend for our hearts, to make sure that our hearts were correct, right and to help others also. He looked precisely at how to contend for our hearts was to keep in the Love of God and that there were three ways to do it.

  1. Building up in the most holy faith (v 20) which is done by preaching the gospel to ourselves on a daily basis, and to each other. When a brother is downcast and his conscience condemns him, I should exhort him with the gospel, because the gospel alone silences the condemning heart. He asked one question about this, “How much time do you devote to doing this?” Good question, how much time do I devote to preaching the gospel to myself? I have to admit not very much at all. Not very much at all.
  2. The second way we  keep in the love of God is to pray in the Holy Spirit (v 20). He quoted Spurgeon saying that he finds it quite helpful to pray between events he does. How often do we continue to pray during the day? C.J. reminded us that praying through out the day revitalizes the soul.
  3. Lastly, how we keep in the love of God is by waiting for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ (v 21). He presented it as the future mercy we will receive as we go to stand in Judgement and we will receive mercy because of Christ’s work. We should wait and look forward to that time.

He brought up a point. The way he said it was this: “What we want is an experience so that we don’t have to keep ourselves in the love of God.” Plain and simply he said there isn’t a formula that causes that. It’s daily work that is behind good growth and staying in the Love of God.

Lastly he covered verses 24,25. Jude closes with God’s perseverance of us. It’s God’s grace that works in us. He works with us, not without us, to present us blameless one day before Him in His glory with great JOY. And because it is His grace, He deserves the glory, majesty, dominion, and authority forever and ever.

C.J. presented a great sermon to prepare us to step back into the world again.

Hopefully, I get to review the conference and post some pictures and some videos.

Session 10 was preached by Al Mohler on Christ the King. He spoke from Revelation 19.

He started his sermon at 1 Samuel 9 where the Jews rejected God as their King to have a king like the peoples around them. He then went to Isaiah 9:2-6 to talk about the promised king, messiah, savior, who would be God. He then went to Revelation 19: 6-10 to give us an image of Jesus now as King and Judge. The view of Jesus in Revelation 19 is like the view of Jesus in Revelation 1. Jesus has the same fiery eyes, and the sharp sword from His mouth. Something new is His robe stained with blood already before the fight. Because it’s His blood. He also has His name on His thigh and His robe.

After showing Him in the vision, it moves on to what’s around Him and what He does. The king takes out His enemies and creates a feast for the birds that feed on flesh. He then goes back to the previous section of verses about the other supper of the chapter, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Mohler wanted us to know very clearly that everyone who ever lived and is living and will live will take part of one of these two suppers. One is good to be at because you will be enjoying the supper. The other supper the people will be the feast.

I really enjoyed Al Mohler at Resolved. He has never been before and I’ve never heard him preach before, like or recorded and I really enjoyed His preaching. I know that Jesus ultimately was behind it.

Rick Holland spoke at session 9 of the Resolved conference, teaching us how to have a relationship with Christ. He went to John 13 and 14 for the answer. Eventually Rick settled on John 14: 21. He preached on the way that Jesus gets eclipsed. Two things, disobedience and love of other things. Jesus calls us to obey for His glory and our good because we were made to have him, enjoy him, and sin never satisfies. Jesus also calls us to love him and not other things. He pointed out three things on what it means to love Jesus.

  1. Love see’s through the eyes of Faith
  2. Love connects knowledge and understanding
  3. Love evokes devotion and affections to Jesus.

We need to spend time mediating on Jesus and seeing him.

John MacArthur spoke at session 8. He spoke on how Jesus is involved with His church. John used Revelation 1. It’s the only image in the Bible of Jesus being involved with His church in his exalted state. He inhabits it. He is not a far off but intimately involved. There were five points that were drawn from Rev 1 that show how Jesus is involved with His church.

  1. He intercedes for his Church (v 13 – clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest)
  2. He purifies the church ( v 14,15 – Bronze feet, as refined)
  3. He commands his church (v15 – voice like roar of many waters)
  4. He controls his church (v16 – stars in his hand who are the messagers of the churches or pastors)
  5. He protects his church (v 16- two edged sword and v 2:16)
  6. He reflects his glory through the church/evangelism (v16 – sun shining face)

Lastly we covered the appropriate response to seeing the vision; exactly was John did, fell flat on his face, just like the other prophets did that saw God (Isa, Eze, etc.)

For the sixth session John MacArthur spoke a “Bible Study, not a sermon.” We started at John 8:56, where Jesus proclaims his diety as I am. Then he took us to Exodus 3:13,14, 11, and 17, showing the words God used to name himself and describe himself. Jesus also used the same terminology, especially the 7 I AM statements in the John’s Gospel. All that was introduction. He deduced from the fact that Jesus was God several points.

  1. Jesus is Sovereign over Sin. (Mark 2)
  2. Jesus has power over Spirits. (Mark 5)
  3. Jesus is sovereign over Satan. (John 14:30)
  4. Jesus is sovereign over Death. (John 10:17)
  5. Jesus is sovereign over the Sabbath. (Matt 12:8)

MacArthur wanted to get us to the point that Jesus was both the Lord and the Son of David. Luke 20:40 and Matthew 22:41-42.

After John MacArthur’s session, they had a Speaker Panel/Q&A session. The whole topic ended up being about reading good books as a means of grace and growth to love and know Christ better.

Session 6 is starting up and I’m typing up this blog to keep up with blogging about the sessions and not falling behind.

The Session 6 speaker was Steve Lawson, meaning that he has done his two and isn’t going to speak anymore. He spoke out of Revelation 5. Jesus, the only one worthy to Open the scroll to bring about the end of history. Jesus was and is the only one that can now finish off history to bring about God’s justice and glory. He died. He bore the wrath of God. He conquered death. No other human, angel, demon or Satan is worth to open the scroll that was written by the Father to bring to pass what He had ordained for the end of the world.

Steve pointed out 4 things from the text.

  1. There was a scroll.
  2. There was a search
  3. There was the sovereign Lion
  4. There was the singing.

Our lives as believers should consist of the singing to the only one worthy of worship and praise. Jesus alone is worthy to receive honor, and glory. He is the only one worthy to open the scroll.